When we get stuck in a problem it’s initially annoying, if it continues unresolved it can become corrosive, and often then starts to become distorted and grow into something else. Leave it further and we can get to feel that everything is wrong. When this happened to me, I started out blaming everyone and everything else. Everything else was the problem and at fault, the world was doing this to me. But seeing and believing that everyone else seemed just fine, it didn’t take me long to switch my blame to me – if everyone else was ok, then I was the one that wasn’t. I must be the broken thing in the equation. It took an awful lot of unpicking.
I have been reflecting this week on coaching. That may be rather obvious, as coaching is my profession, but as I continue in my own practices of awareness and being present in the moment, certain moments occur which give me reason to pause.
The last few days have been more full than usual; launching a new business I am learning is more about the slow burn than immediate fireworks. Patience can be elusive – I am always intrigued how I easily I access patience for others, and yet it is in rather short supply when I try to direct it to myself. The inner critics are present for us all remember, and my judgmental one delights in non-achievement – making it up if truth and fact aren’t juicy enough for her.
However, my reflections this week have been restorative and affirming. Two workshops have been delivered, one to an organisation and one to a small group of unconnected people who found us and to whom the course resonated. These group sessions reward me simply because I know we are reaching more people in a short time. If only one sentence lands and stays with some of the audience, it has had value. I think about the people who, I recognise, changed the course of my thinking and therefore my life – some in a huge way, some with just a sentence, they all matter to me and I strive to be that for others.
And then my one-to-one sessions this week. It is perhaps not much spoken of how much I learn and grow from my clients. I trained with the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) – I did so because their methods felt outside my comfort zone, I learned from other alumni that it was a deeply powerful, often uncomfortable ride, and you know I love a challenge. I was also ready to be stretched, to be tested and to add as much depth and variety to my skill set as possible -because the need to be of help, to be in service of others had become a consuming driver – the driver. A reminder how knowing our values shape and direct us.
CTI start from the statement that all people, all people – coach, client and beyond, are all naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. It’s a phrase we heard peppered in every session, and I confess, at the beginning I nodded along with the words and the sentiment, without really understanding the importance of them. Then we coach. And here there is a risk that we forget, or we begin to doubt or disbelieve this simple foundational principle. Because the person in front of us if often hurting, they are often feeling lost, exhausted, defeated, and small. So many clients echo words I remember saying to my coach – I’m not sure you will be able to fix me.
It's a powerful belief – that we are broken. It’s absolutely a belief I held of myself, that the problem was in fact me, a conclusion I had reached after trying and failing to rectify the unwelcome feelings. And when I was unable to do that on my own, I decided that the truth must be that it was me that was somehow ‘wrong’. It’s so difficult to argue or even question your own mind when you don’t yet grasp the notion that your mind is not you. I refer you back to that wonderful podcast with Mo Gawdat, who named his mind Becky, in order that he could tell her where to go when she was making stuff up; a thing all our minds do by the way.
So, when we believe our minds, we believe our thoughts that something is broken, that something needs to be fixed. The idea that we are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole – that we already have all we need to move forward, that we have the answers already, can be alien. Actually, it can be infuriating and bewildering – because we can’t see it, we don’t believe it and yet, it is true. I am in rather a unique and privileged seat in that I was able to realise this about myself, with the support of my various coaches over time, and I get to witness it in my clients. The journey from where I know it and I can see it in them, to when they start to glimpse it for themselves, where they start to question if what their mind has told them all this time, is true.
My clients this week have each, in their own unique and fabulous way had a glimpse. It’s always the absolute unmatchable feeling for me, the complete joy and pride I feel for them; and let’s be clear this is so rarely a massive, earth shattering, colossal ‘thing’, it’s more often subtle. From stressed and anxious to a realisation that they want to choose to care a little less, that they are worth self-care and attention. Beginning to see, actually see, how they speak to themselves and about themselves, how they limit, belittle, self-deprecate and becoming curious about it. Recognising that in fact they do know, maybe not the whole picture, but pieces of it, enough to start with. Perhaps, as I did, starting to believe and trust that they do have what they need within, that they can rely on themselves to get it ‘right’.
Reading this perhaps you know this about yourself, to you I say bravo, continue to remind yourself of it as often as possible – give this knowledge the acknowledgement it needs to breathe and thrive. Perhaps you don’t believe or know this of yourself yet. Yet. One of my favourite words. Sometimes when we feel we don’t have the space and energy for ourselves, we look to others for support – know then from someone who truly believed they were themselves broken – you are not. All you need you have. It may be hidden to you; it may be that you need to go digging. It is there.
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