I entered the New Year with an unusual ‘bang’. I have a lot going on in my life; Coaching, Consulting, Coach-training, co-parenting my kids, occasionally breathing deeply… In the gap after Christmas it became painfully clear to me how little space I seemed to be providing for myself in all of this. My tentative solution was that something had to give – and I was looking to the outside world for answers. What should I give up? This sense of ‘pressure’ and that there was ‘too much’ (or, not enough me) was pervasive – was disturbing my sleep. Two days before New Year I woke at 4am in this fog and allowed the thought to enter my mind – ‘what if I stopped doing the coach training work?’. It would clearly free up both time and money. It would provide relief. There is just one issue there – there is a program – I am part of a team – I promised that I would complete the year. Trade in my integrity for relief and freedom?
Faced with this I did something different. Normally I would suffer it, make the whole world wrong – basically have a temper tantrum and sulk in a corner about how it was all so unfair. Yes, I am 48 and I still have a petulant inner 5 year old who sometimes stamps his foot. Instead I chose to open up and actually let some support in. In two days I racked up 6 conversations with friends and coaching colleagues, culminating in a ‘THIS IS IT’ conversation at 4pm on New Years’ Eve with my Coach. I gave them all a spectacular earful of what was going on, why continuing was impossible, that I needed the time and space and that this was the only way I was going to get it. All very reasonable. The more I rehearsed this and let all the emotions out, there was a clearing that started to emerge in the fog.
I got a glimpse out of the corner of my mental eye that there was something else available to me. It started to become clear to me that this ‘fog’ was somehow something I was making up. That there was actually a different experience of the same circumstances available – something other than grinding through it and suffering it – hitting my life with the same old hammer. By the time I spoke with my Coach I was clear on two things; 1) There was another way I could experience all of this, and 2) I had NO IDEA of how to get there. None. Zip.
The reason I work with a Coach is that – as a Coach I practice the same thing I support my clients in; creating non-linear, unpredictable, breakthrough results by stepping beyond their edge. This means you spend a *lot* of time right on the edge of who you know yourself to be – always at the edge of the unknown. Sometimes this looks like just taking the next step forward. Sometimes it looks like stepping off a cliff. This was definitely a ‘cliff’ conversation.
And I cannot really explain how the next 45 minutes unfolded except that there was a well-used box of tissues, crying and gnashing of teeth – and as my Coach held space for me there was suddenly a whole new experience available. I really got that, in that moment and sustained since – that suffering is optional.
My suffering of choice is ‘muscling through’ and ‘grinding’. I am really good at it – I can pull all-nighters when I need to – and be massively productive. However the cost is that my wellbeing gets hammered. And once in that state, all my old defences rush into the gap and close down my world to become something safe and controlled and really really limiting. Once there I can make the whole world wrong and unfair in a heartbeat (my inner ‘righteous saint’), and I get to be right about it, and I get to suffer from all that injustice. And I get to create nothing new (my inner ‘impotent wizard’). Yes – it does suck as badly as it sounds. It has also been the water I have swum in for much of my life – not the whole time but it has been a close companion.
And now I get to experience something new, and my life circumstances are in the process of catching up with this new way of being in the world. I am excited to be able to share my gifts from that place; I have already seen my clients sharing in that breakthrough and I am excited to find out who my next clients will be and what they will create!