“ If we are only open to those discoveries which will accord with what we already know, we might as well stay shut.” - Alan Watts
She looked up at me with frustration. She was annoyed. She’d hired me, she said, to help her get more organized, to feel happy and find more meaning in her work. (She was super successful in her business but something was missing and she wasn’t sure what.) She was still not feeling any better and was struggling with work-life balance.
Six weeks before she’d had her first coaching session with me: ”I’m 40 years old,” she told me, “and I have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Shouldn’t I know by now?”
And when I’d probed a little deeper into that question she said: “ Don’t go all pop-psychology on me, I’m not dealing with all that inner mindset crap.”
And so here we are. Six weeks in and she’s gone through more spreadsheets, systems and apps to get organized than most of us go through in a lifetime. She has daily reminders to tell her when to take a break. She’s read dozens of books on happiness and finding your life purpose. She has a new scheduler, a Panda journal and a timer to implement the Pomodoro technique. She had even booked onto an online summit and downloaded 34 audios of thought leaders who she thought had the answer she needed. (All very useful resources!) And none of it was working. And she was angry. With me. And then the tears welled up in her eyes.
I could feel her sadness and utter desperation. I could also feel my own fear beginning to rise up in response. I took a deep breath and surrendered to the moment, to allow the energy to flow between us, and I said, “Well, it’s about time.”
You see there comes a moment in everyone’s life, when the stuff on the outside stops working and we realize we have finally had enough. The life we are living, the roles we are playing, the systems, the limiting beliefs we use to keep our precious point of view about ourselves intact, the excuses we tell ourselves and anyone else willing to listen about why we can’t… it all starts to fail, as we face the harsh, fear-inducing, gut-wrenching truth that we can’t carry on. Things are not working, and the life we are living no longer fulfills us, despite having achieved what might look like success on the outside, because on the inside we're exhausted and feel lost.
And so we find ourselves broken open, at the edges of our awareness, as we stand on the threshold of change… a change so big, it scares us.
There are other moments that break us open of course, I know I’ve been through a few myself, from my husband walking out when my two daughters were just 5 yrs old and 6 weeks old, to being given a terminal diagnosis and just a few years left to live. Breaking open is what happens when life falls apart and the reality you thought you could depend upon disintegrates before your eyes.
But even those moments, as painful as they can be, pale in comparison to the moment when you realize that most of what you believe to be true about yourself is false, or at least, deeply flawed in its logic. This is when the bubble of who you think you are bursts.
“Alongside our greatest longing lives an equally great terror of finding the very thing we seek. Somehow we know that doing so will irreversibly shake up our lives, our sense of security, change our relationships to everything we hold as familiar and dear. But we also suspect that saying no to our deepest desires will mean self-imprisonment in a life too small. And a far-off voice insists that the never-before-seen treasure is well worth any sacrifices and difficulty in recovering it.
And so we search. We go to psychotherapists to heal our emotional wounds. To physicians and other health providers to heal our bodies. To clergy to heal our souls. All of them help–sometimes and somewhat. But the implicit and usually unconscious bargain we make with ourselves is that, yes, we want to be healed, we want to be made whole, we’re willing to go some distance, but we’re not willing to question the fundamental assumptions upon which our way of life has been built, both personally and societally. We ignore the still, small voice. We’re not willing to risk losing what we have. We just want more. And so our deepest longing is never fulfilled.” From Soulcraft by Bill Plotkin.
As she looked at me through the tears, she allowed her vulnerability and her soul’s truth to be seen. And that’s when we began coaching.
- Where are you right now? Are you open to discoveries beyond what you already know? Is your bubble about to burst, and you don’t want it to? Or are you ready to open fully to the treasure that lies within?
- What do you want from this life, really?
- What is your soul’s calling? What does the world want from you and what do you want from the world?
- Do you believe that is possible for you? Are you willing to find out?
We are at a threshold moment in human history where the challenges we are facing globally are too complex for any one simple solution. The decisions we make now will define our future. The world is changing, are you?