Archive for the ‘Believing in Yourself’ Category

I am working with a client (she has given me permission to write about this) who noticed that her heart felt tight…like a little ball.  I asked her what it looked like in there…was there a color, a texture, a shape.  Nothing came to mind immediately, but when we next met she told me that she had seen what it was.  It was a flower in bud form.  Tightly closed.  She said that she then began visualizing that flower opening, right there in her chest until it was in full bloom.  Multi-layered, open, flexible…and beautiful.  She said every time she feels that familiar tightness, she sees the flower and imagines it opening.  That visualization prompts her to breathe and feel a little better.  Instead of having to think about what is making her heart tight, she just goes right to the flower.

My client’s experience made me think about something that is bugging me.  Kind of present, kind of not.  Not really something I have control over.  I asked myself what this thing would look like if it separated from me and I got a clear vision of a butterfly.  I wondered whether it might be a big strong bird, but no, it was definitely a butterfly.  So, I decided to let it go in our garden.  I know it will be there when/if I need it, but for now it’s flitting from flower to flower and taking care of itself.  And I’m a little freer.

I had a moment of clarity a few months ago about a decision, and it gave me a new sense of calm.  The cool thing is that my gut had already given me this information and told me what to do.  But I couldn’t explain it…and I like to be able to understand and articulate the choices I make.

The background is that I joined Facebook a few years ago…for a day.  After a few friend requests, my mental alarm sounded…GET OFF!!!  So I did.  There were lots of reasons not to get off, not the least of which is all the flack I get from friends for not being on Facebook.  But my gut won out.  I deflected all the “shoulds” coming my way, but not without a little doubt about my decision.  No, not doubt, but instead a lack of clarity.

So, here’s what I realized (and let’s be clear…this is not a rant against Facebook or people who use it):  I need and want a certain type of connection with people and when I don’t get it, I feel frustrated.  This is about me and my expectations, but I live with me so I have to take those into account.

Despite not being on Facebook, a few people have “found” me in other ways on the internet.  I’m always surprised when someone reaches out and I get that rush of being sought.  So I sit down and write a long email catching them up on me and asking questions about them.  And then almost always, I don’t hear back.  Never again.  That deflates me and in the end the whole exchange seems pointless. I realize that is not true for everyone, but I kind of go on the assumption that if someone is reaching out they are ready to engage.  And despite the fact that I know many (most) people are not like me in that way, I can’t reset my expectations and feelings.

And that’s why the culture of Facebook is not for me.  It lets people get snippets of information and share their own snippets, but from my perspective there is no real connection.  I imagine myself with a list of “friends” and all I would see is missed connections.  I know that’s just me.  For some people that list represents real connection.  Maybe it’s because I’m an introvert.  Maybe it’s just my personality.  For better or worse I want what for me feels like a real connection and dialogue.  Even if it’s infrequent.

It’s funny because I get a lot of comments about not being on Facebook and some people see it as me withholding or not wanting to get involved, but it’s actually quite the opposite.  I want to dive in and be involved.  I don’t want to view it all from a safe distance.  Facebook would overwhelm me and I would always feel like I was not responding to people’s comments, photos, etc.  Again, totally about me.  My husband, who has tried again and again to get me on Facebook, is perfectly happy with the setup.  As are millions of others.

But I can’t believe it’s a good fit for everyone.  I have had clients and friends tell me how much it stresses them out and yet how much time they spend on it.

So, why write this now?*  Partly because I got tired of going over it again and again in my head (clearly this is something I want to communicate).  And then I read a piece by Jonathan Franzen in the NY Times and it has a similar underlying theme…or at least that’s how I read it.  (Click here to read the article.)

Ever since my moment of clarity, I don’t feel cornered or pushed to try Facebook and that is freeing in a social media world.  Right now, it’s not for me.  That might change.  I’m open to that.

* The truth is that this is a pretty old post that I had saved as a draft and worked on off and on for months.  Not sure why I didn’t publish it.  But yesterday I read another NYT article that clinched the deal.  The article, Don’t Tell Me, I Don’t Want to Know by Pamela Paul, resonated with me and even made me feel a little bit proud that I listened to my gut and stayed off Facebook.

I get a daily email from The Universe…really a British guy who is in my general line of work.  I signed up for it a long time ago, and I’ve thought of unsubscribing many times because I hardly ever read the notes.  But sometimes I do and they really resonate with me.  That was this case this morning.

What if you’re already doing everything right, even though you’re not sure?

And the surprises along the way have only sped things up, even though it felt like they slowed you down?

And all that you want is now barreling towards you, even though you can’t see it?

I’ve been doing a lot of mental gymnastics lately about what I need to do to build my coaching practice, whether I’m doing enough, is it sustainable, etc. etc.  Somehow my note from The Universe snapped me into a different perspective.  It was kind of like seeing something that has been there the whole time, but that I sometimes lose focus of.   Maybe I am doing enough, and maybe there are things coming that I just can’t see right now.  And that is comforting.   And maybe it’s okay to just be today, without coming up with the revolutionary thing that will change everything.  Maybe…

How many times has someone said to you, “Why can’t you get over it?”  Or perhaps it’s something you say to yourself.  A lot.

I was asked that question by others, and myself, for years.  And still I couldn’t get over “it.”  The “it” in question doesn’t really matter.  What matters is how unproductive the question is.  There is always the implication that there is something wrong with you and that it’s not a big deal.  In fact, if you can’t get over something that means it is a big deal!  No matter how easy or logical it seems it would be to get over or let go of certain things, sometimes we can’t.

The trick is to take the fact that you are stuck very seriously and not discount it.  You can’t get over something if you’re still wrestling with it.   There was a time I didn’t think I’d ever get over the “it” in my life.   I started to believe I would have to live hold onto it and feel it forever, but then I also started to take the pain seriously that I had been though.  And I did get over it.  In some ways I think I couldn’t get over it until I accepted that I couldn’t get over it.

What do you tell yourself to get over?  What do others tell you to get over?

Lots of people ask me these days if I am a career coach or if I know one.  I’ve been tempted to add career coach to my site because in fact, nearly all of my clients have come to me about something related to their careers.   And it seems that’s what people are looking for these days.

But I hesitate to change things because I consider career to come under the banner of life coaching.  And the way I support people looking for a job or career change is the same way I support them in other things.  I’m not as a consultant with a specific plan for how someone should look for a job.  I come at it from the perspective that a career/job should fit into a client’s whole life and so the client, not me, has to be an integral part of designing a search strategy.

So what do I do?

  • I’m there to listen;
  • Offer different perspectives…it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are different ways of looking at situations;
  • Hold the client accountable for what she says she’ll do (no, not that!);
  • Push him to step out of his comfort zone if it might mean getting what he really wants (not that, either!);
  • Be a cheerleader…not with pom poms, but someone who sees your potential reminds you of that.

And my clients keep getting jobs…good jobs despite the dire economic reports about hiring.  So, yes, I’m a career coach, a parenting coach, a relationship coach, a get-your-ass-in-gear coach…a life coach.