Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

I feel a bit like a broken record these days.  I keep telling my clients to notice, notice, notice.  And so I thought, I’m going to write a post about noticing.  But then I thought, hummmm, I think I might already have done that!   And yes, there is it…noticing (August 25, 2010).  But I still want to write this because I don’t think we notice enough.  Or we leap away from noticing as from a dangerous animal.

I feel sad…no, that’s uncomfortable.

I feel scared…no, don’t do that.

My heart is racing…what’s wrong with me?

I feel great…something’s going to go wrong.

My head hurts…what should I do?

I could go on and on.  We can always leap away from staying where we are…good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable.  The great thing about noticing is that it’s only that; making an observation.  It’s not a judgment, it’s not a solution…it’s just a statement or series of statements.  The thinking, analyzing, taking action can come later.  For now, just notice.  But notice.  Don’t push it away.  Let it sink in and see what happens.

Yesterday I noticed I was feeling off, angry, sad, frustrated.  It was really uncomfortable, but I decided to let it just be.  Today I’m feeling a bit better and am starting to take some action.

My husband said something to me the other day about how celebrating birthdays is important to me.  I said, no celebrating other people’s birthdays is important to me.  I don’t care about celebrating mine.  And I believe that.  It makes me uncomfortable.  My instinct is to have as normal a day as possible and quietly move on to another year of life.  But it sort of hit me how that’s not really fair.  Why do I get the pleasure of celebrating others, but not let them have that pleasure themselves?

And this has really stuck in my head over the past few days because I have a number of clients who do the very same thing in their lives.  They are always ready to give, but not open to receiving and I have asked them to challenge that.  I have asked them to allow themselves to be open to receiving.  I have asked them to try, just try to do it differently.  How can I keep asking that of them if I’m not ready to do it myself?

Every caution flag set off in my head as I contemplated writing about my birthday here.  What will people think?  Should I write that they don’t have to write to me?  Does this seem pathetic?  The more my mind shouted at me “DON’T DO IT!” the more I thought, this is precisely what I should do.  Sit with my discomfort.  I actually really like the idea of starting a new year of life pushing myself to try something new.

So there you have it.  I look at the blue “Publish” button and it looks back at me.  Will I push it?  What will it feel like?  Well, at 45 I am about to find out!

Happy Birthday to me…

You’ve probably heard the question “What would Jesus do?” I know I’ve heard it, but I never gave it much thought. But now I’m playing around with the same idea and actually thinking about it. When I’m in a quandary or chasing my tail on something, I have taken to asking myself, “What would blank do?” The blank depends on the situation.

I’m really good at making some kinds of decisions, but when it comes to choosing a present for someone or even a bottle of wine, I can spend a lot of time questioning.  Ridiculous amounts of time!  I realize it’s crazy in the moment, but I can’t stop. So, now I ask myself “What would my sister do?” And it’s really helping me be more decisive on the little things. I don’t need to ask myself a million times if someone will like my gift or use it or need it or want it. I can just buy it with the best intentions and leave it be.

Another situation I face now and again is being out and thinking, hum, maybe I should get myself a treat, like a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, but my frugal and controlling self says that I don’t really need it. Then I waffle around for a while and usually head home. In these circumstances, I conjure up my husband. “What would B do?” The answer is always the same…he would buy the latte or the beer or the cookie! And sometimes that frees me up to do the same. Other times I realize that I really don’t want to do what he would do and that also feels better than living in waffle-land.

I guess the point is that realizing there are other ways to do things, other perspectives can be liberating and also bring clarity. Sometimes it makes me realize, “Oh yeah, that’s why I do it that way.” Or, “Why don’t I do something differently and see what happens.”

I remember during my coach training that we were given the assignment to adopt someone else’s perspective on money for an evening.  I chose my younger son.  To him money is about fun and spending and experimentation.  I know we have to live in the real world, but for one evening it was fun to just let go!

When do you get locked in your own perspective?  Who could you use as a model to reconsider that view?

I was looking through some old notes from my coach training and came across something that feels relevant to me in many parts of my life.  Relevant in the sense that it’s good to remember that learning and changing (for myself and others) is a process.

The idea is that there are four fundamental stages in learning…and I’m saying in changing too because changing is learning a new behavior or way of being, right?  Anyway, these are the stages:

Step 1:  Unconscious incompetence.  You don’t even know that there is something you can’t do…ignorance is bliss!   Think of all the things that babies and small children learn.  I think it’s because they can stay in this step and not let their consciousness get in the way.  It’s like they get to skip steps 2 and 3, and move straight to step 4!

Step 2:  Conscious incompetence.  This is the really frustrating one, and the one where I suspect many of us (me included) stop.  This is where you become aware, sometimes painfully, that you can’t do something.  The feeling at this point is often that the “can’t” is an unchanging fact when really it’s just temporary (if you keep trying, that is).   I sometimes find myself making a mental list of all the things I don’t know and decide right then and there that it’s better turn around.

Step 3:  Conscious competence.  This is where is gets a bit easier, but you still have to work really hard.  You have control again!

Step 4:  Unconscious competence.  Finally flow!  This is a great place to be if you’re doing something you love.  It’s the point where you can play and experiment and follow your intuition.

For whatever reason, I find this information comforting.  My first instinct was to just think about all the ways that I’m in the conscious incompetence phase (many!), but I then considered where I have moved past that phase and surprise, surprise, I am very competent…consciously and unconsciously!  And nothing is static, not even these phases.  The minute I think I’ve reached unconscious competence in being a coach or parent or friend, something happens to remind me that, shit, I’m right back to conscious incompetence!

Good thing I’ve become consciously competent at reminding myself that everything changes and that flailing sometimes gives me broader competence in the end.

I was drawn to a recent article in the New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope, Go Easy on Yourself, a New Wave of Research Urges (click here to read the whole article).  I’ve been trying to do that over the past few years…go easy on myself, that is.  I’m getting better at it, but I’d say my strength, and inclination, is still to be hard on myself.

Self compassion, as it’s called, is a new field of study and researchers are finding that people who are kind to themselves are less likely to be depressed and anxious.  They also add that self-compassion is not the same as self-indulgence.  I sometimes wonder when I’m “taking care of myself,” whether I’m just using that as an excuse to avoid doing something that is difficult or unpleasant.  And so, I think it’s important to be really honest with oneself.

The author says one way to get a clearer idea on how to be nice to yourself is to think about what you would tell a child or friend in your situation.

Imagine your reaction to a child struggling in school or eating too much junk food. Many parents would offer support, like tutoring or making an effort to find healthful foods the child will enjoy. But when adults find themselves in a similar situation — struggling at work, or overeating and gaining weight — many fall into a cycle of self-criticism and negativity. That leaves them feeling even less motivated to change.

And that’s the thing, you want to stay motivated and open to possibility.  Reminding yourself that it’s hard to lose weight, get new clients, switch jobs gives you some breathing room to fail and struggle, but ultimately it doesn’t take away from your desire to lose weight, get new clients or switch jobs.

I was drawn to coaching and love doing it because I am very good at supporting others and steering them out of their own way.  I’m not always as good at using the same techniques with myself, but I have started to ask myself what I would ask a client in my own situation.  How would I support her/him?  Why am I able to have total faith in the brilliance and potential of others, but not in myself?

Are you more compassionate with others than you are with yourself?  What are your most common self-criticisms?  Can you think of a new, more supportive way to look at yourself?