Posts Tagged ‘follow your gut’

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 assume Richard Friedman, M.D. didn’t mean to make a case for coaching in his article, When Self-knowledge is Only the Beginning, in the New York Times (click here to read the whole article), but I think he makes a good (if unintentional) case for it!  He starts out:

It is practically an article of faith among many therapists that self-understanding is a prerequisite for a happy life. Insight, the thinking goes, will free you from your psychological hang-ups and promote well-being.

Perhaps, but recent experience makes me wonder whether insight is all it’s cracked up to be.

I wonder the same thing.  I think there is definitely a place for insight, and for some  people it is an important piece of the puzzle.  But for many others who are stuck in their lives and wanting change, insight is not the key:  action is.

And coaching is all about action…big and small.  It’s about acknowledging that you’re in a situation that makes you unhappy and figuring out alternatives.  There is always another choice…another thing you can do, even if it doesn’t feel like it.  Knowing the root of your unhappiness and focusing on it can even be detrimental.  If someone frames the cause of their suffering as a given or fact, they may start to believe in only that reality.

Friedman talks about a chronically depressed patient with a lot of self-knowledge.

He had been in therapy for years before I saw him and had come to the realization that he had chosen his profession to please his critical and demanding father rather than follow his passion for art. Although he was insightful about much of his behavior, he was clearly no happier for it.

When did he get happier?

…my chronically depressed patient came to see me recently looking exceedingly happy. He had quit his job and taken a far less lucrative one in the art world. We got to talking about why he was feeling so good. “Simple,” he said, “I’m doing what I like.

I think that is one of the strengths of coaching.  You focus on where the passion and energy is and steer the client in that direction.

So, thank you Richard Friedman, M.D. for your article, but next time could you please make a direct plug for coaching.