Taming The Tough Stuff

The coaching approach considers feelings to be a natural part of living. Coaches make room for feelings and allow them to surface, giving the client time and space to explore, to face the dragon so to speak. In daily life, we humans are not so used to letting the tough feelings be there before trying to get rid of them. But often, when we allow them and separate them from the judgments and imaginings that accompany them, the feelings move and change on their own.  

It takes courage to be with your feelings and not push them away. When you allow your feelings to simply be, you can continue to look more closely at the workings of your mind: your imaginings and judgments about how things are and what might happen. This is called process coaching.

Let’s say you didn’t accomplish something you set out to do. You feel sad, maybe angry at yourself, possibly embarrassed. You made not accomplishing the thing you intended mean you are not successful, a failure even.  As your coach, I am going to invite you to be in the inquiry of how you hold success. What does that actually mean for you? Stay with the question and keep exploring it. Ask others. Take some time with this. There may be other concerns that appear to be valid. Maybe you are sure you are inept. Maybe you believe you need to be smarter, faster, richer…something other than what you are. And uncomfortable feelings come up.

As for getting unstuck, if you believe these to be valid concerns, the only way out is through. The key words here are “if you believe”. Here’s what I suggest:

  • First recognize that you have concerns. We all do.
  • Be clear about the concern
  • Be willing to accept that what you think will happen when you have a concern, which is often the worst, is the automatic place you go. It is secondary to the concern, but has been attached like a barnacle to a ship, and the worst lives as if it is real.
  • Notice how you go into automatic disaster mode and scramble, sort of like a hamster on a wheel, trying to keep your worst fears from happening.  
  • Notice how running on the wheel keeps you in a vicious circle, fueling your fears and keeping you stuck there.
  • Breathe
  • As author Mary Karr says, “Sometimes your head is like a bad neighborhood. Don’t go there alone.” Get some coaching or talk to a committed listener who will give you room to have your feelings but not indulge the vicious circle.  Be willing to stay out there and look at additional perspectives and small action steps with someone who gets who you are.
  • Keep asking yourself, “Am I willing to not be right about what I think will happen?” “Am I willing to have a breakthrough in trusting myself and trusting life?” Be honest with yourself. If you are willing, you will have a window to other, more life giving ways of being, even in the same circumstances. If you are not willing, you get to have the comfort of the familiarity and security of your old beliefs.
  • "Am I willing?" is the key question. You do not have to know how to do this, nor do you have to scramble to change things if you are willing. Just start with being willing
  • There is nothing needed here except your honesty. If you are not willing, that’s okay. As with the horses, there’s no agenda except the need for honesty.  
  • Be compassionate with yourself whether you are willing or unwilling, whether you get back on the hamster wheel or whether you have small breakthroughs in interrupting the cycle. You will notice that you have standards of perfection that you might not have been aware of before, that live for you like “the truth.”
  • Keep going.

© Lynn Baskfield, 2014