He looked up at me with frustration. He was pissed. He’d hired me, he said, to help him get his life in order. And he was still not getting things organized, still not getting to the gym, paying his bills on time, meeting women.
Two months before he’d come in for his first session: “I’m 30 years old,” he’d told me, “and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with me life.”
And when I’d probed that question he’d said: “I don’t want to deal with that ‘inner child’ crap.”
And so here we are. Two months in and he’s gone through a ream of spreadsheets and host of systems—Gmail-based reminders to get him to do his workouts and file his quarterly taxes; an iPhone app, even, to remind him to eat and to take a break from email during the day. He’d read dozens of books from the likes of David Allen, Ram Charan (all wonderful and helpful resources). Damn, he’d hired a coach in order to help him clear his desk.
And none of it was working. And he was angry. With me.
Recognizing and releasing myself from the fear that had arisen in response to his anger, I said, “Well, it’s about time.”
There comes a moment in everyone’s process when we’ve finally had enough. The tools we’d used for so long to prop up a view of ourselves breakdown. The systems, the limiting beliefs, we use to maintain our precious point of view about ourselves start to fail and we face that delicious, juicy, frightful, gut-wrenching existential realization that it’s just not working.
There are other Now What? moments, of course. Getting fired is a big one. Breaking up is another–little and large deaths, all of them. When Things Fall Apart is a GREAT resource for when, well, things fall apart.
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. And the bubble of who 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 care 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.
As he looked at me, his anger dissipated slightly, letting his fear come up. Then, facing his fears with his head slunk into his hands, he connected with what Trungpa Rinpoche called the genuine heart of sadness. And that’s when we began coaching.