Issue 8: July 2012
Choosing Words that Support You
I was working with a client last week who was in my most recent Spring Into Change group and was doing some follow-up work individually. She came to our session saying she felt great about all the tools she’d learned in the group, and the new insights she had about herself, but, that she hadn’t made much progress toward one of the goals she’d brought into that group: making big changes in the actual shape of her life. So, she said, she wanted to get focused on moving into action.
As we started to explore this territory, we talked about her pattern of choosing “safe” (easy, boring) work and how she’d like to step out of that pattern to create a more satisfying life, and she said, “The thing is, I’m not good at planning; I like to just be spontaneous, pay attention to what I want in the moment, which is great, but it seems like if I’m going to make these big changes, I need to do some planning.”
Letting Go of the Shoulds
I could feel the “should” energy around the word “planning” through the phone wire, along with the sense of frustration and discouragement that comes when someone is afraid that the thing they need to do to get where they want to be is something they are not good at and don’t like doing. And, I also heard her clear need and desire to be taking the learning she was doing and begin acting on it in ways that would change her experience of her external life as well as her sense of herself.
We explored a lot of territory in the following half hour: I suggested that having a Plan is overrated as a strategy for creating what we want in the world, reminding her about the core values-based decision-making process we’d talked about in the group; we tried planning part of her upcoming vacation so we could to try out some ideas in an arena that was more manageably-sized than the big job- and location-related decisions she was wanting to make; and we noticed together the small ways in which she was already taking action/changing how she was being and behaving in the world, and reflected on how that felt; and all of that was useful. But, none of it was really shifting the energy.
Making the Shift
The pivot moment came when I reflected back the language she was using to talk about her own strengths. I noticed out loud that maybe the word “planning” was a trigger for her, and asked, “What would happen if instead you talked about creating the life you want to be living?”
There was a moment of silence, and then she said “Oh! I’m good at that!” And the energy shifted. She said an enthusiastic yes to taking some time this week to design three ways she wants to spend the next 20 years, based on different locations and other possibilities, and I just got an email from her saying “Have made some sketches for my potential living situations…very revealing.”
It’s About Shifting the Language
What it took to get over that hump was a shift in the words she was using. Once she stopped using words that embodied a set of expectations and negative associations/judgments, and chose instead to use words that felt good, that inspired her, she could move into action.
Another quick example: I remember the delight in a client’s voice when she told me she’d stopped talking about “losing weight” and started talking about “shedding pounds.” I thought, of course, we are afraid of losing things, but shedding stuff feels good.
So… What are the words that get in your way? Notice what you tell yourself you should be doing. Are there ways to reframe whatever that is to be about what you want, what you are good at?
Want some help getting out of your own way? If you want to do more exploring of coaching-based ideas for working through your stuck spots and creating the life you want to be living, I invite you to do three months of individual facilitation (“coaching”).
We will focus in on what is more alive for you, most stuck, most confusing, discover ways for you to access your own deep wisdom and to release old patterns that have stopped serving you and are now preventing you from making the changes you want to make. Individual facilitation is practical — learning and action are integrated, so you are actually taking the steps you want to be taking while getting more clarity about what makes these changes challenging and how to make it easy. The cost for three months of facilitation is $425.
You will find information about individual facilitation with me on the website.
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© Tasha Harmon, July 2012. All rights reserved. You are invited to share this eNewsletter with friends and colleagues as long as it stays intact, with all acknowledgements and contact information in place. If you’d like permission to reprint articles from my eNewsletters, written permission is required. Please do contact me about this if you are interested. Thank you.