Several times a year I run a training course on coaching skills. At some point during the training I’ll say, “Ignorance is bliss. I think there’s a lot of truth in that statement and… you don’t get to do that anymore. If you’re not getting the results in your life that you want, you no longer get to blame others or circumstance for that. You have to go inwards and do the work of taking on yourself. It is not blissful, it’s work.”
The life of a coach, or someone wanting to design their life, is of walking the talk and high responsibility. It’s an ongoing choice between being at cause in my life or being at effect (see this past article if you’re not sure what I mean by that). It’s a constant exploration of the role I play in the results I get. It is ongoing error-correction. It’s a willingness to be vulnerable.
Over time, I’ve gotten better at it. Sometimes I’m great it. And other times I have… well let’s call them ‘incidences for growth and learning’. I’d like to discuss such incidences like they were a while back in my past but the truth is it was only last week that I failed spectacularly.
By that I mean I broke virtually all my rules for taking responsibility, effective communication, assertiveness, managing my ego and creating meaningful relationships. I let memories of negative past experiences play out in the present moment, was overrun by fear and subsequently sabotaged any chance of meaningful connection with the person I was communicating with at the time. Hmm, I think I’m forgetting something. Oh yes, I was also being completely stubborn and at least half conscious about all of it while it was happening!
Not my finest hour.
A stance of ‘Ignorance is bliss’ was an option as a follow up strategy. That could have played out as telling myself it didn’t matter, complaining to some trusty friends, feeling sorry for myself and handling that with a distraction.
I say it’s an option but it’s not really anymore. Once I started down the path of actively working to be responsible for my life – and discovering how empowering that is – I realised I could never go back.
I can’t go back and I think that’s a good thing – and it’s a pain! It’s painful being left there with myself after the emotions have begun to settle and the reflection begun and I start to become aware that I’m going to have to embrace vulnerability in order to clean up the mess I’ve created.
Does that mean the clean-up began straight away? No. First I fought it. The battle within played out for days. I sought coaching from those I knew would lovingly hold me accountable and assist me in my ongoing goal to be a better version of me. I take inspiration and consolation from the words of M. Scott Peck:
“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
I also have gratitude for the learning opportunity and increased self-awareness. Sometimes it takes really special people who are able to push my buttons, or scare me or challenge me. I have some people in my life who do this intentionally and I hear them in the moment because I am never doubting that in the very same moment they are taking a stand for me.
And there are other special people who unintentionally place pressure right on the emotional and psychological places that I am unhealed or feel inadequate. These times can be more of a challenge because my mind is misinterpreting that person as against me. It’s not true, and the truth gets lost in my moments of feeling inadequate. Regardless of whether it’s true though, this person has gifted a reflection and I get an opportunity to see so clearly a part of me that I’d sometimes prefer not to look at.
If you want the learning and the personal development, then take a look. Be prepared to stay in the discomfort of when you are living out of the parts of yourself that you are not proud of. Simply seeing them and accepting they are there will be the biggest and most important step to evolving yourself beyond them.
Carl Jung said “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” While it’s a painful process, experience has taught me that I will feel greater levels of empowerment and control in my life when I make the choice to go within. Experience has also taught me that it’s easier and more fun with friends who are willing to take a stand for me. Ample gratitude goes to those people who refrained from judgement and were willing to come along for the ride.
“All the significant battles are waged within the self.” – Sheldon Kopp