This past weekend I completed ‘Balance’, the third of five courses in my training to become a certified life coach. As I’ve been living my life bigger and bigger these days, friends and family ask me what ‘grabbing the reins of my life’ is all about and why I am taking on so much since having my second son, Beau, just 6 months ago. Since that time, I’ve started coach training, a social media revolution in my community, a running / exercise program and began a nutrition class. What I respond with is something along the lines of “I used to live in a well” which obviously gets some confused looks, but in a nutshell I use to be very stuck in my life and I’m learning so many others can relate to this perspective. And seeing as the course I just finished was all about shifting perspective, I came across the original journal entry after my first coaching session with Peter back in February that can explain it better, so here it is
“We began our session by having me review several aspects of my life and grade them from zero to 10 on how satisfied I was with each section – my health, marriage, money, physical environment, fun, career, friendships etc. When I looked at the completed diagram I clearly saw how much I limit myself in almost all the aspects and how over the years, created a smaller and smaller life for myself. There are areas I’m more satisfied (5-8) in – my marriage, my home, my family and friends – but anything to do with me like my health, work, fun (what’s that again??) and happiness were practically non-existent (0-2). I saw that my life was very safe, cozy and familiar but on the other I feel jealous of others for having the energy and courage to live much bigger lives doing something they care about who are making an impact on the world. So I openly ask ‘why don’t I allow myself to break free … what am I waiting for?
What I heard come out of my mouth was automatic and thoughtless, but profound. I am waiting for someone to see me sitting here and tell me what to do!
I’ve never felt so stuck … and intellectually I know that I am the only one who can make a change in my life so why on earth would I expect someone else to tell me what to do? And then Peter asked me to answer my own question, again… (what am I paying him for?? haha ) and then it even got crazier. I responded Because nobody ever does and nobody ever did ….which was made me burst out laughing because it was a childish thing to say but that was where it was coming from.
As I explored this perspective, I realize growing up, the topic of dreaming or even figuring out what I wanted to do was not something I ever learned to talk about. I had loving parents and family but my household had its own priorities and dramas that made for a fairly unpredictable environment – so this makes sense. We had too much other shit going on..haha. I know in my heart and head that we were doing the best we could, all of us. The unpredictability taught me work with what was in front of me – forget planning because things will change so why bother. The cost was that I never really dreamed or gave any real thought about what I wanted. On some level I just wanted someone else to see me, invest some time to tell me what they saw in me or help me explore what I could become.
This realization makes me feel so sad. I’ve been keeping myself stuck for so long just because I was waiting for others to save me or see me?? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
And then I say it… It’s like I’m living in the bottom of a well. This is the sad, frustrated part of me that feels like it is not even possible to climb up and get out as the opening is just so high up, so might as well wait and make the best of what I have in this limited space. At least until somebody notices I’m down here. They are all probably so busy living their big, amazing lives on the outside, right? The thing is, I know how to be in this place. It’s cozy, comforting and I almost have an affection for it but at times it feels lonely, hopeless and pathetic. Why even bother trying anything different because I don’t believe I will ever be able to get out on my own. Doesn’t anyone even know I’m here?
Needless to say there were a LOT of tears during this first session with Peter with shocking truths being spoken from god knows where. Peter asked me (as homework) to ponder and write about one question…
What would life be like outside of the well? What would it look like, feel like, smell like – how would I be different?
The initial thought sent me into panic!!!! Honestly, every fiber in my body screamed “What? No! No! I’m not ready!”. Like it was too soon. I felt rushed to skip a bunch of steps along the way and I said to Peter ” I don’t want to get out just yet. Can I just sit on the edge and take a few breaths to see what this next part of my life might be like? The desperate negotiation made me laugh but the resistance was paralyzing. Talk about telling of where I am at… safety blanket much?
Before I even think about venturing to the top, I want to explore this place I’ve called home for so long.
To have lived here so long I realize I’ve learned ways of tricking myself to make my life seem more fulfilling than it really is – like stop gaps along the way to keep the wanting part of me happy. Whether it was landing the marketing job of my dreams, complete a project, going to a concert, singing karaoke or going on a vacation – these experiences are like short bursts of living at a time. There is an ‘aliveness’ to each and I feel powerful and engaged (like what I imagine life to be outside the well) but then once the moment passes I EASILY glide back down where it’s comfy and almost make excuses for retreating based on the incredible effort I just put in. Like I deserve to go back and rest for a bit.
Between events, there is little momentum or effort on my part to change the status quo. When I think about all these types of events, no matter how significant or not, they’ve always been brought to me by others. Never initiated by me, like I’m coat-tailing off someone else or an opportunity lands on my lap out of the blue. I guess I’ve been very lucky in many ways because if it had been left to me, I can’t say I would have made anything happen on my own steam.
People in my life are and would be surprised I discovered I live a small, limited life. They think I’ve got so much yes, I see that too. But being grateful for all that I DO have also keeps me stuck at the same time because who am I to want more??? I love my life in so many ways – a husband who is THE most supportive partner,a marriage I’m proud of, a beautiful and healthy child and another on the way. I love our home and where we live. I know how blessed I am and I can see the outside view of my life and it is great. But what about the part that’s just inside me? It feels ‘selfish’ and indulgent to ask for more. Almost like I’m asking for too much.
I don’t ask myself what I want out of my life. I don’t make an intended effort. I don’t know what I’m passionate about. I don’t know where to start. I feel my life has no inner direction. I’m just floating along like a passive passenger in my own life. How much longer can I do this?
I’m tired of using spontaneous events to feel alive and want to contribute on a bigger level. I want something that’s for me and expresses who I am and what I care about. Living in the moment (as I call it) has its place but it’s created nothing more than great moments that become good memories and a life where I’m never looking past what’s in front of me. There’s no purpose.
I tell myself that living a bigger life would be exhausting and not sustainable. Living on the outside and being “FULL ON KER” is too much and not possible.
Maybe I should answer the question before I continue this thread much further.
What is life like outside the well?
As I sit on the edge I breathe in fresh air. I feel comforted and secure still being close to the well, like I could go back anytime. I look out and see vast, rolling green hills, trees, lakes, a wide open blue sky and it is beautiful. It feels fresh and peaceful. Like the sky is the limit. The land is lush, natural and untouched with so much potential. Like fertile ground. Then I get it, what I’m seeing is my untouched life that I could do so many things with it!
… but what?
I guess I can make it what I want. I could build on it and develop it but where to start? For now, I see the possibilities of it all… then this presents so many choices about my life, which stops me in my tracks. Too many options and the question comes back to “What do I WANT?” Oh god how I hate this question. It is too much to contemplate, overwhelming with fear of NOT HAVING A CLUE! Like ‘OOh shit… if the life police find out, they are going to come and get me!!’ I remember Scott asking me this on our first date over 1o YEARS AGO…. I cried. Awkward.
I never learned that my life was my own to create and now I can actually SEE it. Holy crap!
As quick as I see the possibilities, a voice comes in to say things like “You don’t have the luxury or the time to think like this. Who do you think you are? The reality is that you ARE limited, you have responsibilities now. You are a wife, a mother and are too far in to start from scratch. You won’t have time. It will be too hard to fit in. You should be there for your family, THEY are your priority. That ship of what YOU want, has sailed my dear.”
It’s like I took on or inherited patterns of those who came before me,. No one told me that I could dream something up and pursue it – that my life was worth considering. I am so familiar with doing things based on what is going on for other people and being something for them (a mom, wife, friend, listener, problem solver) and honestly this does make me happy but I never give myself much thought. I feel ill equipped to create a life that is my own.
Sitting here at the top of the well and simply glimpsing and getting a feel for the outside is scary. I feel vulnerable.
But I can also feel the pulse of empowerment, ownership and freedom that is possible.
Fast forward where I am TODAY… 20 lbs lighter (30 more to go), running 20 minutes non-stop, eating food that fuels my body and tonight, I’m meeting with some social media movers n’ shakers in my beautiful town of Steveston to brainstorm ways we can inspire people in our area to connect with each other using Twitter and Facebook. Why? Because I have a love for people, community, connection and social media and in awe of the action that can come from simply expressing an idea and now seeing it come together with others. I still don’t really know what I’m going to be when I grow up but I’m excited to find out as I go along now.
And what does my hubby have to say about it? He’s just happy I finally showed up! haha.
I can see now that I don’t think I ever went back into the well after that session. Because why would I???!! At least it hasn’t felt like it. I still have a LOT of discovering ahead as I navigate and design my growing life ahead but am still blown away that by simply giving myself permission and the willingness to explore ONE question, my life was changed for the better. THIS is the power of balance coaching at its finest.
There were many more ‘Aha’ moments that followed and many more to come, but this was the biggest by far.
As I told my coaching colleagues this weekend, my life has never been busier and yes, exhausting at times ….but I’ve never been happier.
PS. This was a much tougher post to hit ‘publish’ on… even more so than my starting point. Thank you for reading and all the love and support you send xo K