I've got a problem. It is 10AM and my mind is utterly convinced that I have nothing of value to write this morning. It is not budging on the matter. I have the desire to write. I have the will to write. I have an audience in mind - coaching clients, people interested in how to make lasting changes in their lives. I have plenty of book-and-classroom knowledge and client experiences to draw from. But ... no dice.
See, this is how it goes. I can articulate these things - will, audience, experience - just fine, but the resitance, the blockage, the whatever-it-is is still in the way. It's like this:
Mind: Nothingtosaynothingtosay nothing tosaynothingtosay. And I call myself a coach? Seriously? I ask others to trust that I can guide them through the muck and mud, help them see new possibilities, reduce stress, take effective action in their lives? And yet, here I am, all mucked-and-muddy myself. How in the hell could I possibly help others? Perhaps the term "unemployed" serves you better. Hang it up, brother!
And: I'm glad no one is at the house with me (snoring dogs aside); I'd never be able to connect to them - preoccupied with all this navel gazing and discomfort.
Perhaps I'm better suited to a career in banking.
But then ... something happens. Better yet: Something was happening already and I just became aware of it. Don't imagine lightning bolts. Don't imagine flash bulbs. Imagine something more like a patch of thick clouds (my bad mood) morphing into a configuration that let's a sliver of sun sneak through for a few seconds. It's a different thought, an insight: Well, these kinds of experiences keep me humble. If I have anything to real to offer my clients, I come by it honestly, through my own daily struggle.
And so, I had my topic. I wrote what you just read (for better or worse).
Here's the thing: In my work with clients, awareness - not reason - rules the day. Without exception, folks come to coaching (and therapy, I presume) wanting to understand the problem, wanting to know "why" their life is the way it is. Typically, without knowing it, they have already come up with their own answer, which is: Something is wrong with me. Or worse: I'm sick
As a coach, I never arrive at that conclusion. Not because I have a sunnyside up view of life (clearly I do not), but because it's not a useful starting point. I fully accept and understand that something hurts, but the moment we assert that something is "wrong" with us, we have to start assembling a theory that uses what we do, what we think and what we feel to support our assertion. And that leads us to a whole set of interventions that have only thoughts - not experiences - as their basis.
Isn't it easier just to pay attention, to observe our experience and see what can be learned?
I think so.
This morning, I might have written pages upon pages of pointless drivel about why I couldn't think of something to write ...
Maybe I chose the wrong career path.
Maybe I need more training.
Maybe I've got a brain tumor!
All possibilities, to be sure. But I didn't take the bait. Instead, drawing on my experience over many years, I got interested in what was actually happening in my experience: What's the body doing now? What emotions are present now? What thoughts are assualting me now? How am I/would I be relating to others right now? How connected do I feel to myself, others, the world right now?
When I earnestly engaged those question, insight came.
Now, there's no indication that the insight came along because I engaged those questions, but being aware (instead of caught up in the miserable feelings) allowed me to recognize it, take it seriously, and go with it.
And now, nearly two hours later, here I am having written something. Whether that something has practical value for my readers, I can't know. For my part, though: I was able to practice being aware; I remembered the value of being aware; and, perhaps most importantly, I now have an experience of moving through something difficult that I can draw on next time.