One of the cornerstones of the coaching model in which I studied, (The Coaches Training Institute) is that “People are Naturally Creative Resourceful and Whole." In a nutshell this means; we are not broken, we don’t need fixing, all that we need is within us and we have the ability to overcome our circumstances. I love this cornerstone and when I’m coaching clients I am always tethered to this truth. For some strange reason, in everyday life it is much more challenging to remember.
"People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
In my life I play and have played different roles; Father, Parent, Leader, Supporter, Manager, Caregiver, Coach, Brother, Team Member… In many of these roles I operated from the assumption that the role allowed for power over another. For me the classic example of this is my role as a parent. Since I have had life experiences that my children have not yet had, I must have the right to tell them what to do and not do.
I was reminded of this cornerstone today after an interaction with my 89 year old Father who moved to Squamish recently. Without getting into specific details, I have been trying to get my Dad to participate in a seniors program. After much effort and time and a lot of pushing, we were able to schedule the first meeting next week. I was feeling very relieved and happy about this happening. Then today out of the blue, my Dad phoned and said “cancel the meeting”! I’m usually pretty calm and collected…except with my Dad. Over the last few months, I have been quickly humbled when I lose my cool in no time flat. The best part is, that I observe myself about to go over the edge and can’t pull myself back even though I’m fully aware of what is happening. A far cry from getting unconsciously angry. Yay for progress. I’m happy to say that in this conversation, I was finally able to stop myself from going to anger. Instead I clearly shared my feelings and gently shared my disappointment and after some back and forth conversation fully conceded and ended the conversation.
The call came just as I was about to go for a walk and I spent much of the walk really thinking about the situation. It only took a little while for me to come to the cornerstone. Even though my Dad is getting older and struggling in some areas. At this time, he is still advocating for his freedom and independence. I realized that when I make decisions for him we get into conflict and when I give him space he finds his own resources and makes decisions. I realized that I have been looking at the situation from a lens of fear and worst case scenario. In the process not giving my Dad the space to make his own decisions and continue to live his life. I remembered that when needed my Dad clearly asks for help. I felt such a relief in letting go of having to have all the answers. So of course, within minutes of my internal shift, my Dad phoned back to say that he would like to proceed with the meeting and then make a decision. YAY!
So in the end I am so grateful for a reminder and yet another dose of humility. I am reminded that as a culture we seem quick to jump to the place of action. What can I “do” about a situation to fix it and then I lean into my role to justify my action. Most of the time I am motivated by the fear of what might happen if I don’t take action. Then there is the other way, coming from a place of compassion, kindness and caring, listening with my heart and providing space for the other persons spirit, nature and wholeness to speak. The truth is, I can’t know those things, I can only get better at sitting in the discomfort and creating space for understanding.
"If we practice mindfullness, we always have a place to "be" when we are afraid" ~ Thich Nhat Hanh