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In my private coaching practice I work with clients over extended periods and often in multiple cycles (people return after months, years and even decades for another round of support). By way of checking in, each new session I usually start by asking “who are you today?!”
I do this because I know people can change in minutes, hours, days and weeks (let alone years) and we as humans can also occupy a diverse range of positions on ‘the emotional scale’. So who we were, even a few minutes, hours, days, weeks or years ago, can be greatly different than who we NOW find ourselves being. I find that extremely fascinating!
Check in With Mean Ol’ Ms. Merkley:
Inevitably when I ask this question some will respond by berating themselves for what they perceive they have or have not accomplished since we last connected.
I have my suspicions that they think mean ol’ Ms. Merkley’s horns are going to show and I’ll berate them for not accomplishing their articulated next steps exactly as they were written on their last map. LOL (laugh out loud).
However, as the session goes along (and they relax) I find out that actually A LOT has happened and is happening in their unfolding process … they just aren’t giving these things their due respect or seeing them as legitimate, alternative steps in their own right. So my job is to act as a reflecting mirror, so they respect the amazing, magical and ‘oh-so-wise’ ways of their fuller self.
Be Flexible: The Map Is Not the Territory
Sometimes it is more challenging for clients to see and appreciate their change or movement than it is for me who has the luxury of a bird’s eye view of their terrain (rather than being down in the trenches of their life like they are). My own coaches have that same perspective on my life and that’s part of why I employ them – to help me see that in myself and my own journey.
As a pioneering Visual Coach I literally draw my client’s steps out of them and organize their thoughts and feelings into visually attractive ‘vision’ and ‘action plans’. Over the years, I have learned to take these artifacts with a grain of salt (i.e. a softer approach and not always literal). As ‘the map is not the territory’ when it comes to the unfoldment of our lives. The territory always reigns supreme over the map!
Sometimes (most or all times!) there are shifts, changes and surprises along the way. Reminds me of the joke ‘want to make God laugh … tell her your best laid plans?!’
While the visuals I and my cadre of Certified Visual Coaches create are super useful for our clients, they will never completely and accurately predict what happens in a client’s life. As life always has its own, better, richer version than the 2D stuff we doodle on paper. And that’s totally perfect and exciting, even if uncomfortable in the short term at times!
In order to make a shift, some clients have to take care of foundational basics in their life – or, life makes them take care of this level of things whether they initially want to or not. It’s my opinion that this happens so they can eventually build on top of a strong foundation rather than on a shaky one that could never have borne the weight of what their Future Self is all about.
Sometimes this takes the form of a health challenge, scare or very serious condition (for some people it might even take the form of their death). Or the change or loss of important relationships whether through disagreements, divorce, death or other kinds of changes. Or through changes in geography, home and/or work setting. In essence, the decks are re-arranged. These deck changes may not be what the client anticipated but often, when the larger picture is understood, it’s exactly what their Future Self needed in order to successfully materialize for their next chapter.
Catalyzing Dark Nights of the Soul:
For some clients, they go through a Dark Night of the Soul before the dawn slowly or suddenly breaks. This was certainly my own experience over the years as my Future Self slowly but surely broke out of its protective shell and forced me to transform my life (with the Energy Work I’m undergoing another round of this is currently happening).
So hard, but ultimately so worth it. Much of what is often cherished (stability, identity, status, ego, etc.) has to be catapulted in order for things to be rearranged into a more authentic configuration, maybe not permanently but for a period of time.
This can be a very confusing, scary and unsettling experience especially for the more left-brained among us (myself included) who aren’t especially gifted at going with the flow. Nothing like a ‘dark night’ experience to turn us “Js” on the Myers Briggs more towards the “P” side of the spectrum! A much needed integration happening even if we go kicking and screaming at times!
Appreciate All That You ARE Doing or Being:
When I allow the space for my clients to talk about themselves and their lives … a scarce commodity in our rushed and busy world … they often do SEE and FEEL their unfolding process in a gentler and more accepting way. What is happening may not be exactly or even close to what their left brain planned however plenty IS happening if they can just open up to its existence … and allow at least the idea of its ultimate ‘rightness’ for them rather than railing or fighting against it.
I love that feeling when I can help a person to literally SEE and TRUST what is happening in their own personal process. To stop fighting what is and to relax into it. To see it as the perfect manifestation for them right now. Even if they can’t from this vantage point yet understand its significance in the 20,000-foot view of their whole “Life Map”.
In most cases they eventually can. And also be thankful for the course correction even if was painful when it was happening.
Wishing you all the best in the allowing of the twists and turns of your own creations! Hang in there, eventually, with enough time (or maybe even in an instant through an act of grace), you will be able to literally draw your journey out and see, understand and appreciate this challenging time for its role in your life and probably in your mission overall to assist and help people with something similar. Your story is your greatest asset, especially the messy and challenging bits!