These last few days see me celebrating my husband Ross’ birthday, and getting ready for my next Heart of Thriving workshop – starting this Wednesday. So grateful to be introducing yet another group of people to what it takes to truly thrive!
My long-time friend and mentor, Michael Neill, has a brilliant weekly podcast called “Caffeine for the Soul” You can listen to here: https://www.michaelneill.org/podcast/
Today’s podcast was especially relevant for me, as I’ve been reflecting on the very same question recently.
How is it that after a conversation with me (or indeed another inside-out coach), some of my clients experience massive, life-changing insights which literally transform their lives… and others struggle and get frustrated and end up judging either the truth of the Three Principles understanding, or more commonly perhaps, judging themselves. Feeling that they lack the essential element that will allow them to grasp it beyond an intellectual level – as they witness other clients experiencing on my workshops.
Maybe we just don’t see it until we see it.
I used to take this personally. If only I was a better coach. If only my own grounding was deeper. If only I was more eloquent. If only I listened more deeply.
These days, whilst I’m still very engaged in deepening my understanding and developing my skills – I’ve learned that it’s not my business when clients “get it” to the level that it transforms their lives. A metaphor that helps here is to see it as a readiness thing.
To see my job as being like a gentle summer rain, and my clients as the ground I’m raining on. Sometimes the soil is highly fertile, and the seeds in the soil burst quickly into a beautiful garden. Sometimes the soil is dry and nothing much seems to happen immediately – but the ground becomes more fertile ready for the next time it rains – our next coaching conversation. And sometimes the soil is very rocky, and nothing appears to grow at all.
In saying this, by the way, I’m not judging them as bad or stupid or broken or anything else. We are all doing the best we can given the thinking that looks real to us in the moment. By ‘real’, I mean it doesn’t look like thinking – it looks like truth or reality.
It seems to me there are two categories of people who seem to show up as “more rocks than soil”.
Firstly, there are the people who live in their heads. They are usually super-bright, and for them, it’s the intellectual understanding that’s key. They value their intellect, quite rightly – and have developed a pattern of not trusting anything that doesn’t fit their existing, well-thought-out philosophy of life. Perhaps they under-value intuition, or inner wisdom – and they tend to look outside themselves for the scientifically-validated consensus on pretty much anything. They certainly have feelings (they’re human, after all), but tend to treat these as irrelevant and even mildly irritating.
I’ve worked with several people recently who grasp the inside-out nature of the human experience intellectually – but struggle to move beyond that to a deeply felt sense of its underlying, deeper truth – and the implications of that.
Two examples occur to me from the last fortnight:
James approached me for coaching after reading my book “The He’Art of Thriving”. His marriage was in trouble, and he was looking for strategies to save it. He spent a long time in our first session earnestly telling me that he absolutely believed that we are living in the feeling of our thinking – rather than our circumstances. In fact, he claimed that he’d always know this, and he’d always lived from that philosophy. He also told me he believed that well-being, resilience and clarity are the default setting, when our thinking settles down. And yet he seemed petrified that his wife might leave him, so we explored why. He uncovered a deeply-held belief that any chance of happiness would end if he couldn’t be married to this particular woman, and he certainly wouldn’t be able to thrive ever again. He might survive – just. But thrive, never. I gently pointed out that this was outside-in thinking, and he went very quiet for a while. (I have high hopes for him and his marriage by the way, but it’s a good example of a blind spot when we don’t truly see where our experience is coming from).
Amelia, another recent client, shared that she spends much of her time being angry. She’s angry with her kids, angry with her ex-husband, angry with her boss, and angry with most of her friends. She’s still angry about things that her parents said thirty years ago. The only time she ever really feels peaceful is when she’s doing yoga, or when she’s walking her dog. Again, once she realised that nothing outside her can possibly ‘make’ her either angry, peaceful, or anything else – her garden began to flower at a rapid pace.
The second category includes what Michael talks about his latest podcast. It depends what you’re listening for. What’s fascinating is that if you come into this conversation only looking for ways to feel better about yourself and your life, you’ll tend to listen for strategies and how-to’s.
Those people who come into this conversation motivated by a genuine curiosity about the human experience and how it works, seem to go much faster and further. The implications for our own lives do emerge – so actually we DO experience a lighter, kinder, more wonderful life – but the insights come from within when we have clarity of mind.
This understanding is not a prescription about how to live your life – it’s simply a description of the fundamental principles behind the human experience.
When we grasp those, life just has a way of making sense, and that wisdom shows up in all our behaviours, decisions and actions in the world.