a cottage: not a prison. broken down walls, nonetheless.
I want to bring my creativity into my work.
I want to feel more confident and powerful.
I want to change the way I feel about my body. I want to do work I feel passionate about. I want stronger relationships.
Or even: I don’t know what I want, but it’s not this.
It’s no small thing when someone says that they want something in their lives to change.
My coaching clients do a lot of hard work to get from where they are to where they want to be, and that work isn’t always in the form of action (going, doing, getting, running, higher, faster, now!). The hardest work seems to be in the shifting, the choosing and affirming new perspectives, the being and the standing up into what they want.
I recently completed with a client, who put it quite simply: “I had built my own prison!”
She was talking about the process of acknowledging, examining and letting go of the stories that kept her stuck. The tall tales she told herself which built steel bars, and doors that locked tight (complete with guards carrying automatic rifles). A prison that was built of: That’s the way it has to be. They call it work for a reason. You can’t do what you love. I am not [fill-in-the-blank] enough. Other people can do that, because they are [fill-in-the-blank] and I am not. You are a dreamer, come back to reality.
From the prison, she could smell the warm air of possibility and the sweet notes of her heart’s desire, but her arms could not reach out to grab onto these things. For months, we sat together on the floor of that prison, looking around and describing what it was made of. Brick-by-brick, she looked at the stories and chose: to believe something different. She choose the way she wanted to see the world by choosing which stories would stay and which would go.
I had built my own prison.
And we all do. The key that unlocks the door is listening to the stories we tell ourselves and then making the choice to either continue to believe them or to choose something different. Shifting from: They Call it Work for a Reason, to: My Work is a Joyful Exploration, opened up possibility, curiosity, play, and just fit my client like a glove. (You can tell by the sparkle in her eyes.)
On this July afternoon, I wonder: what stories are holding you prisoner? And if you chose, what would the new story be?