When I received the paperwork for the 18-month Ontological Coaching Program, I realised that it started with a 4-day opening conference, the first three days of which were the same 3-day course that I had completed 16 months earlier. That’s right – the course where I found myself standing in a conga line, massaging the shoulders of the person in front of me. I started to reflect on this. Who had I been when I completed the 3-day course previously? Who did I want to be now?
I formed the assessment that when I had completed the 3-day course, I had not allowed myself to accept that participation int he course activities was an invitation. I had therefore also not allowed myself to accept that invitations could be accepted or declined. When I reflected on this, I realised that my approach throughout my journey so far had been to push myself to do everything so that I didn’t miss out on any learning. The body coaching during my coaching conversations had been a perfect example of this, as had the conga line experience on the 3-day course. Regardless of how uncomfortable I felt, I had never allowed myself to decline an invitation. Instead, I had pushed and pushed myself to do it, for fear of not learning something.
What would it take for me to at least feel comfortable that declining an invitation was a possibility? Would there still be learning to be had if I declined?
What came to me was that acknowledging that I had a choice was not going to hurt me. It might be that, in the moment, I would decide to accept the invitation, and that would be fine. However, I immediately felt freedom when I gave myself permission to go forth into the course and acknowledge that it was an invitation and that I could accept or decline the invitation. All of a sudden, I had a choice.
The next thing that came to me was that I had been really suffering when I had participated in the three-day course, and I was quite embarrassed about some of the actions that I had taken from that place of suffering. It wasn’t that my actions were particularly “wrong” or “bad”. It was more that my suffering and bitterness was quite obvious in some of my responses. What would it take to arrive at peace? I formed the assessment that I already was operating more from peace than I had been when I attended the 3-day course. I also forgave myself for how I was being back then. I was a different version of me, dealing with a different set of challenges when I completed that course. I realised that it didn’t matter who I was back then. What mattered was how I applied that learning to who I was going to be, and my assessment was that I had been fairly committed to that. Peace and forgiveness. Wow, what a feeling.
It had taken until almost the end of the coaching process for me to realise just how much I had been operating from self-judgement. With this new piece of learning, I started to look at how much self-judgement I had been carrying during that three-day course. Wow. What will it take to remove self-judgement from my experience of the 18-month course opening conference? What I had recently learnt was that I could generally do this quite easily, if I was aware of it or looking for it.
And so I walked into Day 1 of the course that changed my life: at peace, self-forgiving, ready to consider any invitations that were offered to me, removed of self-judgement, and open to whatever learning came my way. I felt excited, curious and ever so slightly nervous. As I sat there, in the now-familiar semi-circle of chairs with no back row to hide in, I told myself that the nervousness was ok. This was new learning and it was ok to feel anxious or nervous about new learning. Acknowledge it. Accept it. Don’t let it rule you.
We started to talk about what we wanted to get out of the course. Everyone seemed so intelligent and well thought-out in their answers, and I started to feel out of my depth a little. Deanne, be kind to yourself. Do you think perhaps everyone else is feeling anxious too? This is new learning. Of course you are uncertain. Just be you. It doesn’t matter whether you present differently to everyone else. You are you and you are here for your own reasons. Just embrace being you. And so, when it was my turn to speak, I said “I am here to give this course my everything and to experience what comes of that”.
My answer felt like a minor cop-out at the time. Little did I know just how much that approach would make available to me.
I think that one of the most useful pieces of learning that I have taken from this process is the understanding that we can only take action in whatever way that our way of being allows. I did operate from some fear, anxiety, bitterness and much suffering in that three-day course and, when I looked back, I was embarrassed and self-judging. Learning that however I behaved back then was a result of whatever my way of being happened to be at the time helped me to accept that I was doing my best at the time. Yes, my “best” broke some of my personal standards. However, judging myself for that was never going to be helpful. Understanding that my way of being was not perhaps the most useful, and understanding what was sitting beneath the layers that had led to that way of being was incredibly useful. It allowed me to find a path for moving forward. It also allowed me to appreciate that perhaps my way of being back then was understandable, given what I had been going through at work. It allowed me to accept that it was what it was. I didn’t want to be that person moving forward, and that was ok. So how do I apply my learning so that I am not that person (when it doesn’t serve me to be that person)?
Points to Ponder…
- Where might it be helpful for you to forgive yourself?
- Where might you be judging yourself? Is there something else that you could do that may serve you more usefully?
- Is there a situation that you are dealing with where a way of being shift may be useful? What way of being would be useful?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.