Archives for the month of: July, 2012

The presidential campaigns employ a powerful strategy: define the opponent before he can define himself.  Better to be seen on the offensive than defensive!

A twist on that dynamic raises a life lesson I encounter in coaching. Too many of us accept someone else’s definition of who we are and then spend most of our energy on defense. Should we be surprised that our lives are out of alignment?

Of course, we have been defined by others since our childhood beginning with our parents and siblings. Soon, it is our teachers and peers and advertisers telling us who we are and who we should be.  Our acceptance of these messages becomes our story. Repeated often enough, we accept the story as our destiny. It defines us.

Unfortunately, like the political campaigns these stories are often based on others pointing out our deficiencies – lack of looks, lack of smarts, lack of ability, lack of ambition. They tell us these things out of anger in the moment or to put us down in order to build themselves up. Too often we accept the messages. We give the power to others to define us.

Creating our own narrative is the most sacred task we have been in given in life.  The key to writing a new history begins with a decision to leave the “lacks” in the past, acknowledge our innate power and step fully into it.

We can begin by answering these questions.  What do I care most deeply about? What are the things I do well? What is the story I want to create for myself and live now?

I am a problem solver and a doer, and when it comes to seeing people wrestling with life’s challenges I tend to want to “fix it.”  In part it may be a guy thing, or it may be related to my temperament.

As a coach and a caregiver, however, I have to check myself, because this tendency does not serve me or my clients well.  It is more important for me to help them clarify their challenge(s) and their options and then hold the space for them to choose their course.

The same applies to our more intimate relationships.  If you are also a “fixer,” today’s meditation from Mark Nepo in The Book of Awakening is a good reminder to us.

“Frequently, this reflex to solve, rescue, and fix removes us from the tenderness at hand.  For often, intimacy arises not from any attempt to take the pain away, but from living through together; not from a working out, but from a being with.  Trust and closeness deepen from holding and being held, both emotionally and physically. 

I’m learning, pain by pain and tension by tension, that after all my strategies fail, the strength of love waits in receiving and not negotiating; in accepting each other and not problem solving each other; in listening and affirming each other, not trying to change or fix those we love.”