I was sitting in my first training day to be a life coach, thinking, this isn’t possible.
We were working on beliefs that had us backed into a corner. I wanted to be hosting workshops, but was discouraged by the thought of rejection. Surely, no matter what I believed, someone else had the power to say no? Here was a belief my desire lay in the hands of another. I was thinking of the person who might receive my email – the gatekeeper to the organisation I wanted to penetrate – who I couldn’t guarantee would reply, or even read my message. What if I went into their junk? Perhaps, they would take the time to read it, even think my workshops sounded good, but there simply wasn’t the budget. It was all them, I was helpless.
This is why beliefs work is fantastic – it gives us back our power.
Can you think of a notion that is very much upheld by fact? There is clear evidence to support it? In my case, after years of trying to sell Public Speaking Workshops to MA Creative Writing programs, I still hadn’t secured enough universities to live off my work. Here was irrefutable fact. When we were asked to imagine what it would be like if that obstacle didn’t exist, I laughed because that was a pointless exercise. But this is where we always begin with our beliefs work – in the what if?
For me, I couldn’t explore the what if – my mind wouldn’t let me. The feeling was of impossibility. This is why we refer to these kinds of beliefs as ‘self-limiting’. And this is why they are so obstructive.
During the training day, we had to find a new belief, which I felt was silly. When I looked, I couldn’t find one. These are two classic responses to beliefs work; discovering them is heartening. It is the moment in a long search when you go from ‘cold’ to ‘warm’.
In the end, I wrote down: I am learning to believe it’s possible to run my workshops. It didn’t feel right, and if I hadn’t been in a class, I wouldn’t have bothered. This is the beauty of life coaching, it brings you to the table, makes you bother; after arriving at the table and bothering enough times, you suddenly realise you’re are not the person you were, but the person you always wanted to be.
The troubled feeling my new belief wasn’t quite right, was the experience of antibodies. I was endeavouring to weaken my current ideas. In response, my brain attempted to neutralise the strike. It’s all about self-preservation, and what the mind believes is necessary to uphold this.
Now, I run numerous workshops, many of them specifically working with beliefs that keep us stationary. So, what changed?
A part of me wanted the training day to work like a switch, flipping me into a new place immediately. I was frustrated at being held back, I couldn’t bear it a moment longer – especially as I was now having to look at the restriction fully in the face. I had been hobbling on a leg that was withered, missing trains I couldn’t run for, yet all this time I hadn’t looked down to see what the problem was. Now that I was looking at a gaunt leg, I wanted it gone, this instant. The despair was intensified by the fact that I ‘knew’ it wasn’t possible. The wanting was a source of pain – better not to want, safer to ignore it.
This is why I love coaching. When you turn up – either to a training program, as I did, or to work with a coach – you are putting yourself in a new routine, one that brings your wants to the surface on a regular basis.
The beliefs we hold about what we can and can’t do, keep us in one place. I had accepted that place – although I was also dreaming for more. But, as I said, those dreams were a source of pain: a longing to be freed from confinement. The coaching arena not only enables you to find a way to dream cleanly, it has you visit these dreams on a regular basis. What begins to happen is that you throw out a line to that future place. On that training day, I threw it out weakly, but the more training days I went to, the better I got – the stronger my arm – until one day, I threw it out so wholeheartedly that it stuck and I pulled myself into a new place.
The mind does not know the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. There are brain scans to prove this wonderful fact. When you become practised in dreaming about what you want, everything shifts on a cellular level as if this were the case. This is why, in coaching, I work hard with a client to develop this skill. We always see their dreams in the present: what is it like to hold your published book? How does happiness feel? We practice and practice until the dream is free of niggles and doubts; until its real.
When I think back to that training day, I see I was scared. A part of me wanted to be a life coach – empowering people is the greatest pleasure – but another part was afraid. Self-preservation. All my mind was trying to do was keep me safe.
I continued to work on my dream of being a life coach. At the beginning, it was always with a quality of fear. But the more I practiced, the more enticing that future became until my brain saw that this was the ‘safer’ option – that now the ‘danger’ was greater in my current life: in avoiding fear, I was actually living in it. Suddenly the switch came, flipping me into a new place. All it took was practice.