Part of my day job is calling people to schedule coaching appointments. Usually people are polite and respectful, and even sometimes downright kind hearted and pleasant to talk to. Which is good news, since I’m calling them to put them on my own coaching calendar, so we’ll be talking again. It’s helpful to start the relationship off on a positive note.
But today I called a gentleman who wasn’t any of those things. Quite the opposite, really, he was quite mean and disrespectful. I asked if he wanted to set up a call, and he responded with sentences that tended to start with “you people” and “do you even realize” and so on, punctuated by sarcastic chuckling. In short, he made it personal and he wanted me to acknowledge that I was in the wrong. I was the enemy, and he was going to let me know it. Usually I am good at being able to internalize the fact that everyone is dealing with a plethora of issues that I do not know about and that are quite probably very challenging, resulting in unfriendly behavior; and hey, maybe this man was just having a tough day, or week, or year. His energy is absolutely the product of our broken culture, and at the end of the day, he needs love, too. But today when he was essentially scolding me for not being able to meet his expectations, all I could hear was “you aren’t good enough” and “this is why it’s doing me a disservice.” I felt like the bad child who doesn’t measure up, and I found myself apologizing and trying to hold back tears. Which is really interesting, as 1. I did nothing “wrong” and 2. I was quite kind, professional and offered what I had to give. He just didn’t find it acceptable. When on the call, I knew intellectually that his issues and his anger were not about me at all, but in the moment his energy triggered a response that I couldn’t control. I had to hang up the phone. Continue reading “The Other: Crumbs of Despair”
Here we are at the end of another December. A time for looking back over the past year and looking ahead into the new one. Some of us will indulge “one last time” before beginning a strict diet on January 1st. Some of us will set lofty goals to exercise 6 days a week at the gym that we hate. Some will get out a blank journal with the intent of getting up early everyday to write down three positive thoughts. New years resolutions come in many forms, and sometimes they even stick for awhile. Benefits have been seen by setting one’s sights on making change with the turn of the calendar year.
But. So often it’s the same old same old every year. The diet starts strong and tapers off by February. It turns out we still hate the gym enough to stay home more often than not. “Thinking positive” starts to feel like pulling the wool over our eyes and avoiding the root issue. New years resolutions come in many forms, and they also fail a large percentage of the time. They don’t do what we really want them to do. They don’t change what we want them to change.
Do we throw in the resolution towel then? Stop setting goals just to fail at them over and over again? Embrace our negative thinking since that’s what feels real?
Maybe. Actually, I propose we do all of those things. This is what I think we should do as a new year begins. Continue reading “Where the Magic Happens”
The following was shared with me recently by a fellow wellness coach, and it’s an adaptation of a story that was shared with her by one of the individuals she’s been working with over the last few months. It’s a story of new beginnings, of being truly present in the moment, of accepting what is, of finding resilience in the midst of chaos and of letting negativity wash away as gratitude fills in the empty space left in its wake. Continue reading “Let the Rain Fall”
Right now the garden is thriving. Every leaf is reaching its leaves toward the sky, and every root is nestling deep into the soil, drinking up the ample nourishment that comes with abundant rains and enough organic compost. The sunflowers that were a foot high two weeks ago will soon be taller than me, and their flower heads follow the sun as it arcs across the sky, ending the day gazing toward the westerly hills. There are cabbages as big as my fist, canopies of kale providing shade for the vole who munches the beets, and if you were to stretch all of the winter squash and zucchini vines out in a line they would reach down the road and around the corner. Bees and hummingbirds are buzzing about, happily drinking up raspberry and oregano blossom nectar, doing their important pollinating work. The scarecrow is earning his keep as the peppers, tomatoes and eggplants stake their claim and the potato plants are starting to lean over in hopes of harvest. Eva, the resident three year old, likes to dart between the staked rows with bare feet and hide behind bouquets of wildflowers. Like I said, everything is thriving. And when I can remember how much life and abundance and beauty and breath catching astonishment exists just outside the door, I thrive, too. Continue reading “Let Wildness Find You”
Oliver Burkeman, author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking writes:
Research] points to an alternative approach: a ‘negative path’ to happiness that entails taking a radically different stance towards those things most of us spend our lives trying hard to avoid. This involves learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity and becoming familiar with failure. In order to be truly happy, it turns out, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions – or, at the very least, to stop running quite so hard from them.
In a society that promotes “the pursuit of happiness,” “looking on the bright side,” and “noticing the silver lining,” this idea might seem a bit off the mark at first glance. But what if Mr. Burkeman has a point? Perhaps when we let our experiences – all of them – be what they are without always trying to find the positive, we are more apt to finally see the joy that sometimes lurks just outside of our sightlines.
What do you think? Can we overdo positive thinking? What’s the best balance for you?