Today, I’m beginning a fun event for me and perhaps for you. I’m sharing a short synopsis of life as a coach, writer, painter, podcaster, and a person being human. Within each week there seems to be a theme – regardless of the area of my work/life. So this may be interesting, educational or entertaining for you – that all pleases me! And if there are enough viewers, a short coaching session may be offered to someone on the live Facebook.
Theme of the Week – Armoring and Disarmoring
As I was watering my plants today and thinking about this Live Event, the question that came to mind is this: "What’s the degree to which you are transparent in the world?" Or, "From 0-100, what percentage of your life are you protecting and armoring yourself from being violated?"
One of the earliest experiences presented to me by my coach and coach trainer Hans Phillips was these two question: "What are you afraid people will find out or decide about you?" "What do you do so people don’t find that out?" These questions point to the survival strategies we’ve created to armor ourselves against being vulnerable. They also point to the very ways we are constrained from living the life we say we truly want to live.
This week I witnessed clients armoring themselves in ways that don’t allow them to live in their fulfillment – they stifle their life force and don’t even know it. They interpret themselves as wrong or incompetent because their lives look different than what they assume other people are going through and living with. Giving them an opportunity to witness how they make assumptions and live into those assumptions – armoring themselves against attack, empowered them to be with the consequences of those assumptions. They are thinking differently about who they are in their lives.
As a coach and thinking partner, I’m aware of how I can armor myself by playing it safe with my clients – ensuring that I don’t offend them or upset them in some way. I made some leaps into transparency this week for the sake of more effective presence and clarity. I was trepidatious in disarming myself within the context of the coaching session, yet the outcome was welcomed for them and for me. Stretching beyond one’s comfort zone is the only way to grow one’s capacity to be the change you want to see in the world. I know that sounds corny, and you may be rolling your eyes, but it’s what I’ve experienced to be the truth. If I don’t do it you won’t do it. If you don’t do it your clients won’t do it! End of story!!!
In my writing and my podcasts: Aging Like a Guru – Who Me?, I’ve been aware of the part of me that is fearful of being more ‘out there.’ I’m afraid of what people may decide about me and what they might do based on their decision. Given all the traumas and dramas of my life – that includes past lives, I had been disgraced and desecrated more times than I can remember. So in unconscious ways, I’ve been armoring myself against any further humiliation and annihilation. This works to keep me safe, but it doesn’t work if my intention is to be available in the world for whatever it is I can offer.
In the creative arena of my life, I witness my armoring there too. It’s easy for me to distract myself from focusing on my painting. It’s easy for me to see the imperfections and judge me for that. It’s easy to stay within the lines and make art that is appreciated by others but doesn’t stir the juice of passion and delight in me. Distracting, judging, staying within the lines are all ways to armor myself from the fullest expression of me.
With my clients and with myself I have to ask the question: "What do you want – enough that you are willing to let go of all the ways you armor yourself?"
I’ve always loved the question in every 12-Step program: "Are you willing to do whatever it takes to reclaim your life, your sanity and the fulfillment of your human-spirit?" My answer to this question used to be "Hell No!" And, I suffered the consequences of that for decades. Now, knowing that life will remain as it is if I’m unwilling to do whatever it takes, I now say "Hell YES!" I’ll have other consequences ahead of me, however more likely than not, I’ll experience more serenity, fulfillment and peace.
So that’s pretty much it for this week. Me, my clients and you all face fascinating circumstances that either support us in armoring ourselves to greater degrees or support us in dismantling our armor a little at a time. Just wondering what *you* are choosing to choose, and how that’s working for you!