At the age of 58, I thought had safely tucked all my baggage away, never to be opened and acknowledged again. What I hadn’t realized was how limiting this avoidance was. Because, even though I thought those were packed bags, they were actually stories that narrated my actions and thoughts and they defined the boundaries of my life. The realization of this fact (thanks to the work I do with my coach); acknowledging my stories as they are; giving love to myself for my courage to explore; and allowing myself to put down the energy these stories take to preserve, give me the peace of mind to be able to live in the moment and the optimism to create a future free of limitations.
We all have stories. Some, we love to tell others with pride and some, we tell ourselves to justify our actions. They may be based on actual or perceived events or difficult relationships with loved ones. Some may be so severe that a mental health professional may have to be called in to help. Others are not debilitating, rather they become the broken record in our minds.
Our stories don’t have to define us. Each day, we get to create ourselves and our lives the way we wish them to be. The difficult part is recognizing these stories as what they are, stories. Just as how a fish can not tell you what water is because he has no reference of not being in water, we cannot tell we are living in our stories because we have no reference of being out of them. Here is where a coach can help. As an observer, listener, and also very much an outsider, a coach can point out the stories in which we live as stories and not reality. By reflecting back to us these stories, the coach can help us become aware of them.
In order to become an ontological life coach, one has to go through rigorous training. I found this out when I signed up for coach training in February 2018. My goal was to find a part time career that allowed me to spend time with my grandchildren, continue volunteering, and work from home. Tall order, until I thought of the time I had hired a coach. She was a full time professor with a part time business in coaching, plus she was immensely helpful to me. The light bulb went on in my head and the next thing I knew I was knee deep in training. What I found out was life coaching is serious business with amazing benefits. My training program is challenging in many ways, most important of which leads to unpacking of all those bags, airing out all stale thoughts and stories, trying them on to see if they still fit, and moving past them if they don’t.
To be sure, it is not easy, this journey of self-discovery. You get to meet parts of yourself that you may not like. The late Debbie Ford, in her book “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers”, writes: “Discovering the gifts of even our most hated qualities is a creative process that needs only a deep desire to listen and learn, a willingness to release dysfunctional judgments and beliefs and a readiness to feel better.” Not everyone feels this readiness, because those stories are very powerful. Some, like me, stumble into this readiness out of sheer luck. And some, of course, are already aware so they can dispel their own stories and don’t need any outside help, though these people are not a majority.
The rewards scattered throughout this journey are priceless. Discovering and accepting your self with all of your good and bad parts lead to a wholeness that is life changing. They lead to a fulfilling life with limitless possibility. They lead to a peace of mind that is hard to find otherwise. They lead to happiness.
Recognizing your stories for what they are allows you to start shifting your perspective. It allows you to go beyond the limits that you have placed on yourself. It allows you to start creating a life that is based in reality as opposed to those stories. It allows you to find an inner courage that will surprise you.
Here’s to living aware!