How life shapes us
It’s funny how life often shows us exactly what we are all about through our interactions with other people, some people tell you straight what they see and others merely hold up mirrors that when you choose to look and take notice give you interesting reflections on you. In my work as a coach, I am often the person pointing out the obvious messages or my observations about people and some find that great and are really open to hearing the observations, other people just back off into their own shell again and sometimes I do both also. It’s a bit like the Chinese saying ‘ when the student is ready the teacher will come’, that doesn’t always equate to liking the the lesson in my opinion, but teachers cross our paths every day of the week.
A recent event with a friend made me think and realise at how much they were holding up a giant mirror for me, either to see in a good or bad lights how things change and how life events shape and affect us in a lot of ways.
If you don’t like to hear all the deep and meaningful stuff or philosophical interludes of my mind, I would advise you to tune out and come back another day when I pick something way lighter to write about.
About this time 2 years ago I was heading out to Cambodia on a trip, for a lot of reasons i should not have made this trip, yet thanks to to help of some key people I did end up going and it is only now that the benefits are coming together. So you know who you are, I thank you very much for every bit of help you were willing to give and I sure hope that in time I can repay all you put in, thank you all the same.
We were only a group of 14 people visiting some magnificent sites, learning about the work of what is now one of my favourite charities namely Friends International and equally spending time with like minded people in business and learning from Dave Lakhani and Chris Howard as well as everyone on this adventure.
One of the days Dave Lakhani was helping each of us to make our personal life story into persuasive story we could use in our respective businesses. So when it was my turn, I did as I was asked and gave my full life story through my eyes and words; now if you know me well enough you know I have packed in a lot of experiences ranging from good to bad to ugly in a relatively short space of time. He stopped me somewhere into the story and said this one wasn’t ready for editing. At the time I was stunned, I really believed I had dealt with most of the things I experienced and was quite taken aback by his reaction, which then triggered anger, doubts and a whole load of negative self-talk, etc. etc on my part.
I did have some conversations with Dave and other people on the trip about it and he felt there was an enormous sense of grief, loss and sadness about me,which confused me because the only real loss of life I had experienced was that of my grandparents and whilst I was very close to my grandmother I also felt that I was at peace with this aspect of my life. He also recommended a book called the ‘Grief recovery handbook’ by John James and Russell Friedman. When I was done being angry and sorry for myself, the book arrived and it was probably one of those eye openers when you read and finally feel totally understood or just about get to understand yourself.I did all of the exercises and went with the flow of the book. I did clear up some relationships that I didn’t think would ever change, but also it helped me see that we all attach feelings and emotions to events and experiences even if they are a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time or how we interpret things and make them into insurmountable crazy issues, just so we can be noticed and feel the attention.
Coming back to recent events, it is ironic that recently I met a person who is extremely charming, funny, witty, etc and yet also carries a strange sense of loss and sadness around. By observing them, I realised how far I had come and that exactly this was probably me back then. So for that I thank the person greatly, because maybe I needed to notice.
To share some of the key things that I took away from the book. Some of our life experiences from relationship endings to business closures or job or country changes cause the same effect as losing a dear relative or friend, which means we also have same senses of loss and grief to work through. In most of our society though, grief, sadness, loss etc is not something the general public wants to deal with or is able to deal with and we all process it in our unique ways. Some of go quiet, others have to talk about it and the timeframe is completely irrelevant, it’s as if your body intuitively knows when you can handle the final grief, because in the immediate aftermath of a crisis, we also have this amazing coping mechanism kicking in. In a way it never ceases to amaze me how much our body can tell us what we can and can’t deal with at the time.
In terms of time frame it is not uncommon for major issues to come up, years later, purely because we probably cleared up other things or grew internally so we ended up ready to deal with them. I often have clients come back to significant events in business that affected them and at the time they may not have paid much attention, but when they are ready it pops back up.
Yesterday I had a meeting with a client and we were talking about the analogy of diamonds and coaching. She had been looking at alternative ways to explain that she was a life coach, she now is in the diamond business, which means she takes the rough stone and helps the person find the true gem, because there is one in each of us. That is exactly what my friend that triggered all of this looks like to me, and I guess that is what I looked or maybe still look like in the eyes of others on that trip to Cambodia. I love the analogy though, sometimes grief, loss, life, etc just get’s in the way of the true gem coming out and maybe it is because we are protecting it’s beauty or we are afraid it may shine too strongly or whatever else.
If you look at it from a distance and with time perspective, life is what shapes us to be the people we are and I truly believe there is a gem in each and everyone of us, some of us just like to cover it with more rough edges than others for our own reasons. I do hope you find the courage in you to dare and show the brilliant side and go out and find the gem inside and if the gem get’s muddied with events, just do what it takes to polish it off and keep shining brightly.