Unearthing for Self Care

I’m fortunate to have a community of colleagues who have become solid friends over years of study and practice together. I attribute our deep and special bonds to the honest and heartfelt conversations we engage in regularly and with great commitment.

Recently, during one such conversation, I confessed (with some trepidation) to two of my coaching friends that for a while, I’ve not been feeling the same level of energy in, and for, my work as a corporate and leadership coach. Truthfully, I have to admit that this shift has both surprised me and worried me. My colleague said to me that she’s been feeling something very similar; she wants to be exploring the parts of her that don’t need to “prove or perform”. My stomach dropped. It was as though she found the piece of the puzzle I’d been searching for – and it helped me see a bigger, clearer picture.

Realizing that I’ve spent much of my career and, let’s face it, much of my life looking for how to improve, how to be recognized, how to measure up, how to be seen, how to fit in, and ultimately how to be what other people approve of…(yeesh, that’s a sharp pill to swallow). To a certain extent, I see this as part of the process of my maturation and growth into my profession and into my own skin. I don’t know that I’ve met many (any?) people who haven’t had some proclivity to seeking that external stamp of approval. And I also see it partly as the unintended influence of my 17+ years of work in the coaching industry.

In professional coaching, our training, our expertise, our differentiator, and our whole foundation lies in deep listening, in giving over to the client our full attention and interest, in bringing our most curious and open selves to the conversation allowing the client to steep in the space to explore, extract and cultivate their inner resourcefulness and wisdom. All of this is done in service of the client finding their own way forward, to applying their creativity to whatever challenges or obstacles lay on their path to success and satisfaction. Master-level professional coaching requires that the coach leave their opinions, experiences, and preferences outside of the conversation in favour of the client getting to awaken to their own knowing and truth in an environment that is unencumbered by the coach. It’s a unique and notable skill that takes years to practice and develop well. I still feel that it’s an honour to offer that kind of presence and reverence to another human being.

And it’s a gift to receive. A gift that I’m ready for…and hungry to give…to myself.

I’ve been so focused on seeing and bringing out my client’s wisdom that it’s almost as though my inner balance has been skewed, and at times totally lost. What I want now is to dig around, uncover and excavate what else! what more is in me to bring to the world? I seek more time to connect with my own wisdom, my own brilliance and creativity in ways that have been hiding while I put attention on other peoples’ journeys. It’s like a yearning for knowing myself in a new way; what other parts are there that don’t need to rely on proving and performing to be enough? The me that is willing to risk the image I’ve worked to establish, to fall into the background a little, to risk missing out on what’s popular, to follow my curiosities, to take direction from my heart and gut rather than my head and ego, to be seen as imperfect and as having ideas and opinions that don’t always fit the mold.

Unearth and discover. It’s what that soft, quiet inner voice has been gently and persistently sweet-talking me to explore. Is there any better or more important act of self-care? For me, at least today, I’d say not.

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