We live in a society struggling with self-worth. Advertisements play this up by suggesting that if we only drank that beer, drove that car, used that electronic device and went to that place we would feel good. At work, so many people struggle with the fear that they are just one failure away from being fired. Worse than that, I know many people that work with the feeling of “impostor syndrome”, the sense that they aren’t good enough for the job that they have, and spend all of their time trying to prove their worth.
The Buddhist wisdom tradition holds that all people are “essentially good”, and that the practice is removing all of the things that separate them from that goodness.
Christianity preaches that you are loved (accepted, appreciated, acknowledged, and allowed to be yourself). More radical views of Christianity (which I personally align with) go so far as to suggest that you are loved just as you are.
The Co-Active coaching model holds that each person is Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole. I don’t approach any client interactions with the goal of fixing my client. I now go so far as to say that coaching isn’t about “fixing a problem”, but about showing my client how powerful they are. They are like a mountain that’s cloaked in cloud, and I help them bring in the winds to reveal the full majesty of the mountain.
Most people in North America struggle to believe that they are Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole. There are a million reasons from our lives to argue why this is wrong, without even looking at the “brokenness” of the world. A second cornerstone of the Co-Active model is “Evoke Transformation.” Stay with me while I share a story to illustrate what this means.
The Dali Lama, it’s been told, was once in a meeting with a number of western practitioners and teachers of Buddhism. After the teaching, one of the students asked the Dali Lama the question “How do I handle not feeling any self-worth?” This provoked a few minute conversation between the interpreter and the Dali Lama. Apparently, there’s no word in the Tibetan language for self-worth, so the concept was confusing to him. Eventually it was translated to say “I don’t like myself.” At this the Dali Lama laughed, because the concept was so far beyond what he understood to be possible. “What do you mean you do not love yourself.” He then said “You have the Buddha Nature inside of yourself. How can you not love yourself knowing this?”
First, let me explain a little of the psychology of what’s happening here: our brains have many different ways of operating, but from the best of our understanding at this time, if we are operating in a state of fear/anxiety/worry/anger/bad emotion, we are operating from a lower-part of our brains. When in that mode, our brains actually shift to looking out primarily to the risks and the problems around us. It’s a survival mechanism that served our ancestors well. The problem is that all it takes is one thought to get into that mode. When we are there, we struggle to be creative, to be empathetic, to be compassionate, and to experience joy. Our brain isn’t worried about those things, so it’s not using attention there. What the Dali Lama is trying to tell his students is that every time they are feeling a lack of self-worth, they just need to remember they are full of potential for love, compassion and beauty and to intentionally shift their attention to that truth.
So, when you are thinking the thought “I don’t like myself because of my temper, or how I handle stress, or how lazy I am, or …” we are using our thoughts to trigger this “reptile brain”, and we inadvertently close ourselves off from our full potential. If we can challenge the thought of “I wish I was smarter so I could be better at my job” with “I have strengths and skills which to approach any problems I face at work” – we have shifted from using our lower-brain, to our upper brain. When we make that shift, we open ourselves up to more creativity, more productivity, and potentially entering the state of flow. By making a small shift like that, we are more likely able to enjoy our work.
As a coach, when I say I use the cornerstone of Evoke Transformation, the transformation I am trying to create for my client is “a deeper connection to self.” From my research on positive psychology, I have come to believe that each person has a unique spark inside of themselves. This spark is made up of their Values, Strengths and Life-Purpose. Life can disconnect us from that spark as we feel weighed down by the expectations and demands of others. I help my clients see that those realities don’t have to separate you from your spark, and that when you feed that spark to turn it into a fire, you are able to shift from seeing these “responsibilities” as a burden, to a way in which you are engaging in a well-lived life.
“With a little more care, a little more courage, and, above all, a little more soul, our lives can be so easily discovered and celebrated in work, and not, as now, squandered and lost in its shadow.”
When we understand that the life in front of us is an opportunity to use the fullness of our potential, and when we see it in service of living a life that matters, we are able to experience that we are Naturally Creative, Resourceful and Whole. We short-circuit all of those negative emotions that make us feel stressed and afraid. And when we short-circuit those emotions, we train our brains to experience them less and less.
The deepest transformation I can create in a client is to help them realize what has always been there, so that now they are excited to pick it up and put it to good use.
“Watch carefully the magic that occurs when you give a person just enough comfort to be themselves”
If this resonates with you, I have created a four-week coaching program where we uncover and explore your Values, Strengths and Life-Purpose, and finish with creating a plan to bring them out into all areas of your life. If this is something you are interested in knowing more about, e-mail me at James.Mondry@gmail.com so we can arrange a time to discuss how this program could serve you.