Showing up

I had my final coaching training last weekend and, as always, took something from the coaching I received from my peer coaches. This weekend’s ‘aha’ moment came from some coaching given to me by a lovely lady called Fatima and I want to spend a few minutes sharing what I realised with her help.

So here it goes!

In the morning of the first day, we had 30 minutes to talk in groups about all the successes we’ve had on our coaching journey. I was really excited to share that I had just about achieved my 40 hours of coaching practice and was on the way to completing my coursework to become an accredited coach. This is really big for me as I’m keen to get all the work done before my baby comes along. I was really pleased and encouraged to hear about the successes of other people too – we’ve all grown so much over the 6 months of training.

But I also felt sad that so many people shared how they were talking to their friends at length about coaching when I rarely talk to my friends and family about it. Even when I do mention this stuff, I hold back as I hear a voice inside me saying “Why are you talking about this? You’re boring people. They don’t want to hear about this stuff. What’s wrong with you?”

And so I invariably keep quiet, write about my experiences avidly on this blog but only share a little of what is important in my life when I’m face-to-face with my closest friends and, even then, I often wait for them to ask me questions before opening up and sharing more with them.

This realisation prompted me to open up in the coaching session with Fatima and I explored with her why I share so little face-to-face with people.

I realised that I often feel ashamed of what makes me light up because I feel like I’m a bit much. A bit different. A bit unacceptable.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t think that my friends or family do anything to make me feel this way. And in my most bad-ass moments, I feel like an Amazonian warrior in my difference. I feel like an outlier in a Robin Hood-type way. I feel unique.

But then other times, I feel like a child in a playground, left out and different from the normal children.

Fatima was great in the coaching session – she gave me all the space I needed to explore my thoughts about this area. Thoughts that are so often unsaid even to myself. But then she asked me a surprising question:

“How do you know that people would be bored by your interests? What tells you that they’d think less of you for what lights you up?” 

I told Fatima that I often tentatively drop something into a conversation. Perhaps a comment that I’m going on a coaching training weekend, am spending time this weekend writing a blog post, have just got a new coaching client. And unless the person I’m talking to shows complete enthusiasm and interest in my comment by their tone of voice or by asking me questions about what I’ve said, I’ll assume they’re not interested in what I have to say and will deflect back to them and away from me.

And so the circle continues of me feeling unimportant, an outcast, different. And then I talk less about myself or, if I do talk about me, it’s areas where I know we have common interests. Safe topics.

But then Fatima asked me another question:

“What do you do to show people you want to talk about your topics?” 

And this had me stumped.

In that second, I realised that I wait for people to bound towards me with unabated enthusiasm to show that they’re interested in me, that they want to hear more, but I don’t show them that I want to talk more about coaching…my blog…whatever it is that I’ve mentioned.

And so if I want to share more of myself, I need to start doing this. I need to start showing, in whatever way feels right (my tone of voice, my enthusiasm, my willingness to share) that I want to talk about these things with other people. 
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Yes, it feels scary – putting myself out there. It could result in me being rejected or having my heart trampled on by others…but like this amazing quote by Brené Brown, it could also lead to me feeling truly and completely seen in my life, it could lead to me living a more courageously, it could lead to me connecting with those I love on a deeper level.

And so I’ve started to give it a go – I’ve started to share with others my experience of coaching. And I’ve been really surprised by the result.

People have been interested, open, curious, willing to listen. And although I’ve found my words stilted sometimes and I’ve doubted what I should say…have been unsure what I’ve wanted to say, I feel less like I’m on a desert island all by myself.

I see that I’m surrounded by people who care for me and love me just as I am. And I see that it was perhaps my own fears that were making me feel different, alone, an outsider, when the truth is that I’m anything but that.


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