I had another amazing coaching session yesterday morning with my coach. Honestly, if you have something you want to make progress on, I’d really encourage you to get a coach. I can do a free coaching trial session for anyone interested or can link you up with a coach (potentially a free trainee one) if you think that we know each other too well and you wouldn’t feel comfortable working with me. But I’m not here to talk about coaching…I’m here to share what happened in my session. So here I go!
I’ve noticed in myself that I have a propensity for taking on too much of other people’s stuff. With almost a saviour complex (albiet a well-meaning one), I often feel responsible for other people’s happiness. From trying to avoid my parents having arguments when I was younger to taking on responsibility for people enjoying themselves at social events, to trying to bend myself in half to get people to be happy with what I do at work. It’s how I’ve always been.
I want to change but don’t know how.
When talking to my coach about this situation, I couldn’t see how I could be anything other than the two polar opposites that I described as this:
At one end, caring so much that I take on everyone’s stuff and at the other, not giving a damn about anyone or anything.
We talked about the assumptions I make – that people want to be rescued, that it’s my responsibility to change stuff, that people aren’t able to make changes in their own lives…and it surfaced a thought I’ve been having for quite some time about how so much in life – our education, job hierarchies, the way society works – seems to breed a false impression that we are unable to change our own lives.
You’ve probably known people who hate their job (or you may recognise this in yourself!). They find it boring or think they’re underpaid or are frustrated by it on a daily basis. But they don’t do anything about it. They stay there stuck, moaning, unhappy, resentful of what they have to do.
But it’s not like they’re imprisoned in their job. They could do something to change their situation. They could look for a new job, talk to their manager about changing some of the things they do, start proactively changing how things are done, volunteer to get involved with other stuff at work to mix up their day, cultivate gratitude for what their job does give them (a pay-check, stability, nice co-workers, ability to pay rent/buy food for their family).
I’m not saying this from a privileged place, never having been unsatisfied at work myself. I know how hard this can be. I’ve been stuck in a job for what seemed like far too long whilst I searched for a new one that suited me better. It sometimes seemed agonising but I kept on looking, got some coaching to figure out what I wanted to do, kept on applying for new roles and, in doing so, I took control of my own destiny.
It paid off when I found a role – about six months down the line – that satisfied me more than I could have ever imagined.
In the same way that I did, I believe we can all take charge of our lives and shape them to our liking. We might not get there perfectly every time because of our circumstances (my new role didn’t pay more but was more mentally satisfying) but we can take small steps to improve where we are with every aspect of our lives – our relationships, health, work, money.
We are the creators of our own destinies.
And that is when inspiration struck me and I could see the middle way which was not taking on responsibility for other people’s happiness nor hardening my heart to others. In the following two phrases I outlined how I want to live my life:
I want the best for you and I know you can go out and shape your own life.
I want the best for me and I know I can go out and shape my own life.
It brought me such clarity. I want the best for others but my job is not to shape anyone’s life (not that anyone has ever told me they want me to!). My job is to shape my life.
With this knowledge I feel freer, less burdened and hopeful for myself and others. We all have the ability to take steps towards creating a better life for ourselves. It’s up to each and every one of us to look for opportunities and seize any chances that come our way.