Transformation can sneak up on you.
Most every professional coach has their own coach or mentor, mainly because we all believe in the process of coaching so completely, well, why wouldn’t we? My professional credential requires that I have a mentor and tons of continuing education credits and I’m so grateful for that. It all keeps me fresh and stokes my growth, both as an executive and personal coach and also as a plain ol’ human being. It’s so easy to drift a little off track in this complex and dynamic world.
Today I met with my mentor and had a huge energetic breakthrough. I haven’t even conceptualized what exactly that breakthrough is yet, though it was all wrapped around my chronic underlying fear of safety and security (I grew up having not much of either). I’m so shell-shocked I can’t quite think straight. I know it was important because I was rendered completely mute and I generally talk a mile-a-minute through our sessions. But mostly, I can feel it in my body, a knowing, a release of something ancient and exhausting.
I know myself well enough to understand that if I walk away from a mentoring session feeling like I just got punched in the stomach, a breakthrough has occurred. This is true for most people.
Because the truth is, our belief systems are so deeply protected by our ego consciousness that entry into our deepest, darkest and generally most destructive belief, whatever that may be for us, is considered verboten. Access is not permitted. And if that’s the case, it’s kind of hard to get in there for spring cleaning, isn’t it. Transformation is impossible if we can’t get into the damn room.
When a coach cares less about your ego’s feelings and more about your overall well-being and psycho-spiritual health, they are able to skillfully kick that door in so light can finally permeate the dust-laden room filled with the stagnant cobwebs of the past. It can feel a little jarring, quite painful in fact, shocking even… but it allows oxygen into the place that is currently suffocating us. And once the brain adjusts to this new fresh air, the realization hits. We’re one step closer to freedom.
Transformation means permanent change.
It means no going back, no lingering in the toxic wasteland of our primal beliefs for the rest of this lifetime. A coach better know how to punch me in the gut every now and then, how to render me mute.
But ouch. It’s hard. It’s painful. When someone tells me something I don’t want to hear, the instinct is to run away, to never look back, to go back living in that peaceful place of stagnancy and oblivion, immersed in that broken-record existence of ’round and ’round that I’ve grown accustomed to. But then I remember that as human beings there seem to be two beasts constantly pursuing us. One is built of our own self-made doubt and destruction, and the other is built of our own truth and freedom. And our relationship with the latter generally isn’t fed through stagnancy and comfort. Sad but true.
Moment of revelation…I’m a bit of an over-achiever. My friends will laugh at this because, hello, Captain Obvious, this is no revelation. And it’s not so much about achieving actual things as being relentless with myself in all ways– do more, be more, stretch myself more, grow more, attain more, learn more, blah blah blah. Maybe if I do that, the insecurity, the fear, will never catch me. I can always stay one stride away from that damn monster behind.
I had a dream once, several years ago, related to all of this.
I was running around a giant skyscraper being built, in its scaffolding stage. There was an entire city of people living within the open beams, waiting for the walls to be completed around them, carefully balancing, living their lives. I was leaping from post to post, thousands of feet in the air, engaged in all kinds of heroics. I’d find a cat with a broken leg, had to fix that, so I did. And then I’d leap to the next beam to stop a man from beating up a woman, having the man arrested and delivering the woman to shelter. On to the next, a hungry old woman who needed feeding, then soothing a loving man with a broken heart, returning a lost little boy to his mother…on and on this continued for what felt like hours in the dream, but I never tired. I helped each and every one of them with a cartoonish sparkly smile.
I was then told there was something in the basement that needed attending. The basement? I didn’t even know there was one, but I was led to an elevator. I stepped in and descended, going down, down, what seemed to be hundreds of floors, thousands, slowly dropping deep into the heart of the earth. The elevator finally stopped.
The doors opened.
I was in something like a parking garage, with a huge cage in the middle built of thick beams, steel and iron bars, locks upon locks upon locks, chains…and fire. The entire floor was a roiling inferno, roaring, exploding, oozing, like lava. Hanging from the middle of the giant cage was somebody or something on a little bird swing. Clinging there, grey bodied, her back to me, hunched and naked, hopeless, Gollum-like, skeletal and horribly scarred, was this creature I was meant to rescue. I stood there, frozen, surveying the impossibility of the situation, horrified by what I was witnessing, silent and broken-hearted for her suffering.
Then she slowly turned her head to look me in the eye, and I gasped when I realized that her face was mine. This pathetic horrifying little creature was me. I was so busy concentrating on everyone else, I had forgotten about her, I had forgotten about me.
And then a deep male voice out of the blackness said to me, “Now…how you gonna save this one.”
At the time, I had no idea. When I woke up I felt physically sick. I felt like I had left her there, suspended in that fiery hell.
That cage, that fire, those locks, that creature, the entire impossible situation was nothing more than a metaphor for my own belief systems forged over the decades by this thing called life. The failures, the wins, the injuries, the love, the scars, the tragedies, the pain and the healing…each one a bar creating the steel cage protecting my heart.
I know how to save her now. It’s so clear to me.
I know how to save her because it was my dream. And I can decide its outcome. One of the perks of being human is that we are granted unrestricted editing rights to our own life, our own dreams. I’m not helpless in the face of those damn circumstances, that hopeless scenario of fire, bars and locks. I’m going to extinguish that fire, break those chains, unlock those doors and get her the hell out of that precarious situation. It’s so clear to me that I’m capable. I suddenly believe it with all of my heart.
And that… is what transformation looks like.
Delivered by a mentor who’s not afraid to throw a punch.