“Opening Up” is a guest blog that was written by Jenai Lieu, for Change My Life Coaching. We are reposting because it’s relevant today.
Taking the Risk
When we take the risk to try something new we hope for certain outcomes to happen. No one hopes to end up a failure, embarrass themselves or just simply waste their time. Sometimes we get so caught up in our hopes and dreams, we forget to just experience and live in the moment.
The problem is when we attach ourselves to our expectations around opening up. We scribble our expectations down with permanent ink leaving no room for the real beauty of our life experiences to shine through. We think we need to come in with all of this preconceived knowledge, when really we should be entering new experiences with a clean slate mind.
I arrived at Christopher’s office full of expectations for our first meeting. To me Christopher was this amazingly empathetic guy who was simply perfect to be my life coach. I had this vision that he was going to grace me with his insightful knowledge of myself and that was going to alter my way of thinking. Or we were going to find all of these personal connections about us and I was going to finally have someone who understood every nuance and quirk about me. I felt like I was in the movie The Karate Kid and Christopher was my Mr. Miyagi, soon to feed me nuggets of wisdom about life.
Of course I was expecting a little much for our first meeting, but I was excited to come out of his office feeling inspired and ready to take on the world at the very least.
Most of us think we know what’s best for us. We seem to know what tickles our fancy so that we can open up. But life has a funny way of not giving us what we want. Instead it hands us little unexpected treasures, and if we allow it they can give us wisdom beyond our expectations.
I sat in the armchair with a cup of tea, nervous but eyes wide, curious about what to expect. But I was ready to start opening up. Jazz music was playing softly in the background.
We began by talking about a self-assessment I did before our session. Christopher concluded that a lot of decisions I made in my life was based on fear. Whether it was a fear of failure, a fear of being judged or fear of disappointing a loved one, avoiding this emotion was dragging me through life as I stumbled along.
Sometimes it’s Obvious
I already knew this, so this wasn’t news to me. But having Christopher look me dead in the eyes and just tell me what I already knew struck a chord inside me. I still wasn’t opening up. I still don’t know what it was. After all, one of the main reasons I decided to take life coaching was because I knew fear had too much control over me. I didn’t understand why it stung a little when he repeated what I already knew.
He also pointed out that I described a lot of my experiences as “difficult.”
“This new relationship is different than the others…it’s a difficult one.”
“Just thinking about moving my life overseas is quite difficult.”
“Finding my voice and pitching new ideas at work is really difficult.”
“I don’t understand why I have trouble with confidence….it’s a difficult thing…”
I didn’t realize that I was limiting my abilities by simply thinking that things were difficult. Essentially, I wasn’t really opening up at all. But once again, I already knew that semantics played a huge role with what we believe of ourselves. When I was depressed my counsellor told me to stop ‘shoulding.’ I kept saying that I “should be doing this” or “I shouldn’t be this way.” Thinking that way was not helping me in the very least. I was damaging my self-esteem by believing that I was incompetent. I didn’t realize it but I simply changed the wording in my head to make myself believe I still couldn’t do something.
It was nearing the end of the session and Christopher looked at me.
It’s the Simple Questions
“Jenai,” he says, “did this session help you at all?”
I immediately froze. Such a simple question left me speechless. Was I not responsive enough? Did I look disengaged? I was tired from a full day’s work before attending the session but I didn’t realize my tiredness was showing through. Did I seem like I was wasting his time? Was I not a good client?
I stumbled upon a generic “the session was good” response. But to be honest, I’m not sure what it did for me other than confirm what I already knew of myself.
I left the session feeling very, very neutral. I wasn’t disappointed, but I sure wasn’t greatly inspired and ready to take on the world.
For the rest of the month I kept reflecting on the idea that my life was led by fear. It didn’t bother me more than it usually did, but the word “fear” seemed to be spelt out so clearly in my mind. I saw that word “fear” throughout my days: during my daily commute to work, meeting up with friends, at staff meetings, and as I laid in bed right before going to sleep. I could see the little fear demon behind the control panel of my life, dictating every thought, action and belief about myself.
Something else also stood out to me in the past month.
I tend to say “this is difficult” a lot.
I mean a LOT.
Almost every conversation I had mentioned something “difficult.” Every thought…and I mean every thought I had about my future or my ability to do something was plagued with doubt from my belief that things were just too difficult.
I realized I had a problem. I mean, I already knew I had a problem, but my way of thinking was destructive. I realized that if I kept on with these negative thoughts I was never going to realize my potential, and perhaps even worse, I might find myself in the spiral of depression once again.
At that moment I saw the value of my first session with Christopher. It wasn’t meant to be life changing. My universe wasn’t meant to change upon our first session, although all of those things would have been nice.
Instead I got someone taking his time to really get to know me. Who listens to not only my hopes and dreams, but also my fears and limitations. It’s a rare thing for someone to truly see us. To look past all the masks and the personas that we put in front of ourselves and just see us. That squishy, unprotected, vulnerable self that we keep hidden from all the judgements and criticisms of the outside world.
I didn’t realize it at the time but I need that. I need someone to see me and to hear me so that I can do the parts of opening up that matter. I also need to hear it for myself. I needed Christopher to tell me what he saw in me. To confirm what I knew, but what I was hiding from. Running away is not going to be an option anymore.
It was my first small step towards growth.
Stepping Towards Growth
That’s what opening up is all about isn’t it? A bunch of small steps towards that one mammoth of a goal. It’s a bit cliché: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
I didn’t get exactly what I was expecting from my first session with Christopher. I didn’t get a universe-worth or knowledge. Instead I was given the gift of someone who is there to truly see me and therefore able to help me grow. Knowing that I’m getting guidance from someone like that makes walking a thousand miles seem not that bad after all.
BIO for Jenai Lieu: Opening Up to Life’s Little Trasures
Read more of Jenai’s work.
Jenai Lieu is a writer for a Calgary-based non-profit organization. Jenai has a Bachelor of Arts, Communications Degree from the University of Calgary She is currently exploring life’s intricacies and can be found dancing somewhere in Calgary, getting lost in the Rockies or enjoying a nice cup of hot tea in the comfort of her house.
Jenai has been asked by Change My Life Coaching to write one “First Time Client” blog a month while she is working through her coaching program and transitioning through her life. We have not screened or edited Jenai’s blog for content that may conflict with Change My Life Coaching’s values or programs – the intent behind this project is to have you, the reader, see an authentic experience from a real life-coaching client.
If you would like to provide positive feedback and encouragement to Jenai on her journey please email her coach Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca and we will be sure she gets your message. If you have questions or comments about this project please or about our services please email Info@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca or visit our website at www.ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.
Check out Christopher’s book on amazon.ca