I was lucky enough this weekend to be asked to give a workshop for a group of women in a nearby community. It was full of amazing discussion and even greater connection. In a world where every answer seems to be found online, there was magic in that space. I asked participants to introduce themselves and tell me what they were hoping to gain from the workshop, and there were several people that remarked that they were drawn to this opportunity to come and connect in a real way in their hometown with other people interested in the topic. As our time was wrapping up I asked each person to share their biggest takeaway and once again, the theme was clear: “I am not alone.”
I have been fortunate enough to work with so many incredible people in my own hometown through my coaching practice. I am so grateful for the time that I get to spend with people digging into their hearts and minds. I have been witness to so many breakthroughs and ‘aha’ moments as I help people come to their own level of understanding about what they are struggling with. Each person I have helped has a different story, background and lifestyle but when we boil it down there is a thread that connects each one of us.
You Are Not Alone
You are not alone. I would never want to diminish or generalize any struggles that my clients have had so I will articulate instead what I see in myself through my work with them. The reason that I am a good coach is because I can FEEL what they are going through. I know what it means to struggle. I know what it feels like to feel like I am the only person in the world that knows what I am going through and to feel the crushing loneliness of that isolation.
You are not alone. When I think about my own path and what I was able to heal to come to this place of outrageous happiness and peace, some very strong themes emerge.
- Feeling Stuck – I remember early in my twenties picking up some idea of what my life should look like. I often refer to it as my “How to Live a Good Life Checklist.” I thought if I got a degree, bought a house, married a good person, got some dogs, landed the amazing career and climbed the ladder I would get to be happy. Each time I checked one of those things off the list I waited for happiness to find me. I waited for true fulfillment to land in my lap. I had created an amazing life of stability and external validation, but when I looked around at my life, with the exception of marrying the best person on planet earth, I felt stuck. I thought that there was something wrong with me.
- Happiness is the golden ticket – every single person that comes to work with me, tells me that they want to be happy. I wanted that too. The version of happiness that I had in my head was not the same as the one in my heart however. I got to the end of that checklist and I heard a little voice say: there is something more. Thankfully, I didn’t set out to acquire more, I turned my attention inwards.
- We are in relationship to ourselves first – I wanted a quick answer to my desire for happiness which is why I was driven to create a life of external validation. Real, lasting happiness, seemed to be just outside of reach. My big eye-opening moment came in yoga actually. I loved the physical effects of the practice but the last ten minutes of the class was the equivalent of torture for me. Laying down, in silence, would send me for a tailspin. As my body stilled, my mind went in search of work and it was a three-ring circus of random thoughts and judgments. It was open season on myself. This was my clue. This was key to my transformation. I needed to come to a place where being alone with my thoughts was not a dangerous place. This is where I felt most afraid and vulnerable but also where everything changed for me. I needed to find a way to be in a loving relationship to myself first.
- Fear – I realized that my life was ruled by fear. I used to be awful to myself. Each time I took a risk or put myself out there, I would berate myself. I was savage when it came to listing my own shortcomings. I lived with worry, fear and doubt ruling all of my interactions with not only myself, but with the people that I encountered. If I cut myself down first, it wouldn’t matter if anyone else did it. I was at war with myself because while there was this little voice of love that said: ‘you have something to offer’ there was a much louder voice of fear telling me that I should shoot lower.
- I Kept Going – the one thing that I didn’t do was quit. I started making improvements in my life from a very external focus. I stopped wasting my health, my time and my money and as I started to make improvements in those areas of my life, I wanted to keep going. It wasn’t a straight line to happiness and peace, but I got better at seeing how I was participating in my reality. This was the most freeing feeling of all. If I kept going, I could take each challenge or negative feeling and get to the root of where I learned it and how it was holding me back and heal it. I could heal myself. I could heal myself.
No one changed my life. I have had incredible teachers on this road of life but I did this work. I got my hands dirty and healed my pain. I met myself over and over again and found a way to create a life that I love. Each one of my clients have done the same thing. They have showed up in and with my support they have changed their lives. I didn’t do it. They did it. They healed. They created massive and lasting change in their lives. They are extraordinary.
You are not alone. I know your story is different. I know that you may have experienced a level of pain and trauma in your life that leaves you feeling utterly alone. You are not alone. I may not have walked a mile in your shoes, but I know what it means to struggle and feel lonely. I also know what it means to heal and find freedom.
When I think about my workshop participants this weekend, I commend their bravery in being so honest and raw with a group of strangers they just met. That took radical courage. It created an instant connection and sense of community. This is my new focus as a coach. I want to take what I learned from them and build it. I am creating a space and a program that reminds people that they are not alone and that when we show up in honesty we can experience lasting transformation. Time for more love, more healing, more connection.