Have you ever been given a gift of feedback that changed the course of your life?
When I was in an intense educational process a massive and unexpected change occurred in my life. It shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise considering the motto of the school was “learning that changes lives”. I guess I was naive to how the rug can get pulled from under you when least expected.
The change was a breakup. A big break up. Not being one to stick around after the “I don’t want to be in a relationship anymore” speech has been given, I packed my stuff and decided I would finish the program in my tent. Yep- I camped onsite for 4 months in order to complete the training. Lucky for me it was a beautiful farm, where healing and integration after trauma was the whole point.
The camping wasn’t the tough part. It was the fact that my identity within this cohort was in love, in this relationship, going to beat the odds and make a life with this person. I had a future ahead of me…with this person. So, when I had to come clean with my classmates, it was an admission that I wasn’t who I claimed to be. Anonymity wasn’t an option. It was a bear your soul every step of the way kind of training.
My anger, heart break, and confusion manifest as sarcasm. As other students arrived for the day, I could be found in the bathroom brushing my teeth and wiping sleep from my eyes. Their love and concern for me was evident with gentle questions of “how ya doing Jess?”. My response: “f-ing great, how do you think I am?”
Well, that wasn’t in the healing spirit. My pain, evident to all, led to a one-on-one meeting with the administration.
“You’re sarcasm isn’t working for you Jess.”
That’s when I learned I was hiding. I was pushing people away. I wasn’t allowing myself to heal. From that point forward I dropped the sarcasm and embraced the love around me. I took the opportunity to fall apart and then rebuild a plan to move on.
The point to this story is to illustrate how we use tactics to hide from our pain, missing opportunities to embrace change and get closer to what we want.
To stop hiding is to acknowledge how we are doing- really. Sarcasm, complaints, avoidance, resistance- all of these keep us from pinpointing the pain. We have to know exactly what that pain is before we can create plans for health and healing. This can feel impossible without the gift of feedback, which is why coaching is critical for growth.
Try this: for one day commit to not complaining. Take note of the things that annoy you- the subject of the complaint. If complaining isn’t your thing, your challenge is to identify the points of resistance in your day- the thing you know you should do, but don’t. If resistance isn’t your thing, note where you feel judgment towards self and other.
The first step is to stop hiding. Make a point to connect with what feels too scary to face. From there step 2 is possible.
The cohort, on the farm, circa 2005.