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“Things are out of control.”

That thought showed up in my self-coaching meditation this morning.

I do it every day to know what’s on my mind, so that I can clear it and give the day a clean slate. I begin by journaling on the question that often begins my coaching sessions: “What’s your area of least satisfaction?”  I write without stopping until I feel a shift – something that feels like a surprise, a pain, or a drag on an otherwise rapid download of thoughts. When I feel that drag, I do The Work.

“Things are out of control” was the surprise today. What a statement, so total! Anxiety generalizes problems, making them seem bigger than they are. So, before starting The Work, I dug a little deeper: “What exactly is out of control?”

Work. I have too much to do, and I’m not getting it all done.

“What exactly is ‘too much’?

Client meetings. Ah! Yes. In the past few weeks, I’ve started with several new clients – it’s wonderful, and I’m thrilled to be working with each one, but it’s felt like a lot at once. I have had to schedule client meetings during the times I usually reserve for writing and admin, so I have not been keeping up with those important elements of my practice – my career feels out of control.

“Ok, sweetie.” I talk to myself that way when I am self-coaching because it arouses my compassion. Coaching is about taking responsibility for yourself, but it starts from a place of compassion – one that knows you’re not bad, just confused.

Time to do The Work.

1. My career is out of control. Is it true? Yes (a little bit).

If the answer to question one is even a little bit yes, it’s a yes. So, go to question two.

2. Can you be certain? Notice how gentle that question is? Question two encourages you to loosen your grip. No, I can’t be certain that my career is “out of control.”

3. How do you react when you believe it? I make a small problem big. I feel small, reactive. I stop breathing. This is all poignant to notice, because the thing I have wanted more than anything is exactly what I have right now: a full roster of warm, bright, passionate, growth-oriented clients. My coaching dream came true, and I didn’t even notice.

4. Who would you be without the thought that your career is out of control? Breathing. Rejoicing! I see that it’s time to develop a system that helps me keep better track of my clients and my to-dos. It’s also time to keep better boundaries around my writing and admin time.

Turnarounds. Turn the original statement around. . .

To the opposite: My career is not out of control – it’s growing!

To the self: My thinking is out of control – when it is so confused that it doesn’t even notice that my dream has come true.

Yahoo. This is the turnaround that asks you to notice how the situation that caused you pain is actually wonderful: My career is out of control – yahoo! This makes me laugh. It reminds me of positive, slang-y spins on the phrase “out of control” – like, “My career is bananas right now!”

To the other. This is the turnaround where you provide an opposite for the pain point, which in this case is “control”: My career is wild. Oh, I love this one! In my mind’s eye I see a forest ecosystem. Although I reflexively reach for control, it’s low-hanging fruit. Wildness is so much richer and more exciting to me.

This daily self-coaching meditation is one of the best investments I make. It helps me to find clarity and feel compassion, no matter what challenge I’m facing, and those benefits have only accumulated over time. It’s also fun and feels good! If you haven’t tried it for yourself yet, here are the basic steps:

  • Set aside 15-60 min, preferably in the morning
  • Journal on the question, “What is my area of least satisfaction.”
  • When you get to a statement that gives you pause – you feel a drag, pain, surprise, or some other shift of energy – do The Work.

Please let me know how it goes!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • “Anxiety generalizes problems, making them seem bigger than they are.” So true!

    I love how you talk to yourself, “OK Sweetie… Responsibility for yourself starts with compassion.” Bingo.

    It helps me a lot to hear how you do The Work and see the subtle variations you employ. Allison, the truth of my life is that a 60 minute investment to do The Work is what puts me off. That is more time than I am willing to invest unless I’m STUCK. I rarely do The Work quickly.

    It would help me to hear about some alternatives to a 60-minute session. I don’t believe in shortcuts, 🙂 and I know the reason you can mine so much out of The Work is your dedication. Having said that, I would be thrilled to mine 10% of what you get. Can you offer a blog or two about how The Work shows up in short turn arounds for you? I get confused about turn arounds to the other and to the opposite. I would appreciate clarity there specifically.

    • Allison Evans says:

      I appreciate this thoughtful reply, Rebecca. I’d be delighted to write on these questions you have. Thank you for the suggestions!

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