In 2018 I unearthed a part of myself that made me want to hide. A part of me that is dormant unless I try to engage in an intimate relationship (the romantic kind). 2018 was a year of a beautiful partnership (and later engagement), and thus it emerged. Over and over. The year was full of breeding ground to see that part of myself (and to squeal in discomfort).
In certain conversations, I become overwhelmed with feelings. My mind makes me believe that I am a nuisance and that the person I love wants me to go away. If I say the wrong thing or ask for something, I will cause the relationship to end because I will be “too much.” The feeling suffocates me.
My default reaction is (and has been) to go away. And do it before they suggest that is their desire. I don’t physically leave – my body is still there – but I tune out the world around me. My mouth may be open, wanting to say something, but nothing comes out. Blankness. It is my way of protecting myself.
So I spent the year taking action to shift this pattern. I got right to it. I hired help. I made it the focus of two training programs I attended this year. I read books. I spoke about it with my inner circle. And I made small strides. Yet I yearned for more.
When I found myself there again, in that place of absence, I hit myself with what I call the one-two punch. I see my clients hit themselves the same way.
One - I was sad to see myself there.
Two - I judged myself for not being further along in my path to change.
I believed that I could change (a fundamental belief of any coach). I looked for a different "in" to creating the change. I realized I had created a flawed plan for change.
I had been sharing my goal with my partner though out the year, but in a casual way. It was more of a FYI – I see this and I want it to be different. I did not ask my partner to help me. I secretly expected his patience, but I didn’t stop to consider how he might help me. I believed I could do it alone and that it was "too much" to ask a person who I pained with my behavior for help. Who was I to ask more of them?
And then with two days left in the year, something big shifted.
We were driving back to our home in Oakland from a couple of days away and BAM. I was right in that place of absence. I was unsure how I had even gotten there. Silence hung in the air and we both knew I had exited the conversation and was off in the land of my protecting myself. My partner reached over, grabbed my hand, and said “stay with me.” And just like that, I snapped out of it. Magic.
In my own pain and pattern, I had forgotten that the way in is the way out. To shift a pattern that happens in relationship with another person, the path to change must involve that person.
I see so many of my clients strive and effort to do things themselves. They look for any way to not involve others. They believe “it is their problem to deal with.” Or that "they can't ask more of someone." Or because they fear "what would happen if people knew they were imperfect beings.” Or that they "don't want to involve people in case they can't change." Then they'd really be a failure.
The truth is that when we must enroll others in the changes we are trying to make. It invites them onto our team. It increases the likelihood that we can disrupt a well worn pattern. It increases our accountability to ourselves and to others.
Who can you enroll in supporting your big changes this year?