One of my clients complained that she is tired of feeling so frustrated, envious and lonely. She told me that after so much work on herself, she knows that she can choose to be happy and she knows that she’s creating all the misery in her life… yet she can’t get over this constant feeling of frustration, envy and loneliness. She said that she realizes that she is not giving herself the permission to be happy, and that’s why she’s so miserable. She just can’t understand why she wouldn’t allow herself to be happy and why she’s creating so much misery for herself… hasn’t she learned anything from all these books and courses?! The more I listened, the clearer it got in my mind that she was 100% right… yet 100% wrong. It wasn’t that she wasn’t giving herself the permission to be happy… it was that she wasn’t giving herself the permission to feel frustrated, envious and lonely. Each of the emotions we feel has a purpose. So after 2 hours of coaching, we finished by giving her three challenges:
1 - Spend 10 minutes a day finding something to get frustrated about
2 - Every day, finding at least 1 person a day to be envious about and write why you envy them
3 - Every day, spend 7 minutes in deep loneliness
After finishing the call, I reflected on what happened: she started by telling me she is annoyed because she doesn’t want to feel frustrated, envious and lonely… and she finished the session really happy and excited because now she’s forced to feel frustrated, envious and lonely.
When I stop and think of coaching conversations like these, it feels like complete madness. This kind of enlightened madness reminds me of this dialogue from Alice in Wonderland:
“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad."
"How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.”
At the end of many coaching conversations, clients discover that it is often by doing the exact opposite of what we want, that we get the results we want… or that what we thought we wanted is the opposite of what we really want.
A friend of mine writes about his job “I actually stumbled onto this business by accident. I was looking for a writer for my site, on a forum. Instead, I got offered a job via a "client". Now, this client is more like an agent. She finds me work and clients”
Even when we don’t talk with coaches, life often leads to the idea that (1) we don’t really know what we want and (2) that we really don’t know how to get what we want.
- What do you want?
- What is the opposite of what you wrote above?
- If it turns out that you REALLY wanted the exact opposite, what difference would it make to you?