I'm not listening to the story you're telling me. I'm listening to how you tell it.

f679f720a9f6a640ca48c154c83cc2c0My first experience with powerful coaching was a little discombobulating.  I kept explaining to the coach what was up in my life, how things were going, how great my life was, how everything was moving along at a decent pace, and he kept asking me why I was so reluctant to be vulnerable and share the things that weren't working out for me.  I would repeat that things were going well.  He would ask me why I was so insistent and what I was avoiding. In a lot of ways, it's infuriating talking to someone that isn't interested in your story.  All of the stuff that you've put together and concocted, they ignore.  It often feels like they're not even listening to you at all.  Except for the fact that every question they ask you resonates or triggers you deeply.

You see, as a coach, I don't usually focus much on the content of what you're telling me.  The problem might be at work, it might be at home, it might be with your kids, or it might be with your wife (or anywhere else you choose).  The thing is, it's not the story you're telling, it's how you're telling it.

What is the underlying pattern, underneath all of the drama that you're sharing?  Maybe you're always a victim.  Maybe you're always putting on a bubbly demeanour, but it's layered over top of a deep undercurrent of sadness.  Maybe, like me, you share only the positives, and the negatives or things that are missing are never shared.

Whatever your thing is, it comes out in your stories.  You probably notice the first layer of this with your friends too.  Maybe one of them is always complaining about something in their lives.  They're a walking complaint.  It doesn't matter if it's a new job, a new boyfriend, some inheritance they came in to, a new house, whatever.  Here's the secret: the circumstances are completely irrelevant.

At that first layer, you probably try to provide them with solutions to those problems (and maybe your friends do the same for you).  But the punchline is that it doesn't matter, because it's not really about the content - it's the underlying story.  Until you're actually addressing that underlying story, your well-meaning advice is going to, at best, shift them to the next circumstance (great, they dumped their boyfriend, but moved right along to a new dysfunctional guy).

This is exactly why winning the lottery does not change your life.  Injecting a bunch of money into your life does not create any personal transformation.  Your standard of living may rise, but you'll still show up the same way.  Instead of running around late, trying to sort out rent for your apartment, you'll be doing the same thing trying to sort out rent for your mansion and your car.  It's nice to have nice things, but you'll still be at the effect of your relationship with money and time.

Here are some of the common underlying stories that play out:eye-of-the-drain-sink

  • Everything is always someone else's fault.  The victim.  Nothing is ever their fault, so they never need to change.  So comfortable, so easy, so powerless.
  • Life is fine and it's moving forward.  There's nothing big on the horizon.  This is usually the story of things being decent.  If you don't take big risks, you won't suffer failure.  Life is a 7/10 all over the place.
  • X, Y and Z are currently making me miserable, but it's fine, I'm doing okay, don't worry about me, I'm fine.  Coping all over the place.  People like this show up with a dozen complaints, but quickly want to move past them, never actually getting their needs met.
  • I've got it all figured out, things are going great, I don't need any help, let's talk about you.  Oh, hello me.  An inability to be vulnerable, sometimes to the extent of not even being able to see our own flaws, mistakes, or problems.

People are often resistant to being made present to these ways of being.  It's okay - 99% of the population starts out uncoachable - and, the stuff that we have a trouble sitting with is usually the stuff that is sitting in our blindspots.

It can actually be incredibly empowering to get this kind of altitude and see how you're being.  With that awareness, you can actually change it.  Until we have that awareness, we're doomed to repeat the pattern.  Until you see how you're choosing, what's to stop you from choosing it again?  Your pattern will certainly be the path of least resistance - and more often than not, it will be the only path you can see.

What's your prevailing way of telling your stories?  If you step up the ladder and look down, what patterns can you see yourself playing out in your life?

Having trouble seeing your pattern, or want to do something constructive with it now that you've gained some awareness?  Request a confidential complimentary session here and create what's next for you.