As many of you know I have recently experienced a weeks retreat where there wasn't a spa in sight - no massage treatments or infinity pool.... no this was hard work... sometimes painful & raw... Not doing it for you?? How about if I told you I also experienced a prolonged sense of peace, laughed until my face & sides ached, met & adventured with 16 other kindred spirits & rediscovered parts of me (wonderful parts of me) that have long been buried. Better?? Amongst all my many learnings was an overriding sense of choice...
One of the earliest exercises we undertook was an exploration of our 'sub personalities' - those bits of us that are make us US! Another way to think of this is; who is driving our bus at any one time? Who (or which part of us) is in control of our direction? Our behaviours, our thoughts & our feelings? Is it the organiser driver? Or maybe the 'do it all' driver? Or perhaps it's the parent, the victim, the rebel, dreamer, joker, workaholic, fitness instructor, achiever, hot head, nurturer, joy seeker, bully, teacher, carer... etc etc.
I'll give you a minute to have a think or maybe write yours down.....
Now you've done that, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
One of the greatest reminders of the week was that the vast majority of us DO have control or our responses, it's just we run on autopilot. Now there's a good reason we run on autopilot from our brains point of view - it's wired for efficiency and therefore to repeat learned patterns over and over takes way less energy than to take a pause and consciously choose every time we want to respond. However, learned or conditioned responses are not always serving us or those around us well. In fact quite the opposite. They were probably learned at a young age & are just NOT appropriate or healthy anymore. So is it time for an update to your system responses?
I am not saying this work is easy... it is simple but it is not easy! When I lose faith in my ability to change (which I do by the way... frequently!!) I am reminded of the iconic book Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Frankl, a psychiatrist, spent 3 years in concentration camps in the second world war and wrote of human's ability to CHOOSE our responses despite the harshest of environments. He never lost faith in his own ability to choose, in fact it only got stronger the more adversity he faced.... if ever there's a lesson to be learnt it's this:
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."
A lot of our work following our 'bus driver' exercise was then about practicing noticing - noticing our responses... getting really curious about where they came from and noticing if they were still relevant and serving us today. We also did a lot of work on noticing HOW we respond - do we meet the stimulus, respond and then grab hold of that response and refuse to let go? Revelling in it and languishing in it? Or do we not even allow the stimulus to be felt & bury our heads in work/alcohol/food etc instead to avoid feeling? Our practice was centred around meeting the stimulus, allowing the feeling or thoughts to come in, acknowledging their presence and then LETTING GO!!! Itai Itzvan - our extraordinary teacher & guide on this journey - calls this Touch and Go... this became our group mantra!! Our whatsapp group is even called Touch and Go...!!
If you would like to know more about Itai's work you can find him and his awesome courses at The School of Positive Transformation I cannot recommend him highly enough! Also his book Awareness is Freedom is a really useful guide to this type of work - the combination of psychology & spirituality really hits the mark for me and informs my practice, my work and my philosophy for life!
Do let me know if you have any questions or feedback regarding this type of work and in the meantime drive safely & enjoy the ride!!!
AUTHOR: ANNIE LEE
Annie is a coach, coach supervisor & coach adventurer! Warmth, depth & joy sum her approach up in a nutshell!