Coach's Corner: Helping you get to the heart of the matter. Deflect for truth
In an instant, words capture our attention. A tone is set so quickly our thoughts are transported to another state of mind. Recently I came into a group midway through a conversation taking place with two others. I was greeted warmly and then the leader said, “You all look stressed out”. After that statement I was asked how my weekend was. I shared that I had pretty-much sat all weekend. And the leader replied, “Ah! Sitting is like smoking cigarettes”. I was suddenly feeling disturbed. My focus was now on how I looked, and how what I had done for relaxation was not good for me. All I could do to deflect the statements was focus on my breathing which took me back to the state of mind I was in a split second ago. Can you relate to this?
It is easy to get derailed if we are not consciously aware of how we are feeling. Being in touch with how you feel is what brings about a healthy way of being. Hearing a statement made about you that is not true for you is not always easy to clear your mind from. In a split moment, our minds race to connect the dots. “What? I look stressed? I’m not stressed. Am I?” Notice what has happened? You’ve just questioned your own well-being. Your own internal awareness. So how do we turn this off to be engaged with what is in front of us?
Turning our focus from one state of mind to another simply must be a choice. In this case, I told myself to check in with my thoughts about this later. I was then able to engage with a clear focus on the group activity.
You may already know by now that we cannot control what others say or do. I was in such a great mood after a special and relaxing weekend, ready for my time in the group and I had just finished my cup of coffee that I love sipping in the morning while I gain insight from my morning study on how to live peacefully. Then in a split moment I was feeling reprimanded. I just had to quickly notice what was true for me in the moment. I was not stressed, and I was noticeably clear about what my truth was, and I was ready to be, right where I was. My focus felt distorted only momentarily.
After my meeting I took some time to review what had just happened. I was curious about the leader’s perception of me, so I just checked in with myself. 1.) I was eager to be in the meeting. 2.) I was excited to be with everyone. 3.) I did identify some minor stress about an upcoming project. 4.) Is it true? Am I stressed? My eagerness or transition coming to the class may have appeared as stress. Nope, I’m good! All systems checked! This is the time when we can feel thankful for the opportunity to check in with ourselves. Any blind spots here?
If you are a leader, one tip I have for you is rather than tell someone what they are, ask them with curiosity. “What are you feeling like right now? I’m sensing some stress. Is that true”? Allowing the person to label for themselves what their truth is. And listen to their answer. As if you were going to repeat right back to them what they just told you. (Welcome to the world of coaching!) This is a skill that is critical for effective coaches. Blind spots are hard to see. Hence the name.
Come to know what your truth is. How can you accept when someone tells you what you are?
Have you ever heard this? Kindergarten babies, born in the gravy.
This is what I heard every morning as a kindergartner as I walked past the first graders. I did not want to go to school anymore. I remember my dad asked me, “Were you born in the gravy?” And of course, my response was, “No”. And he said, “Well, then what is your problem”? The lesson here is, only we
know our truth. We do not accept what anyone tells us we are. We accept what we say we are.
So, the leader’s opinion of me that was totally opposite of what I was aware of for myself, threw me for a bit of a loop.
When you find yourself with times like these, and especially when you are about to engage with someone leading that just “set the tone”, it is important to practice deflecting someone’s observation when it is not your truth. Immediately center yourself and what you are experiencing internally with how you say you are being.
It takes time to come to this point in your personal development. Even today with all the practice I have had over the years, it is true that this was not something I stewed about for days like I may have in days of the past. So, I encourage you to learn this practice. Notice, rather than react when you feel affected by any statement. Instead of being put-off or fixated on the statement, dismiss it for the moment and focus on what is in the moment. Later, if necessary, review the statement and consider anything you’d like to consider for yourself. If you are not stressed and you already know that sitting for extended periods of time is not healthy for you then be done. If you want to act and find a different way to alleviate stress that may be a healthier way, do that. And for the sake of discernment about self, for personal growth which in this case is affirming my truth, what is coming up for you? Have you ever experienced something similar for yourself? What do you want to do about it?