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I have been moved by the September 11 attacks in the US, but even more so by the feelings coming up in people around the world. I have many friends in Manhattan whose lives have been deeply affected. I notice some destructive energy resulting, but also an awakening as many ask; “What does this mean?”, and ”What can I do?”.
With every situation, we have a choice to either come from blame: “How unfair this happened, you did this to me, and I'll make you pay”, or from responsibility: “Is there any way I helped this to happen, or could have avoided it?”
Given the horrific scale of the attacks, it is natural and easy to slip into the first option of blame and even revenge. This is completely understandable, and I am sure this would be my first response were I in that situation. In fact, it is often my first response, even with my partner Bronwyn. However, this often produces inferior results to the option of taking responsibility. Let's use an analogy…
If someone in your office is out to ‘get you', trying to get them fired may solve the problem – or you may simply raise the stakes. Calling the police may make it harder for them to make trouble, or simply require them to be craftier, or meaner. If they happen to have so little happiness that they do not care about their reputation or their job, deterrence will likely require more and more energy on your part, until one of you gives in or dies.
These approaches pale in comparison to finding out what would make this person's life more enjoyable (e.g. an apology, more respect, more acknowledgement). It is never “true” that you caused this person to target you – just as it is not “true” that the US caused or contributed towards the terrorist attacks (despite some of the more controversial viewpoints put forward over the internet).
However, it is my observation and experience that the person who chooses to look for ways in which they contributed to the aggression - even to the extent that they did not contribute to co-worker's happiness – often produces surprising results in their own life. At the cost of their ego, pride, and their position of being “in the right”, they somehow get to experience the aggressor's anger dissolving. Of course it costs them “being right”, and holding on to their “point of view”, but saves hours, weeks, months or years of costly “battle” energy. “I am the victim and it is completely unfair that this co-worker harasses me” might be completely valid, but horrendously expensive.
It is ridiculous to suggest the US should “turn the other city”, and smile gracefully while angry people hurt them. Similarly it is wise to take steps to protect ourselves – to keep the analogy going: I have no problem shooting a co-worker who is about to stab me with a knife. Further, I acknowledge the US for taking a stand against international terrorism. However, unless I can be sure no other co-workers will take his place, I would surely be foolish to not also pursue a powerful strategy likely to have longer lasting effects. In this analogy: to find out what would make my co-worker's life more enjoyable so they do not wish to attack anyone
If you would like to apply this principle to your life:
1) List at least three situations where you feel you have been battling someone, or a situation. (e.g. neighbour upstairs, boss, secretary, ex-husband, parent, sibling, child).
2) For each situation, write down what you are blaming the other person for – list everything they have done or not done which is inappropriate or wrong.
3) For each situation – list what you might have done to contribute to the situation (look hard, and if you can't see it, ask someone else how you might have contributed. Warning: Beware the friend who will simply give you evidence or agreement that you are “right”.)
4) For each situation, write down and take one action to shift the situation (e.g. apologise, alter your behaviour, do something nice for the other party)
Something Wrong With Me?: RB, Country Unknown
I am 18 years old and I have never have a boyfriend. I don't feel as though I need one to be happy with my life, however I sometimes feel as though something must be wrong with me if no-one is attracted to me. This doesn't help my self esteem at all! Do you have any suggestions?
COACH: Why don't you forget the "boyfriend" idea for now, and make a list of what you would enjoy doing with another guy? Then list the guys you MIGHT be interested in hanging out with. Then play a game called " how can I get this guy to ask me out for this"? Maybe get coaching from some girlfriends good at this. If this game isn't fun after a week, then it's up to you to ask them. Start having enough fun, and one of these guys will seem like someone you want to hang around more often, and vice versa. If you want to then call it a "relationship", go for it!
Betrayal: MB, Australia
The man I love has committed the ultimate sin (once on a drunken night) and broken a sacred trust.
COACH: I feel for you MB.
MB: After a lot of soul searching I am using this as an opportunity to get my own life together - and I am now a lot happier with who I am and where I am heading.
COACH: I acknowledge you for making the most of this - that is all there is to do with every circumstance. A spiritual person MIGHT even say that is why this happened, although this would be a stretch for many.
MB: So great, but I am still in a relationship where everyday I think of my husband with this other woman. What can I do to stop myself from thinking about what has happened.
COACH: First a comment - betrayal is made up. He did whathe did. The pain comes from the story we grow up with about "betrayal", and the horrible feeling that we may not be special after all! (Which is really your stuff - not his).
Second - do what you need to, hear what you need to, to FULLY get this guys commitment to you, remorse, and how you both know it will not happen again (including any clear consequences for a repeat).
Third - what could he do to make it up to you MB, and is he willing?
Fourth (and I'm really going to go for it here) - there is a higher place you can reach where you are not even man/women with all the associated stories/expectations. But where you can see him as another soul walking the planet with you. In this place you may see that it's not about you, and start wondering what this experience was like for this other human being. However, this is a very big, generous place to be in. When you come back down to the jealous, "it's been DONE to me" place, notice it, notice it running you if it is, and disconnect from it. YOUR FEELINGS ARE NOT YOU. Thanks for asking
I had a wonderful time in the US in August (before the US attacks), and a very challenging, growing time in California. I looked at relation-SHIP, and how much I/we crave the illusion of security – pretending it will be forever. The idea of “letting go” of everything, and simply being with life as it is instead of holding on is sometimes confronting, and other times very freeing.
I've seen how much I need/crave acceptance/love from my partner. And when she is feeling unloved/unhappy, I can quickly feel unloved, and vice versa. It's hard for starving people to feed each other, yes? Great chance for growth – ouch!
CoachCampus is now the International Coach Academy – and is just launching a publicity campaign in four countries! We've grown to over 20 staff, and more than 80 coaches. Looks like we'll be exhibiting at our first expo/conference November 22-25 (Mind Body Spirit for those in Sydney). I'm also the new chairperson of the Publicity Committee of the International Coach Federation – quite a job.
OH – and Bronwyn and I are both interested in rock climbing. (I still like the hang gliding – but spent 13 hours yesterday for a 10 minute flight! View pics at: www.life-coaching-resource.com/hanggliding.htm )
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David Wood is a personal and business coach, and a founder of the International Coach Academy - a global company training coaches in nine countries. He is a Professional Certified Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) based in Washington, D.C.
David has coached people in 13 countries via telephone and email. He helps people tap into their passion and adventure, and get into action! He works with professionals on career direction and personal issues, with small business owners, and managers/executives. He also helps coaches start or accelerate their coaching practice via the CoachStart™ Program at http://www.CoachStart.com/Mentor.htm