Choosing a new pathway...

I was given a beautiful gift today. I was invited by a dear friend to walk with her on her pathway of feels associated with disappointment. She is a gifted, talented and hardworking artist. Her disappointment was generated from the excitement and expectancy of what originally appeared to be an opportunity to advance her work. The gift, revealed by becoming the observer, was my increased awareness about the mayhem caused when old emotional pains are invited in to what we are experiencing in this moment. I listened to her express what was happening for her, and I noticed she choose to walk down a very specific, unpleasant path. The path she chose was dry, harsh and rutted with big, gnarly boulders blocking her way. These boulders represented self-doubt around her intelligence, decision –making and value. She was choosing to turn this moment into an opportunity to re-experience past pain not yet let go of and to flog herself for experiencing the joy and excitement the potential in new opportunities. I could also see that these “boulders” (or blockages) were not even her stuff to begin with, but instead represented stuff others had projected upon her…and she had decided carry as her own.

She repeatedly made statements familiar to us all like, “I am an idiot”, “I feel foolish”, and “I should not have tried this”. I watched her sink deeper and deeper embracing the self inflicted beating as if it were deserved. I broke the observer/listener role with a simple question*, “Is it really true that you are a fool for getting excited about new opportunities?”

With this simple question we began the process of building a new pathway. A nurturing, loving pathway where disappointment becomes a learning experience and discomfort becomes opportunity for growth. Where outcomes that are different than what you hoped for become simply places for gathering new information and clarifying what you truly want and need.

Through out our conversation she was able to turn this experience around from “I was a fool to get excited” to “This was a quick lesson to better understand learning where I want to go with my art. I am grateful”. She also came to know that she gets to create the pathway for experiencing emotions when things turn out differently than what she imagined. And it can be, if she chooses, nurturing, loving and even fun.

She has decided to clear out the boulders that stop her in her tracks and force her to wallow in pain and ultimately question her self-worth, her talent, her value and journey. She also began to know that getting excited about an opportunity is an amazingly wonderful experience to be embraced.

As with all experiences, her learning was a mirror for my own processes and growth. I am thankful be invited to be present.

Might she (we or I) slip back onto our old pathways? Of course. Old pathways temporarily feel comforting. Comforting in the same way it feels to keep checking on a toothache by biting it. However, the relief (or release) in choosing a new, boulder free pathway is satisfying in a sustainable way!

What familiar yet harsh pathways might you want to clear out and rebuild as nurturing growth experiences?

*This question is the beginning of “The Work” by Byron Katie and shared with me by Koelle Simpson. I love “The Work” and use it both for my own growth and learning and with my coaching clients.