Falling in to Place

Falling in to Place

One of my coaching clients has been at a difficult threshold for a long time. He turns up at our sessions dismayed at his ability to forge a way forwards in critical areas of his life and work. What needs to change is not in question, but how to embark upon change is fraught with difficulties. He berates himself for indecision and “stuckness.”

I’m not immune to these feelings in my own life and work. When I’ve tried to drive change in a particular direction, things don’t always work out. And sometimes I don’t seem able to divine which direction to turn towards. Yet I don’t believe that it is always right to simply try harder, make choices based on cold analysis, get off the fence, or just do something…

Along with my client, I’ve begun to enquire in to how I manage myself at these threshold moments. We are used to thinking about change in agentic terms. If I do this then that will result.  But this logic is beguilingly simplistic when we apply it to the most cherished and – often – the most loaded aspects of our life and work. It’s like saying that if you’re an alcoholic the problem is that you drink too much so the solution is to stop drinking alcohol. Such linear change processes rarely work. Despite our yearning, desire and expectation for something specific to happen, in most transformational change processes, we experience sustained periods of being confounded and neutralised. We pull back from action, or hover uneasily between possibilities, between decision and indecision, between limbo and nirvana…

My friend and fellow Gestaltist Sally Denham-Vaughan calls these transitional thresholds “liminal spaces” where we need to befriend uncertainty and not berate ourselves when we feel disconnected from obvious action possibilities and when we experience fragmentation and despair. I, too, believe that in many circumstances we need to look beyond our capacities to act. We could turn from Doing to Being for an alternative change strategy -but what might this look like?

Well, it might involve developing our capacities for being with our intentionality while resisting the habitual action imperative, at least for a while; paying compassionate and searching attention to the overall situation we find ourselves in, rather than berating ourselves for our personal wobble; staying open to being affected and impacted by what is going on around us; rehearsing small steps in the direction of our dreams and learning from these experiments; and staying connected to what is going on in our bodies...

Perhaps if we pay this sort of attention to change, the transformation we seek will simply fall in to place?

Posted in General on Sunday, Feb 16th, 2014

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