19th April by John Gray

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I was lucky a few years ago to take one of my coaches with me on holiday.

The holiday turned out to be a particularly noisy time for me. I mean that my inner critic was unhelpfully present and failed to quieten itself over the first few days.

Fortunately my coach managed to make themselves heard above the noise. We took ourselves off to a nearby labyrinth, and I did some serious listening to myself as I walked into the centre of the labyrinth, asking the question from the coach “What do I need to let go of?”; and listening again as I then walked out from the centre ‘back’ into the present world, letting the answers come to “What do I need to allow in?”

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that my coach was a wiser part of myself, and that this was a moment of self-coaching. Luckily for coaches, we have the potential to use our own techniques on ourselves, and we can surprise ourselves with how effective they can be!

And if you’re interested in what emerged from the labyrinth: I named the unhelpful archaic rules of thinking and behaviour which still at times rule my life; and I shaped new rules based on present circumstances which were kinder to myself and which bore more relevance to my newly-fifty-year-old self.

Here are the new and old rules. As I read them again now it’s funny how much the new rules are also relevant to my sense of who and how I am as a coach.

The new rules which I want to allow in:

  • I love myself kindly and equally to loving others
  • Everyone belongs equally in a state of unconditional love and union
  • My worth and my value and my wellbeing come from within
  • I don't discount myself
  • All my feelings are OK: they are data for what is important to me
  • I trust my intuition
  • I know when and how to disagree
  • I have other ways to express my anger than silence and then explosion or inward rumination
  • I can say my hellos and goodbyes – to people, to roles, to dreams, to decisions...
  • I'm OK, you're OK. I am good enough. I deserve to be here
  • I set and keep my own boundaries, limits and priorities
  • I can be powerful and still ask for help
  • I am not self-sufficient; I am open to support from and collaboration with others
  • Criticism doesn't need to be heard as a denial of my values
  • I manage firmly and creatively when I am being treated as not important or in the face of attempted control by others
  • I make decisions in the way I do because values, harmony and fairness are important to me
  • I like to keep options open as long as possible, to explore all relevant information.

And the old rules which I wanted to let go of (and of course today am still on an ongoing journey of letting go of) :

  • Life had to be hard
  • You didn't really know who you are or what was right
  • You didn't deserve help
  • You didn't matter
  • Conflict was bad
  • When you couldn't decide something, it just meant you were rubbish
  • You had to blend in
  • You had to merge with others, and not stand out or disagree
  • You chose comfort and belonging and niceness as a substitute for love and worth
  • When you kept the harmony, and made sure others were satisfied, it was because you thought in doing so you'd be safe
  • You avoided doing 'disturbing' or difficult activities. You gave every task the same importance, so that you didn't have to set and choose amongst your priorities.

When I enable myself to live life via the perspective of the new rules, it feels better!

Sincere thanks to coach and AoEC Faculty - John Gray