have we reached Peak Inspirational Quote?

July 12, 2017

This post is an extract from my latest Notes from the Path newsletter.
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It took me a long time to be able to say ‘I’m a Coach’ out loud, without inwardly cringing.

Even though I believe deeply in coaching, and completely respect its place on the spectrum of human wellbeing, this work has a reputation for being somewhat… cheesy.

There can be an unfortunate but well-meaning tendency, to point out the screaming bloody obvious or offer patronising advice that completely ignores the complexities of our lived experience.

I just googled how many inspirational quotes are on the internet? and my laptop made a whirring sound, before exploding.

And yet.

I have been lucky enough to work with coaches and therapists, who have helped me make sense of, and meaning from, loss and grief, my shitty behaviour patterns, life’s many challenges and stresses.

And over the years, I’ve worked with hundreds of women to help them turn around seemingly intractable circumstances and find a way to thrive a little more.

So I straddle the fence between an unconditional belief in the resilience and resourcefulness of us humans, alongside deep empathy for the valid and important reasons that it might not actually be possible to just ‘follow your bliss’ right now.

There are, of course, few simple, easy, one-size answers to life’s big questions: how do I believe in myself? Why do I keep repeating that same pattern? Who am I underneath all these expectations? Why is ‘this’ so hard?

We all long for the magic pill, the easy answer, the direct and straight route to freedom.

And our Western culture is very very good at promising the quick fix.

This is why we never see an ad for a pair of jeans, we see an ad for an entire lifestyle. The inference being we can bypass any tricky navel gazing – and completely ignore our lived reality of financial, racial, size, class and gender privilege – simply claim a life of denim-clad success and beauty by purchasing a few metres of well-cut fabric.

*stares at four pairs of jeans*

If you are feeling some positive vibes fatigue, if you’ve reached peak inspirational quote, if your self-help book purchases have single-handedly funded at least one carpark at Amazon – this might help.

This is an invitation to notice your relationship with what ‘yes’ feels like for you.

I believe the first step to making a change in our lives, comes from knowing what we want to say yes to.

But so many of us are hamstrung by one of the great lies proffered by the self-help industry: Every true decision should feel like a ‘hell yes!’ otherwise, it’s a no.

It sounds great in theory, but it’s just another simplistic quick fix:

  • Waiting for the ‘hell yes’ can mean we ignore the valid ‘quiet maybe’.
  • So many ‘hell yes’ decisions are born out of what we think we should want.
  • The ‘hell yes’ implies a spontaneous certainty that ignores the inherent nature of self-doubt to protect us from risk.
  • When we do feel the ‘hell yes’, we can expect the process of change to be equally simple and certain. It means we can interpret any difficulty, challenge, block or setback along the way as ‘proof’ that this was the wrong decision.
  • It means we miss out on an incredibly fulfilling and sometimes difficult and confusing walk through the labyrinth because we were waiting for the easy, straight road.

So instead of waiting for the ‘hell yes’ just try to pay attention, to what you pay attention to.

What feels good in your life right now?

What are you intrigued by, interested in, talking about, thinking about?

Why does this matter to you?

What is the safest, smallest step you can take today to create more of that yes feeling?

What are you learning about how yes feels to you?

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