Monday, November 21, 2011

Imitations Are Never As Good

I was listening to my favorite vocal artist singing someone else’s song, only I did not know that it was someone else’s song. At first, I thought that perhaps he was making a change from his own style. Two minutes into the song it was clear that he sounded like someone else and that he was indeed trying to sound like someone else. That’s when I realized what was going on. I couldn’t finish listening to the song, it sounded awful to me. In fact, his amazing baritone voice sounded weak and washed out.

I realized later that it is the same when we try to imitate others.  In that moment of imitation we lose ourselves.  When we are speaking our truth, being ourselves, even if someone does not like us, they don’t like us and not the person we are trying to be.  There is power in authenticity.  There is strength in our voices when we speak our own words in our own voice.  I am not talking about opinions, beliefs, or even the end product of what we are creating, but the voice in which we speak them.

When you try to sound like someone else, you sound like no one at all.  Your voice is washed out and dull.  Part of that I think is due to not knowing what it is all about.  How can one artist know exactly what the one they are imitating was thinking, seeing, or feeling in the moment of their expression.  At best, they can guess at it, and that guessing or assumption is the wash out.

Knowing what someone has experienced requires that you have experienced it too.  That does happen, and when it does, your voice can be as authentic as the person before you who went through the same experience. That’s when we connect with a song, story, or a person.  In fact, there is nothing quite as amazing as when we connect with each other through similar experiences.  We understand the pain or the pleasure someone is describing because we have gone through it.  You can be compassionate without having gone through the same experience, but you cannot express the same emotions as someone else, unless you have gone through the same experience.

My most challenging spiritual life coaching sessions are with clients who describe an experience very similar to what I have experienced.  It is like looking at a picture and finding out that it was a mirror instead.  Those sessions are hard, because I try extra hard to not project my own stuff on to the client.
In order for the client to have an authentic experience they need to stay detangled from the coach’s story.  These are special sessions where you can practice good coaching skills by asking questions and never making any assumptions. In fact, when done right, it is as if you have two originals in the room.  There may be similarities in the art work, but they are each distinct and brilliant on their own.

If you feel washed out or unoriginal, perhaps you are imitating or hiding under someone else’s image or experience.  I invite you to step out of the habit or need to imitate anyone other than yourself.  There is power and magic when you step into your own. People will suddenly want to listen to you and won’t know why.  If you want to leave a good impression, be yourself.  If you don’t know how to do that, then make it your business to learn how.

Spiritual life coaching is about the business of finding your own true voice and expressing it at all times.  If you’d like to learn if spiritual life coaching is for you, contact me for a 30 minute complimentary session.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where Are You Trapped?

She was uncomfortable, restless, trapped like an animal in a cage.  She couldn’t get out, she couldn’t help herself. She knew this feeling, but she didn’t know exactly when or why or how. All she knew was that she hated it. She had to get away. She was afraid she would get stuck and never get out. She couldn’t think like that, she couldn’t give up. And then just like that, she woke up from the dream. She was relieved that it was only a dream, even though, the emotions were so real. She recognized them, but did not know from where. They were familiar…

Sometimes events can stir up old reactions or feelings. If they are negative or painful, we have a hard time remembering what they are associated with. If it is extremely difficult, then we don’t even want to remember where they might be coming from. However, in order to be able to have some degree of control (i.e., recognize so that if it happens again you can choose how to act instead of reacting from an old perspective), you need to go investigate what it is all about.

I find myself doing a lot of investigative work with my spiritual coaching clients. We set out to find where something is coming from before we decide what to do with it, if anything at all. Some clients don’t want to find it, because they are afraid of what they might find. Some claim they know what is there, but they don’t know how to let it go.  What both types of clients have in common is identification with either the fear as in the case of the first example, or identification with “not knowing how to …”. 

In fact, identification is the source of most of our problems. We identify with the position that we can’t do, don’t know how to do, or are afraid of doing X, Y, or Z. We repeat the reasons for the position over and over again in our heads and we believe the story. We convince ourselves of our opinion and then repeat it to whomever dares to try to help us. 

Identification is like cement or a cinder block chained to our ankles. It gets us stuck. First we complain about being stuck, and soon it becomes an excuse for not being stuck. In a way, we get comfortable with our position. It’s like falling asleep in a funny position in bed, but being too tired to move. Even though, you know that you will get a cramped neck in the morning, you don’t have the strength to reposition yourself because you are in a deep sleep. Getting stuck in our identifications is like being stuck in a deep sleep. We know what we are doing is unhealthy, but we can’t get out.

One way to break that spell is to ask yourself: “what do I want?”  Even in the depths of sleep, when I ask myself, “what do I really want?” and if I stay awake enough for the answer, I know I have to move. Asking ourselves repeatedly: “what do I really want?” brings us to the point of choice.  It for a brief moment unglues us from the identification with the problem.  It reminds us that we are not set in the same outcome.  We have a choice.
So, I ask my spiritual life coaching clients over and over again: “what do you want?”  Some answer the question, but then jump into “…but I can’t…” and then we go back to the beginning.  This is how you get unstuck, by going back to the beginning. You might have to do it more than once.  You might have to do it again when the problems shows up in a different form.  It is a great place to start.
Questions to Ponder:
(1)     What is one issue or problem that keeps on repeating itself in your life?
(2)    Where and how do you get stuck?
(3)    What do you really want?

If you would like to further explore these issues with a spiritual life coach, please contact me for a complimentary 30 minute consultation to determine if spiritual life coaching is for you.