Thursday, July 22, 2010

cultivate the good

The other day I was in a session with a client who has a very strong habit of focusing on the negative and totally disregarding the positive. It's a familiar habit, one that I have definitely engaged in myself, and one that leads to nothing but bleakness, sadness, and truly bad train karma.*

I did what I could to help my client to see that focusing on the negative is only going to bring more negative (boooooooo!), and that focusing on the good is only going to bring more good (hooray!). One of the tactics we tried was imagining that she was living in a sci-fi world where goodness was dying out. And that she was one of the few people left who could cultivate and protect goodness. So any time she saw something with even the faintest tinge of good to it, it was her responsibility to take that goodness, plant it in a garden, and tend to it.

She lit up with this idea, recognizing that "goodness" was not a judgment about whether or not an achievement was reached or someone was "worthy" of being deemed good, but rather a quality that could inherently exist inside something -- a situation, a person, herself...

So I closed the session feeling like I had cultivated some good, once again proving to myself that I do an excellent job of living what I teach.

And then the next day came.

I found myself getting twitchy about not having heard back from a guy I am dating. And when I catch myself doing that, I immediately call my sister (my cucumber cheerleader) because I know she's good at easing my twitch.

And, without going into too much detail, do you know what I was doing? Focusing on all the negative, and completely disregarding the positive! With blinders on, I was zeroing in on all the things that seemed "wrong" to me, and paying absolutely no attention to the things that were there to inspire me or give me hope that he was, in fact, interested!

Boy did I feel like a dummy.

But instead of focusing on how stupid I felt about not catching myself doing something it was so easy for me to see my client doing, I looked at how awesome it was that a) I did catch myself doing it, and b) I called someone who could help me get back on my path.

Sure, I could use this experience to prove to myself that I'm a horrible coach and can't possibly offer anything of value since I can't live it myself, or I can recognize (and celebrate!) the fact that I'm human, that I'm living it, too, and that life happens moment to moment.

And every triumph is worth a celebration.


*the best way to cultivate good train karma? Focus on the times the train comes into the station right when you get there, and ignore the times you spend hours and hours waiting in the sauna for the train to finally come and then not be going to your borough. **

** I haven't gotten really good at this yet, obviously.

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