This is an incredibly personal blog post. One that exposes the weakest parts of myself at the moment but that hopes to serve as a re-assurance, support and perspective. It will take mountains of effort to press “post” at the end, yet forcing myself to think of the contribution as well as release which will potentially come out of such little gesture that aims at fighting fears.
I went on a "first date" recently. As with all fist dates, people get to know the basics about each other and cover topics such as “what do you do for a living?” and “how many siblings do you have?”.
When asked what do I do, we inevitably touched on the coaching practice and a natural follow-up question appeared: “aren’t you struggling with the fact that you seem a bit young to be a coach?”.
There is a saying: “don’t ask the elderly, ask the ones who's suffered through” and so, as this is not the first time I’ve been asked that, I explained and moved on from it with grace and zero discomfort.
However, the reason why I start with this story is because I am indeed experienced/ suffered through and learnt from ... dealing with adversity, change, depression, losing ground, losing friends, changing five countries, burnout, panic attacks, setting up business practices, dealing with narcissism, working in demanding corporate environments, being a “high performer”, being an entrepreneur, learning to meditate, learning to exercise and to love it despite this not being a part of my life when growing up, speaking up, blending and not blending, etc., etc.
A New Lesson:
And today, after a few tough weeks when my life decided to remind me (again) that 1) I may be too sensitive at times, naïve and a bit romantic, (hence I should bite the dust one more time to wake up), 2&3) my family went through another funeral and my dad went into hospital, while 4) I try to figure out how to move back to my home-country after 10 consecutive years of living in the UK and 15 in total outside the home-land … naturally I felt shattered BUT I also gained the lesson worth sharing!
I am scared, yes, can’t sleep much and need to immediately pick myself up as I am not a fan of feeling this way, nor I think I am allowed. So, I stood up early in the morning and had to pull something out of the coaching "magic hat" right then and there unless I wanted to remain stuck for another "unwell day". I had to do something about the feelings I had and the way I perceive what’s happening...
... and I started with the simplest thing I could think of...
If I had my coach right here, right now, what would they ask me and what would I answer? They’d ask me: “Valentina, tell me, What’s Going On.” As simple as that! “What’s going on? Why do you have me here?” and I let the first thing that came to my mind come out which was the surprise I didn’t expect: “XYZ is happening but I feel I am responsible for all of it and I feel terrible for the fact that I caused it and for my inability to cope with all of it better”.
continuing: “...I caused, attracted and accepted bad behaviour in my relationships, I am not fighting harder the scary thoughts of sicknesses in my family and the fear of what else is going to happen. I am the one who is not “practical” enough and am unable to be harsher rather than holding to a potentially fragile belief that “love conquers it all”. I am ultimately and undeniably responsible for how I feel and … I can’t shake it off, which is a failure by default! I am the one to blame for as well as ashamed of planning to “start from scratch” and for deciding that “I need to take time for myself” which is not even guaranteeing me any successful re-charge.
The Revelation: Responsibility vs Culpability:
It was as crisp and clear as it gets from a professional stand point!
I was feeling guilty for not being perfect! I was harsh as hell and blamed myself for what other people have done or what others go through. I blamed myself for everything that happens in a normal life – sickness, death, smiles and relationship struggles... you name it!
I believe in the laws of attraction and I do think that whatever we project returns to us in some shape or form. It makes sense to me based on the fact that we all are energy and we don’t exist in isolation so I treat it as "physics" in my mind. I believe that we have full responsibility for the lives we live, the ways we feel and the impact we make. However, this empowering belief was now holding me back because I thought: “I must be projecting terrible things! I haven’t had a break from sh**ty things for many many months”.
The responsibility I felt, which makes me who I am, has turned into a monstrous nightmare that was taking away from others the parts they play and was weighing heavily on me. Even for the so called “clear cases” when someone has genuinely mistreated me, cheated or used me, I was unable to turn around and say: “that’s their fault, not mine”, “it was their responsibility to act with integrity, not mine”, “it was their choice to do it, not mine”.
So there is the line between feeling responsible in a healthy, empowering way and burdening yourself with the notion that EVERYTHING depends on you, resulting ultimately in a paralyzing blame game.
I am not sure what exactly depends or doesn’t on us, but the one thing I could think of as a constructive next step was: Simplify Baby! Simplify Now! It’s clear where the problem lies…Simplify Further!
Get rid of the relationships which are frankly bull*hit and hurting me. Get rid of the fear that my family members are not well and something terrible will happen soon again and acknowledge reality - I will be there when they need me and if they need me, but not live in anticipation of death and expecting it all the time. And I will go ahead with my decision on taking time for myself, because it’s O.K. and I don’t need to achieve anything in particular for anyone other than myself.
I found the simple question of: “what’s going on … <your name here> …?” a revealing, short, yet powerful way of giving yourself some honest answers. Imagine explaining to someone you don’t know but wants to listen to you what’s going on. Tell them what really bothers you and let them tell you what the best next steps are.
Then Simplify! and I am not going to give any recommendation on “how to” because it’s all relative and personal. Instead, I was hoping to give you the comfort that if you are going through a similar ultra-responsible borderline self-blaming game – you are not alone and it doesn’t make you someone who deserves to hide from the world and be punished. You are not a failure and you are not the one to be held accountable for everything! What you are is a self-aware person. Perhaps a lot more than others around you are or dare to share they are. You are perceptive!
I’d also like to give you the re-assurance that this shall pass too and the lessons from it will make you more capable and will have great long lasting effects.
Through this experience, I learnt that I have the right to have a scope of responsibility as opposed to holding an expectation that I am the one to turn to for literally everything that happens. The “frequencies” I send to the universe are not the only ones and maybe something interfered and bugged the system :) but I can, with an honest heart say – I was and I am positive, hopeful, loving and forgiving, sending exactly that to everyone else. Wishing that you get those frequencies without interruption.