Do you ever stop? Because I don’t.
Back in June this year I had a session with a Life Coach through work.
“What’s a Life Coach?” I hear you ask.
Effectively it’s someone who is trained to listen to you and help you address certain personal or business areas of your life and guide you towards your own specific goals.
They never tell you what to do, but they help you through a process of going from now to a point in the future, to achieve something in particular.
This was a free session, and my main reason for having it was to help me focus on some developmental objectives specific to my job.
I asked for the session in March and eventually got to meet the Coach about three months later. By the time I sat down with him, I had A LOT going on in my mind.
I had already had the bus accident and realised I needed to start leading a more mindful life. I was also re-evaluating both my work and my current childcare options. Asking myself ‘big questions’, and that had an impact at work too. And I was really struggling to find meaningful objectives for the year ahead.
So at the beginning of the session I literally talked at the Coach (a very experienced businessman with his own coaching firm), for about 40 minutes. He listened and made some notes but essentially didn’t say a word.
When I finished he asked, “Do you ever stop?”
I started welling up then, and I didn’t stop for several hours. And in fact, I was a bit of a mess for a few days afterwards.
No, I don’t stop. Ever. I don’t feel that I have the time to. I don’t feel that I can. (Well, that was then anyway).
He told me I reminded him of a pinball machine, just going from one direction to the next, not being able to stop on anything because there is so much going on that I can’t dedicate enough time to anything. The next thing comes along and I’m off again.
We were not talking about work anymore. In fact, there was very little talk about work.
He was right – that’s exactly how I felt.
He asked me if I felt stressed, and I said no. But I said I always feel rushed, on the back foot and often overwhelmed by my all-encompassing life to-do list. I now look back and think that’s pretty much what stress is…
Then he did something that I felt was really powerful – he asked me to stand up and imagine that the spot where I was standing was my life as it is now, with my children being at the age that they are.
He then asked me to walk a few steps towards the office door, towards an imaginary point in the future 15 years down the line, with my youngest son just about to go off to college.
I walked a few steps and stopped.
He asked me: “How was the journey?”
And I said: “It was quick. It was very quick. And I was so focused on not tripping over [these wires or the chair] that I didn’t even notice how the journey was”.
He didn’t even say anything.
He was just looking at me, and even 4+ months down the line I can still remember the expression on his face in that precise moment, as if he wanted to say: “You said it, not me. Now take it in, girl”.
And the crying really didn’t stop after that.
It’s really hard, to cry in front of a stranger. It’s awkward, really awkward. I wasn’t sobbing, mind you, but the tears from my eyes just weren’t stopping.
Before I went back to my seat he also asked me what my life looked like then, 15 years in the future, and I wasn’t sure.
“Do you see yourself working for this company?”
“Do you see yourself in a similar job, elsewhere?”
“Where then? What are you doing for a living? How is the relationship with your husband? With your children?”
He let me off the hook eventually, but he left those questions with me – something to definitely figure out.
I then sat down again, and he told me that if I keep running around like that, without ever stopping, without ever a moment to care for myself, I’d run out of batteries, like the Duracell bunny (did he just compare me to a pink rabbit?!)
“I’m doing Pilates and started swimming again…” I said, hopeful.
“But you’re still filling your time with Pilates, with something”.
I couldn’t understand. I thought Pilates or exercising could count as ‘me time’. And I thought ‘me time’ was good. Everyone says you need ‘me time’ as a mum…
“If you think about a Buddhist monk who spends his whole day in meditation, you are at the opposite spectrum, whatever that looks like”.
A bit harsh and judgemental for the first time we meet, but how does he know I’ve been thinking about the fact that I need to be more mindful? How can this man, who has only just met me and only knows very little about me (40 minutes’ worth of me yapping at him), know that I need to make a change in my life and live more mindfully?
Is this The Universe sending me signals again?
I left an hour and a half later feeling completely drained. I apologised a million time for not being able to stop crying in front of a stranger – “It’s because you care. And it’s good that you do, because this is your life”.
It’s my life, and I’ve been so focused on not tripping over that I haven’t been paying attention to the journey.
It was time for big decisions. Time for big change.