When I was a child I used to equate love with the feeling of warmth. Being cuddled and appreciated.

When I was a teenager I used to see love as a special gift from God, as a power to influence the life of others.

As a young adult, I saw love as a power of transformation. I was able to discriminate between falling in love and being in love.

When I got married I understood that love was a choice.

When I became a mother I understood that love was responsibility.

My understanding of love has evolved a lot over the years. However, it was only when I have become a mother that I looked deeper. In all the years I have seen love as a relation. And in a sense, it is.

Love is a relation with myself. It begins inside.

Love is self-acceptance.

Let me explain.

In the famous 1st letter to the Corinthians, in the Bible, NIV, we read:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Think about this now.

If I accept myself, who I am, without any pride or disgrace, I have no need to prove myself to others. I don’t need to gain respect from others or please others. Love (self-acceptance) sets me free. I give myself permission to be the way I am, odd or weird, either norm or deception. It does not matter.

I do not bother if others like me or reject me as I do not need the approval of others. It is nice to have it but if I appreciate myself, I am OK with life. As I am content with who I am, I stand for the truth.

When I accept myself I become responsible for who I am. It is about knowing myself, all my sides, the glorious one and the ugly one.

I can love (accept) another person if I am free to give and receive. I used to see love as a relation to another person, my kids, my mother or my countrymen, but this aspect is secondary. The primary aspect is to know whom I am and accept myself. When I do this, I become mature.  The love to another emerges naturally from the love to self, as I am capable to stand up and create a partnership relation.

This sets me free from dependencies and conditionals. “I love you, because …” , “I love you, but …” This sets me free from expectations. “If only you do this or become that…”

This gives me personal power in any relation, because my relation is a reflection of my relation to self. So, if things do not go well, I am in charge to change myself in order to change the relation. So, to love means to accept myself, and to love means to accept the other in my co-operative relation.

When we read another famous quote from Mark 12:30-31, NIV:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

So I am to love God, accept the graceful hand in my life, and I am to accept my neighbors as myself.

Once I accept myself I am able to take responsibility for myself and my decisions. So, indeed, love is a choice, a transformational power.

It is also worth to say that in this context a child cannot love, simply because he is not shaped yet to be in a position to take charge of who he is. Of course kids fall in love with parents. He is nice, sweet, cute and adorable. It is great to give them cuddles and receive them. But in reality kids are dependent on parents, the social must’s and do’s, school life and so on. The child is not free to take responsibility of who he is. Not yet.

But a child is growing in love to learn what love is. It is therefore of a paramount importance for a parent to radiate own self-acceptance and create an environment of trust for the kids to grow.

Kids do things to please themselves, please their parents or sometimes because they are afraid of punishment. At some point, with age, they will get angry about the dependence they hold to the parents. They will rebel the norms and attempt to establish their own identity. This can be a painful process, as we know, where the Self is vulnerable to be heavily influenced by peers and external circumstances.

The crisis so prevalent nowadays with low self-esteem of kids and young adults reflects the lack of role models who loved themselves and the others.

Let us appreciate who we are. Let us be the role models for kids to learn to love.

 

 

 

 

Being authentic

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under Creative Commons on Flickr.

On being authentic

My son loves to talk to strangers. He starts conversations in buses, parks or shops, on playgrounds or even when passing-by a stranger. He has always something to share, discuss or ask about. As a child, he likes to get attention. Yet, at the same time, he gives attention as well. Grown out of his curiosity.

My son is truly interested in people and the world around. He is especially curious about things or behaviors that are new to him.

He wants to know. Immediately. No waiting possible.

He is truly authentic. He has no borders, no limits and no pre-conceived expectations. It is me now and then who jumps in and establishes some rules for him to obey. For instance, I keep telling him to start a conversation in a polite way. His usual approach is pretty direct: “Hey you, what are you doing?” or “You… you… what are you carrying inside?” or “What’s your name?”

“Is it the way to condition him for life?” I wonder at times.

My son especially adores tipsy (or drunk) men and grandma-like ladies. While the later choice is perfect for me, I find tipsy men uneasy. There is something sleazy about them. Yet, the recent few encounters blew me away. I will share with two of them as the other ones are similar.

***

In the first scenario we were walking on a street and there was a tipsy man at a distance. My son was staring into the eyes of this stranger. With total attention. It has taken us good 10 seconds or more before we approached him. The man was clearly disturbed by my son’s interest. He couldn’t stand this silent attention and asked my boy reproachfully “Why are you looking at me, you, little boy?”, “Why do you dare so?”. My son answered “Because I really like you.”

The man got flabbergasted. He couldn’t say a word for a while.

In another scenario, my son picked up a stranger and chose a nearby seat. He started a conversation about my hometown, travels, toys, lego, building, playgrounds and so on. The man happily joined in. My son asked the guy “Are you a good man? You know …  because my mum doesn’t like me to take up with bad men.” The guy nodded approvingly. 😉

The conversation seemed to please both of them. At some point the man asked my son, “Why are you talking to me?”. And my son answered: “Because I know you are a nice man. I really like you.”

The man was moved. He couldn’t say a word for a while.

***

Both men got shocked.  The words they spoke after a silence were: “It has been years for me since I heard somebody telling me to like me. Just like you.”

They got tears in their eyes. Their defenses melted away and they both stood before us as real humans.

Open. Vulnerable. Liberated.

I was surprised by such responses. I followed with little conversations. The men told me how much their kids stopped paying respect to them. How bad their lives were. How little hope they had. Yet, … at the same time, I saw a spark in their eyes. A little light that shines from acknowledgement and appreciation. It was beautiful.

I have been touched myself by these (and a few more) encounters. As a result, I’ve stopped interfering and conditioning my son on how to lead conversations. I just keep remembering that being authentic is transformational. The power of a real, unadulterated connection with another human is priceless.

It is touching the Core. It is liberating the Spirit. It is changing Life.

***

The next time when you make yourself or your child to conform to the norms, just pause and let things be the natural way. Perhaps a real transformation is behind the corner….

***

Are you effective in what you do?
Do your actions have positive effects?
Are you successful in making progress?

 

If so, please continue.
If not, please change what needs to be changed: your approach, your method, your perspective or your framework. It is only as good as the desired effect you want to achieve.

However…

Are you concerned because you are slow at making progress?

Be not.
Appreciate your own pace.
As long as you are making progress, things are okey. Remember that a real progress occurs in jumps. It usually stays flat or is only slowly rising for a long time as if nothing happens. And, then, suddenly, you are at a different level 😉

Don’t compare yourself to where you think you should be or where others are. We are often over-ambitious with our goals.

Look at what you’ve achieved so far and what results you have. If it’s not working at all, then you may consider to change your approach. Otherwise, stay on course. Because if it’s working, even slowly, it is working. That means you are doing the right things. (Yes, you can always learn to do them better but this is another thing.)

However …

If things are not working at all, admit they are not.
The time has come to be courageous and approach change as a growth and transformation process.

Acknowledge the end.
Welcome a new beginning.
Do the right things.

 ***

Note that there is a difference between efficiency and effectiveness.  Efficiency is to do things right, i.e. use the time well for doing the tasks. Effectiveness is to do the right things, i.e. things that matter and things that produce results.

***

A good book on change and personal mastery is Mastery by George Leonard. Highly recommended.

***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

There is a time

There is a time.
There is a season.
There is a rhythm.

Every rhythm is a repetition of patterns. (While we often think these are cyclical, in fact, the cyclical repetitions evolve along spirals.)

The simplest one involves two extremes, say “in” and “out”, action and rest or “up” and “down”, and the middle point or the center.  

You take the breath in. You pause. You breath out.
You plant the seeds. You wait. You reap out.
You learn. You practise. You apply.
You work. You flow. You rest.

It is the space, the break, the moment when you pause, when things begin to happen. It is of crucial importance. Sometimes, the crossing of this middle point is barely noticeable, while other times it lasts infinitely long. As it seems.

The “in” is the active receiving or taking in. It is often the most difficult, time consuming stage, because it involves intent, gathering of the data, hard work and conscious effort.

The middle point is a spark that ignites the necessary processes of assimilation and transformation. The progress is hardly observable at this stage.

The “out” is the generous giving away or giving back. It is only a release, after the things have been assimilated, digested, understood or worked out.

When you have a time (a week, a month, a year or a decade) that feels unproductive, with lack of progress and motivation, filled with missed opportunities, rejected projects or failed accomplishments, remember that there are also times when things happen with grace. There are times you fly and there are times you walk.

It is pointless to keep forcing a day to arrive when the night is long and deep.
It is ineffective to take action for the sake of doing something when the right solution is being worked out.
It is immature to leave for a journey when you are not packed yet.

You can’t make an adult from a small child, neither collect the fruits from the seeds. The forced solution will not hold.  Instead, you need to understand the stage you are in, appreciate it and blend in.

Relax.

It is okey to wait for the right time.

Because …

There is a season.
There is a rhythm.
There is a tide.

Wait for your tide. It is coming soon.

 ***

The image above shows a beautiful quilt by Inge Duin. See more of her works on  www.ingeduin.nl.

 

Coaching is a practice of conscious development

Coaching is about paying attention.
Coaching is about acceptance.
Coaching is about asking questions.
Coaching is about listening.
Coaching is about learning.
Coaching is about rising your consciousness.
Coaching is about the right actions at the right time.

In the traditional view, coaching is about setting goals and taking actions to achieve them. Coaching is also focussed on solutions, instead of what is not working.

While this is true, it is only a partial truth.

Why?

Because coaching is much more than that.

Coaching is about powerful transformations. And you can make them happen either with or without goals. Goals are helpful but not necessary.

Coaching is about asking powerful questions

It starts with the most important questions:

  • Who are you?
  • How do you feel in this moment?
  • What do you notice about yourself and your feelings?
  • What makes you joy?
  • Whom do you want to become?
  • What are your deepest desires?
  • What do you want to achieve in the coming five years?

But it doesn’t stop there. Coaching always wants you to go through a process of learning: observation, thinking, feeling, action, reflection and change. Coaching encourages you to go for a direct experience because coaching asks for a balance between action and thought.

Coaching is a process

Oftentimes, coaching or self-coaching is presented as a bag of tools and techniques that once implemented will lead you to a particular result. This is a partial truth, again. The tools work when short-term efforts are required for achieving specific goals or challenges, but they fail when a transformation or change is necessary on multiple levels.

Why?

Because general tools are insufficient. There is much more happening beyond the surface of You (and who You are) that needs addressing before a real transformation may happen. Be it fears, guilt, lack of motivation, values or limiting beliefs. Only specific, person-tailored or situation-tailored exercises and practices can help with that.

True coaching goes hand in hand with the process of change, encouraging you to dig deeper, ask better questions, find better answers, act on them and learn.

Willing to change

Coaching only makes sense if you really want to change and are willing to transform. Without that, coaching can only lead you through avenues of frustrations.

You can easily understand that by watching coaches of the famous athletes.These sportsmen really want to achieve a particular result. They don’t lack the motivation in a big frame although they may lack it on a particular cold and wet morning. Coaches are their ultimate supporters, the guys who will join them in effort, pain and joy.  Coaches are there to encourage, acknowledge, support and challenge, while going alongside until they feel comfortable enough to do it alone.

In my early enthusiasm I used to coach anyone who was interested. It was a great learning time. Now, I know that selection is the key. Not everybody is willing to go through coaching and only few are willing to grow. No quick fixes bring satisfactory results. Coaching others who are unmotivated and refuse to take the actions is useless.

True coaching

True coaching always touches the deepest issues of our being: identity, spirituality, desires, motivations, core values and beliefs. So, if you want to go through coaching or self-coaching, be prepared to tackle such issues. You will remarkably benefit from that! Not even mentioning your enormous growth.

You don’t need to have a personal coach for an effective and long-term growth, although having one is helpful. Self-coaching works very well if you are prepared to ask yourself questions and act upon the answers you find.

Finally

Remember, the miracle of coaching lies in its focus on the solutions, instead of the problems.

Coaching always looks for the way forward.

***

The image above is a photo of a painting of the remarkable Chester cathedral. I made it some years ago when a number of paintings were collected there.

 

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