Recently I had the chance to speak to a group of high school seniors on their Career Day about what it takes to be a writer, counselor, and life coach.
I should mention that this talk was in June, one week before they would graduate. Needless to say, the class was a little restless.
Their teacher was a friend of mine, and I watched him as he calmed the kids down. Approaching retirement, he’s got another year or two with teenagers, then he will stop teaching. He’s been at it for over thirty years.
As I approached the front of the room, the class was agitated, at the very least. I saw maybe two sets of eyes looking at me, the rest of the room was a collection of bobbing heads and students talking to one another feverishly.
My friend stood next to me, put one hand on my shoulder, and the other one in the air. Palm up, arm extended, his eyes focused on the clamber of voices, expressions, and movement that one often associates with twenty seven hamsters jammed into a cage . . . or, in this case, a classroom full of teenagers.
Not three seconds after he held up his hand, the class fell silent.
I spoke for about twenty minutes, took a few questions from the class, then met with my friend for a coffee after his classes were done.
After all these years, I wanted to know how he got to be so calm.
Now, I should mention, I’ve known him for years, and not once have I ever seen him get riled about anything, even though he’s a pretty passionate guy. He feels strongly about things, is very sentimental, and shares my rabid involvement with the Chicago Cubs. I mean, right there, is a perennial reason for passionate displays of disappointment, depression and rage.
So he answered my question directly, without much explanation. “I have grown to like myself a lot. My sense of calm is a byproduct of a reasonably strong sense about myself, I guess.” I asked him to explain.
“When you like yourself, you accept who you are and how you behave. So you calm down a little. You believe a little more in your abilities to take care of things, whether they are routine or within a crisis. You think a little more, react less and respond with more ease.
“I didn’t always feel this way. And getting to that point of self-acceptance and appreciation took some time. But I forgave myself for my mistakes, strove to be a better person, and through that effort I suppose I felt, in time, that I liked myself.
“I made efforts to be calm. I meditated, did yoga for a while. It helps, sure, but it wasn’t until I really gave myself a break about things, and felt that I was OK, that I mattered, that I wasn’t such a bad guy, did a sense of peace begin to develop. And, as a result, I became much more calm.”
My friend continued, “Look, I get angry. I get sad, anxious and depressed. I’m still a member of the human race, you know? But it passes. I go back to that place where I know that I’m enough. I got acquainted with it so often that I can now reach for it quickly. That feeling has become stronger than any problem that comes my way. Some people say it’s their center. I’m not sure what that is, but I can tell you absolutely that the minute I started accepting and genuinely liking myself, I relaxed. And this is what you see.”
He and I talked a little more. We finished our coffee and set up a time to meet again.
As he shook my hand to leave, he said, “Remember, lead with being OK with you. Keep reminding yourself that you’re OK, that you’re enough. You belong here. You’re sufficient, OK? Just hang on to that concept. And trust me: The calm comes directly after.”
By entrusting us with your feelings, we help you take steps that you see necessary to begin and put forth the energy to make the needed change.
Now notice something: Trust in a coach, mentor, or guide helps you see what's in front of you. We see a Coach for Your Heart a little like an emotional Sherpa, somebody that helps you climb your mountain by pointing out where to best step along the path.
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