I want to share with a few observations around our beliefs and how we seem to be wielding them around quite a bit. We’re all doing it on some level. Let’s take a step back and inspect them from a place of neutrality and hopefully, a solid dose of compassion. Something our world could use a little more of. I hope you agree with that much.
I want to talk about the righteous indignation that we have attached to our beliefs, our sheer determination to convert the non-believers (if you will) to see the world the same way that we see it, and to clarify a few things about myself and my approach as a coach.
In fact, let me flip that around and talk about my approach as a coach first.
Because I have heard a lot of messaging over the past few years that is really coming to the surface in the times we are living, in a lot of different ways.
One glaring example I can think of is seeing a recent group post on social media where a woman was basically parroting the notion that she’s not responsible for her mother’s feelings. Her mother is responsible for her feelings. Through her own thoughts.
Well. In the spirit of there is no right or wrong, there just is…let me tell you why I think that is harmful.
And I don’t know the whole story, I just know this woman was proud of putting her mom in her place, and I get that.
We’d all love to put a few people in their place, wouldn’t we?
Sometimes, I think we as coaches can get a little too deep in the “your thoughts create your feelings” mantra…belief.
We come to see ourselves as near enlightened and knowing how our brains work, we want to tell the whole world how to fix themselves!
Some of us even want to go so far as to say that, “I can’t hurt your feelings, only your thoughts about what I’ve said or done can hurt your feelings.”
As coaches, we often say that we don’t tell others what to do, what to think, or what to feel. We simply show them their own thoughts. We shine a light, so to speak.
That doesn’t mean that we have a license to do or say whatever the fuck we want to and then gaslight the other person and tell them to choose a new thought to think about it!!
My god. NO.
It’s like, with great power comes great responsibility, right?
If I believe that I can help someone to see things differently and that in so doing, this other beautiful human being will have a deeper, richer experience of this life, then it would serve us both to share what I know, yes?
With full awareness and understanding of the road that we’re about to go down.
That’s where the behavior comes in.
I will always take responsibility for my own behavior, and I will never take you anywhere you don’t want to go. Not intentionally.
Intent plays a big role in this too.
As I said, what I got from this example is this woman was proud of getting herself off the hook for any responsibility toward her mother’s feelings.
My friends, we still have a reasonable amount of responsibility to show up with compassion. Your knowing how to manage your thoughts does not make you superior to those who do not hold the same level of awareness. It simply means that you get to live your life with more ease.
Yes, your behavior matters.
You can’t go around the neighborhood, smashing all of the car windows with a baseball bat, and then tell everyone to change their thoughts about it, because it’s just a thing that happened.
You did what you did.
By all means, spread your message far and wide. I want to reach as many humans as possible with my messages.
AND I’m not trying to beat anyone into submission with my beliefs in thought work.
In this particular example, I want to let you know that I always encourage your own awareness of the emotions that you are creating within yourself. Of course, you get to decide when, where, how, and with whom you share this awareness with.
It’s all in how you use it. There are so many nuances to consider. That’s always true.
We have to engage our critical thinking skills, friends. And keep them intact.
And I think intent is the key, quite honestly.
People who know you and love you are probably going to be able navigate the new and improved version of you…eventually. They may be better able to assess your intent. When you’re coming from love, people can read that. When you’re coming from a place of judgment or “I’m better than you,”…well, they can read that too.
Be sure to give them the time and space that they need in order to do that assessment. You were probably afforded that much if you worked with me, another coach, or you are a coach yourself. You were given time and space to navigate and create the version of you that you are now.
It likely didn’t happen overnight, through one conversation. It was probably a full tear down and rebuild. It has been for me. I’m pretty sure I’m still a work in progress and that I always be. That’s why I’m sharing this with you now.
Let’s keep that in mind, okay?
Another thing I’m seeing a LOT of these days is all of the debate around masks/no masks or pro-vaccine/anti-vaccine.
Yes, I’m going to go there for just a hot minute because some of us need a little reminder or reinforcement.
And if you had asked me a year ago if we would still be here, having this debate, I might have laughed and said, “Surely not!”
Yet, here we fucking are.
Still screaming at each other in all of the public spaces. Right now, those are local school board meetings and it’s hard to see. It really is. Yes, those are my thoughts.
I appreciate every one of you who tunes out the news, I really do. I get it. I do as much as I can…and, you’d best believe (since we are talking about belief today) that as the parent of a middle schooler, I’m paying attention to what’s going on in my local community. As someone who votes in every election, especially local, and researches all of the candidates, especially school board, I have decided to take a vested interest in what goes on there. Yes. I do.
That said, I am not all fired about what the decisions are or what they are not. I do not take the approach of I’m right because this is what I believe and those of you who don’t believe the same things I do are wrong, wrong, wrong. and I do not sound off on social media about what I think the right thing is – – for the most part. I sure as hell don’t go around screaming at other people who hold different beliefs.
Because what good comes from that?
That’s what I ask myself if I feel a little fire rising up now and then. Oh, what’s this? Righteous anger? Well…best get to work on myself because it is very clear to me that those who hold opposing beliefs have zero interest in hearing from me.
I’m not going to change their minds.
It won’t happen.
It’s so funny, I saw this meme last week and I wish I had saved it, but it was basically a cartoon of someone typing into the YouTube search “show me evidence that supports what I already believe.”
That’s how it’s going right now in the first world.
Those of us who have water, electricity, and wifi, are using all of our resources wisely, aren’t we? We’re typing into the search our questions framed so we will see exactly what we want to see. We click the results that are the closest match to our search or have the most shock value, right?
Confirmation bias. This is literally the definition of confirmation bias: the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.
So, I personally don’t get twisted over what other people think and believe. I’ve decided that doesn’t serve me.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t think you should. You do what you want. If what aligns with your own values and beliefs is to change the heart and mind of one person out there, go for it.
But do it from love. With compassion. Understanding. With time and space.
Your behavior matters as much as your beliefs.
If you want to go to the local school board meeting and make a scene…of course, again, go for it, if that’s what lights you up.
If you want to be TikTok famous, then get fucking crazy.
If you want to truly be understood, seek first to understand.
See, I get why we are so divided on this and other issues. I understand the messaging that is out there and the manipulation. I can still feel empathy and compassion for all of the humans who are quite frankly, reacting in fear.
And every day, I simply want them to feel at peace.
At this point, you may say…but this is a pandemic and public health is at risk and I have vulnerable family members or young children and it’s irresponsible for others not to mask or get vaccinated.
Perhaps that’s true.
And how’s it working for you to say that over and over?
The people who disagree with you aren’t listening. They just aren’t.
Your beliefs don’t matter…to them.
That’s the thing about beliefs. We all have them. And we are the only ones who get to decide to change them.
I have changed and fully evolved many of my own beliefs over the course of my life here so far. I may well change more of them. But I have to be completely honest with you here…I can’t think of a single time that I changed a deeply held belief because someone else told me to.
You may be on the right side of history. We don’t know that yet.
And whatever beliefs that you have don’t make you a better person.
Your behavior does.
I hope I am conveying how much nuance there is to everything from basic thought work to pandemic protocols. There is so much to consider when you are making decisions in the moment about how to show up, whether it’s for your mother, your best friend, or in a public space.
I’m not suggesting you weigh your words or your presentation to the degree that you are not showing up authentically. I haven’t even said that. We have to be mindful of the ways that we try to manipulate other people. We keep saying that we want to be seen, but we won’t show our true selves unless we allow the anger to take over.
I don’t suggest you show up and try to sugar coat anything. I simply suggest that you don’t try to control the thoughts or reactions of others.
You show up authentically through your behavior. Anyone who suggests that it doesn’t matter, in my opinion, is irresponsible. Anyone who tells another that they can behave any way they want, you just need to change your thoughts about it, is gaslighting.
And that’s not coaching.
That’s regurgitating a very over simplified view of how human dynamics works.
I’m going to continue to bring empathy and compassion into every conversation that I have, regardless of how inflammatory the topic might be. That’s the behavior that I want to model. I believe that if I do that, my intent will be clear, and it positions me for valuable discussion. Not one where I point out all the ways you are wrong and I’m right. One that is full of nuance, truly listening, and seeking to understand. That’s the behavior that I’m talking about. That’s what matters. I would love, love, love to see more of that.
“Let the beauty we love be what we do.”– Rumi
Yes. Interpretation is everything and how I interpret this particular quote is not about something as simple as seeing the beauty in your work but in every way that you show up in the world. In this life.
What we do and what we say does matter.
Challenge yourself to find something beautiful in someone who holds an opposing belief. You don’t have to, of course. But it might be a fun exercise. Can you? One small thing? Perhaps see the humanity in another…then, hold on to that one thing as you approach them. See what happens.
We spend a lot of time thinking about how we are seen by others. We spend a lot of energy trying to manipulate their thoughts about us so we can feel better about ourselves.
How much effort are we putting in to reversing that and extending some kindness of our own? I don’t know, perhaps you believe you do a lot of that already. Maybe that’s true for you. And if it is…do more of it. Do more of it with authenticity.
We love beautiful things, and we are easily drawn to beautiful people. When you can embody that in yourself and you show up with no other agenda than love, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how your view of the world will shift for the better.
This post is a partial transcript of my podcast, What Lights You Up – Episode 74. I invite you to enjoy the full episode and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or Audible!