Get Rich. Quick.
WTF! In one week I have been exposed to more personal catastrophes than the whole of last year. Regardless of whether it is bad luck, the alignment of the planets or a sign of the times, catastrophic change is upon us. I am talking divorce, financial collapse, joblessness, moving cities to escape from a deranged ex-husband, the loss of a child’s vision, criminal charges and a tragic car accident in which the driver of a motorbike lost his life when he collided with a family vehicle. My husband and I were the first to arrive on the scene. While he beckoned the ambulance and checked the twisted mess of flesh on the ground for vital signs, I attended to the three children and parents who had clambered out of the car in a complete daze. Feeling completely helpless, I found myself reminding everyone that they were now safe and that help was on the way. The youngest son who took the biggest hit was bleeding from lacerations and glass puncture wounds sprayed all over his body. It was a horrific sight, one that I wish I could unsee.
I was however only a spectator witnessing all these disasters and pray to the powers that be that these fine people have the inner strength to get through the next few months. Some of these people are clients who will have my emotional support but when it comes down to it, we face all the challenges that come our way alone.
There is no one else living in our head, talking to us incessantly and blasting us with opinions. The voice in our mind that speaks in the language of fear, powerlessness, hopelessness and grief can be heard by no one else. It is our own emotions that overwhelm and consume us completely. It is our nervous system that suffers from all the felt experiences as we relive over and over the situation in our heads. It is our inner life that determines how well or badly we survive and recover from catastrophe and/or disappointment.
That is what this blog is about: The need to get a rich ‘inner life’ – and quickly – because the demands of our current lives require different ways of thinking and perceiving if we are to thrive.
Whether we are married, single, an only child or one of ten, we walk this journey of life alone. We have to rely on our own courage, emotional resilience and strength of character to make our way through darkness toward the light. We have to trust our own instincts, make our own choices and live with those consequences as an adult. Being a grown up requires us to behave like an adult yet for most people, responding to challenging situations with emotional strength is a habit not yet developed.
In my own life, I noticed emotional resilience and robustness (the ability to bounce back to a healthy, positive mindset) increased the more my Self worth developed. The idea of how to become our own best friend and what being a Self-caring, Self-respecting and Self loving individual entails was described in my blog ‘Befriend YourSelf First’. And now, pursuant to the idea of liking who you are, are some other suggestions pointing to the path of emotional empowerment and wellness.
When I stumbled upon ‘Ontological Coaching’, it felt like my own coaching approach had been explored, researched and validated. It was a revelation.
Ontology is the study of being and is an inquiry into the nature of human existence (with a concern for the quality of our existence and co-existence in everyday personal and professional relationships). The basis of the ontological coaching framework is a new and practical understanding of human beings and human interaction. The author Alan Sieler wrote three volumes of Coaching to the Human Soul: Ontological Coaching and Deep Change.
Sieler explains how our experience of daily life can be one of confusion and bewildering complexity which leaves the quality of our existence significantly compromised. Through inquiry and exploration, the coach helps their clients to find answers to two key questions: “What is it to be a human being?” and: “What does it mean to live and work well?” He says the human soul is the hidden side of business.
‘Coaching to the human soul is about supporting people to be at their best in living, learning and working…It is now widely accepted that the traditional concerns of business – performance, productivity, profit and competitive success-can no longer be divorced from human behaviour. However, it is no longer sufficient to just focus on behaviour…Nothing changes without personal transformation. Change is no longer just “out there” in the form of different strategies and work practices. Most importantly, it is “in here”…We are shaped by our emotional experiences, for our emotions are powerful determinants of the quality of our actions and how we experience life…Accelerating and often disruptive change requires continual adjustment and adaptation to new circumstances for which we have not been prepared. Consequently we find ourselves repeatedly off balance emotionally and unsettled. Being emotionally “off-balance” may be experienced as an ongoing sense of worrying, being negative and grouchy, struggling to cope, a persistent vague, yet nagging sense of dissatisfaction or a non-specific dulling of enjoyment for life…From an ontological perspective, emotions are an integral part of the soul. Through ontological coaching we connect with our full humanity ,in particular being in touch with what profoundly matters to each of us’.*
The idea of coaching the soul is that the coach helps their clients to experience a life that continually nourishes and enriches the soul. So it is not only about creating a life that is going well on the outside but also a life that is going well on the inside. Something Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard referred to as a “rich inner life”.
‘Emotions are at the heart of a rich inner life. Our most important relationship is the one we have with our individual selves. This is not only what we think, but also what we feel, about ourselves. Being at peace with who we are, having a passion and enthusiasm for life, and experiencing the joy and pathos of life all constitute essential emotional ingredients of a rich inner life that nourishes the soul’.**
So, given that a fundamental premise of Ontological Coaching is that emotions are an integral part of the process of deep change it is not wise for us to do everything we can to numb out or avoid feeling anything at all costs (escapism, substance abuse, addiction, self medicating). Given that emotions are felt experiences, residing within the body and that they occur within the nervous system influencing all aspects of our being and behaviour, doesn’t it make complete sense for us to be able to work skillfully in the emotional domain if we want to create and live a fulfilling, rich, meaningful existence?
Now that we know that, how do we do that?
Because ‘Inner behaviour shapes our outer behaviour’, constructing a robust, stable and sturdy ‘inner life’ is fundamental to live and work well.
And, because emotions are at the heart of a rich inner life and what we THINK and FEEL about ourselves. The essential emotional ingredients for us to work on are as follows:
1. Being at peace with who you are (a fundamental like of your own character)
2. Having passion and enthusiasm for life (clarity on what makes life meaningful and fulfilling to you, what it means to live and work well as well as faith in what is possible for you in life)
3. Experiencing the joy and pathos of life (knowing what deeply matters to you and how to be in touch with that which profoundly matters)
4. Creating a long-term, ‘life-enhancing’ mood or ‘way of being’ (instead of life-stultifying mood) that contributes toward developing healthy social and intimate connections
These are simple ideas but not simplistic.
On average, deep transformational work takes between 8 to 12 sessions. I have some incredibly committed and enthusiastic clients- ‘leopards who changed their spots’- in six sessions. The rate that change happens is determined by the individual. Transformation is a process, not an event. The speed at which the process evolves is determined by
- The degree of commitment in their desire for change to happen
- The willingness and confidence in their ability to do things differently
- Levels of awareness of what is keeping them stuck/ the barriers to change
- Paying attention to problem patterns and reinforcing beneficial, positive behaviour
- Clarity of what needs to be done differently
- The amount of discomfort their lives are currently causing them (the more discomfort the better)
- Positive reinforcement and noticing change as beneficial
We have everything we need inside each of us to live a rich and meaningful life. Despite the traumatic setbacks and personal trauma that unhinges us completely, we are capable of finding our way back to happy.
Our planet, the universe and its people are evolving. Evolution is the ‘why’ we are experiencing so much disruptive change. It is through challenge that we are presented with the opportunity to grow into wiser, braver versions of ourselves. If the challenges stop us in our tracks because we do not have the inner capacity to cope with what life deals us, we die a little inside each time. Yes, we face challenges alone but our souls are omnipotent, enough to make this experience called life hugely rewarding if we know how to tap into its wisdom and love. Listening to our hearts, bodies and emotions – the languages of the soul – we can fill this sometimes bewildering and relentless experience with moments of pure magic.
To get rich, we need to transform our inner life to survive through the dark times and then thrive as a consequence of it. We need a rich inner life. This is where our treasure resides.
* Coaching to the Human Soul: Ontological Coaching and Deep Change. Volume I Introduction. Author: Alan Sieler
** Coaching to the Human Soul: Ontological Coaching and Deep Change. Volume II Introduction. Author: Alan Sieler