What are you avoiding?

Do you ever feel like there’s some little niggle in the back of your mind that you can’t pinpoint? You know that there’s something out of kilter but you just can’t think what it is – or maybe you do know what it is but you don’t want to face it so you ignore it. Do you wake up with a sinking feeling in your stomach? Perhaps you don’t want to let the situation surface because it stresses you out or you feel embarrassed about it. There’s that deadline hanging over you; or the doctor’s appointment you know you need to make; sorting out your will; submitting your final training assignment. You know the kind of thing.

I’m prone to a bit of metaphorical ‘hands over my ears and la la la-ing’ sometimes so have had to work out a way to deal with it. Last year, I was looking to extend my coaching practice outside my ‘day job’ and really struggled with this. Finally I realised that I was just avoiding the issue and needed to either do something or drop the idea altogether.

I thought it might be useful to share how I worked through the issue.

What’s actually going on?

Every time someone asked me about whether I was coaching externally, I seemed to come up with a good excuse as to why I wasn’t. Too busy/not the right time/other commitments – you name it, I said it. It was if I thought that clients were going to just appear magically and I wouldn’t have to do anything.

Truth is: I was scared. Scared of putting myself out there, scared of having to promote my skills, scared of what people would say.

I needed to acknowledge this fear and see how it stacked up next to my desire to coach more people. I needed to stop and ask myself: what’s actually going on?

What else?

Coaches love this question: we believe there’s always something else.

As soon as I let my real feelings about the situation out of that mental box which was tucked away at the back of my mind, they were joined by some other really negative questions. I’ve talked about these voices before. ‘Maybe you’re resisting this because you don’t think you’re any good at it?’ ‘Why would anyone want coaching from someone who’s only ever coached within one business?’ ‘How does just talking deliver any return on investment?’

I needed to widen my focus and consider some alternative viewpoints. Looking back on feedback from my clients showed me that people do value the coaching; that not being knowledgeable in their particular field of the business had no negative impact on the effectiveness of the coaching (in fact, some mentioned it as a positive aspect); that improved performance and motivation were the return on time and money invested in coaching. In short, I asked myself ‘What else might be true here?’

What help do I need?

Stuffed inside my head, these fears and emotions are pretty powerful. Once they’re voiced, they don’t seem quite as bad. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t broadcast my concerns to the universe: I chose to talk to people who know me well, whose opinions and counsel I trust. The help I needed in this situation was someone to listen, question and encourage; other times, it might be practical assistance or a sharing of expertise.

What next?

Having examined my feelings, seen what was at the heart of the matter and discussed it with wise friends, I was ready to pick myself up and devise a strategy for progress. So there I was, simple action plan in hand, knowing what I needed to do and how to keep myself on track.

So that’s how I tackled the issue:

What’s actually going on?

What else?

What help do I need?

What next?

I moved away from that feeling of something constantly bugging me and stopped waking up with a feeling of dread. Best of all, I started working with three external clients.

Today’s pebble for you to ponder:

Is there something you’re avoiding? Are you ready to do something about it?

What do you think?

Michelle

Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching. 

If you’d like to make progress in your work and life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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9 Responses to What are you avoiding?

  1. Roger Martini says:

    I love the honesty here. This is something we all do – we make excuses why we haven’t done something and dress them up as reasons. And we think we’ve quieted the little voice.
    I put off doing things because I don’t have enough information – so there’s a risk of the unexpected or something (anything!) going wrong. But I know I will rarely ever have enough information. I end up acting when the feeling of inaction becomes too annoying to ignore anymore and this haste does not always lead to the best result.
    So, I am trying to face the fear early and take conscious control of the issues and then act. At least then I act with a clear sense of purpose. I am finding this is a source of excitement: it has converted the fear of the unknown into the fun of the unexpected.

    And I get things done.

    • ‘I am finding this is a source of excitement: it has converted the fear of the unknown into the fun of the unexpected.’

      That’s a very inspiring statement! Thank you – and for your comment,
      Michelle

      • Rebecca says:

        Oh my! Yes, I can relate to this. In fact it was only last night I trawled through archives of paperwork to find that document I was ignoring and yes, it did feel better this morning when I woke up.

        Today I switched into ‘head down and do it’ mode over some other jobs that have been pressing the back of my mind. So, when I read your blog today I felt really encouraged, 1. that it isn’t just a problem that I face and 2. that it does feel sooo good not having the weight of the ‘avoided something’ on my shoulders! Thanks Michelle 🙂

      • Hooray that you’re feeling better about it already!
        Michelle

  2. K H says:

    Great tip! A helpful reminder that, by examining our fears they often diminish and we then realise we have a choice to work through the fear, to ask for support or to recognise a need to shift direction or pause. KH

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