Perhaps you've heard the old adage, "The only thing constant is change"? It's a reminder to me that change is part of life and to grow is to change.
Some changes are welcome and beautiful; other changes are painful and challenging, and all change brings with it an element of grief. New York Times bestselling author and shame, vulnerability, and courage researcher Brene' Brown aptly defines grief as "the loss of normal." By that definition, any change brings with it an element of loss and by extension, grief.
Some changes like the death of a loved one, a new marriage, or the birth of a child are huge and rather obvious both from within and outside the change. Other changes are slower to manifest, and though apparent in small ways, can only be seen fully as we look in the rearview mirror of our lives.
Today I stumbled upon a rearview mirror experience and saw in a new way how very much has changed in my life over the past 25 years.
Thanks to TripAdvisor, I tried a new coffee shop in a part of town where I spent hundreds of hours during my formative years but have seldom visited since. I attended kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high school at an independent Baptist school in inner-city Chattanooga. In addition to the K-12 option, there was also a university and graduate school whose campus was within walking distance of my high school. My parents both worked at the university, so as a high school student, I often walked the few blocks from school to my mom's or dad's office. I regularly passed The Bookstore which has recently been converted into the very cute coffee shop that I visited today.
I was struck by how much has changed physically on the streets and with the buildings that were such a central force in my formative years. The schools that I attended and where my parents taught and worked are no longer operational. Many buildings stand vacant, abandoned and vandalized. The small building where I attended junior high and high school has (as is typical of property from childhood) become far smaller than I remember, and the rooms, where I once bustled to and from various classes with my friends, are now overgrown with shrubbery and weeds. As I witnessed these changes I was both saddened and extremely grateful.
My sadness was that a place once so vibrant in my own history is now desolate and truly alive only in my memories, which are themselves suspect to regular revision as I continue to process my life. My gratitude was that I too have moved on; emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and relationally - those buildings and so much of what they once embodied are part of my past and valuable in my present only as they have shaped and informed the person I am today. I no longer look, think, believe, or behave as I did when I attended high school there. My world has grown so much larger than the 15 blocks in which I grew up (my parents and I lived about 10 blocks from the school and church that we attended when I was a child so my world as a child was small both physically and ideologically), and while I am grateful for many aspects of the stable and grounding experiences of my childhood, I am equally grateful that I have been supported and even encouraged to spread my wings and fly far from the small and narrow perspective of my past.
Often it seems to me that I can change my situation or I can change my perspective on my situation. Sometimes I do a little or a lot of both without really recognizing the magnitude of the changes and their effect until I look back and take stock of where I've been and where I want to go. To refuse to change is to refuse to grow, and while I get that growth can be scary and change can be challenging, I also know today that change has led to some of my greatest seasons of growth.
As I shared coffee, a pastry, and a board game with my son today, I was profoundly aware of some rather large shifts in my life from then to now - both philosophically and physically, and as I reflect on those changes, I am grateful for the ways I have been willing to be intentional, creative, and brave about my own growth and change.
How about you? How have you changed from the person you were 25 years ago? In what ways have you been intentional about your own growth and change? How would you like to change either your situation, your perspective, or both in the next 5 years and what steps would you like to take today toward making those changes a reality? What would it look like for you to pursue the personal, professional, and relational growth that you desire?
Just this week I finished reading Michelle Obama's book, Becoming, and in it she says of her adjustment to life in what at first seemed to be the "museum-like formality of the White House": "Life was better, always, when we could measure the warmth."
It's true, isn't it? Like children and animals, most of us tend to be drawn to that which is genuine, warm, real, and approachable. Sure, we may be entertained by something more showy; we might occasionally find some bit of appeal in a more formal and other-worldly setting. There's room for professional, distanced, and boundaried engagement with others that keeps us safe and protects our hearts. At the end of the day, however, we all want (and dare I say need?) spaces in which we are warmly embraced emotionally, held close physically, and given room to simply be as we are without pretense or guardedness.
The people I gravitate toward are down-to-earth, open, warm, and compassionate. Like you, I have numerous encounters weekly with a variety of people, and one of my personal goals is to show up with warmth, engagement, and a genuine interest in and curiosity about the lives of the people I encounter, regardless of their political perspective, religious beliefs, economic status, or level of education.
I commend to you Mrs. Obama's book. It's an insightful, honest, and inspiring look into her experience both as a female, African-American from the South Side and as the First Lady of these United States. Regardless of your perspective on her husband's policies and the initiatives she herself implemented, you will find good humor, honesty, an education about politics, and plenty of warmth in its pages.
What if you could get out of your head and into your body in ways that feel good? What would it feel like to show up in increasingly genuine ways? What if your unique values and personality were the launching space for every encounter you every have? How might you work toward creating around you the space you want to inhabit - one that is kind, sincere, transparent, and warm?
Recent Scientific Evidence Points to Yes!!
The following article, by Lynn Waldorf, PhD, CPC, summarizes the research findings behind the affects of Core Energy Coaching.
New scientific evidence that iPEC’s Core Energy Coaching™ model produces results for clients, including improving their life satisfaction in several key areas.
If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, one big question probably keeps circling through your mind: Will it work?
There are plenty of success stories that provide evidence that coaching helps people make positive changes and create success in their personal and professional lives.
iPEC, a comprehensive coach training program that’s trained more than 15,000 coaches worldwide, has more than just anecdotal evidence that coaching works.
New quantitative evidence, in the form of scientific data, shows that Core Energy Coaching™ helps people make measurable changes that lead to sustainable and transformational results.
So, when you work with a coach who has been trained in iPEC’s proprietary Core Energy Coaching™ methodology, you’re working with an evidence-based model that’s been shown to produce real life, tangible outcomes.
What is Core Energy Coaching?
Core Energy Coaching is an integral part of iPEC’s methodology and begins with a simple premise: All people are continually experiencing energy, in one of two ways postulated by Bruce D. Schneider, founder of iPEC: catabolic or anabolic energy. Anabolic energy is constructive, expanding, fueling, and creative, and works FOR a person. Conversely, catabolic energy is destructive, draining, or resisting and works AGAINST a person. The type of energy we experience fluctuates throughout the day and inside of situations. However, because of our attitude and the way we interpret our life experiences, we wind up experiencing the same type of energy over and over again.
As many people get stuck in draining, catabolic energy, iPEC coaches are trained to help them raise their energy levels and become more aware of their actions and choices. As a result of this shift to anabolic energy, they’re more apt to inspire others, more open to innovation and possibility, and far better able to pursue goals and find fulfillment in their lives.
How Can We Measure the Effect of Coaching?
The true effect of working with a coach has been difficult to quantify. Now, with new research, we have numbers—actual data—that show how working with a Core Energy Coach raises a person’s energy, so that in any given situation, one can choose to respond with anabolic energy related to opportunity, curiosity, creativity, and intuition versus more reactive, catabolic energy which reveals itself in behaviors like blame, anger, and worry.
“We were looking for evidence that coaching worked,” says Lynn Waldorf, PhD, CPC, who was tasked with analyzing a data set that contained data from about 30,000 people who had taken the Energy Leadership Index™ (ELI).
The ELI is a 70-item, web-based assessment that leads people through rating themselves on their beliefs, self-perceptions, emotional reaction tendencies, and behavior patterns. The questionnaire is designed to measure the amount of anabolic and catabolic energy in a person’s core energy makeup, under both ideal and stressful circumstances. The more a person can reduce catabolic energy and increase anabolic energy, the higher their core energy will be.
Finding #1: Coaching Raises Core Energy Levels
The first question Waldorf was looking to answer with the data was if working with an iPEC-trained Core Energy Coach could raise a person’s core energy. To do this, she identified and studied people who had taken the ELI twice -- before and after working with a coach. She found that after working with a coach, people’s average resonating level of core energy increased from 3.25 to 3.52, a statistically significant increase.
“It may seem like a small increase, but it’s exponential in terms of growth,” says Liz Fisch, Senior Vice President of Program Development and Research for iPEC. “In coaching, things happen in small or large shifts, but even a small shift in any given moment can have a huge impact. If just one person shifts out of frustration and into the energy of opportunity, it can change the entire dynamic of a workplace or family.
For example, one choice to be compassionately curious with your partner instead of getting frustrated can change your entire connection. It only takes one second, one shift, but it can have a lifetime effect.”
Finding #2: Coaching Helps Individuals Respond Better in Stressful Situations
Most of us respond to stressful situations with a lot of catabolic energy (the energy of blame and frustration), which coaching can shift us out of. Waldorf wanted to measure what that shift looked like for people under stress—which is when the shift matters most.
She found that after working with an iPEC Core Energy Coach, people’s percentage of catabolic energy decreased from 68.0 to 59.0 percent while under stress, while their anabolic energy increased from 32.0 to 41.0 percent.
“These are very significant numbers, especially the decrease in catabolic energy. It indicates that coaching helped people become more in control of their thoughts and behaviors rather than have an automatic reaction inside a stressful situation,” Waldorf says.
Finding #3: Coaching Increases Overall Life Satisfaction
“If someone’s core energy is higher and they are handling their stress better, does that impact how they report life satisfaction? Our theory was overall life satisfaction would increase as well,” Waldorf says.
In fact, she was right. After coaching, people reported increased levels of life satisfaction across the board, in 14 distinct areas, from financial success and engagement at work to personal freedom and intimate relationships.
The data, taken all together, tells a consistent story: There is clear evidence that Core Energy Coaching fulfills the promises it makes, and sets people up for realizing more success in life and in work.
You can read the full research paper here.
Shifting Energy = Greater Meaning, Purpose, and Ease
The shift toward anabolic energy allows people to access creativity and intuition more quickly, rather than resorting to frustration, resentment, and other low-level responses which can feel limiting and exhausting.
“It isn’t just about positive thinking,” Fisch says. “It’s something deeper. You are becoming more aware that you have a choice. Seeing the negative is a survival mechanism for some people. Core Energy Coaching allows you to realize it more quickly and shift out of it more quickly.”
As people gently make these shifts with their Core Energy Coach, their self-confidence increases, self-esteem expands, and as a result they feel highly motivated to succeed. As they explore their deepest passions and motivators, a formula for radical and sustainable success is set in motion.
Through this transformational work, individuals can cultivate healthy, inspiring relationships, positive workplace dynamics, and pursue their greatest passions with ease.
Contact me, Naomi Self, to discuss your hopes and dreams and to explore how Core Energy Coaching can help you exceed your own expectations in every area of your life!
Moving through life is a journey and our energy acts as a magnet for who and what we attract. "Energy" here is not about whether you are getting enough sleep at night or have had your morning coffee yet, nor is it about being more or less introverted or extroverted. The type of energy I am referring to is the force field with which we surround ourselves and the power of life that we emit into the universe.
When we engage in our lives from a grumpy, sluggish, sad, negative, apathetic, angry, and demanding point of view, we tend to attract people and situations who are similarly wired. Likewise, when we are joyful, upbeat, positive, content, energetic, engaged, and grateful, we attract people who are also enthusiastic about their lives and who can find joy in even the most challenging circumstances. The reality is that we are all a mixed bag of all these characteristics and more.
I make friends easily and generally see the world as an adventure and people as interesting even before my feet hit the ground in the morning. I often find that there is a lot of happy energy around me, and I have for years recognized that I have a part in creating that vibe. Growing in my own understanding of this concept gives me words for my own life, and I better understand that when people who are negative and angry see lots of negativity and anger in the world, it is often because they too are creating that energy around them based on their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings.
Sometimes I recognize in myself a bit of resentment that this is true, because IF this is accurate then it means I must be willing to take responsibility for the places in my own life where I struggle. What is my part and how am I contributing to the difficulties I face? It's uncomfortable to realize that I have a part in my own discontent when it crops up; however, as much I would like to be absolved of responsibility, I also recognize that it is empowering to see that my contribution to my own challenges are simply the flip side of my ability to effect the change I long for.
Each of us attracts back to ourselves the energy we are putting out into the world. We are all constantly creating our reality in its varied and nuanced forms. Or as my dad so wisely told me many years ago, "We are what we have been becoming." Who are you today? And perhaps even more importantly, who are you becoming?
What kind of energy do you most enjoy being around? What type of energy do you most often embody? What about when you are experiencing stress of some kind? What would it feel like to know yourself better and understand how your energy contributes to the life you are creating for yourself?
What if there were no gap between the way others see us and the way we see ourselves? What if our degree of authenticity were tangible and we felt safe to honestly answer the polite but often horribly insincere "how are you?" greeting with an in-the-moment glimpse at our real Self? What if we knew ourselves well and stayed in tune with ourselves in ways that allowed for fusion of our thoughts, feelings, and words in those moments?
Sadly, our busy, happy, convenient Western culture often conditions us to stay at the surface of our own lives to our detriment. Few of us are supported to know our feelings, sit with our discomfort, and learn about ourselves in the process. Even as I write this, I recognize the tendency in myself to gloss over the painful places. Sometimes it's just too raw; other times I'm exhausted with the effort; often I feel scared and unsafe rather than supported and held in the midst of my messiness. The pain and heartache I've created for myself by my own limited thinking and small ideas is incredulous as I look back over my four decades on the planet, and I know there are still ways I contribute to my own pain by my unexamined perspectives in this very moment.
For me, the process of getting comfortable with my own messiness has been a journey. I don't want to embrace my contradictions, but if I can't hold space for and accept my own contradictions, I absolutely am unable to give others room to do the same. I don't want to be in process, always figuring stuff out, and learning and growing beyond the childish thinking of yesterday, knowing that tomorrow I very well may find today's thinking immature and limited. And yet, it is in accepting my imperfections, incompleteness, and uncertainty that I can in fact move out of and beyond the current ways I am stuck in my life into new horizons and vistas that are as of now unknown to me.
One of my all-time favorite children's stories is The Velveteen Rabbit. What if it's true that the only way to become real is to accept all the places we are tattered and torn and that the process of accepting ourselves in all of the messiness is what results in beauty and hope? What if this year we commit to becoming increasingly real - with ourselves and with each other? What if we practice trusting ourselves and each other in new ways? What if we set an intention to grow in our conscious awareness of how we are feeling about ourselves and our lives and instead of trying to "fix" it, we just let it be? What if the next time somebody says, "How are you?" we respond with a more honest answer? And what if the next time we start to ask "How are you?" we pause and make a conscious choice to really listen for the answer and hold space for the other in new ways?
What are your intentions for becoming a more real YOU in 2019? How do you hope to lean in to authenticity in ways that feel good for you?
This week I have been reflecting anew on Thanksgiving as a national holiday that inspires gratitude, and in the process I have been reviewing my own annual gratitude list. I find that the process of giving thanks is one that regularly has huge benefits for my perspective when I am feeling frustrated, disillusioned, and otherwise discouraged in my life. In terms of energy converters, gratitude is the fastest draining to life-giving energy convertor I know of. It’s extremely difficult to be both genuinely grateful and lost in anger, sadness, grief, and pain.
As is typical for me, my gratitude list is most often comprised of people. I have always been, as my mother often said, a “people-person,” and as such I highly value connection with other humans on the planet. Recently I realized that just as some people collect stamps, shoes, or stories, I collect people.
I first articulated this reality when one of our special people (whom we know solely as our favorite librarian) was preparing for retirement, and I asked how we were going to keep in touch with her. She said she’d have to give us her phone number, and I shared with her that I often have this dilemma when I grow to care deeply for someone in a professional setting. I recognize how much I value the person and yet I feel a sense of incongruity in the reality that I might not ever know if they moved, retired, or died, and with such ignorance I wouldn’t have an opportunity to bring some sort of closure to that relationship.
I feel sad when I outgrow relationships or circumstances arise that make it necessary for me to move on either physically or emotionally, and I carry pieces of all the people I’ve ever known well with me as I grow. I once thought that everyone valued people and relationships in the same way that I do, but I’m older and wiser now. This is an aspect of myself that I appreciate, and one that I must treat with tenderness; I can easily overextend myself relationally, and I sometimes struggle with knowing which are my inner circle, which are my middle circle, and which are my outer circle of connections.
Last week, while thinking about connection with others and the concept of family, I realized that while I have the family I was born into, I also have many other families or places of connection that have brought me joy, hope, support, meaning, and growth through the years.
I am deeply grateful for my nuclear family and the many ways they have loved, nurtured, and patiently tolerated me through the years. As a child, I never felt super connected to my own family because my siblings were 21, 17, and 13 years old when I came along, and my parents were old enough to be my grandparents, but with time and perseverance, I have made peace with this reality and come to accept that my place in my family has given me as many opportunities for joy as it has for learning. This reality has contributed greatly to my lifelong desire to connect deeply and well with others, and looking back over my 43 years I have many people who have been an important part of my process of becoming.
There was the local preschool family who cared for me during my 3rd year of life when my mom went back to work as a teacher. I remember being loved and growing in my sense of independence and confidence. I then transitioned to the private Christian school and church community, where I spent the next 14 years among the school and church family that so fundamentally shaped many aspects of my foundation as a human being. It was there that I learned about kindness and doing what was right. I learned to unquestioningly obey the rules, and I found out that there were many good people in the world who cared for me and valued both my vivacious personality and the contribution my parents made to their own lives.
As a girl, I had a neighborhood family that consisted of several families we knew well and in whose homes I often visited to play, share a meal, or just hang out. I learned much from each of them, not the least of which was the important beginning cross-cultural lesson that not everybody lived the way my family did; in fact, the family across the street cut their breakfast muffins from top to bottom rather than side to side in order to insert their pats of butter!
During my young adult years, my college family was comprised of my fellow students, colleagues on campus in the Disbursement Office where I worked for two years, and several outstanding and kind professors whose thoughtful input and challenging perspectives I have been able to more fully appreciate only in retrospect as I have looked back with quite some distance at the footprints they left on my life.
When I graduated from college and began working in business for a local Fortune 500 company, I formed another family of a sort, whose appreciation of my youthful energy and optimistic perspective was varied, and I grew to know and love several of my colleagues during my time there.
I then moved to Central Europe and lived in Slovakia for a couple of years in order to teach English as a 2nd language. In that season, I developed two new and rather diverse family connections – those with my American colleagues whom I had never before met despite being from the same country and several lifelong friendships with local Slovak people, and to this day I have multiple family members whose first language is different from my own, and we continue to correspond in small ways despite the years and miles between us.
I have had five different church families over the course of my life, and as a Southerner, there are many benefits to being a part of a church community, not the least of which is the regular interaction with the same people and the sense of connection and joy that can come from such repeated association.
There has been my recovery family who offered me new perspectives on myself and my ways of being in the world along with a realization that just because my childhood experiences were closed and isolated, not everybody, even in the South, thinks and feels the same way about God, country, life, love, growth, and the purpose of relationships.
In 2014, thanks to my husband’s enthusiasm after having been on his own the year prior, my family and I attended Family Camp at The Omega Institute together for the first time, and now we have a whole group of Omega family who, though we see them for only one week out of the year, many of them have become a regular part of our lives as we stay in touch through a variety of avenues during the 51 weeks we are apart each year.
My family continues to grow as I am in the process of becoming certified as a Life Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and my training has introduced me to a number of new people who are quickly becoming not only my colleagues but also my friends.
I have also recently begun the Chattanooga Singing Circle and am meeting and singing with heretofore strangers who are becoming new friends and family with whom I can laugh, cry, learn, and love as we play with song, rhythm, and movement in ways that heal our hearts and bring us both joy and connection in the process.
I am deeply grateful this season not only for the many connections with others that I am privileged to enjoy but also for the growing acceptance of connection as a value of mine. I feel supported, loved, and cared for in the midst of my various connections, and I am honored to walk alongside so many amazing people as together we become more than any one of us could be on our own. My life is rich beyond measure and I am profoundly thankful for the journey and the many folks who have chosen to journey with me along the way.
Who do you count as family this week? Who or what are you grateful for? What values are you living out as you pursue your own versions of meaning, hope, joy, and peace this holiday season?
This Extrovert's Attempt to Use My Words to Make Sense of My Life