I was on a bus recently and was pondering what the difference is in working with a client who is succeeding and one who is stalled in their endeavors. It occurred to me that it really comes down to doubt. And it seemed specifically one little doubt. The doubt that the reality could actually happen.
It's not meant to sound trivial at all. But it's very hard to achieve something when we have the nagging thought that "It can't really happen." That one thought of fear shades the entire endeavor. It will color the way we interact with our environment. Determine subtle nuances in how we approach things. Set our energy level for how much of ourselves we invest into the goal. And close off our creativity and what we view as possible opportunities. One little doubt can do all that…
So what to do when we are faced with the "one little doubt" about something?
Actually, starting to let go of expectations about the end result would seem to be a good place to begin. Expectations usually only lead to problems and stress.
Next is examining why we have the doubt in the first place. Frequently it's our view of the situation that is out of proportion to reality. We "think" we know the lay of the land. But we don't, not really.
For instance, I know many people who become unable to open their mail when it reaches a certain level. Even if it is junk mail, they are paralyzed by fear. For no real reason, it's just a phobia. So if they let their mail pile up for more than three or four days, they are terrified to sit down and go through it. They feel bad about this for sure. And so they put off opening the mail even longer. They know it's an unreasonable reaction. But they can;t help themselves. They don't really think there is any ill news in the lot of it. Yet they can't bring themselves to sit down and read through it all. Their basic doubt would seem to be "I can't handle this situation." And so they can't handle it.
The same could be said for someone writing a book, starting a new business or dealing with a financial crisis. The "stall" occurs when we feel — really feel — that we can't handle the situation. We have nothing of worth to write. The business will probably fail. We are so underwater financially that we can't manage to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It doesn't matter what "it" is, we all have a few "its" in our lives.
And when "it" happens, the flow of living becomes very slow. Success becomes more difficult as accomplishing anything of significance grinds to a halt. And at that point we usually start self-medicating with whatever is our numbing vehicle of choice — television, the Internet, alcohol, shopping, etc.
Talking about it with others could be helpful — if we can find people who will listen and not tell us what we should do. (Which is quite frequently the obvious and also what we already know.) For example, the person with the pile of mail should simply sit down and start going through it. And usually they know that this is what they should do. What they want is for someone to guide them through the process, tell them that it will be alright and that in the end they can handle the situation. Really it comes down to a little emotional hand holding. This is where a life coach can be of some use, since they are trained to listen, to encourage, to point out the self-created mythologies that we are engaging in and help us brainstorm on how we can work through this moment in our lives.
And what our coach — or good friend — can do is help us break down the task at hand into much smaller more manageable mini-tasks. The mail can be opened a piece at a time and that can happen in an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or a decade. And a book can be written a page at a time, a paragraph at a time, a sentence at a time or a word at a time…