A client of mine once asked me when I started coaching, and I facetiously replied, “When I was five.”
For much of my life, even as a child, I was able to listen to the things people said and extract the deeper meaning beneath their words.
This gift has helped me assist many to create better lives for themselves while also building a career that is both rewarding and fulfilling for me.
Yet as I look back, it has become clear that this great strength in one area of my life has also been a great liability in another.
In my professional life, my clients come to see me so I can assist them to tell the truth, to see things in a different light and create tangible next steps so they can feel safe and secure again in their lives.
But in my relationships, my partners were often looking for something quite different.
It’s not that they didn’t want to uncover a deeper truth or entertain a new perspective, they just didn’t want it in that moment. Many times they were simply looking for comfort when things weren’t going well, to share how they’re feeling and feel my arms around them so they could feel safe again.
Even though I think I knew this at the time, I still found myself trying to talk anyway to help them see things in a different light.
I thought they would feel loved and understood as I offered different interpretations yet it created quite the opposite effect, with them often feeling unheard, and unloved.
It seems I unwittingly hurt them by focusing on what I thought they needed rather than being more aware of what they actually wanted. Ironically, what makes me a great coach also made me a lousy boyfriend at times.
There is a Finnish proverb that says, “Happiness is a place between too little and too much.”
How do we find that place in between and why did I try to coach these women that I loved, instead of simply consoling them?
Because I was afraid and when we’re afraid, we tend to go to what we know.
It wasn’t that I didn’t feel their fear, I did, but it also brought up a feeling of helplessness inside me that didn’t sit well, so my response was to do what I do best, which didn’t end up making things better it actually made them worse.
I think we all do this dance in one form or another, whether it’s at home or at work. Some of us are strong when it comes to seeing the black and white in life and can struggle when a little more grey is required, and some of us who thrive in the grey when we could use a little more black and white in a given situation.
We can’t always see things in the moment but we can usually see them in hindsight, and it’s our willingness and ability to sift through the jobs and relationships of our past and be honest about what we see.
If you too, can see that you have overcompensated on one of your gifts in the past as I have with mine, rather than regret it this time, try to appreciate instead, understanding that recognizing it is the first step to changing it.
What are your thoughts? (comments below)