The personal development world, in particular, makes many claims about the kind of life that is possible for us if we follow certain routes or buy certain books, workshops, coaching, etc. Some of these claims speak directly to beliefs that we hold about life, too.
There’s nothing wrong with aspirations or wanting “a better life,” but I think we have come to hold these aspirations as expectations—the idea that we are somehow entitled to them, and that, if only we do the right thing, those expectations will come true.
I call these claims, “lies to stop believing,” because I have found, both in my own life and in the lives of people with whom I work, that there is a lot of suffering caused by the disappointment when these expectations are not met.
What are some of these “lies”?
Sorry to be so blunt, but there it is—life is what it is, whether we think it’s fair or not. The good guy doesn’t always get the girl, and the bad guy sometimes wins. We can have our dreams, do our affirmations, practice chanting and meditating on our goals, do the work, network, go on plenty of dates, and still not get what we long for.
This might sound negative, defeatist even, especially from a coach, but I want to suggest that acceptance of the possibility that we might not get what we long for is also a route to peace.
When I accept that life isn’t necessarily going to bring me what I long for (of course it might, but it equally might not), then I have the possibility to ask different questions about life and to navigate with what is, rather than the striving for and pain of disappointment if I don’t get what I yearn for.
What if I am single for the rest of my days? What if I never write that book I’ve been meaning to write? What if my life never gets any “better” than this? What then?
For me, this is deeply connected with the Buddhist ideals of non-attachment. Have goals, by all means. Apply yourself to them with passion and zeal. But the real practice is to accept that you might not live the life you expect to lead or feel entitled to have. And, yes, there is a paradox there.
In addition, there are many other dimensions to this—the implications for others when we give up our entitlement; the cultural idea that we are somehow responsible or, worse, actually “to blame” if we don’t have a perfect life (unfortunately sometimes disseminated by parts of the personal development world), etc. This is a theme I will be returning to frequently.
For now, though, some reflections:
What “lies” do you believe?
What has been the cost to you of those?
What happens when you accept that you might not get what you want (or what you think you deserve)?
“Let me tell you the truth: The truth is...what is. And what should be is a fantasy; a terrible, terrible lie that someone gave the people long ago.” —Lenny Bruce
You are not a precious and unique snowflake; you are the same decaying organic matter as everything else. —Tyler Durden in Fight Club
Aboodi Shabi is one of the UK’s most senior coaches, and a leader in the UK and European Coaching community. He was also founding co-President of the UK ICF, and has served the profession at all levels internationally.
He has worked in the field of personal development for over twenty years, and in coaching since 1996. In that time, he has worked with hundreds of coaches across the world.
A Newfield Network Certified Ontological Coach, Aboodi also holds the highly regarded Professional Certified Coach Credential from the International Coach Federation.
He is currently Head of Coaching and Training for Newfield Europe. He is also an invited facilitator on mastery in coaching for various European coaching schools, as well as being a regular speaker on the coaching conference circuit across Europe.
Visit Aboodi Shabi's website - www.aboodishabi.com
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