Not everything that I believe will be true for you & I’m ok with that

As a coach, I’ve learned to leave my own beliefs, values and attitudes at the door when working with a client. My job is not to influence the coachee to nudge them in any particular direction. Rather the task is to help them uncover a new sense of self-awareness that will empower them – to help them challenge their own beliefs, values and attitudes. And it’s not easy to challenge those things. We have so many certainties about our world that have been enculturated and shaped across our lifetime and the lifetimes of the people that came before us. Some of them serve us well. They allow us to function is the world without questioning everything all the time.

For instance, I firmly believe that people are inherently good. That belief has enabled me to live my life confident in the knowledge that our humanity is alive and well and I see examples of that every day. Admittedly, some days are harder than others. I also consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world and I see evidence of that daily – perhaps because my brain now expects to have good things come my way. That was not always the case. I used to live life as a victim – believing that things happened to me instead of for me. I interpreted random events in the world that affected me as some sort of punishment. When I changed my belief to reflect that things just happen and I can react or not, my world opened up.

Judgement and point of view

I like to think that I am a “live and let live” kind of person. My children may disagree. Most of my beliefs are closely held and I rarely openly challenge anyone on their point of view in day to day conversation. Although I am told that I speak with an assumed authority which is sometimes interpreted that I believe that I am right. I choose to live with the approach that there is no good, bad, right or wrong. As soon as we add judgement into the equation someone feels attacked. And the judger almost never has all factors that were combined to reach a particular point of view. I certainly have been guilty of judging based on half-truths, incomplete information or perspective. Something that I have no right to do.

It reminds me of an illustration that I once saw of a person sitting at a table with a giant number 6 in the middle of the table. The person knows without doubt that it is the number 6. Until the person sitting opposite challenged that it was, in fact, the number 9. They are both right. Point of view and what is revealed to us, can impact the “truth”.

Gallileo the Coach?

Over the last few years, I have come to believe in the absolute importance of internal referencing. I now trust my gut. There is so much noise in the external world filled with contradictions and far too much data or information to possibly review. It used to leave me with a feeling of anxiety that I could never read or learn enough to know the absolute truth. But get this – truth is often relative. My truth will not be the same as yours – our paths and life experiences are not the same. One size does not fit all.

I also believe that the earth revolves around the sun. 400 years ago, that was not the case as the truth of the day stated that the earth was the center of the solar system. Galileo had the audacity to conclude that we had a heliocentric arrangement with the planets. He was hounded by the church and even imprisoned. They only left him alone when he renounced his views. Not easy to disagree with conventional wisdom – but those  challenges are necessary for us to evolve as individuals and for all humanity.

Incidentally, Galileo said “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it in himself”. It sounds like he may have been a great coach!

Not everything that I believe is true and I’m ok with that.

Not everything that I believe will be true for you and I’m ok with that. This is a huge shift for me as I always had to be right. I try to make sense out of my world with the information that I have as of this minute. In the next, I may know something new that inspires me to change my opinion or my actions. And that information may take longer for me to absorb and incorporate into my decision making process than others. Or I may reject it outright because it doesn’t add up for me. I’m a work in progress – as are all of us.  

What concerns me most these days as I look around my world is how much discontent lives in a time rife with uncertainty. And I’m seeing that points of view seem to have become more important that compassion for other people. A desperate need to feel safe and secure again is eclipsing our ability to empathize with people who look at issues from a different angle. 

When I bump against something that makes no sense to me now, I try really hard to get curious and ask “what am I missing here?” “What does the other person know that I don’t?” For me – this is a good place to start.

So, consider if we can ever know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?  What could you uncover by questioning one of your deep seeded beliefs? How can you learn and grow by looking for a differing perspective?

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