I wrote in a Facebook comment for Angus’ and my Vlog that perhaps we should stop calling what we do transformational coaching and call it “just be yourself coaching”. In response, a friend sent me a text saying, “You aren’t coaches. You are modeling humanity and human-ness.” This struck a chord within me. Angus and I do help people to experience greater levels of success both personally and professionally by helping them to embrace their humanness. As a by-product of this, they have a deeper connection with their true nature. This takes the pressure off of them so they can experience more freedom to show up in life authentically.
The internal pressure we experience comes from our own judgmental, critical thoughts. It can range from extremely abusive to a more mild “should”. No matter what the content, we know it is there because we experience pressure. For some people the feeling of pressure is so normal they don’t question it. Others attribute their ability to get things done to this feeling. For many of us the thinking behind the feeling is invisible.
The downside in all of this is pressure does not bring out the best in us. It limits our performance and how we show up in the world. I often reference a metaphor that George Pransky shares. He says if you take a plank of wood that is wide enough to walk across and place it on the ground, people would have no problem walking across it. In fact, they could run, skip, hop, and jump across it. Now, if you were to put that same plank of wood a hundred feet in the air without a net, you would be hard pressed to get people to crawl across it. I am sure you have examples of this in your own life when internal emotional pressure got in the way of your performance.
My obvious example is public speaking. In my relaxed state, I am a chatterbox. But in the past, when I would give a talk, I worried that I would run out of things to say. And on the day, in my pressured state of mind, I would not be myself. I would feel anxious and awkward. My regular easy free flow of chatter would dry up. I would usually cover everything I had to say in half of my allotted time. I would then be forced to jump off the cliff and step into the unknown. These were probably the best parts of the talks because I would be speaking more from my heart than my intellect. But I would never know because I would not be able to remember what I said, and I would be so consumed by self-judgment that I would simple have to ride out the feelings of shame. This was such a strange experience because I had done nothing wrong. All I did was share openly and vulnerably, but I would feel worthless.
That was the impact of the pressure of my negative thinking. Pressure to be great. Pressure to get it right. Pressure to look good. All of this was very debilitating. So much so that something that is completely natural and enjoyable to me — talking– became hard work.
Ironically, what helped me to take a lot of the pressure off of myself is that I came to see how normal my experience of insecurity and anxiety was. This allowed me to stop judging myself as wrong for having it. From my study of the Three Principles, I saw that all of my experience comes from transitory thought in the moment, and the capacity we have as humans to think, to bring those thoughts to life and make them feel real is a gift not a curse. This changed everything for me.
I thought that my experience of insecurity was the result of a flaw in me. I believed there was something wrong with me. I didn’t think I was the same as everyone else. I thought I was broken. I thought there was a real problem with me that caused my feelings of insecurity rather than my feelings simply being the result of me identifying with distorted thinking. I even thought there was something wrong with me that I had insecure thoughts.
What I realized is that I don’t control what thoughts I have. It doesn’t mean anything about me that I have insecure thoughts. This loosened the grip of my insecure thoughts. As soon as I saw the content of my thinking didn’t mean anything about me, it lost power over me.
That took the pressure off. It allowed me to see there is nothing wrong with me no matter what thoughts and feelings I am having. This is true for all of us. No matter how we feel, we are not broken. Seeing this allowed me to stop resisting my experience of insecurity and stopped me trying to wrestle with my thoughts so I could feel better. Instead, I relaxed. My plank of wood went zooming down from a thousand feet in the air to being on solid ground. I felt the wellbeing of my true nature. I had a deeper experience of the unchanging quality of my loving essence that is behind my moods and feelings. I experienced the greater part of myself that is not the “I”, but is the “all”. The good feelings were naturally there.
As a result of seeing that all I feel, like everyone else, is transitory thought in the moment, some of it more clear and some of it more distorted, my performance improved. I stopped taking my thinking so seriously because I knew it didn’t mean anything about me. Even if I had insecure thoughts come up before speaking, I would not pay so much attention to them. I recognized them as temporary thoughts and not the truth of who I am.
The coaching Angus and I do is transformative because we help people to have a deeper experience of the truth of who they are through having a better understanding of how their experience is created moment-to-moment via the gifts of mind, consciousness, and thought. What we see is that when people understand how they create their experience, they have a deeper connection to what is behind their experience. This frees them up to get over their thinking about themselves and just be themselves. As a result all areas of their life are impacted. It is that simple.
As Sydney Banks said, “If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.”
Rohini Ross is a psychotherapist, a leadership consultant, and an executive coach. Rohini facilitates personalized three-day retreats for individuals, couples, and professionals to help them connect more fully with their true nature and experience greater levels of wellbeing, resiliency, and success. You can find out more about Rohini’s work on her website, rohiniross.com.