Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Wall

I want to start today's post with a clip from one of my all-time favorite movies, Run Fat Boy Run.

In the clip, you see our hero Dennis trying to finish a marathon, injured, dejected, out of shape and pretty hopeless.  He's been running away from responsibility all his life - taking the easy way out - and this race represents his attempt to take a new direction.  With 9 miles left, he "hits the wall", that famous brick obstacle we hear about in connection with endurance events.  As Dennis stares up at this seemingly unsurmountable obstacle in his path, he is overwhelmed by hopelessness and besieged by all the voices, real and imagined, telling him that he has always been and will always be, a loser.

There are 2 things I really love about this clip:
1.  Only Dennis can see the wall.  Everyone else sees a free and clear roadway ahead of him.
2.  A brick falls out of the wall and Dennis sees himself on the other side waving and encouraging him forward.

When I was in nutrition school we were told "Clients come to you because they are trapped in their story.  You, as the counselor, need to find a way to help them see that it's just a story and that they can re-write it any way they choose".  We all have our stories - the ones we tell ourselves and the ones others have told about us, telling us who we are.  The problem is that we don't see that they are just stories.  We think they are real and permanent.  We often mistake a Story for a Wall.

Yet, when I sit there listening to the client tell her story, I see a free and clear roadway in the place where my client sees a wall.  I then offer the client my perspective.  I tell her that the wall in front of her is made of paper, not bricks and all she has to do is blow it over gently and walk right on through.

Some people see it right away.  They are able to see that it was just a fiction they were stuck on, or just a habit that they mistook for a truth.  They say "Oh!  Why was I making such a big deal about that?  Thanks!"  I do a victory dance and feel like the best coach in the world.

But other people don't see it or don't believe, or don't WANT to, I'm never sure.  Some folks really like their story and they have become so comfortable with their wall that they know every brick and every crack in the mortar.  There is no way in heck they are moving through it.  It seems crazy that someone would hire me because they want to make changes in their life but then be unwilling to actually make any changes in their life - but truly it happens!

In total honesty, I did it myself a bunch of times before I was ready to knock my own walls down.  For one, I had totally bought the story that yo-yo dieting had wrecked my metabolism.  That was my Wall and my reason why I could not lose weight permanently.  Then my coach said to me "Do you KNOW this for a fact?  Have you ever had your metabolism checked?  Because the fact is that overweight people have FASTER metabolisms than smaller people from carrying around so much more weight for so many years."

Wow, I never though of it like that before.  So if it's not my metabolism holding me back, it must be...  hey, the road ahead of me is free and clear of obstacles!  Ta-Da..

So I want to offer you a different perspective today and it's this:

Our walls are the boundaries of our comfort zones.  They are the white picket fences around our familiar, known present.  We know that the thing we desire is "out THERE" but are not sure it's safe to leave the gate and cross that Interstate running through our front yard.  I mean, what if we get flattened by a speeding semi?

It IS scary.  They don't call it a "comfort zone" for nothing!  Now imagine stepping out there with a trusted supportive coach holding your hand, preferably one who has already crossed this road and emerged unscathed on the other side.

That's what I do.  I am the chaperon and tour guide on the bus pulling out of Struggle on it's way to Achievement.  The ride can go as slow or as fast as the client wishes, but she has to get ON the bus first!

So, that insurmountable-seeming wall blocking your way?  I am here to tell you that YOU are the only one who can even see it!  The road ahead of you is in fact, free and clear as far as the eye can see.

Now, how do you feel when you hear me say that?  Do you start in with all this mental chatter that goes "But, but, but...You don't know me!  You don't know my problems!  My problems and obstacles are worse than anyone else's.  Things are not as simple as you make it!"  Yeah?  Something like that?  OK, so you're right then.  Don't call me.  I can't help you when you are not willing to board the bus.

But if you read what I wrote and thought "I would like to believe that but am just afraid, skeptical, sad, beaten, all-alone, insecure, or hurt" then hon, you could use a great coach to stand behind you and say "Yes, you can and I've got your back".

Your wall is just your story, your picket fence, your safety helmet, your doubts and fears.  Knock it down and come out to play!

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