Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting My Life Coached

Wow! Let me just say I was really excited after my first 'official' session with Marloes (see here for the first part of the story). We talked about a number of things, but what really stood out was an exercise with cards! Not playing cards, exactly, but this set of cards.

I found the English image on the right online, but I could only find information about this game in Dutch (left).

To understand how the 'game' works, this website explains it really well. Basically, Marloes asked me to go through all the cards with positive traits, and pick out a couple that I felt really described me. Of course, I have all sorts of positive traits, but the one I chose as a particular feature of mine was CARING. We talked a bit how I enjoy being a caring person. We also talked about how sometimes being caring actually causes me problems. I enjoy doing things for people, but sometimes, somehow, it can also feel like an obligation. And from time to time, I feel taken advantage of, and think that some people just use me for the nice things I do to make their life easier. So we talked about how too much of a good thing can lead to something not-so-good.

The next step was to choose a a negative quality from the set of cards with negative traits to describe what I feel happens when my caring nature gets out of hand. I chose SUBSERVIENT. The word in Dutch is wegcijferen, which means to make into a nonentity. It is perhaps best translated in this context as sweeping myself away. I got pretty mad when I realized that's how I felt. Even though others have definitely behaved badly towards me, and shame on them, the real issue in my life is that I have sometimes done that to myself. Lately I have valued pleasing others, caring for them, and doing what I can to make their lives easier, far too much. I sometimes go to extremes, and disregard my own needs, wants, interests, preferences, etc. in favour of someone else's. And that's not only no fun at all in the short term, it hinders me from being happy later on as well.

The next step was to look at the positive traits again, and choose one that represented an opposite to the too-much-of-a-good-thing negative quality. For this one, I chose INDEPENDENCE. I'm not sure if anyone else can understand the logic of my mind (or of anyone's at all!), but I chose 'independence' because someone who does whatever she wants, takes care of herself, and puts herself first, well... that person is not subservient at all, and never diminishes herself for another. We talked about this for a bit. I was surprised to find that I found independence a bit scary. I had the idea that if I put myself first, then I wouldn't be kind or loving anymore. And since I really value being caring, that bothered me.

I'm not sure quite what happened, but all of a sudden I realized that there is no risk of me ever being anything less than a wonderfully loving, kind, and caring person. I'm still a bit surprised that independence is something I'm not attracted to, but I think I associate independence with being alone. And although I like to be alone more than a lot of people, I sure don't want to live my life alone. (Hence, my loving nature lol!!)

The final, and most difficult step, was to choose the quality that I see as being too much independence. I chose SELFISHNESS. I find this quality somewhat challenging to define. I would say that someone who is selfish is someone who has no objective values to live by. For example, a selfish person has no problem telling a lie to avoid a confrontation or to manipulate someone else's view of them. A selfish person is intolerant of others if the views, feelings, or needs of others are inconvenient. I really dislike that kind of person, and I guess I fear being independent a bit because I see a slipperly slope. I get a bit nervous that maybe being independent will turn me into someone manipulative, intolerant and self-serving. And for me, there'd be nothing worse!

Now, wasn't that an interesting journey of self-discovery!!

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