Life would be great if it weren‘t for self-help books! I could wake up every morning, drink my coffee, eat a strudel, listen to some good music and waltz through my life with out a care in the world. I could live for the moment, drink my glass of wine without a single deep thought and lay my head on the pillow each night for a glorious reset. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Sometimes, I sort of wish for that life, one characterized by carefree inattention to the needs of my soul. God in my belly and every day a new chance to just have fun. Then, I realize that this life would probably only be fun for a little while, sort of like an all-inclusive holiday is only fun for 2 weeks or so (and for me, probably only one week!). After eating, drinking and lying in the sunshine for days on end, I‘m ready to get back to the business of living a life of significance and meaning. For me to do that well, I have to regularly pay attention to my inner state of affairs...my feelings, my needs, my fears.
Enter the self-help books…
Right now, I‘m reading Brené Brown‘s amazing book about vulnerability, „Daring Greatly,“ and let me tell you, there is almost nothing scarier than feeling vulnerable! Allowing myself to REALLY be seen, with all my weaknesses and fears, is a really difiicult task, and in reading this book, I‘m seeing all kinds of defense mechanisms that I have thrown up over the years to keep people from REALLY knowing me. I never really understood why I have phases in my life of „crazy busy,“ „tough as nails,“ or „people pleaser.“ I oftentimes find myself on a roller coaster of human emotion and before reading this book, I had no idea that some of my biggest problems stemmed from my fear of being vulnerable. As I read further, I am discovering new insights about the way I tick and it is NOT comfortable! I lay the book down from time to time and just have a good cry, because I SMELL the hard work that‘s going to be involved in making some big changes to my behavior.
The topic of this week‘s Live Session is all about the four stages of the learning process, and I thought it was important to share what I‘m working through before trying to encourage or motivate you to do something really hard. I want you to know that I am working through all of this scary stuff myself, and like the mad professor, I‘m trying out all of the recipes on myself FIRST before telling you what/how to do things. Let‘s get started!
Stage One: „All Inclusive Vacation,“ or „Unconscious Incompetence“
At this stage, you are blissfully unaware of what you DO NOT know, and so you cannot be bothered by it. Ignorance is bliss, and even though you might be dealing with some major emotional turmoil, you are completely unaware of WHY you are suffering. Instead, you employ a few strategies to help you cope with the situation:
You play the victim—everybody ELSE is to blame!
You numb the pain—food, alcohol, drugs or risky behavior help you to drown out the noise of your own emotional needs
You live for pleasure—why worry when you could eat, drink and be merry?
If you feel a little bit caught up here, stop by for my live session on the topic 'From Preachin‘ to Meddlin‘: Set healthy boundaries on yourself'
Stage Two: „Pop Quiz“ or „Conscious Incompetence“
I compare this stage with walking into a classroom and the teacher announcing a test that you are completely unprepared for! In a flash, you are acutely aware of what you DO NOT know, and break out into a cold sweat! You feel the fear of failure, the embarrassment of not paying attention when the test was announced, and the dread of being exposed. It is in this stage that we feel the most vulnerable, and it is also the stage where we are most tempted to retreat back to our Caribbean island. This is where the self-help book (or friend, or Bible, or partner) points out that you might need to do something to change your situation, but you are completely unprepared for what that is going to mean! You swallow hard, close your eyes, and jump into the process of learning how to do things in a new way.
Stage Three: „Baby Steps,“ or „Conscious Competence“
If you choose to go through the agony of Stage Two and start applying the new principles you have learned, you will eventually reach the stage where you make those clumsy little steps forward! Sure, you‘ll fall back down on your booty OVER AND OVER, but hey, you‘re WALKING! We start talking about a baby walking after he/she has made those first steps, not only once they are running circles around us in the kitchen! Those first steps COUNT, and if you keep doing it often enough, the steps will become confident enough to take you where you want to go!
Stage Four: „Auto Pilot“ or „Unconscious Competence“
Congratulations! You have successfully progressed from one stage to another, and all of a sudden, you do the right things without even having to think about it! Have you ever had the experience of driving somewhere and only once you arrive do you ask yourself, „How did I get here?“ The auto-pilot of skills needed while driving kicked in and got you to your destination while you were thinking of what to cook for dinner! That self-help book that once gave you such a hard time has now become hard-wired into the way to live, parent or lead. You have acquired enough skill to get positive results without all the stumbling and can maybe even start encouraging others to start their own journeys toward growth! I don‘t know about you, but that feels better to me than a week at the beach!
Along the path of personal growth, you are going to need the courage to:
1) open your eyes and ask yourself why you are unhappy in a particular area
2) get the input about how to solve your problem (through a book, a coach, a counsellor or a friend)
3) allow others to see you struggling with learning something new
4) take those clumsy first steps in the right direction
5) embrace and by merciful toward yourself when you fall
Where do you need a shot of courage right now? What stage are you in, and are you having trouble getting to the next one?
Each of the stages of competency has its own unique challenges, but by sticking it out to the end, you will discover the riches to be found in knowing yourself better and in BEING KNOWN by others. While I still dream of lying on the beach blissfully unaware from time to time, I‘m starting to dream more and more of a tour in the Alps! This is definitely the path less travelled, and it‘s a stony one at that, but the view when you get to the top? Indescribable!
The Link to my Livesession: NOT a Day at the Beach