I have a client who has experienced a bruising decade long battle with his wife due to her anger, alcoholism and blame. Despite my client’s many efforts to get her help and get control over their financial situation, she refused. Eventually they got divorced but not before his finances were decimated, his health impaired, and his family torn apart. Nevertheless, I still asked him what he could do that would inspire him? Given his state of affairs and the anger he felt both towards himself and his wife, this was no easy question. And yet, he looked at me intently and said, “my writing, I could get back to writing.”
Whether I am working with an individual, group or organization, I help all people eliminate distractions. Distractions come in many forms and disguises. I worked with a young woman recently who came to me because she said she wanted to be very successful and make a lot more money in sales. She is bright, attractive, intelligent, and personable.
However, as I got to know her, I realized that she was consistently distracted by drama both in her personal life and at the office. Thus, we began our work together with a strong emphasis on eliminating the drama and distractions in her life. It’s hard to be truly successful, I argued, if you are running around pissed at this person and not talking to that person. Anger, blame, negativity and resentment consume valuable energy that we can put to good use elsewhere, such as developing a new business strategy or booking another appointment!
I was sitting on the top floor of the Starbucks in Fairfield, Connecticut contemplating what makes life magical. Later that morning, I had a psychology/coaching session with a man in his early forties who used to be an investment banker. Several years ago, he went through a brutal depression and quit his job. In his twenties, he liked many aspects of being a banker; the technology research, the challenge of landing new clients, and the intensity of creating and delivering pitches. However, over time, he began to hate the long hours, endless travel, and the “jerks” that he interacted with on a daily basis.
After years of non-stop travel, hundred-hour work-weeks, mental and physical exhaustion, he finally sat down with his boss to ask for more flexibility and less travel. His boss told him that his two young children wouldn’t know what they were missing. This conversation turned out to be the last straw. At 35, John had finally had enough and walked away. He went out on his own and after two years of hard work, his new startup failed. More depression followed. John turned to psychiatry, only to find himself in the endless abyss of psychotropic medication.
“Allowing someone their freedom is actually showing more caring than holding on to them. It is very caring to let someone go when they want to experience something else!” She said.
“Exactly! I responded enthusiastically. We hold on because we are scared to let go, scared of getting hurt, afraid of being alone…”
“Well,” she interrupted, “and woman are more heart based so when we care and then the guy wants to move on we wonder if he really cared about us or we think it didn’t mean so much to him.”
“Yes and the truth may be that he wants to experience something or someone else and it isn’t a personal rejection even if it feels that way. In Ernie’s case, if he had a greater communication skill set, he may have said something like this: a part of me really cares about you and yet another part of me wants to experience this new opportunity abroad and not feel so attached here. He wasn’t able to share this but it might be closer to the truth than you making it mean that he didn’t really care about you or the relationship didn’t mean that much to him!