The Coach is In…

Nothing Stands Alone

For all of 2021 I have reflected on our ‘connectedness’ with one another and the world around us. Some of this time included a deeper understanding of where my biases and deep-seated assumptions lie. The assumptions were deep, many long held. It took me awhile to uncover them. It has been a sobering time of reflection and contemplation. I am certain I am not done.

Near the end of December, I listened to a piece by Father Richard Rohr (Center for Contemplation and Action) about the Center’s ‘theme’ for 2022, Nothing Stands Alone. The theme put a definitive label to my journey of connectedness. His words added depth to my understanding. I look forward to what emerges from that reading the rest of this year.

I have come away from 2021 with a broader understanding of my racism and a broader appreciation for the contributions to my life of others who don’t look like me nor believe like me. It is a journey that is just beginning.

I have experienced the polarization of our views present in our country. At the center, there is a pervasive (read: not in numbers, but in volume) of those that are highly invested in being ‘right.’ Our discourse, if you can call it that, often has a tone of ‘either,’ ‘or’ with little or no consideration for when ‘both’ might be right. There is precious little room for, “you might be right.” Many of us have SIGNIFICANT energy invested in supporting what we believe, with tragic results (think the Capitol riot of last year).

My observation is that we don’t recognize the ‘collective we’ unless it is a group of like-minded people that share similar biases and assumptions. If I wasn’t taking the journey of reflection and contemplation that I am I would not have begun to understand how those shape my thoughts and actions, particularly toward others.

It hasn’t been that long ago that we could have conversation that began with, “Let me understand what you are saying or your position.” We have forgotten how to do this. One of the tragedies is that we are so busy ‘defending’ what we believe we often have no interest in listening. We are pushing others further away. “You do you and I’ll do mine” is a common phrase I’ve heard around the vax/no vax argument. This is innocent enough, and a way to avoid arguing with good friends or family. What this argument, and others, do not take into consideration, however, is that…Nothing Stands Alone. Our actions have consequences for other people and/or other things.

The polarization that exists in this country, and in the world, fails to be aware, or ignores, that all that is in it is connected. It is a huge ecosystem with consequences for what we do and don’t do. We are ‘asleep’ to this awareness because the individualism that has existed for hundreds of years has created huge fractures in our understanding of our true nature – to be in relationship.

The consequences are all around. The earth is ‘sick’ and getting sicker, whether that includes the people on this planet, the animals, fish, fowl, or the environment that supports all of us. The larger the divide between conservative and liberal viewpoints creates a system that is poor at resolving our largest societal issues. Recently, I have wondered what the correlation is between the ‘fractures’ we are/have experienced in this country/world and the mental health issues that are/have been escalating? The lack of ‘relationship’ includes that many fall out of support systems that might be able to help.

Nothing Stands Alone. Where might that understanding lead us? For me, heightening my awareness of our interconnectedness has helped me broaden my perspective and opened my thinking to how I think and hopefully how I act.

As a coach, I often ask a foundational question to help me frame what brought you to me. “Is what you are currently doing (in your job, your relationship(s), your life, etc.) getting you what you want? I may ‘pause’ at this point and allow them to respond before I ask, “What is it you want?” Most often someone seeks me out because they are not able to meet, or know, what they want; they just know something is ‘out of synch.’ To plan a strategy to ‘fix’ something in our lives is fruitless until we know what we want. It is common that the initial ‘want’ that a person mentions is not their ‘real’ want. It can take more than a ‘moment’ or two to help someone find their true want(s).

Once we understand what someone wants, it is easier to lay the groundwork of change to reach the goal of what they want. What must be determined is their motivation to make that change. The anatomy of any change in our life is predicated on the distance (gap) between where we are and where we want to go. Is the gap sufficient to drive the motivation necessary for the change? Is it “I’ll try” motivation or is it “I’ll do whatever it takes!”

If we take our short ‘primer’ in how we change, and place it against the backdrop of Nothing Stands Alone, we have an opportunity to contemplate if “nothing stands alone” are there areas of my life that I might want to change? I know, broad and deep question. I would add important and difficult question. It may even be a transformative question. “Is there a way that I want to think and relate to the environment that is different from how I do it today?” (For example, more respect that honors the contributions to my well-being of all that is part of the environment.) Likewise, is there a ‘change’ question about how I relate, think, and interact with my fellow human beings that more fully honors and respects who they are?

I know one thing as it relates to those questions and my own journey. If I hadn’t undertaken to examine more of my biases and deep-seated assumptions, it would be easy to answer these questions with, “No, I’m good with where I am.” The reflection and contemplation over time is demonstrating to me that a shift in my own understanding about my interrelatedness with the environment and fellow human beings is changing how I think and act. “You are here for a purpose. So am I.”

Toward a better you,