I used to be badly stuck in my life. The more I pushed to get where I wanted to be the more I knew I was stuck. I couldn’t’ seem to get away from where I was going – let alone arrive where I wanted to go.
A mentor helped me by posing questions where all I had to do was answer them straight.
By ‘straight’ I mean no dodging, no hiding, no excusing, no explaining away, no justifying anything – just answering openly and honestly.
Imagine for a moment you walk into your front room where your three are fighting, and there is a broken lamp on the floor.
(I know if you are reading this you are most likely struggling with infertility - but imagining the future you want is a huge part of the solution – so go with me for a moment!)
You ask what happened, you get all kinds of responses, he did this, she said that, I had then and then he took it, I was just sitting there and he did that to me, she pushed me, he called me a blab bla bla.
This is how kids answer when faced with questions that could get them into trouble. They deflect, blame, minimise their involvement and act all innocent. (This kind of caper can be adorably funny at times – I guess so long as the lamp is not an antique, and you are in a good mood!)
One way to tackle this is to take an engineer’s mindset, starting at the most proximal event that preceded the catastrophe, and ask something like – “what was the last thing to touch the lamp before it fell?”
Her foot! The pillow! The cat!
Then follow that with “who touched the pillow last before it hit the lamp?”
Me! Her! Him!
The problem with this pedantic method of working the story backwards is that the ones who are to blame get nervous as the evidence mounts, and the ones who are innocent also get nervous because pedantic facts don’t convey intent and thus appear (at least to a child) to be an unjust form of investigation. The mounting nervousness causes them to back into a corner where they mount even stronger defences – and the most effective defence is often to abandon all notions of truth and go straight for the parent’s heart – in other words burst into tears – or worse into anger!
Sometimes comedians are the best people to reflect this back to us!
This is the blueprint we grow up with as kids, and whether we are prepared to admit it or not, it is a pattern that remains inside us as adults. It has no choice; it is wired into our survival system. It’s our default, and the less developed our nervous and emotional systems are (and I’d add the more our blood sugar is unstable) the more likely we are to revert to type when faced with tough situations as an adult. The plain truth is that most of us are just better at covering it up than we were as kids, but it is still our dominant urge.
This is why straight questions and straight answers – mediated by a mentor who will not allow us to dodge them – can be such a great tool in getting ourselves unstuck.
The questions I was asked were
MENTOR “Are you where you want to be in your life?”
MENTOR “Then there is a belief somewhere in your mind that is stopping you”
MENTOR “Your job is not to work harder until you get where you want to be, your job is to find out what belief is stopping you from letting yourself get there”
ME “Letting myself?”
ME “Wow…OK!”…”So how do I find out what that belief is”
MENTOR “That’s a fair question but it’s like asking how a watch works…you will need to set about figuring this out…you will need to draw in a lot of different resources to help you”
ME “Jeeze, ok…let’s go!”
MENTOR “That’s the spirit!”
Leave yourself no room to wiggle, ask yourself good questions, answer with zero fluff, and you will have taken the biggest step. You can be your own mentor!