Today's blog is written by someone special to me, but more importantly, the person who…
For those of you contemplating change in 2020, here’s a little food for thought from my guest blogger, Flame Schoeder. She reminds us that what we call ourselves becomes our truth. So, choosing your names carefully is naturally good medicine for the mind.
A friend of mine once told me there is a Native American belief that if you have ‘K’ in your name, you’ll always be confused. I’ve heard stuff like that before, haven’t you? I’ve heard stuff like that about my name, my personality, my body type, and on and on, ad nauseum.
We take this stuff to the bank, don’t we? “You’re right! I WILL ALWAYS be confused.” Then, when confusing situations came up we throw our hands up and say, “See… there it is… my confusion. No way around it. It simply cannot be helped.” And plunk ourselves down, frozen in despair.
These ideas that we take to the bank are called “Structures of Knowing.” We all have them and they’re not all bad. A structure of knowing that the glowing red metal is hot keeps us safe from being burned by it. The problem comes when we solidify these structures of knowing into the truth without occasionally checking their validity. “Am I always confused?”
I’d hazard a guess that, even if you have a ‘K’ in your name, you have clarity at least once in a while. If left un-checked, though, this structure of knowing might wreak havoc on your life.
It lets you off the hook, for one thing. “I AM confused,” you say, as if in physical reality someone could reach out and pinch your confusion. You are not confused. You experience confusion sometimes (and when you’re in it, it seems like you experience it all the time). Positing that you are the very being of confusion, though, isn’t very empowering.
So your goals? Your dreams? All that stuff you want written in your obituary? It doesn’t happen. That “I’m confused” structure of knowing quickly becomes a self-limiting conversation. You were more interested in proving yourself confused than you were in achieving your goals and dreams. (Take heart. You’re not alone, that kind of self-limiting thinking happens to all of us.)
What if it we frame it differently, though? What if the wisdom in the Native American tradition was accurate but it wasn’t the final word? After years of introspection, spiritual work and coaching, I see the bigger container that holds statements like “if you have a ‘K’ in your name you’ll always be confused.”
Instead of a ‘K’ meaning you’ll ALWAYS be confused, it may simply point to your capacity to be confused, which may be more than average. I maintain that if your capacity for confusion is great, then so is your capacity for clarity—more than average! You can only have confusion as a counterpoint to its opposite. Confusion in and of itself doesn’t exist (or at the very least it is incredibly hard to conceptualize and understand). So if you can master confusion, then you will, by default, become a master of clarity.
Having clarity, and the skills to find it, IS empowering. That’s a toolkit you can take with you anywhere and it will serve you well. When the exact same situation that sent you into despair before comes up anew, you handle it. You use these skills to get through it. At the end you experience yourself as being powerful, capable, and ultimately, confident.
The next time you hear yourself solidifying an idea into “who you are” give it the physical reality test. Is this the truth? Can someone reach out and touch my:
If not, look at where you have a choice over your behavior. Am I more interested in perfectionism or being a loving mom? Am I more interested in procrastinating or being a published author? Lazy bum or creator of beauty? Shopaholic or financially successful? You get the gist. These antidotes to our structures of knowing are called our ‘intentions.’ Intentions are one of the things we can always be clear about and when we’re demonstrating them, life is sweet.
With any luck, as you ask these questions, you will also see pretty clearly what the next step to take is, too. What do loving moms do? They let the dishes sit sometimes so that they can snuggle a sick kiddo. What do published authors do? They schedule time to do their writing and then they actually write. What do confused people do? They consult their trusted confidantes until the answer becomes clear.
That structure of knowing that used to keep you from your goals and dreams will become less and less powerful as you stay focused on your intention. As you focus on your intentions, people around you will notice some sweet changes in you, and you’ll notice them in yourself. So, go ahead, question your structures of knowing; everyone in your tribe will thank you for it.
Flame Schoeder, PCC, has been a Professional Certified Coach in the International Coach Federation for 16 years. She is an expert in building conscious communities, including corporate ones, through emotional intelligence. A recovering perfectionist who has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, and the Harvard Business Review, she specializes in working with mid-career professionals to find personal and professional fulfillment. Find out more at coachflame.com – and yes, that is her real name.