Taking Responsibility for your Next Move

What is Driving your Movement?

“All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants.” 

How does changing how you move affect the rest of your life?  Movement is movement and the rest of your life is the rest of your life.  Nothing more to see here, right?

Part of me wants to go epic and deep, to talk about the nature of matter, of our existence as movement – the vibration and movement of atoms, the space between parts of molecules, the matter of our cells.  As fascinating as the nature of matter is, it failed my Mom test – the practical, simple explanation I would use to tell my Mom about this.  (Thanks to Rob Fitzpatrick for the concept from his book, The Mom Test).

“All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants.” 

This statement came from a teacher and mentor of mine, Candy Conino,  in the discussion of a client case – some of my peers and I gather once a week to discuss questions from our practice which gives us a rich learning environment to build our professional competence and confidence.

In the search for a practical, simple explanation of the what this means –  “All the physical movement is to give her a change so she can own the responsibility for what she wants” – it comes down to this.

We can lose ourselves in our unconscious habits.  We need our habits – try brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand – to know how much attention this basic hygiene task takes without your habitual movement.   But habits can become a trap.

One way that our unconscious habits can become mal-adaptive behaviors is when something important in our environment shifts.  A partner becomes seriously ill or dies.  You have a serious accident or life event that changes how you get through each day.  We can do what we have always done and it doesn’t quite work anymore.  Or we can change but what we do now doesn’t feel quite right and we create a story that explains what is missing now that our partner is gone or our ability to run or walk is altered.  We create our story of coping.  And we cope.  That’s how we survive past the hard parts of life.

One kind of coping is to dive hard into an unconscious habit that feels like a save.

Let’s imagine Lidia’s journey – when Lidia’s partner dies, after an initial grieving period, one possible move is for Lidia to dive into activity – all of the classes, experiences, trips – everything that might have been on hold due to her partner’s poor health or just her unexpressed dreams for what she wanted but didn’t do.  And in that flurry of activity, Lidia sustains an injury, some physical way of breaking down.

She did too much, we say, her body wasn’t able to keep up with all this intense activity.  But more than volume, frequency or intensity of activity, we can also take the measure of the compulsive nature of what Lidia dives into – a way of coping that leads her away from herself.

What somatic coaching can help Lidia do is to bring her movement and her movement habits into conscious awareness so she can choose both how she moves and who she is in this new environment.  Unconscious coping creates a compelling and frustrating experience – while doing it you can lose yourself in the coping activity and at some point, Lidia comes back to herself.  And faces the frustration, the longing, the grief, the fear of what she is adapting to. And the limits of how she is coping.   Time to dive back in.

Somatic coaching can help Lidia listen to herself, her body and how she is functioning in her environment now and know herself – not through a story of who she was or is now, or the way she is coping to save herself, but in a concrete way right now.

Keep it sample, Mom

 

The practical, simple explanation I would tell my Mom is by helping Lidia become conscious of how she moves, she can choose what to do now because she can feel herself as she moves now. And her conscious choice is how she creates the person she can be, with each move, in every day.

Interested in learning more?  Book a free 15 minute call with Cheryl.  No sales pressure, just a caring conversation about what you are looking for and what I can offer.   https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

Ready to start?  Book a 45 minute somatic assessment session.  Then based on what we discover together, I will make a recommendation for what can support you.   https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

Being my #1. What is Somatic Coaching and why does my success depend on it?

Every body can be successful

What do coaches do?  Help you to perform better, to move better – in soccer, baseball, in leadership, as entrepreneurs – to help you improve how you perform whatever field you play on.

 

Isn’t somatic coaching basically the same thing?  It can be.  To respond to how it is different, I need to take you on a little journey.  It starts simply.  With nouns and verbs.

 

What nouns do you know yourself to be?  Son or daughter.  Wife, husband, mother, father.  Department manager, business owner.  Collector.  Cyclist. Citizen. Neighbor.   What is the rate of change in the nouns you know apply to you?  Do they change daily?  Monthly?

Are you more or less a wife or a neighbor between January and March?  Maybe you are a cyclist between April and November but not December to March.  We rely on nouns as the foundation for our stories about who we are, the building blocks of our identity.

To be or not to be….what verb am I?

What verbs do you know yourself to be?  Notice if this question doesn’t make sense.  As a teacher, I do several verbs regularly.  Explain.  Ask.  Listen.  Question.  Search. Demonstrate. Gesture. We tend not to associate as easily with the verbs we do.  I am a teacher and a coach.  I tend not to say, I question, listen, lead, allow struggle, support learning, offer feedback.

How does this relate to somatic coaching and improving performance?   Where do you think improvement happens – in the nouns or in the verbs?

Karlene’s verb is burst

Let’s work through this question with an individual.  Let’s call her Karlene.  Karlene is several nouns, a leader, a mother, a change-maker.  And one of the verbs that Karlene does is bursting through – traditions that no longer serve, outdated policies, inequities.  She is able to both have people feel she cares about them and she can burst their balloon, so that the changes that are called to happen have the space to happen.   Her body is organized around bursting barriers.  So parts of her are in pain – one shoulder, side of neck, hip – the side of her most often applied to bursting barriers.

So as a somatic coach, I could just work with her physical pain and that would help.  I could just work with her biomechanical movement and help her to move better so she can function better.  But without changing her verbs, in this case, the way she is organize to burst in, to burst through, any new change will fall under the weight of this verb, this bursting way of being.

As a somatic coach, I help people like Karlene discover their personal verbs, the way they do what they do, to feel it in their tissues.  And create a way of moving  that makes it more likely they will stop verbing towards pain and start verbing towards more wellness.  Towards more wholeness.  To simply being successfully them – complete. Capable.  Less striving to be and more being.

Somatic Coaching is what and how you move as you

So simply put, somatic coaching is concerned with both what you move and how you move.  And supporting you to decode your own mysterious black box of “Me” so you can become functional in your body as you.  Less about the nouns.  More about the verbs. 

Interested in learning more?  You can:

Sign up for a free 15-minute call to talk about your human condition.  No sales pressure, just a caring conversation about what you are looking for and what I can offer.  Book now https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

If you are ready to start, we begin with a 45-minute assessment (in person or online). Then based on what we discover together, I make a recommendation for what can support you. https://www.kindpower.ca/book/

While individual somatic coaching programs vary – this is not a one and done change effort.  Depending on what a client wants and needs, I tend to recommend 6-10 sessions so we can do more than just identify a personal pattern; we can anchor securely the changes that support my clients to hold their goal with their own hands and know they can achieve it.   If you are already working for your success – it can be good to have someone to give you a hand up.

Allowing Innocent Failures

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 

When was the last time you tried something new, something you didn’t quite know how to do?   I want to hone in on one form of self-limiting belief – not inner doubts, not anxieties about the unknown, not your inner critic.  I am focused on the way we use the story of ourselves to set conditions for what we imagine to be possible.

I am currently in what feels like a mega-learning cycle – learning the Feldenkrais method, learning about myself in becoming a Feldenkrais practitioner, learning about developing my business to support my practice, learning, learning, learning.  I am grateful for the company I am privileged to keep in these processes of learning, the friends I have met to share our experiences, questions, the heartaches of life happening when what is falls apart and the joy of who and what we connect with along the way.  So in a recent conversation, I heard someone say, “I feel I need to have a good sense of what is underlying the lesson in order to be able to teach it.”    On the surface that makes a certain kind of sense – you need to understand what you are teaching.   It is tempting to follow the question, “How do you come to understand what you are teaching” to solve the problem.   This is a good question of competence – you might need to take the lesson several times yourself from other teachers, to study the lesson for yourself, to talk to others, to read what the author of the lesson wrote (the teacher’s notes). 

Press pause. 

Let’s restate the question, “What do I need so I feel I can teach the lesson?” This is also a question of confidence – what do I need to feel confident enough to teach the lesson for the first time.  Or the second time.   Or the third. Good question.   A question of confidence brings us to our inner sense of capability, our relationship with our fears, how much we feel we can rely on ourselves in an unfamiliar situation.   How our sense of ourselves is marked by the historic experience of trying and failing.   What is your inner name, the name you call yourself after making a mistake?

We don’t have innocent failures as adults.  Like the first time a child tips the milk over when trying to grab it, not knowing how to hold it, how much strength to use in her grip – it just happens – spilt milk.  

(Bless those sippy cups.)

As adults, many of us have learned how to listen to the voices inside, the ones that keep us from doing something reckless, that keep us protected.  We can lose our intimate relationship with risk – to dare to try, not blindly but facing the risk of the new.  Being with our initial, innocent failures with kindness, even friendliness.  We succumb to a pressure from within, the voice that tells us to set conditions and then, only then when you have met those conditions can you even think about trying.   How are you framing the attempt? I am reminded of the Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What do I need so I feel I can…..start something new?

Allow for innocent failures.  Invent mistakes. Learn from there.  Grow confidence in your resilience to learn.

New Year, New Normal?

I have not had a solid history with making (or keeping) new year resolutions.  Living in a cold, dark winter climate, I definitely feel the pull towards the back half of winter, when it slowly starts to be lighter (sunset moves from 4:30 pm towards 5 pm in early January).   In North America, we are surrounded by a media-driven culture to resolve to be or do something better in the New Year.  New Year= New Person.   It’s just a matter of willpower, right?

My personal problem with that premise is that I have lots of different wills – my early morning will is pretty good at getting up, meditating and having breakfast before getting down to work.  My 11:30 am will really wants lunch.  My 3 pm will sincerely wants to nap under a blanket, preferably with a cat.  My 8 pm will really, really wants salty, crispy carbs – so much so that I have to schedule activities during that time to ride out the impulse.   My Monday will wants to get down to work and get stuff done.  My Wednesday will gets distracted, feeling slightly weary of chasing after goals.  My Friday will wants to kick back and relax.  

Moshe Feldenkrais in his book, Thinking and Doing, described willpower as a form of self-coercion.  He wrote, “Willpower is the force we apply to coerce this or that thought to linger in our brain, but this is not the force that rules. Control resides in imagination and in correct thinking. Thoughts such as “I must,” or “I want very much” contain within them the disturbing element of “I can’t” or “This is very difficult.”  Were it not for these thoughts, you would have been able to fulfill your intention without feeling the internal resistance you are struggling to overcome.” 

I want to start a new routine to go to the gym.  The first week or two goes great – I feel good about my workout, feeling changes in my body, mostly in the region of my body where my self-approval lives – above my heart and below my forehead. Until one day, my resolution slides into “I must go to the gym today.” Blammo – I have set up an internal resistance that I have to overcome.  It’s like willpower is a kind of drug dealer – setting up challenge after challenge that we have to break through and overcome.  When willpower fails, then the next destructive drug is inner criticism and shaming.  Inner voice: “You can’t even keep your resolution for a whole month, you are never going to get fit.”  Harsh inner barriers to get over.

I have maintained a meditation practice for the last 8 years.  But before that, I really, really, really, really, really tried to establish a meditation practice – for like 10 years.  I wish I was kidding. I would clock along, meditating daily for 3 months, for 6 months and then one day I would just stop.  A week would go by, a month, sometimes a year and then I would muster my will power to start again, inspired by a new book, a new recording, by joining a new community.  This time it would be different.  And finally, after 10 years it was.  I just needed to persist. 

So what if there is another way? A way to set an intention for new activity, to make new habits without experiencing the conflict, without wading through resistance and the largely unconscious thoughts that keep that elusive new normal from taking hold?

Give this experience a try before reading on.  Get a pencil and paper.  Say out loud, in a casual, easy manner, “I will make precisely 7 dots.”  Say it two or three times.  Now visually create an image of yourself making 7 dots without saying anything. (Shut your eyes if you feel you need to).  Now say the word “seven” without thinking about anything else and make 7 dots on your paper.

Try it 2 or 3 times.  When it is clear you will succeed, change the number.  Make 11 dots.  You might find that this time it is easier for you and you can do it while muttering “eleven” under your breath. 

When you reduce the number of unnecessary actions and thoughts and your thinking approaches the simple, direct situation in which you intended to make seven dots, the number of your errors will decrease.  Your confidence will increase.

Repeat this one more time, except before you start tapping say out loud, “I want very much to tap 7 times”. Or “I’ll try to tap 7 times.”  Or “I must not make any mistakes tapping 7 times.”  You may find your performance on this task erodes.

We use will and effort when confidence and skill are not present.  Keeping your New Year’s resolution and transforming that resolution into a new normal – requires focused intention – a clear, uncomplicated, positive voice (this is the one your body listens to) – this is the gateway to a new habit, the new reality.  The voice of will power “This is going to be hard, and you are likely to fail, so you have to work hard to make sure that won’t happen.”  The body hears – “This is hard, you will fail.”

Success Formula

Clear intent + Action (minus unnecessary thoughts and actions) = Success.

So let’s apply this to setting up a habit to go to the gym. 

Clear Intention – I am at the gym Monday by 7 pm.

Action – I organize myself to leave home so I can arrive by 7 pm.

Self-Support – I notice, acknowledge and let go of thoughts that distract or disrupt my intention coming to action.  (Yes I feel too tired to go tonight.  I can go and pick something like a recumbent exercise bike so I can well supported while I work out). 

Self-Support – I find myself starting a task that will prevent me from getting to the gym by 7 pm.  I stop, assess how I can get this crucial task done and shift to departing for the gym.

This is a crucial part of shifting intention to action and doing it in a way that you will want to repeat it.   In my next blog, I would focus on how you interact with your environment and the ways that can support or interfere with your follow-through on a New Year’s resolution.