Sometimes truth-telling takes a long, long time
Every week, I have the privilege of talking to coaching clients who are learning to tell the truth. They sit in front of me, on Skype or sometimes in person, and they speak the most tender words about what they really believe, what they really want to spend their time doing, or what they are longing to walk away from. Often, I have the honour of being the first person to hear these tender new truths.
I applaud every one of these truth-tellers. They are courageous in their desire to be authentic and in their willingness to be witnessed by at least one person.
It doesn’t matter to me how long it’s taken them to get to this place, or how long it will take them to speak it to an audience larger than one – I only care that they are here now and that they are saying it out loud, that they are daring to whisper what their hearts have been nudging them to speak. Always, they have walked through fear and sometimes through fire before coming to this place.
We hold those tender truths in front of us while we talk. We admire them, like tiny green shoots emerging after the Spring thaw. We caress them and encourage them and wish them heaps of blessings as they begin to make their way in the world.
Sometimes my clients are launching new businesses, sometimes they’re learning to share their stories with the world, sometimes they’re finding the courage to teach what has long been growing in their hearts, and sometimes they’re stepping onto new spiritual journeys unlike what they’ve embraced in the past. There are differences in what they share with me, what they want me to help them with, and what they’re transitioning into, but there are also many similarities.
The similarities are these: they are trying to find the courage to live more authentically, they are seeking a witness who will hold space for them and help them see more clearly, they are admitting that something about their old way of walking in the world no longer fits what is emerging in them, and they are facing resistance (whether external, internal, or both) that tells them they should stay safe.
But these are not people who are comfortable with staying safe, or they wouldn’t have hired me. The very act of reaching out for someone to witness them and help them find clarity was an act of courage. These are people who know they can no longer live with the status quo.
For most of these people, though, it takes a long, long time to get to the place where they are ready to hire a coach and do the hard work of articulating and growing whatever beautiful, tender green shoot they’re holding. Some clients are in their sixties, seventies, or even eighties, and though they sometimes worry that it’s too late to embrace a new way of living, they know they can’t be satisfied with the old comforts anymore.
And that, dear reader, brings me to what I want to say to you…
It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It only matters that you don’t ignore whatever is whispering in your heart.
Give it as much space as you can right now and forgive yourself for what you just can’t do yet. This is not a race.
Sometimes it takes a long time because you’re afraid a change in you will hurt the people near and dear to you. Sometimes it’s because you are busy raising children and you are too exhausted to do anything else. Sometimes the whispering is frighteningly counter-cultural and you know the risk of trusting it is just too overwhelming right now. Sometimes you first need to extricate yourself from a bad relationship before you can dedicate time to your own growth. Or sometimes you find yourself in the kind of financial or emotional distress that just doesn’t leave any energy for truth-telling.
It’s not hard to find coaches or teachers who would give you “easy” answers for all of those things that get in the way, but none of that is truly easy and nobody else can know the challenge of your reality. Only you know what is holding you back and only you know when you are ready for the next step. Only you know the depth of your own fear or trauma or old baggage.
Good things take time to grow. Some bamboo plants grow roots for four years before anything begins to emerge above ground. You don’t need to rush it and you don’t need to take on anyone else’s story of what you should be capable of right now.
Just take the baby steps you can take right now.
In the early days of my own emergence, when I was employed in a government job and raising small children and thought it was taking far too long to find the path I knew was searching for, I wrote many tender thoughts and ideas in my journal. For years, that was the only place those ideas found a home. I dared not speak what I didn’t fully understand yet and what didn’t fit with what was expected of me. It took several years before I started to find like-minded people to whom I could tentatively speak of that which I longed for. At first, there were only a few trusted people, and gradually, as I felt more and more safe, the circles grew. With each growth of the circles, I had to work through a new level of fear and practice stepping into a new level of courage.
These things don’t happen overnight. There is a lot of learning to do along the way and a lot of tiny acts of courage that take more energy than we expect. This is even more true if the growth includes healing from past trauma and/or grief, as it does for many of us.
Give yourself time. Take the step you are ready to take, and then when the time is right, you’ll take the one after that.