A new client of mine told me that one of the reasons that he had chosen to come to me for life coaching was because I was “older” and that he believes that life experience is very important. Given the fact that he is not super young himself and that the photo on my website is a few years old I did not really relish his comment. But I do completely agree with him and also why Carl Jung urges us to use the later part of our lives to become more whole by discovering who we are and wisely sharing it with others.
I have spent quite a lot of time at a retirement village recently and I do believe that western culture is not encouraging us to do this – instead our culture continues to spread the idea that aging is best either denied or concealed – often even between old people themselves.
In this article Kathy Gottberg writes that ultimately it will come down to us to answer certain questions for ourselves: Does our continued existence at our increasing older age have value? Do we have something to contribute over and beyond just existing in a fairly well preserved body and mind, with enough resources to keep us reasonably happy, until it’s over? Will we as elders have a purpose that can benefit the world and others, no matter how fit, able and active we are?
“A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life’s morning. The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different….” – Carl Jung
Some of the questions that I explore with my clients who are on a path of greater self understanding are:
“If you were an animal which one do you think you would be?”
“Which one do you like and admire?”
This helps in the unpacking of values, strengths and qualities.
Recently, bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote this post on her Facebook page. Here’s an excerpt:
“Sometimes, when I catch myself feeling unloveable or self-abusing, I try to imagine that I am an animal, adopted from the humane society, who has been placed into my own care. Maybe an animal that some bad things have happened to. Maybe an animal that is anxious and confused. Maybe an animal that has been wounded. Maybe an animal that is lost.
What does that animal need and deserve? Healthy food, a warm place to sleep, a safe place of shelter, tender affections, plenty of walks in the sunshine. Kindness. Tenderness. Patience.
Can you try to see yourself as an animal in need of rescue? And can you offer yourself that rescue? Can you try to see that you, too, are a simple mammal, born innocent, deserving of tenderness, needful of love, fearful of pain? Can you reach out to yourself with gentleness — as if you were that cat or dog who had been caged for far too long?”
I think this is a wonderful way to think differently so that we can be gentle on ourselves and extend the self love that we all need.
I have just been on a 4 day training course on the Integrative Enneagram Questionnaire (IEQ). The Enneagram is a sense making map that describes the nine fundamental personality types of human nature and their complex interrelationships. With the IEQ you are able to pinpoint your Enneagram type and this can be used in your development journey and pursuit of goals. The Enneagram leaves room for the uniqueness of every individual and helps you to evolve into the best version of yourself. The Enneagram shows you how small you have made your own box and how to get out of it.
Each personality type represents a worldview that resonates with the way in which people think, feel and act and how they stand in relation to the world, others and themselves. The Enneagram will help you understand what drives your own unconscious behaviour, and will give you greater awareness of your motivations for certain habitual responses. We have the qualities of all nine types in us but one of them affects us more than the others.
“…until you know what you really want to say yes to, you will continue to say yes to everything else.” — Robert Holden
The other side of choosing to say ‘no’ to certain activities in your life is to fill it up with your big YES’S. What activities lift your energy, what positive experiences do you want to have more of, who are the people that you want to spend more time with?
People often ask me how I manage to work with trauma, especially in this wonderful but violent country that we live in. Results of several studies show that trauma does not need to be shattering and debilitating and that most people are resilient and even grow in the wake of a trauma.
The Post Traumatic Growth Inventory developed by R Tedeschi and L Calhoun in 2006 measures positive outcomes reported by persons who have experienced traumatic events. These positive outcomes include:
new possibilities that have arisen from the trauma
improvement in relating to others
personal strength improvement
greater appreciation of life
In the video below Dr Megan McElheran speaks about how we need to stay engaged in both our inner world and the outer world so that we can begin healing from a trauma.