For nearly six years, I coached my clients individually, just them and me in the conversation. They would often tell me things like— “I must be crazy to feel this way. I know what I’m thinking is ridiculous.” They were afraid that everyone else had it all figured out.

I’d reassure them that they’re not alone. That’s why the kleenex box lives on my couch. 

But, sometimes, my clients wouldn’t quite believe me. I often wished that my clients could be like flies on the wall for each other, able to witness each others’ struggles. 

That’s one reason why, in 2018, I launched my small coaching groups. I am still surprised at times to witness my clients witnessing each other, nodding and smiling along, showing how much they resonate with each other. The deep sense of knowing they’re not alone is like medicine.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised, though. Although our Western minds might tell us that we’re supposed to go it alone, the research proves otherwise:

Reason #1: Blind Spots Revealed: We humans can’t see our own backs. Likewise, it can be hard to notice our blind spots, habitual behaviors, or unconscious assumptions on our own. When a compassionate observer points out our unconscious patterns and asks questions that take us outside of our habitual boxes, we have an easier time getting out of our own ways and moving forward.

Reason #2: Health & Happiness: In his TED talk, Robert Waldinger, the current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest-running studies of adult life, shared that the single most significant determinant of happiness and success is the strength of our social connections. He said: What are the lessons that come from the tens of thousands of pages of information that we’ve generated on these lives? The lessons aren’t about wealth or fame or working harder and harder. The clearest message that we get from this seventy-five-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.

Reason #3: Less Pain: Research by James Coan, an affective neuroscientist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, shows that when we look at a hill, we see it as steeper if we’re alone and less steep when another person is with us. Likewise, we perceive the minor pain as less intense when someone is with us than when alone. A sense of belonging calms the amygdala and lowers cortisol levels. Humans are social animals designed to live in groups like flocks of birds, ant colonies, and honey bees. We are not meant to be alone.

Reason #4: Healing Trauma: In his book, Narrative Medicine, Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Cherokee-Lakota shaman/psychiatrist, writes that Western culture’s focus on individual healing is a historically new phenomenon. In shamanic traditions, healing almost always takes place within community. Much of our wounding stems from disconnection from other people. To heal, we must reconnect. 

Reason #5: Celebration: In Your Resonant Self, Sarah Peyton writes that when we attempt to share our joys with another person, it is as though we extend an emotional bridge. If the person with whom we are sharing extends an emotional bridge back to meet ours, we feel seen and understood. When our bridge is not caught or is met with ridicule or scorn, it can “get caught in the chest like frozen champagne bubbles” and create an intense feeling of shame. We need people with whom to share our delight, anticipation, excitement, joy, passion, happiness, celebration, and love.

Who might be your allies? 

I invite you to grab a pen and some paper. Then get comfortable, and write down what comes up in response to the following questions to help you think about who might be allies for your journey:

  • What resources, inner and outer, do you now have to support you on this next leg of your journey?
  • What additional resources, inner and outer, will you need to support you? 
  • Who in your life believes in you? 
  • Who might push you to move past fear and grow into the person you’re called to become? 
  • Who might you like to check in with regularly about your progress? 
  • What do you know about how your ancestors healed themselves? What might you learn from their legacy?
  • How might you meet your need for belonging as you venture into the unknown?
  • Who will you reach out to for support now?  

When you’ve finished imagining your potential allies, reach out to people you thought of. Share with them what you’re working on, and discuss possibilities for how you might support each other. It may take many tries before you find your allies, but the more you put yourself out there, the more likely you are to find the support you need.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Much love,

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