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  • Sara Johnson

An Invitation to Embrace what Scares us

At the end of September, shortly after hitting send on my monthly newsletter, I knew what I wanted to write about for October: a spooky season reflection on tapping into the places we resist and the magic those places so often invite. In other words: learning into the "messy magic" that is at the heart of this newsletter. Then the world got even more complicated, scary and painful; the grief rose up and the words dropped away. What I wanted to share felt like not enough, not of the moment.

Right now there's a ton of fear of saying the wrong thing. There is fear of the possible harm of not acknowledging or not acknowledging in the right way. Swirling daily in this rigid feeling of rightness and wrongness has a deep impact on our bodies, heads, and hearts: our whole being. This section from a newsletter I receive called out to me and grabbed me by the heart:

“Hope you’re holding steady. These last few weeks have been devastating, heartbreaking, enraging. The grip of colonial destruction has felt inescapable, but here we are still investing in each other & creating more liberated worlds.” – Laurel at Ms. Tea

I wonder: what does our resistance have to teach us?

For many years I resisted aspects of life that one might categorize as more “woo”: energy, intuition, the healing power of plants, and this thing people referred to as magic. I gravitated towards what I could see over what I could perceive, what I felt over what I sensed. I planted a seed in my garden and I gave it compost and water. The sun beat down and a healthy plant grew. Tangible.

And yet as a child I played pretend, had an expansive imagination, read tales about fairies that I gladly embraced as real, talked to unseen creatures in the garden, gravitated towards certain kids, and trusted (and kept my distance) when I felt repelled by others. I didn’t have the words for it then, but I had a sense of knowing, intuition, a capacity to “read the room,” and a willingness to check in with the energy of a place. Baby woo and I didn’t even know it!

I’m not sure when or where the resistance crept up and closed me off to my capacity to listen to my senses and trust something beyond words. Cynicism? Self-protection? Complacency?

I imagine there is some risk to believing in all this “woo” as an adult. Believing in anything too strongly opens us up to the possibility of being wrong, the possibility of being hurt or heartbroken. Trust is vulnerable. Trusting what's only felt and sensed takes courage!

Yet the longer I work with humans in the coaching space the more I think what we resist is where some of the magic of change happens. Our resistance can be a wall. It can also be a portal to something amazing.

On the other side of resistance is acceptance, receptivity. What if we grow curious about our resistance and what is just beyond?

Here are a few moments of humans moving through resistance that I've witnessed in the coaching space:

  • A client who is very logical and thinks in binary terms starts to find freedom in the gray area and growth in what's unknown.

  • A client who shares in a rapid, breathless way has a breakthrough in a quiet moment.

  • A client who has been led by well-meaning yet unsatisfying Yes’ finds empowerment in practicing bold, brave No’s!

  • A client discovers that the place between the lines – what isn’t being said – is where significant change wants to begin.

Coaching provides supported, safe space to practice new things and invite in change in our lives. However on this spooky day I want to suggest an alternative framing: what might feel “new” to us could actually already exist within us, beyond a layer of resistance (and possibly fear)!

So much can blossom from the buried and hidden parts of ourselves. The part just below the surface. What isn't being said. So much can can grow from these dormant seeds.

I love this idea because it affirms the belief that we don’t come to coaching because we are broken or because we need to be fixed. We are already whole. Coaching is as much about receiving help in accessing what we are resisting as it is about encouragement to try completely new things. In coaching we are invited to get curious about our shadows and to grow our capacity to reach all our parts. In the coaching space we play and experiment with going through the portal of what we are avoiding. Tangible magic.

What is on the other side of your resistance?

What will help you find out?

You are so capable of growing in surprising, scary, magical ways.

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