Our session on 9th October revealed the following provisional description of becoming themes – these are the themes we will continue to work on through 2024.
Becoming themes for CCG 09 10 23
Becomers are well aware of the need to attend to their ‘becoming,’in addition to their unbecoming, a process through which they let go of one state to allow another transitional stage, to emerge. Becomers are wary of wisdom being conferred upon them, and they certainly would never seek the wise appellation. They are well aware that being perceived as wise by one client does not necessarily mean that this manifestation of wisdom will prove true in all instances.
They are aware that aspects of their personal ‘truth’ shifts over time, while aspects remain constant as core beliefs. To that end, becomers stay true to the foundation story they tell, and work not to embellish that origin narrative retrospectively. Becomers are fully aware of the power of narrative as it shapes their own and their clients’ worlds. They know that life stories rarely run along straight lines but are interrupted and diverted by forces from within and without. They are fully aware that individual lives are full of tensions and paradoxes, which require courage if one is to journey into unknowing.
Part of the journey is to face exploring vulnerabilities and allowing their expression.
The nature of wisdom, and how that shows up in our work.
Mary Oliver reminds us that, ‘I’m not trying to be wise, that’s foolish.’
And so, we ask ourselves, when do pretensions towards wisdom, and self-conscious projections of wisdom, look like foolishness?
And when can foolishness serve as a proxy for wisdom? We do not need to look much further than the archetype of the jester, the magician, the clown, to understand just how many different ways wisdom can be served.
One thing for sure is that attempts to confer wisdom upon ourselves rarely work; or, even if they work for a while, they are rarely sustainable. All too soon it is obvious to all the self-styled wise person has feet made of clay, that the emperor is manifestly unclad. We may give permission to others to be wise, we may defer to hierarchical or positional wisdom, while knowing that what we seem to be marching in lockstep with has little lasting power once the hierarchical positioning has been removed.
We know that true wisdom can be conferred only by others. Wisdom it’s bigger than us. It cannot be claimed by an individual. It can only be named by someone else, if indeed it is explicitly announced at all. It can only be known when they are in receipt of it or witnessing it.
Can we consciously try to become wise? It is unlikely. Becoming wise is not a conscious or deliberate becoming. Is wisdom possessed within the person innately, and if so is it unchangeable?
Is wisdom beyond self-consciousness, fully out of our awareness? Does it emerge through a process of assimilation? Is there some osmotic process whereby we become wise? And, once wisdom lands, does that mean we possess wisdom forever? Or can wisdom be corrupted, to be replaced by other less sanitary characteristics that nonetheless present themselves in the name of wisdom?
Is wisdom synonymous with ageing? In some societies wisdom is automatically conferred upon the elder; although this deference may be lip service only, doing little harm until what comes out of the elder’s mouth is folly to those around them. Some coaches, as they age, promote elderhood for themselves. Titular eldership brings many problems with it.
We can of course turn to Blake to understand the price of experience; and also perhaps to chime with his finding that wisdom his seldom a market where no one wants to buy.
The search for the personal truth or being true.
Our deliberations regarding truth centred on the question of personal truth. There is the question of being true or being true to a sense of truthfulness if that makes any sense
At a personal level, it presents itself as a number of questions. These would include, ‘What truth do I make up and stick to regardless?’ This is not quite the same thing as lying, but maybe it’s close enough to the line between lying and not lying.
‘So how do I stop telling ‘my truth’ when I know it’s untrue.’
‘If I’m persisting with the telling of truth that I know to be verifiably untrue, then I have to ask what these truths are protecting me from?’
‘And I need to ask whether I’d be better served to move towards a process of letting go? or of retelling of a truth in a different way that better resembles my reality and the reality of those around them.’
‘I need to ask myself the question how much is the telling of my truth serving me, and how do I know it is not.’
Perhaps the answer is that, if our truths are no longer honouring our essence, then we need to move beyond that truth; abandon it altogether or find a way to reframe it.
We may even need to make amends for the damage our untruth has inflicted.
Behind all of this lies a wish to protect what is sacred to us. To protect that part of ourselves that speaks to a sense of our humanness, it speaks to a gap or an absence. Or speaks to the recall of a distance relationship, where listening is needed. Personal truth may well reside in humanity. Truth and humanity could be different notes in a piece of music, representing the diversity of voices in the room
Personal origin stories, foundation stories, and the weaving of narrative
This process of weaving a personal origin story is almost akin to creating a word map. This map may look something like a web of connections in terms of events and relationships. The mapping pays attention to what we notice, and how the relationship between things and people is formed. In pursuit of this, it may be best to deploy systems thinking, which helps create a sense of space speaking to our place in outer space while relating to life experience
In the creation of our origin stories, we need to make connections between our past and current stories. We need to look at the stories behind the stories, the double narrative, and try to understand how these narratives shift over time. Storytelling and repeated storytelling can help bring to awareness this sense of shift.
There’s a relationship between the reciting of personal narratives and revealing our vulnerabilities.
We need to look at what is OK and safe to share, to know what it is that we can bring up in coaching conversations and what it is not safe to do so. We need to notice what in our client work is shaping their story. What are the thoughts and feelings revealed – and how do clients make sense through patterns of connection that lead to insight
And there needs to be the intersection on the `Venn diagram that speaks to the relationship between stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves; stories we tell others about ourselves; and stories others tell about us, when we are out of the room.
Being on the outside becoming on the outside
To some extent, all we change interventionists are on the outside. We ask ourselves questions such as,
‘how does it feel to occupy conventional and unconventional spaces and places at the same time?’
‘What tactics do we deploy to be outside of convention in our practice and yet to be working within the conventional session setting?’
‘What do we have to draw upon to be able to manage that tension? and what anchors do we have?’
‘What are the stories that support that positioning of yourself on the edge when you work at the centre of a structured world
Pervasive ambiguity, ambivalences tensions paradox, and a sense that will never be finished
There is the need in this work, in part to stay sane, to describe tensions in the work and in ourselves. To seek out transitional spaces to work the liminal, even to physically coach in transitional spaces such as train stations.
Much of our work is a dance between choice and ambiguity. We need to be OK with not knowing, patient with waiting for something to emerge
An important part of this is to discover the tensions in play as we intervene, not only tensions in the diad but the tensions within ourselves between unbecoming and unbecoming, between learning and unlearning.
As coaches, we often occupy A liminal space that can be dark vulnerable uncertain, full of opportunities both exciting and lonely
The resistance to being named as a ‘coach’ or as any other alternative designation may well be reflective of this embracing of ambiguity.
The power of powerful personal accidents, ricochets, or interruptions to deepen our interventions
‘Have I become anything? And if so has this been by intention or is life a series of accidents that we ricochet off?’
And do we in the ricochet head towards a cliff where we fall? And if so, is there at the bottom of the cliff a trampoline to rescue us or do we crash to our doom?
Taliesin – a forgotten story about a female deity?
The witch called Ceridwen – Taliesin stirred the magic cauldron of wisdom and sucked his thumb. But it’s not about a witch and cauldron as wisdom has to be incubated. Wisdom arises but needs to be noticed and incubated (suck your thumb).
What we cannot assume is that our suffering will automatically make us wise. Our suffering is not immediately transferable to someone undergoing an apparently similar suffering.
Yet we do know that interruptions that have been served upon us in an unwelcome way have in the end made us stronger.
How do we work with others who are suffering interruptions? and how do we find a way to get into the flow?
And then there’s the working with chance, and there is taking a chance.
Revealing vulnerabilities, our own vulnerabilities, and those of our clients
There is bravery in throwing all the balls of one’s life up into the air and waiting for them to fall. For this to happen best there is a sense of wanting them to be thrown, of wanting to explore where they land, and know what is becoming in the pattern that they form
There is little doubt that the use of imagery and dreams helps us to know this edge better. It’s good to ask what it feels like at the edge of questioning. dreams can be used to inform our daily lives
And there are times when actual stories about cliffs and discoveries can actually help metaphorise less tangible choices that face us.
Vulnerability is never far away and is easier to avoid it than to talk about it or to reveal it. But taking a risk of disclosure through writing, through dialogue is an important step in understanding the power of directly addressing vulnerability. The more that the coach has explored and grown comfortable with their own vulnerability, the more able they are to assist a client who is also in an approach: avoid cycle with their own vulnerability.
One part of revealing vulnerability is to reflect upon shaming experiences or actions that are disturbing either in the recent present or in the past. The need here is to explore what causes discomfort, what carries dissonance, and to begin to ask how that might be addressed
There is a relationship between guilt and shame that needs to be unpacked.
Curiosity as a driving force and the power of nosiness
Are coaches simply nosy people who are looking to commodify the nosiness, to make a virtue out of it in their work? It is certainly true that without curiosity it is unlikely that coaches will be able to serve others and anyway
We are all built of layers in our lives, bearing stratifications of the earth.
If you’re looking for water; then if you go deep enough you will find what you’re looking for
Writing as a sense-making practice
‘The writing process has opened the door for me and my fear of writing about myself has been overcome.’
‘Is there a need for everything to be marked confidential or can I go beyond that and put stuff out in the world?
The more we think about the ephemerality of writing we are reminded that it is all en passant.
What happens to our writing after we have died? is it simply cleared out like Keri’s study?
Is death the ultimate unbecoming?