Want more capacity? Create more safety.
Remember this when the pinball machine of your life goes on tilt
I had a good chuckle (okay it was more of a snort, tbh) last week when I happened upon some writing I did in 2003.
“Have you ever repotted a plant?
You gently shake the plant and its dirt out of its old home so that you can put it in a bigger container?
Sometimes in doing so you discover that the plant is root-bound...it’s been growing for too long in its pot. With no room for additional growth, its roots have become tangled, matted, and grow in circles.”
These are the very first words in my first book, Multiple Streams of Coaching Income, and whew, I remember how much I meant them - as applied to the coaching profession. Funny thing, they feel savagely accurate when applied to the last 6 months of …. my life. Maybe you relate? Are you too, in a massive repotting of everything familiar?
Changing everything at once is not advised, but it can be done. It’s all about increasing capacity through safety.
“Heaven and Hell At The Same Time” would be a good name for the movie featuring my life the last 6 months actually. With popcorn, but not enough butter. Yeah, it’s not been very fun.
In short, Mike, Oz and I moved from B.C. to central Ontario, in the Kawartha Lakes region, to be nearer Mike’s parents and some long-time friends. We spent time in purgatory AKA the real estate roller coaster, sold our BC island home, and are renovating a new-to-us lake community house as I type. We survived a steep decline in Oz’s health - he’s okay now - several come-to-Jesus moments in our relationship, lots of change at work, and, well. You get the picture.
Doing all this was the right thing, and yet… there’s been a metric tonne of grief. (As you can probably imagine, and maybe even relate!) In figuring out how the heck to get through, there’s been one thing that’s reallllly helped. Let’s see if what I learned is of any use to you, shall we? What I learned is:
It’s possible to find safety within myself.
It’s possible to find safety, even when I feel super under threat and pressure, without looking to other people. It’s possible, in other words, for anyone who is scared, to find an oasis of safety within themselves, leading to less fear, less fight and less flight.
Safety is a big deal these days, I think we all get that to a degree. Safety’s a bigger deal than ever because so much feels so uncertain. So shall we just name it??
When we talk about finding a new normal, we’re really talking about feeling safe in our lives again.
Clients who’re burned out, or overwhelmed could use a stronger sense of safety to increase their capacity to cope.
That’s why when the shit hits the fan, a nap feels so good - it’s a primordial response to go where it’s safe - a cosy warm nest of a bed. Finding safety within our own selves, rather than ‘out there’ somewhere is as advanced a move as there is, as far as I’m concerned.
Stop pretending otherwise and choose ‘how can I feel more safe in my life’ as a theme. When we do that, we create capacity…
Personally, I’m integrating the notion that whenever I look outside myself for safety, when I build a ‘house’ for my contentment and well-being outside of myself, that house will always be at risk of being taken away. I give the possibility of feeling safe to other people. I rob myself.
Much better then, to build what’s most precious to me, within myself. Better to strengthen my relationship to safety in myself, so that when I need to count on that, I am there for me. Imagine! (It really is quite great.) If this appeals to you:
Some Suggested Coaching Questions:
How can you wire yourself up so what you most need and ache for (whatever it is, from being seen and understood, to feeling loved, to a sense of safety) you can source from within?
What support can you ask for/create so you can develop this safety within?
When you check in with yourself internally for what part of you feels safe or unsafe, what comes up?
In what ways would it be useful to remind myself that I’m safe?
My own answer to the last bullet is a new habit: checking in with my body (my physical body and my emotional body) for where safety lives. Just looking for where there is any safety swiftly gives me more capacity, and whatever external chaos and repotting is pressing on me loses its power a little. < GOLD.
Increasing your personal sense of safety, and therefore capacity, can also help you to:
engage with strong emotions - if you’re someone who is having trouble regulating your emotions, I believe strongly it’s because you have run out of capacity
lower your experience of fear - when we tune into safety, we stop seeing things to be afraid of everywhere
feel less bloated, tired and craving certain foods - when our bodies experience a bit more safety, it downgrade the inflammation that comes with fear
be more playful - I don’t know about you but I am way too serious when I’m scared! conversely, if I increase my sense of safety even a tiny bit, I have room to laugh already.
If you haven’t thought about how safe you feel, or how unsafe you feel lately, you may be surprised by what happens when you do. And for more on the somatic foundation of all of this, I commend you highly to Luis Mojica’s work. One of the. most. delicious IG accounts.
Safety may seem like an ‘old hat’ topic, but it’s full of nuances worth reconsidering, particularly when you’re engaging in personal growth topics
If I say nothing else about my personal journey - heavenly and hellish all in one - it’s that I was taught an advanced class on how to increase my capacity to live through it. To cross the Rubicon on my relationship, which after 20 years threatened to finally, irrevocably break. To surprisingly, begin to make art a real-deal career. To walk with clients through their own tough stuff with fresh insight.
This is what I want for all of us - the ability to increase our capacity to grow beyond our imagined needs, beyond the path we thought was ours in February 2020. I hope somehow, you’re finding a new, spacious, roomy pot to grow your soul in.
From there, and only from that more spacious safe sense of self, can we imagine and contribute to a world that is less root-bound, too.
Some additional updates:
I hope this email finds you well, finding joy in the breadcrumb moments and heck, whole loaves of goodness wherever you can. May the pinball machine of your life contain more fun, less tilt!
Just a few more updates from this side of the screen:
The bad guys took me down on Instagram, so I have a new account there @whatsyourimpossible. I’d love to re/connect - it’s where I plan to share more from my art experiments (as seen in the photos above.) Once we hit 100 followers and everything looks stable, there will be reels, and giveaways.
My new writing services are at the website, and I’m glorying in the astonishing ideas I get to work on with authors! Have a look and be in touch - all services booked in May get a 10% discount. And speaking of writing, definitely pick up this must-read book - I can’t say enough good about it.
A new regular read that I love very much indeed - The Factual. Its mission - to figure out a way to trust the news again. Merciful Kwan Yin, yes, right?? Check it out.
Still one of the most frequent things I get asked about - where to get transformational practitioner/coach training.
And last but not least, yes, I am still coaching individual leaders - the focus is on giving life to your most heartfelt, impossible-seeming dreams. I ask you to consider the question ‘What’s your impossible?’ and reach out in May for the Spring special.
Here’s a little insight into my coaching M.O. from Mark Silver, M. Div. Founder of Heart of Business <3:
”Andrea holds a unique place in my world, someone who time and again, on many different topics, has brought a unique perspective, one that has always open my mind and heart to something very new.
When I was in a very stuck spot in my own path of leadership with my company, she was a profound contribution to my path forward, naming things she saw that I couldn't, and giving gentle, strong, clear support and coaching. I've rarely met someone who brings as much care and thoughtfulness, brilliance and strength while also carrying incredible nuance... In writing this I'm realizing even more deeply what a rock she is for anyone in a leadership position navigating this unpredictable world.”
Photo credit: All art by Andrea J. Lee www.andreajlee.com