Chatting with my friend Amanda Ridings recently about lessons learned from our work, I realized that "fixing" is one lesson I continue to learn again and again. It seems to be in my nature to help, to offer, to be ready to do. I like that person in me who looks to solve problems and facilitate ease. It's just good to notice when I'm on autopilot and to be intentional about it.
It's an occupational hazard in my work. People come to trainings, request coaching, and look to my book, articles, and CDs perhaps hoping to be fixed. It's tempting. But....
When I think I'm the one with all the answers, here's what happens:
- I begin to believe I actually know what will help them.
- I begin to believe my answers are their answers.
- And I forget that all learning happens from the inside out.
After 21 years, I've gotten better at noticing when I'm on autopilot. I recall how I felt in Year One of Power & Presence Training, when I knew I didn't have the answers. I could only present the Aikido principles in physical form and ask the learner how it made sense for them, for their conflicts, their stress points, and their relationships.
I know this to be true:
Learning happens when the student has the Aha! When they understand something in a way they will never forget. They feel it in their bones, and they are changed because of that moment. I'm a lucky bystander.
It happened in Arizona recently when a student working through an Aikido movement had an insight: "This is the way I live my life, and I see now why it's so hard sometimes." She had that look that told me something new and revelatory had just happened.
It was not only a revelation for her, it was a gift for me. I could never have told her how to feel that way or "fixed" her so that she could have that feeling. I would also never have had the privilege of going through that experience with her if I'd tried to give her the answer.
I concede it can be difficult when you see quite clearly what's needed, and especially when what you would fix is resistant to all attempts. I understand that I have some answers--clues to conflict and communication and relationship that have made a difference in my life and for others.
The change I've made as I've matured in my work is to be more intentional and respectful about how I offer these golden nuggets. For example, I often say something like: Here's what helps me. Maybe it will help you, too. You be the judge. And then... I pay attention.
The visceral urge to fix is just one area of my default programming. There are others, but we'll save those for another day.
How does default programming operate in you? Can you gently notice yourself going there and make a conscious choice?