As a Life Coach, I see so many situations that people want to shift and change. Setting goals can help us feel more free and more inspired to make even more changes. But sometimes change isn’t our choice. Sometimes it’s forced upon us, and has repercussions and consequences that reach far beyond anything we can imagine.
To use a personal example, I experienced a change this week that wasn’t through my choosing, and it presented a dual experience: one that was incredibly sad and scary, and another that was completely awe-inspiring.
Let me fill in the gaps.
On Wednesday evening after having dinner with a friend, we were walking to another venue in search of a cosy space where we could continue chatting, when I received an SMS from my mum asking me to call her. I live on the opposite side of the world from my parents, so getting a text message that says “Call me” is my biggest fear.
As soon as I got through to my mum she told me that three days prior, my dad had suffered two concurrent seizures and had been taken to hospital in an ambulance.
Before I go on, let me tell you he’s OK. My dad was admitted and released the same day, with promises of neurologic tests to find out what’s causing the problem. So as I’m sure you can appreciate I heaved an enormous sigh of relief.
As my mum instructed me not to worry, I did my best to keep it together until I got off the phone with an “OK, cool, send Dad my love” and then promptly lost my sh*t. Thankfully, my friend did the most perfect thing: she hugged me while I wracked and shook, tears flooding down my cheeks with thoughts cascading through my mind about the fact I had just performed a dress rehearsal for The Phonecall.
The Phonecall is the one that says; “Your dad is seriously ill, can you come home now.” Or worse still, “I’m sorry, your dad has passed away.”
Over the following 24 hours, as I processed the horrible thought that I will probably not see my dad many more times, (if ever – I’m due to visit the UK in October, but anything could happen between now and then, right), a very interesting thing occurred.
I Let Some Stuff Go.
Feeling the reality of my dad not being here any more forced me into a new realm of thinking. Namely, who am I without my dad? What will the world mean when he is no longer here?
The honest answer to that is, I don’t know.
I don’t know who I am if my dad doesn’t exist. How could the world still revolve if he isn’t part of it? I literally have no idea what that feels like. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have enjoyed 42 years of having a father who is always there for me. What could the opposite of that possibly feel like?
[… blank …]
That’s when something dawned on me.
For most of my life (at least for most of my adult life), I have had this burning desire to Be Someone. By that I mean to make my mark on the world. To leave a legacy that people will talk about after I’ve gone. “Who, Hannah? Yes, she was the girl who changed the world. She was the one who made a difference to how people think. She did work that helped people communicate better and helped the world become a more peaceful place.”
Heck, I’ve even dreamed that when I pass away, my picture will be on the cover of Time magazine! Sounds foolish when I say it out loud, but it’s the truth. At least it was, until I got that phone call. Like I said, that moment changed things for me. And one of those things was the need to be famous.
I recognised, in the hours after really wondering how much longer my dad has to live, that the only person I’ve ever really wanted to be famous for (or to), is my dad.
Yup, when all is said and done, that burning desire to Be Someone was actually a desire to Be The Light of My Dad’s Life. And all I have to do to be that, is to be alive; because I know my dad loves me more than life itself. I should add here, that I didn’t always see it that way. The horrible truth is, I spent many, many years believing that my dad didn’t love me. Which makes this realisation all the more sweet.
So, all of a sudden, some of my inner struggle – namely that underlying sense that I must do more, be more and have more, slowly but surely began to dissolve. Truly, even as I write this, three days later, that sense of urgency that has shadowed me since I can’t even tell you when, has a far less aggressive hold on me. The interesting thing about that inner struggle is, I couldn’t have told you it was there until this week. Yet, as soon as I identified it I simultaneously recognised that it had been there for as long as I can remember.
Letting that one go, wasn’t so much a choice as a natural reaction to one of life’s biggest moments (losing a parent).
I hope my dad continues to live for a long time yet, but I am truly grateful for what happened as a result of my going through the dress rehearsal of him no longer being here. As each day passes, the sublimal “need” I had to be famous is inadvertently falling away. And, with that comes a lifetime of I-Must-Become-Famous cellular memories that can now dissolve, creating room for more wholesome and self-serving desires.
I don’t know if this is the absolute truth – because I’m only just getting used to the fact that I’m letting go of something I didn’t even know I really felt until this week – but I think that old space is now being filled with a desire to simply Be Me.
The desire to just Be Me was also always there, but swaying on the other side of that Ego see-saw was that desire to be Someone. Now that the latter is reducing to nothing, there’s more space to run the Be Me programme. And I can honestly tell you, it has given me an incredible sense of calm.
There is so much more to say about this event. The implications of releasing that one belief has created an enormous cascade of realisations that are too many and too intricate to explain in one blog. They are however, relevant to my being a Life Coach and to the positive repercussions of Letting Go, so I will definitely blog about them in the coming months.
For now though, let me leave you with this: every single one of us experiences change as part of the ever continuing evolution of life. The incredible thing about that is how one change can (and always does) lead to another change, and another and so on, ad infinitum.
The remarkable thing about life for me, is not the fact that it changes. The thing I find the most astonishing is the incredible lack of awareness we all have about ourselves. I mean, how can it be that I couldn’t see the link between my wanting to Be Someone and the correlation to actually just seeking approval from my dad? When it’s laid out in black and white it’s so obvious, but until the moment when we see another side of ourselves more clearly, some insights simply sit behind veils that are so thin, yet so thick at the same time, they prevent us from knowing who we really are.
And that, I guess is why Life and Life Coaching are so inspiring to me. I hope that having these deeply insightful experiences will help me help someone else who is experiencing change and who is yearning for more peace and happiness. As I said, change is not the issue; self awareness is. When we see who we are, it helps us realise why we react to things the way we do. Increasing our self awareness is the key to having a happier life. Because when you come to know that you don’t even know yourself, it makes it a lot harder to judge and criticise other people.
In fact, the more we come to understand ourselves, the more we feel compassion for others. When you can recognise that some of your own past behaviours were at best a bit warped, and you know that you were always doing the best you could, you just didn’t have the information about yourself that you have today, well, it leaves you in a very interesting position.
In my experience, that position is one of Letting Go. Letting go of the need to judge others, letting go of reasons to point out other people’s flaws. Letting go of the need to be anything other than who you are and steering your life towards greater happiness, because really, there are only two things we know about life.
1) That our physical body will die
2) That there will always be more to learn about ourselves
Hari Aum x
PS If your parents are still alive, be sure to send them your love.