On connecting with ourselves and our intuition.
Children are great, am I right? They remind us to keep it simple. A lesson we often seem to forget as adults.
Some of you may know I started off my career working with children—and often with the ones that nobody knew what to do with or had been forgotten by the system. I learned a lot from my years working in schools. In fact, I am sure more stories will appear from that period in my life because some of the most difficult situations I ever
experienced happened there and some of the best too. But to name one lesson learned; I learned how to work with people who didn’t want to work with me—which made it much easier to work with the clients who did. Learning how to maneuver resistance with a child is probably one of the most satisfying and maddening things you will ever experience. Kids tell you like it is—
“I don’t want to be here.”
“My Mom is making me do this.”
“I hate this school and I hate that I have to talk to you.”
It’s kind of refreshing really. To hear the truth with such clarity and such force. And that is why it was all the more satisfying when that child started to realize—
“Hmm, maybe this lady isn’t so bad.”
“Maybe she actually cares.”
“Maybe I should listen to what she has to say.”
This is one of the reasons I have chosen to continue working with a few children. My passion for working with adults has developed over the years but before all of that, I was passionate about working with children. Yes, for the reason listed above, but also because I believe that children bring us back to our most authentic sense of self. In some way, without even knowing, they have a basic sense of who they really are—it’s the adults in their lives that often shake all of that up. If you allow them to, they will tell you who they really are, and they will do so unabashedly. It is this I want to stay connected to, even as over the years my work has shifted to working mainly with adults. Children surprise and refresh my memory of who I am by being exactly who they are.
Of course, we don’t disconnect from ourselves on purpose, from what I have seen over the years, rather we fall into connecting with someone else. This can sometimes cause us to follow their path or their way. Often times they offer a relevant and logical path, yet if it isn’t the best path for you—than is it really so relevant or logical? You may be thinking, but Sarah how does that happen? I know, me too! I have thought long and hard about how easily we become distanced from our authentic self. One thing that seems to arise over and over again in my personal journey and my work with others, is how distanced we become from hearing our own voice.
Let me explain with a recent anecdote. Over the summer I was visiting friends in Pennsylvania, the place I grew up, and we organized a lady’s night by the firepit with old friends. These nights always make for good conversations. What I Iove about this group is the diversity of situations and our ability to remain so close; single women and married, women with children and not, varying belief systems, and the list goes on. That evening one of my friends, a mother of four beautiful girls, shared openly with me about her evolving perspective on raising her girls with a healthy view on eating and body image.
During this discussion we talked about the many different ways over the years we have tried to manage weight and tried different diets. She introduced me to the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works, by Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole. This book, originally published in 1995, and referenced as “a recovery book for chronic dieters”. One of the ideas she mentioned from the book was the author’s explanation of the concept in reference to children and how they really are one of the best examples of intuitive eaters. My friend explained, “Have you ever noticed how a child is the ultimate intuitive eater? Even with ice cream, they stop when they don’t want anymore. They simply listen to themselves in the moment and will put down the spoon when they’ve had enough. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a bowl of ice cream.”
After listening to her tell this story, I laughed. Me too, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a bowl of ice cream either, even if I didn’t really want any more. In fact, usually I will make myself a little sick finishing that ice cream. Maybe because it is good or maybe because when I was growing up my parents always told me, “finish everything on your plate, Sarah”.
Developing a sense of listening to ourselves and following our own intuition is something that comes pretty naturally to a child and so there was a moment in time when it came pretty naturally to you too. However, as we grow up and interact with different authority figures and our peers we start to compare. In fact, this is one of the saddest moments for me as I have watch my nieces and nephews as well as my past clients reach that developmental moment; when they start to worry about what other’s think and adjust their behavior accordingly. Of course, this is important in our growth—selfishness can be dangerous too. Yet, I speak from the most basic sense of developing our intuition when I talk about young children. They do it without even knowing they are doing it and for adults we have to redevelop our sense of self as life rolls on.
Some of the best moments in coaching and therapy happen when I guide someone back to their sense of self and help them listen to their own intuition. The process of teaching this can happen in so many ways and is different for different people. However, often acknowledging that we are disconnected in this way and getting to the bottom of “why” helps us reconnect. This requires a desire for exploration and an acknowledgement that other voices get in the way sometimes.
The search for self isn’t an easy path, even though it might seem like is should be, but it is satisfying when we come back to where we began all those years ago as a child—with honesty, transparency, simplicity, and a sense of who we really are.
Are you looking to reconnect to yourself and your intuition? Then let’s talk.
Maybe it's time to go back through your old childhood photos and remind yourself of who you really are. I did—here are a few photo's from my childhood. I hope you get a good laugh. I sure did.