I walked into the Arise & Be retreat in January a battered, wounded soul, and immediately I could tell that it was a safe place. I saw it in the way people were smiling at one another, nervous but open. I felt it in the way the Arise & Be team had set up the room so beautifully, and in the way we were greeted individually by the team. I even heard it in the gorgeous music filling the room and tickling my ears.
THE LESSONS I LEARNED FROM CHILDREN
We learn so much about who we are, how we view the world, and how we grown when working with children. They teach us about spontaneous joy, uncontrollable laughter, and seizing the present moment. For this reason alone, I have always loved being a part of children’s lives. We have boundless opportunities for learning and growth. Children remind us of this.
But after years of teaching, I began to notice something else, they teach us when we stop believing in our power to be great and live courageous lives. The older my students became, the more the dreams of becoming a professional dancer or a race car driver shifted to fears of not ‘being enough’ or fear of ‘failing’. Not being enough for what? For who? Failing in what? Why all the pressure? Where was it coming from? These questions began to haunt me.
Grappling with reality and reconciling dreams is a process we all go through. It comes with the journey of ‘doing life’. But with age, do we really need to believe less in who as we grow our inner critic that scoffs at the dreams we once had and the hope to accomplish great things?
After teaching young children in private schools, working with junior high at-risk students in East Los Angeles, training teachers in the jungles of Belize to break the cycle of poverty, and teaching educators at universities… I wanted to learn more about supporting individuals daring to believe in more. I returned to school to research human services with the focus of exploring what influences personal growth and emotional well-being as well as what inspires transformational living. My Ph.D. focused on researching gifted women transitioning with the purpose of coaching women and supporting them in their journey.
THE ART OF ASKING PRODUCTIVE QUESTIONS
One of the most recurring questions in coaching conversations with women is the question, “What is wrong with me?!?” I hear it asked in moments of acute frustration, overwhelming despair, internal disgust, and sometimes even just out of sheer curiosity.
After noticing how often I heard women ask this, I was struck with the thought of how unhelpful this question really is. In fact, it is actually quite cruel. It hurts the person being asked and does not set anyone up to receive a fair answer. When we ask this question of ‘what’s wrong’, we do harm to our self by not allowing a fair answer to be found…and instead an assumption is made that something is indeed very wrong with us.
The truth is, nothing is ‘wrong’ with us…we are simply at a painful or confusing place in our journey. What we need are helpful questions that set us up for success to receive better answers. I have found that kinder gentler questions such as, “Where does it hurt?” or “Why am I stalled?” to be fairer questions, which eventually lead to answers that guide us.
As I listened one more time to this question being habitually tossed out in our conversation, I found myself saying, “How about we ask what is right with you?”
A STRONG COMMUNITY WAS DEVELOPED
In the belief that we are stronger together as women, I wanted to develop a community that came together holding the valuable belief that so much is right with us.
Forming a community around this powerful posture of asking helpful questions such as ‘what’s right with me?’ gives us the permission to move forward in authentic ways as we dare to explore new possibilities. To consider helpful questions challenges a whole new level of self-talk. Most importantly, it engages our critiquing abilities to focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, to find the solutions we need, and build the courage, confidence, and clarity to move forward. Arise & Be is a place for the woman to truly Arise…and…BE.