I've thought a lot about what I want to say to you all in the wake of this week's election. Many coaches l know believe that politics should be kept out of our professional correspondence and social media posts. That we ought not presume any one's political affiliations or perspectives. That emotions of all kinds are roiling around Trump's win, and that our job is to help people feel and manage those emotions, not add to their intensity by staking a claim or sharing an opinion or voicing our own emotional experience.
I understand where my fellow coaches are coming from, and I honor their intentions, but I disagree.
Not only do I disagree, but I believe that, in this case, not staking a claim is to risk complicity through silence with a mindset and attendant actions that I work explicitly to unearth, challenge, and heal as a teacher and coach.
That mindset is fear.
Trump won this election by capitalizing at least in part on fear and its symptoms: prejudice, xenophobia, reactivity, greed, violence, blame, and shame.
As a coach, I work every day with clients whose best selves--whose most loving, joyous, connected, compassionate, ambitious, inventive, helpful, resilient selves--are blocked by fear.
Fear of vulnerability. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of pain. Fear of success.
My clients invest precious time, energy, and money to move through these fears because the alternative is death, not life. Death of soul. Death of spirit. Death of desire. Death of intimacy. Death of dreams. Death of heart. Death of body. Death of love.
What they learn in this process is to soften. To open into their own deepest wounds, and to tend them with care. To be fully present to the full and sometimes painful range of their emotions, so that the need to buffer through distraction, obsession, blame-shifting, and addiction dissipates. In so doing, they heal. And in healing they learn that their greatest strength lies in their capacity for honesty and vulnerability, for when we can be honest with ourselves, and authentic with others, we can love and be loved far more deeply.
When we commit to healing ourselves, our relationships deepen. And when our relationships thrive, our communities become more dynamic, inclusive, and safe. When our communities are dynamic, inclusive, and safe, innovation and discovery blossom, because experimentation and risk are experienced as integral, not anathema to, growth, prosperity, and health.
This is freedom.
And this freedom--this coming-into-love that every single one of us, no matter our circumstances, can access--is, must be, the bedrock of democracy.
As a parent, partner, teacher and coach, I believe it's my duty to cultivate an environment wherein this bedrock can be built, one person, one relationship, one community at a time.
Like many of you, I'm reeling in the wake of this election. But as I told my kids, it's crucial that we feel our painful emotions but don't let them become an occasion for isolating or bowing out of the parts of ourselves that we've been striving, however stutteringly, to bring to light: the tender, feeling, heart-driven part of ourselves that we may feel like curling around and tucking away in order to protect.
Instead, I invite you to approach this time as an opportunity for open and brave self-encounter: What do you *truly* value? What are you no longer willing to tolerate, in others, yes, but most importantly, in yourself?
If deceit is something you feel repelled by, how are you practicing deceit (denial is a form of deceit) with others or with yourself, and are you willing to commit to honesty instead? If reactivity is something you don't want to be a part of, how can you offer yourself the presence and compassion you need in order to heal that which causes you to react with those in your own life? If greed is something you abhor, how can you commit more fully to claiming your own true value and sharing generously and widely with others? If hatred and fear and indifference to perceived otherness is something you can't stand, how can you open your eyes and heart even wider today to those people and beings you deem lesser-than?
These are the questions I've been asking myself again and again these past few days. And they've really helped. I find myself no longer willing to stay quiet in the face of unjust or unkind action, however "small," in the name of "keeping the peace" or avoiding conflict. As a close friend noted recently, dissent is the condition of democracy: the problem we face is not so-called divisiveness, but a cultural (and internal) climate in which difference or contradiction is experienced as a threat to stability and unity.
With that in mind, I believe that our work now is to dig deep, to find and hold with love the very best parts of ourselves, those parts we've maybe shied away from out of fear (of rejection, of indifference, of change, of discomfort), however shaky our hands may be, and step even more boldly and kindly into the work of our lives--loving, caring, creating, making, comforting, educating, healing--whatever it may be.
Thank you for reading this blog post, and for your ongoing dedication to the work of healing, transformation, and loving well. One thing I know for sure is that we can't do this work alone. It's a privilege, then, to walk this path together.