Rules versus Understanding…
I love to read about health and fitness and, over the years, I’ve become aware that I’m seeking a ‘right’ way to eat: five small meals a day, low carb-high fat, intermittent fasting, meat, no meat, and so on.
It’s the same with fitness; for a long time I valued endurance exercise (I used to run), mid-distance with a reasonable amount of interval training, until (after injuries!) I switched to more and more low-heart rate endurance.
Of course, there are general principles which apply to fitness and healthy eating — we need to move rather than not move(!), we want to avoid processed food and eat more local food, fruit and veg, freshly prepared and seasonal etc etc.
But there’s a very subtle (and I think insidious) temptation to make something that feels right now, or that works now, into a system and so create rules for ourselves. And therein lies the danger…
Not so much of a danger of getting the rules wrong, but of believing that better rules are the solution to anything that we want to change or create.
This happened with a client of mine who was telling me how much she was getting out of her meditation practice.
I must start meditating every day!
Be careful you don’t set up a way to judge yourself, rather than create something that serves you.
She looked at me and raised an eyebrow.
Yeah, I can see how I could do that!
We went on to talk about the difference between finding a new set of ‘rules’ and being able to better tune in to what we need in the moment.
The more we listen to what we know, the more the ‘rules’ that we are seeking will reveal themselves, not as rules but as what is obvious to do, the more adaptable we’ll become to our changing needs, and the less we’ll feel the need to beat ourselves up when we slip up.
we’ll say to ourselves.
When we haven’t broken any rules, we’ve simply taken a side turn and we can bring ourselves back to balance — not through willpower — which is limited and tends to take a toll on our mental energy — but through knowing what to do, because we are developing a greater understanding of what works for us.
It’s far easier to develop an unconscious competence; something we learn how to do through ‘tuning’ — listening and adapting, than it is to follow the imposition of external ‘information’. That latter approach requires us to remember, and to seek ever more information, to look for the ever more perfect solution.
Listen to What You Already Know…
The hardest part I find, for myself and when working with clients, is that we need to be able to quiet down enough to listen.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the ability to be able to do that — my personal theory is that it’s harder in those places that we’ve been trying too fill with information, so food is one of those for me.
I’m not talking about being adaptable, and willing to change. I’m talking about our innate ability for knowing what is right and getting out of our own way enough to be able to develop that ability, that instinct.
Because, when we can do this, we have less need of anything external to guide us. We already know, we’re simply not able to hear.
What if you were to pick one area of your life or work where you’re relying on a lot of external information? What if you developed your own sense of what you already know in that area? Do you think it would make life easier?
I can tell you, with the utmost certainty, that it does for me!
P.S. If you’re curious about how coaching can help you tune in better so that you can create more of what you want in your life and work, please get in touch and let’s explore what’s possible for you.
About the author
Cathy Presland is an expert in transformative leadership. She has more than two decades of experience in government and international organisations and her focus as a coach is to support impact-driven individuals and organisations to improve their performance, leadership and peace of mind so they can make more of a difference with the work they do. Find out more at https://cathypresland.com