First, in case you didn’t know, I’m a baby boomer—a fairly early one since I was born in 1951. Lots of individual ‘boomers’ have been pioneers and changed the world. Paul McCartney is just one of many. In addition to contributions by many of us individually, there are some remarkable changes they we were the first generation to actually experience. Things like computers for individual use, space exploration, and the one I really want to talk about today—’personal growth‘.
Actually ‘personal growth’ is the catch-all phrase I’m using to describe a big cultural change. I’ve decided, based on my own experience, that my generation is the first one to embrace the radical idea that we can work on changing the baggage from our ancestors and our past without necessarily being considered out-and-out crazy.
Things have shifted. When I was in high school and having a very hard time with a bunch of things, I asked my dad if I could get some counseling. His response was: “Sure, we can send you to Camarillo!” Which meant ‘No!‘ Camarillo was that state mental hospital. It was a stigma for people of my dad’s generation to get help with their emotions. He even declined the psychiatric help offered to him after he was liberated from a German prison camp at the end of WWII.
As I grew older there was a shift happening in the mental health field. It was becoming more and more common for people to seek the support of a psychologist or psychiatrist. It no longer meant that you were ‘totally crazy’ if you tried to untangle your thoughts and behaviors. There was still a stigma, but it was much less severe.
It’s an important change for all of us. For literally centuries people kept doing the same dysfunctional things their families did over and over and over. There was no way to stop the patterns unless you were willing to accept the judgement involved in ‘getting therapy’.
I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Phil’s statement: “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” And I would add the obvious idea that you can’t acknowledge what you are unwilling to look at, work on, or talk about.
I’m really writing this to answer a question I get from a lot of my clients, which goes something like: “Why didn’t my parents do better with this?“ The answer to that comes from another quote —this time it’s a paraphrase from Maya Angelou: “We do the best we can until we know better, when we know better we do better.“ Our parents didn’t know better. How could they? Their parents, grandparents, etc. didn’t either.
And then in late 1980’s and early 1990’s all sorts of things started to happen around new ways of not only becoming more aware of our thinking and behavior, but actually consciously doing—as Maya would have said—better! One of the best of these new ways is the one I work incalled “Life Coaching.“ Imagine, assisting and supporting people to have better lives,! Helping them to let go of the way it was always done before, be it around work, relationships, or even money!
And it’s all been in my lifetime. Wow!
You know I used to think my grandmother, Cupcake (* see below) had seen the most important and remarkable changes in human history in her lifetime. She was born in 1900 and died in 2001. In her hundred years there was electricity, automobiles, flight, computers — a myriad of amazing and miraculous inventions that changed our lives.
And now I think that it may just be possible that the most miraculous thing is happening in my lifetime — people are readily choosing to break the old patterns and embrace their lives and talents in new ways. They are doing it through workshops, coaching, counseling, retreats — there are all sorts of paths to personal growth.
Wow, just wow!
(*Okay, I recognize an explanation is in order here—as a little girl I nicknamed her that. She was short and round and had white hair, thus frosting on top. The name “Cup Cake” stuck!)
Shell Tain, The Untangler
If you’d like to chat more about this idea of how you can break the pattern, just give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com.