I like working with people who have just a little touch of neurosis. Just a sliver. Coaches aren’t therapists, yet the majority of people on the planet in general, and New York City in particular, have some degree of free-floating fear and anxiety. These qualities make people human and vulnerable and real and open. That works for me.
As we get older, the resting mind tends to wander to the future and our ability to sustain the life we’ve become accustom to. For people like me, who have left their corporate job, or sold their small business as a means to a calmer way of life, we’ve also given up financial stability, or the illusion of it. If you listened to the Republican debate, you may even fear that by the time we get there, social security will have vanished. This thought in itself has a number of my clients seriously sleepless. And these people have money in the bank and money rolling in. Its just fear.
Today as I was walking to the dog park, I saw a man crossing Columbus Avenue with a huge see-through bag stuffed with plastic bottles. At first I thought he was dressed for Halloween, but as he approached the corner I saw him reaching into the recycling barrel for more bottles. I was finishing up a seltzer and offered him my bottle as we crossed the street together. His eyes were bright, he had few teeth, and he was making a bee-line for the next bin. I had a magazine that I was ready to toss. “Can you use any paper”? I asked him. Nope, he was all about plastic. His face was kind and showed pure determination. As we spoke a bit more he told me he could get about 8 bucks when he turned in the bottles. “That’s pretty good, enough for a decent meal!” I chimed optimistically. He beamed with what I have to call pride. It sounds cliche but that’s what it was. As we parted, I thought about what it must feel like to dig into garbage cans, maintain dignity, figure out where to go next when the well ran dry. I noticed how, as my mind wrapped itself around the idea of living that life, surviving, my initial aversion softened. I’d still have everything I have now, at least on the inside. I knew I could do it if I had to.
Our fears can be our friend, in that they can drive us to big huge change, by creating strategy, perhaps working with our mindset, our skill set, or how we spend our energy. Or, we can sit with the anxiety and watch it multiply. It takes guts to dig deep, whether it be digging through a trash can, or into defining what we really really want and being committed to getting there. Its messy, but it always seems to work out just fine.
Neurosis: a relatively mild mental illness that involves symptoms of stress (depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, hypochondria) but not a radical loss of touch with reality.
Privilege: A special advantage, immunity, permission, right, or benefit.