Living in the Northwest has many advantages and if you like the out of doors and activities such as hiking, this area is perfect. I do like to hike and try to get out each weekend for a lot of elevation and distance. It is part of my reality and while I am not always excited to get up early to go work hard, I tell myself it is healthy and go do it. Besides the benefits of elevating my heart rate, burning fat and toning muscles, hiking gives me time to write. Mentally that is; and the beauty around me or the boredom of putting one foot in front of the other causes my brain to “noodle” all the ideas that have been floating around.
A recent hike was rather nasty for the first 7 miles with cold and rain trying to distract me. The last 7 miles had tiny sun breaks and warmer temperatures so I was able to start removing layers. Just like hiking in the northwest one adds layers for comfort in life too. I thought about the fact that during a hike we know when we need to remove layers but in life sometimes we keep them on even though they are not brining us comfort and sometimes even causing discomfort.
The concept of layers really made an impact on me years ago when attending a 3 day personal enhancement or growth seminar. It was a boot camp of sorts for those looking to understand the reality they had created thus far in their lives. The seminar leader did a peaceful, closed eyes visualization with us one the evening. We saw ourselves wearing a thick, ghastly suit of all the layers of gunk we had piled upon ourselves. Some we brought into our lives and some people dumped on us but we let stay, even believing some of what they said about us. So we visualized standing in front of a mirror wearing this heavy and uncomfortable “gunk” suit. Then we noticed that it had a zipper and we realized that we had the power to unzip the suit and remove it from our frame. We did so and stood facing the mirror seeing ourselves lighter and happier and free. It was powerful to own the choice of owning and wearing the layers or unzipping and removing that which no longer contributed health and happiness to our lives. Here we are at self-responsibility again. And in hiking or life, layers have the purpose of keeping us comfortable and we can add or remove them as needed. We just need to decide if they cause comfort and serve a purpose or if we just got used to them being part of our life even if they are sometimes uncomfortable.
A client of mine was frustrated with a layer that she was having difficulty with. While she was amazing at her ability to embrace and accept her life, she was increasingly uncomfortable with her weight. Being athletic she found the extra weight slowing her down and she was tired of the “fat” jokes in her group of active friends. We spent two entire sessions around this issue and she made the commitment to be healthier. Over the next several months she lost nearly 60lbs and feels better. She does not like herself any better; she already did however she feels healthier and will admit that she likes kicking ass as she out climbs some of her previously thinner friends. What made it work for her was her decision that this layer no longer served her and making the choice to act. As her coach, I believe that having accountability helped keep her on track, but it was her doing all along. She just needed to choose to discard the layer that was no longer of need and was causing discomfort.
When looking at the layers we wear, an action item that I do with some of my coaching clients is to have them write down all the tolerations in their life. The things that they always just accept and go along with or that have been part of their life for so long that they don’t even notice that there is discomfort. We then discuss them and highlight those tolerations that no longer have a purpose or that cause discomfort. The next step is to make agreements about shedding those layers and what that will look like. It is amazing to hear the freedom in someone’s voice when they feel lighter!
From the wonderful friend that made me the musical playlist, I mentioned in my last column on Personal Responsibility, is another group of amazing female artists and one song by Idina Menzel, “Defying Gravity”, is perfect for the topic of removing layers that no longer serve us. Some of the fantastic words are:
“Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m through with playing by the rules of someone’s else’s game. Too late for second guessing, too late to go back to sleep, it’s time to trust my instincts close my eyes and leap. It’s time to try defying gravity…
“I’m through accepting limits ’cause someone says they’re so. Some things I can not change but ‘till I try I’ll never know……
This is a great listen for shedding layers! I suggest you listen to it 38 times and then strip! The choice and action is yours and I would love to hear stories of how you lighten your load! Have fun defying gravity.