Last week, I passed my certification test to become an MBI Certified Life Coach. It may not mean anything to anyone else, but to me, it represents my commitment to working as a coach, and my desire to get really, really good at it. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning, and of sharing what I learn in ways that are meaningful.
I went into the testing process fully confident of my abilities, and certain that I would earn my “wings,” but the truth is that I had to face a couple of my certifiably less courageous characteristics along the way. The first was about my crippling fear of judgment, and come to think of it, so is the second.
During the “oral” exam, where I was asked to coach a Master Coach, I got so wrapped up in what I imagined was expected of me that I found it nearly impossible to stay present and honor the issue that the examiner had presented. I was more concerned about her judgment of my coaching than I was about her issue, and it showed.
It was a forehead-slapping moment of realization that anytime I’m wrapped up in my own fear of how I’m ‘performing,’ my performance suffers, and massively. It’s a perfect example of how we manifest that which we fear. When I’m worried about how I’ll be perceived, I’m not present, so I do a crappy job, which manifests the judgment I was so worried about. Dang.
Fortunately, the certification testing was like the rest of the training–an opportunity to learn. I used to think of tests as an opportunity to show some teacher how smart I was, but that’s not true anymore. No one is interested in how smart I am. Really. Nobody. What they are interested in is my ability to hear them, see them, understand them, accept them, and help them challenge the beliefs that cause them to feel painfully stuck.
The second issue that came up for me was specific to The Work of Byron Katie, which is part of the training I had at MBI, and part of the testing. The Work is an extreme exercise in bravery. You absolutely have to have the courage to step up and out of your story, recognizing where it keeps you angry or disappointed or crushed or lonely (or any number of emotional states you can download from Byron Katie’s website). You have to submit to a process that has a bunch of really fucking annoying rules, and then you have to realize that the only reason you’re so annoyed is that they’re making you look honestly at things you’d truly rather not. And you have to do it in the presence of someone else.
So it felt devastatingly crappy when I realized I’ve been judging someone completely unfairly, and subconsciously judging myself unfairly as well (funny how that works). I resisted letting go of the story that another person had betrayed me, and that despite my sincere efforts to clean up my side of the equation, that person was always going to set me up to fail in the relationship. That resistance made me plenty prickly, because I really didn’t want to admit that all this time I’ve set myself up, and created this unnecessary, “dirty” pain. I hid behind the blame, and stayed in the familiar place where I judge myself harshly, while I believe I’m judging someone else.
I have once again been shown how self-judgment, disguised as someone else’s problem, is self-defeating at best, and crippling at worst. How many more times will I be treated to this lesson? The answer has to do with how long I hang on to my certifiably crazy stories.