People need new experiences, not more explanations.Dec 06, 2021
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the practice of radical presence at the heart of our work, particularly in light of recent conversations with two people close to me who are categorically against being vaccinated. As I sat with these disquieting experiences, I reflected on: “What can I learn from them that will enable me to move forward in these relationships and in my work?”
I kept coming back to one of the core principles of narrative coaching: People need new experiences, not more explanations, in order to learn and develop. Here are two of the insights that came to me. Perhaps they will be helpful to you.
- In the second instance, we were both unsuccessful in shifting the conversation to a more generative space. This was painful for both of us. As I reflected on what I might do next time, I came to see that wisdom arises from slowing down to notice what is true for us in this moment — and then slowing down even more to notice the larger narratives in which our experience sits.
It was like discovering a secret doorway in his wall in which we could sit together at that threshold and meet each other again. From that place we could co-create enough shared reality to talk more openly and hear each other more fully. How can you deepen your own radical presence and create spaces for others to do the same?
- We were unsuccessful in shifting the second conversation to a more generative space, which was painful for both of us. As I reflected on what I might do next time, I came to see that: Wisdom arises from slowing down to notice what is true for us in this moment and slowing down even more to notice the larger narrative in which our experience sits.
As I sat with this experience with my dear friend, I became more aware of the collective grief I felt in and around me. I became more aware of the vulnerability I feel at times in facing so much that is uncertain and unknown. I became more aware of my own walls and a desire to create more doorways in which to sit with others. I became more committed to my practice of truly ‘seeing’ people as I moved through my day, no matter how small the interaction might seem.
To paraphrase the former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” This captures the spirit of our work, and it starts with radical presence in the moment so we can notice and step into the doorways to meet each other in these challenging times.
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