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Who Are You Really And What Do You Really Want?

Aug 17, 2007
"One who is completely rid of one's very own concept of I am is completely liberated." (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj)

So wrote one of the most respected sages of India, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in the modern spiritual classic 'I Am That'. How, you may ask, is this connected with coaching?

As a coach who has spent a large amount of time studying the various coaching models and being coached, I have realised that a large amount of what these models are about is the coaching of identities, or egos.

The ego is the seat of an individual's rational mind, holding all the conditioned beliefs of what must or must not happen, what should or shouldn't be and what needs to happen in order for someone to feel the way they want to feel. These sets of beliefs or rules will vary for everyone, largely dependant on the conditioning and the experiences that a person has had from the very moment they were given a name at birth.

As a coach, what I am very often doing is listening to the dilemmas of my clients that are a result of the conditioned sets of beliefs that they currently have about who they think they are. For example, someone unable to commit in a relationship may have observed a loved one suffer pain as a result of the commitment they made in a relationship, and so has chosen an identity of "I am independent" in order to prevent them from suffering similar pain.

However, very often this individual would seek coaching because they actually wanted to commit to their relationship, but felt torn because of their conditioned beliefs about who they think they are. In other words, an identity that may have served them in the past is now creating pain for them because of their attachment to it.

According to many coaching models, this kind of problem would be treated in the following way:

1) Discover the individual's conditioned limiting beliefs about who they think they are.
2) Assist the individual in creating sufficient painful associations to these beliefs.
3) Clarify the prevailing environmental circumstances and what the individual thinks they want from the situation.
4) Condition that into new empowering beliefs about who they will now be.
5) Associate sufficient amounts of pleasure to the new sense of self and future. Pace this out into a compelling vision of what will happen if the individual takes action to make this happen.

In my own experience of coaching in this way, this works on some level, and at times may be appropriate. The blockages associated with the limiting sense of self and the beliefs and values attached to it tend to fall away, and the individual starts to create momentum to deal with the issue they faced. They are 'liberated' to some degree.

On another level, though, this liberation is really an illusion. Inevitably, later on down the line, an event will occur which will challenge this new sense of identity and what 'should' be happening and, because of the client's attachment to this new identity, they will find themselves in pain once again. Indeed, this attachment and the resulting pain will be particularly strong if they have been future-paced well and have a very pleasurable vision of what they perceive the likely outcome will be if they hold onto this sense of self.

The irony of this coaching system is that it may actually cause the individual to start pursuing goals which are not really authentic, not really arising from real inspiration and desire, but are instead reactionary, rationalised or coming from a place of fear. This may result in feeling a lack of fulfilment as the client becomes locked in a cycle fed by the perception that who they are is somehow inadequate, and that there is always somewhere they need to go, someone they need to be, or something that needs to happen. To quote Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj once again:

"What you believe you need is not what you need. You need to return to the state in which I am - your natural state. Anything else you may think of is an illusion and obstacle. Believe me, you need nothing except to be what you are. You imagine you will increase your value by acquisition. It is like gold imagining that an addition of copper will improve it". (Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj)

The more I look at my experience of this form of coaching, the more I find that those goals that are pursued from a sense of 'need' are less likely to materialise no matter how much effort you put into them. In contrast, those goals that you pursue out of pure desire or inspiration, from a standpoint of complete self-approval, do tend to emerge. When there is openness and willingness, events transpire that seem to bring you closer and closer to the manifestation of these goals.

For the good of my clients, and for the identification and pursuit of authentic goals then, I find I sometimes need to break my client's perception that they need to be something different or someone else. By stripping away the attachments to their conditioned beliefs about who they think they are, we remove the fear of inadequacy. In its place, we establish instead a sense of self that is not routed in a separate individual identity, but in harmony and oneness, a sense of self that looks at another as if it were the same.
Space is then created to allow my clients to be free to flow with authentic desire rather than struggling with conditioned ego-based needs. They can then simply be 'life' in the moment, even if they have to contravene the 'shoulds' of the ego. In other words, they can stop "shoulding on themselves".

Quoting Tony Parsons, a British speaker on the subject of non-duality and author of "All there is":

"When we are babies, basically there is simply oneness, but there is no recognition of that. There is only paradise, but there is not a knowing of being in paradise. At some point, our mother says to us, 'You are Mary' or whoever; and then there is a dropping into a sense of there being someone looking at something else called a mother. That is the first moment of separation.

Fear is rooted in separation. Fear - the most powerful emotion we have - is actually instigated by the sense of separation. Separation is the root of apparent suffering and loss and longing and need". (Tony Parsons)

Many of the problems we face as a society today are a result of an attachment to our identities, whether that is on a corporate or individual level. I wonder how different the business or political world would be if, as a race, we could let go of seeing ourselves as separate, conditioned 'selves' and start to operate more as if we are one Self, with a greater detachment to outcomes?

This will only happen when we start to remember what and who we really are, and when we can let go of what we think we 'need' to be and to achieve. Quoting Tony Parsons once again:

"You are the light that allows the film to be. And if you see it all from another point of view, you begin to open up to the possibility of dropping the idea of a journey towards somewhere that you'll never get to. You'll never get there, you already are there. And so in a way the film is sacred. It's telling you that you are that!" (Tony Parsons)
About the Author
John El-Mokadem is the founder of the international coaching company Limitless Being. To sign up for his FREE newsletter and to see how transformation coaching will benefit you, go to http://www.limitlessbeing.com/Landing.html
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