When you have the privilege of assisting people on a journey of transformation, you also have the honor of seeing them through difficult, emotional challenges.
Change, as I'd imagine most people are familiar with, is inextricably connected to the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety, frustration, anger, worry, disappointment, sadness, and doubt, to name a few.
When my clients are in the thick of it, what often seems like the best option at that time, is merely returning to the comfort of known misery to forego the discomfort of unknown joy.
At this point, when they're ready to throw in the towel, I'll engage a practice of empathy shared by my friend, Gary Gray, called "intransformalizing," which is an attempt to think what they're thinking, feel how they're feeling and for all intents and purpose, become them so I can understand them.
Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr talks about standing in solidarity with those who are in pain, so as to speak from the inside, the only space from which people can hear you when they're in distress.
Seth Godin refers to the practice of emotional labor, which in this case, would be stepping outside of your comfort zone to appreciate how one's experiences have shaped their beliefs and drive their behaviors.
Once my clients and I are connected at what I would consider a spiritual level, I'll gently try helping them reframe the stories they're telling themselves.
I'll share that instead of saying "I" feel anxiety, it's helpful to say "we" feel anxiety.
It may seem the shift from "I to we" attempts to negate feelings or minimize pain, but it reveals anxiety (and all painful emotions) as a shared reality of the human condition.
We transitions the load from the individual to the community, the tribe, the clan, the posse and the troop--think many hands light load.
Ultimately, we means I'm not alone, means there's nothing wrong with me, and we means I can get through this too.
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller