Living on Purpose: Giving up the driver’s seat
Vail CO, Colorado
VAIL, Colorado ” Kinlie seemed nervous as she arrived for our first coaching session. It can be intimidating to meet someone for the first time and talk about issues that are very personal. And yet, I witness how relieved clients are to be able to talk openly and begin to make changes in their lives during the coaching process.
One of my favorite quotes is by Anais Nin, who said, “And there came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
When people call for life coaching, I know they are at that point.
Kinlee had been feeling pain for some time and knew where she was stuck. She explained, “It started four years ago after my divorce. I thought he was my partner for life. I felt rejected, scared and alone … I still do.”
“It sounds like the divorce was a complete surprise. What is it that scares you now?” I asked.
“Every month I worry if I’ll be able to make ends meet,” Kinlee said. “I wonder if I am spending enough time with my kids and run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to cover all of the bases.”
“But there’s something else that is scarier or more worrisome than that,” I said, sensing something more.
“You’re right. Although these things worry me, that’s not why I am here,” she said and paused, as if searching for the way to tell me without becoming too emotional. “I’m lonely. I want to connect with someone, but am reluctant to let anyone in. I don’t like to give up control. In my marriage and in my last relationship, I was so eager to be a good partner. Both times, I gave up control and lost everything. Now I’m gun-shy.”
“Sometimes it is helpful to create an analogy to describe the situation and help solve the problem,” I explained. “Let’s come up with an analogy to describe not wanting to give up control?”
“What comes to my mind is a car,” Kinlee said. “When I was married, I rode in the passenger seat. My husband drove and made all of the decisions. It was the same with my last boyfriend.”
“What seat are you in now?” I asked.
“I’m in the driver’s seat and I won’t give it up,” Kinlee said with a satisfied look on her face. “The problem is that I want a relationship, but won’t let anyone in.”
She continued, “I have been dating someone I really like, but we are at a crossroads. I want to take it to the next level, but won’t give up the driver’s seat or give up control.”
“Using your analogy, how could you broaden your idea of ‘being in the driver’s seat’ in a relationship without giving up control?” I challenged her.
She paused, thinking of a new solution. “What if I got out of my car, but instead of giving up the driver’s seat, I could climb into an airplane and get into a cockpit.”
“Tell me the benefits of being in a cockpit,” I said.
“A cockpit has two seats, which requires two pilots to move the plane forward. That way neither one of us has to completely give up control and neither of us has all of the control.”
“That is a great analogy! What if over the next two weeks, you explore sharing the controls. Visualize your boyfriend as your co-pilot. If he doesn’t fit, explore the type of person who might,” I suggested. “And, can you find a picture of a cockpit to look at to remind you that it’s okay to share the controls?”
“I’ll do that and we can talk about it the next time we meet,” Kinlee said.
Kinlee left with a new perspective. I wondered where else it might be beneficial to use the cockpit analogy and share the controls.
Coaching Challenge: Where are you reluctant to give up control? How does this limit you? Explore how it would feel to share the controls using the cockpit analogy. What does it look/feel like to share the controls with another person to move your “plane” forward? What are the benefits? What are the costs?
Sheri Fisher is a Life Coach who lives in Grand Junction. Her practice, Living On Purpose, focuses on personal and professional coaching. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. If you have topic suggestions, e-mail or comment on Sheri’s blog. Sheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information, visit http://www.coachwithsheri.com.