When is it ok to tell your story?
Sadness alert: When my dad very suddenly died in 2017, I had terrible amounts of pain in my chest and in my throat, in my stomach, and legs. It was all I could do to show up for a few carefully-chosen clients, and I cut down my hours significantly for months because my own pain was so easily triggered. I started my "extreme self-tenderness" routine because it was all so raw.
I was so thankful in that season for the training I had received with Brené Brown's organization to become a facilitator of the Daring WayTM and Dare to LeadTM. We were taught how, when, and with whom to tell our own hard stories. And 2017 was NOT the time to tell clients my stories surrounding my dad's death.
How to tell your story:
End at the hard part: It's being willing to end your story in that face-down moment of failure BEFORE you rose strong and learned all the wonderful lessons. That's what tells your conversation partner, "Me, too. You're not alone."
Use the story as a metaphor: Select very briefly only the parts of the story that the other person can extrapolate from and use in their own life.
When to tell your story:
When it's healed. I don't tell stories that I'm in the middle of right now, or that cause emotional triggers in me. I'm not asking my clients or students to hold space for me or give me some kind of response that I need.
When it benefits the other person. The story is never about me, it's about holding space for the other's growth and benefit.
After your stories have bloomed into exquisite, shining wisdom, you're ready to share the hard parts with people who can hear them.
With whom to share your story:
With your own coach, until you're ready. I hired a grief coach, and continue to work with her. I tell my hard, unhealed stories in that setting. I tell them to dear friends.
If you're a coach, you're not a friend, you're holding possibility. I show up to my sessions as a whole person, and only use my experiences as a catalyst for the other.
Often, your clients will share stories with you that they may never have shared with another person on earth, and your humanness with them is part of the sacred trust.
What about you?
What stories do you hold? Do you know from lived experience that life can be glorious after a divorce? Then you're ready to share (briefly) the painful moments with someone in the middle of it now. Do you know that losing a parent brings a wealth of necessary and beautiful identity shifts? Then you're ready to share how difficult those first 18 months were.
A coaching session can be an exquisitely vulnerable time, and your stories, when used sparingly and wisely, are worth learning to tell well.