By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach

The comfort and danger of the collective story

“Everyone needs more than anyone can give right now,” said a friend the other day when we were having a mini-kvetch about our perceived circumstances at the moment.

I nodded in agreement when she said it because lined up with the story I was telling myself. At the start of summer, the pandemic storyline felt hopeful. Now many parents like me are facing renewed worries about school starting with the rise of the Delta variant. Add to that some stories around work feeling overwhelming at the moment and one can quickly develop a narrative around our collective experience that resonates.

It can feel helpful to lean into groupthink around what we perceive to be happening right now. Headlines like, “Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It’s Called Languishing” or “Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful” come up and we might say, “YES! That’s it! They nailed what I’m feeling!” And this idea that we’re all feeling the same somehow makes us feel better for a moment. But is it helpful in the long run?

Align to Thrive

As coaches, we want our clients to flourish instead of languishing. And spending time looking at the long run while zapping those pesky stories is core to our whole approach.

It’s incredible how so many of us can get caught up in a very tangled web of tales around a specific event or occurrence. A friend would commiserate, but a coach helps you see through it all, extracting out judgements, opinions and stories.

A coaching call with Stephanie this week got me out of my story-spiral and into seeing my current circumstances with neutral eyes. The answer to my specific quandary was arrived at (after much whittling down) with a simple question: “What is the next right thing to do?” (A.K.A. the Frozen 2 way!)

The result of the thought shift was a total shift in how I showed up for myself and my people. 

In searching for a bit of hope and inspiration right now, I realized I was waiting for someone to rescue me rather than being my own hero. One of the fastest ways to get out of spinning thoughts is through thinking about how we want to be of service. For me, that looked like giving a Coach Taylor pep talk to my team to get us out of the weeds and back to big picture thinking, which gave them that little fire they needed to find their purpose again.

Had we stayed stuck in our collective story as a team, we wouldn’t get anywhere. We’d just have more of the same problems! What was the most beneficial for me (seeing the long game) was also what my staff needed to help gain a feeling of control in the chaos. Sometimes what you want for yourself is exactly what you can give to others.

If you think you might have a story that’s keeping you feeling depleted, get in touch about our group coaching for women program. As we like to say, “This shit works!”

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