As I reflect on the theme of silence, and its value in coaching, I’d like to make a distinction between what I call ‘sacred’ silence and the silence that is just an absence of outer noise. In that absence of outer noise, sometimes there is a gremlin that becomes easier to hear. The latter type of silence can be disempowering. The good news is that there is a way to quiet the gremlins and get into sacred silence that refreshes you.
When I first started to meditate, and just sit in the silence so many years ago, I noticed that my inner critical voice would take the opportunity to speak to me. This actually made me want to move away from the silence, as it was very uncomfortable. With practice and excellent self-care, I learned to quiet that voice, and enjoy the benefits of true silence and stillness.
I received a question from one of my magnificent clients that reminded me of my earlier days of meditation, and one of the thoughts that my gremlins brought to me (shared with permission):
“Karen, I just worry about “the competition” – but – let me ask you. How do you factor in competitors when you choose a topic to speak, a service to offer. I mean – it’s not like you are the only one who does what you do (in the broader sense). and you’ve referred me to potential competitors… so you are clearly not avoiding them… or threatened.
I sort of cower, and want to not stand next to them… in case I don’t measure up or can’t compete. I don’t really like to compete…and would rather avoid it. But maybe this perspective is hurting me. Maybe there’s a view that allows me to not actively compete, but not run away.”
This type of comparison to others or viewing others as competition can happen to anyone. And that is what happened to me when I started to meditate in silence (and still does at times). I have learned how to minimize this conversation in my mind and enter into sacred silence, and that really helps me remember what it is I truly believe.
Here’s the answer I gave my client:
“I do not believe in competition. I believe that everyone has a unique energy, and that there is no one who can do things like I do. The information from many people is the same, only told from a different perspective. People buy our insights, not our information, and I know that my insights and style are different from others.
That being said, when I am tired, or have not been taking good care of myself and having a weak day or week, I can start comparing myself to others easily. That’s why self-care is so important to me. When I am strong and well-rested, I KNOW that competition does not exist. I know that there are those who will be attracted to my energy, and no one else’s.
You are good at what you do. There will be those attracted to you and your style (who will become clients) and those who will not (who never will). Be yourself (as you have been doing) and connect with others. You will recognize your perfect clients who come your way, and they will recognize you.”
The combination of exquisite self-care and sacred silence that refreshes is so empowering and nourishing. If you find yourself feeling the comparison or competition energy, increase your self-care practices, and then become silent and let the stillness enrich you.
Let silence lead you to true power and strength. It can, when it is preceded by taking really good care of yourself.