An artful exploration of why and how we make decisions and the thoughts that surround them.
It’s 5:47am, and for the past two hours of non-sleep, words have circulated my brain about this book. Like many, I have often thought “is there a book in me” – especially in the world that we live in today of self-published e-books and PDFs that surround our social media shop windows on a consumeristic daily basis. So, I thought, why not add to the tide of waffle that is out there and see if I can add any value.
You see, I find it quite interesting to sit here on my toadstool of “middle-land” looking at this perspective of choice and decision making. I will be honest, I never thought in a gazillion years that my page turner would be around this subject, but as any creative will tell you, we never quite know where the next muse will come from.
I like this “middle-land”, I tend to sit here a lot in my work as a Coach. Some people would call it “sitting on a fence” as they glare down their noses with an “idiotic” contemplation across their faces. For a while, I would suggest I was probably one of those people being stared at. But I think I should probably justify what I mean by this. I like the “middle-ground” as a place of meditative perspective, reflection and observation. It massively helps me in my life and work in being curious, inquisitive, non-biased and non-judgemental. But even in those areas, I slip – most humans do – and I too am one of them, however mindful and developing all the same.
I tend to bask here a fair bit in the “middle-land” and have done for lots of different aspects of life. But when it comes to choice, I sit on my toadstool and look at the spectrum of choices that have stumbled and wobbled unsteadily through my brain in the past. At the one end, I slumped often in the turmoil and depths of “woe be me” as I drowned in the cluster-fucks of having to make a decision. To the other end of blissfully screaming with glee “fuck-it” and throwing myself in. Neither, especially comfortable at their given points and neither with the easiest of journey’s that followed.
It brings me to question if there is another way, a different way in which we can view our choices and the shit that surrounds them. It’s a beautiful place to sit in the middle land of perspective, peaceful and at ease to make decisions or choices. But how do we get to this place on a more regular basis? Why do we make the choices we do? How do we make them? What impacts those very steps and how can we playfully create a painting of steppingstones between the two ends of the spectrum?
It’s funny, as I sit and write sitting on my toadstool, I feel like my life is centred around a game of kerplunk, me in the middle and all the tubes coming through the centre of decisions and choices I have made or am yet still to make. As I twist on my little toadie, I can see all the other spectrums of choice that I have experienced through life, which is what got me to write this book. Because, I come from life with a lot of varied thoughts, feelings and experiences.
As a Coach, I sit in the middle of being a Life and Business Coach. I call this Misfit Coaching – which isn’t great for marketing so have tended to use the term Hybrid Coaching. But if I am honest, what does that even fucking mean?! You see, one choice is, how do we label things in order to “fit-in” and “belong”. A lovely little cultural trick that has put many a people on the “woe-be-me to fuck-it” slide faster than the HS2. We all want that sense of connection and belonging with many seeing that we need to label ourselves in order to box off our community or tribe.
I get it, our brains are meaning making systems – we like to name things in order to interpret and understand them. But this can often be to the detriment of our development as human beings. We will come back to this later.
As a child, I sat in the “middle-land” of religion – raised a Catholic but questioning religious teachings and the choices they posed to us on creation and this journey we call life. This was further exacerbated as I started to explore the spectrum of sexuality, questioning was I straight or gay and now, as a Neary 40 year old, having had more relationships with women than men in my lifetime, the world would classify me in shining lights as “Kez-the-Lez” (back to those labels). But as we develop as a world, we really are starting to see that we are more than those identities, with many now questioning the fluidity of gender and sexuality. I have long thought, in my own circumstances of sexuality, that it was less about gender and more about energy and connection. But being a good societal-norm, I stuck with the flag of labels for ease.
Further religious tidal changes of choice when seen as a two-time, award winning divorcee – from two women I should add – al-be-it – not at the same time. That would then be a whole new chapter! But, were the choices to marry, to ends those relationships and to journey beyond a “woe be me” or “fuck-it moments”? At either of those times, whether to get married or divorce, I was brought back to my childhood and questioned “How does religion, sexuality, and choice all combine?” As we all know – still not great. Which, in a world where many perceive humans as being the most intelligent of all beings, I refer back to the fact we are 99% DNA related to Chimps – and we often think and behave like monkey’s – not to discredit how amazing Chimps are! But still, we have a long way to go.
As a teen and 20 something, I sat in the middle of a mental health diagnosis – the Bipolar Spectrum – a choice to believe in an expert, to not question, and to then live and almost die with fulfilling that diagnosis, lithium and all. Only for 20 years later to have it classified as a misdiagnosis. How different would those 20 years have been with a different choice and perspective?
In comparison, also as a teen, to sit in the middle of pain and discomfort, to be told it was “Fibromyalgia” but to question it and find out it was a spinal functional misalignment. How different would life have been to choose to live with that first diagnosis?
In either way, as we will discover through this curious journey of a book – there is no point in looking back or the what-ifs. We will even look later at exercises to reduce the anxieties that surround these, understanding the open door to wisdom and growth comes through adverse times.
And finally, as someone who loved sport, happened to fall narrowly into the terminology of “elite athlete” who played for England as an 18 and 21-year-old and somehow managed to sit on the side lines alot to win medals with teammates that were truly “elite”. We will discuss how this links to the choices that kept me on those side lines based on self-belief systems, support systems, and quite frankly, laziness! But how our choices can often be holding hands firmly with a word many feel uncomfortable with – lazy!
It’s interesting, that in all of those scenarios, and more, choices were firing at me at a rate of bolts that even Keanu Reeves in the Matrix couldn’t have back-flipped through. Sometimes, those bolts were far too close for comfort and resulted in psychiatric wards and psychotic snot-wiping break downs. But somehow, I did get through them. Like many of you reading this, we are truly stronger than we give ourselves credit for. But realising this is also a key part to sitting with the times when we have uncomfortable decision making and choices to make – just knowing, either way, we will be okay in the end.
Religion would have us believe that this would always be the case, that the journey and path of discovery were already set ready for us to step through in order to fulfil our purpose; all through a heightened sense of free-will. But when we are in the “thick-shit” of it, we don’t see that. In fact, some may never believe that because as a “middle-lander” we question how a pre-ordained path on one end sits with free-will at the other.
Ultimately, what we can establish is that life is complicated, and the storms and sunshine that grace our shores of life on a daily basis can often lead to struggling to sit with choice. Being typically English, we want to sit on the beach (middle-land), enjoy the sounds of the waves, and have a temperature of weather that is moderately warm with a pina-colada on the side (or weirdly, for me, give me a cuppa-tea any day). What we are basically saying is, don’t throw us the shit of a 40+-degrees heat wave or monsoon because we have been waiting all damn year for this fucking holiday! (Like I said, typically English and we are never happy with the weather).
But life cannot always be a beach, it can often be a bee-hatch – and sure enough, given enough time, even if it was a total beach, we would probably get bored or likewise grow accustomed to it and start to haze the perception of beauty that we have about it, almost to an element of complacency. We are fickle characters, us humans!
We all know this to be true, the ends of spectrums, whether sunburn or the realisation that we are in need of a new raincoat, teaches us the very soul of what choice and decision making are all about. We gain our greatest stripes of armour through the turmoil’s we face; we build the foundations of resilience, strength, fortitude, courage and whole-hearted living. Better still, we build the foundations of knowing who we really are – should we be willing to tap into that frequency of wanting to know who we really are (which I appreciate, at times, might be debatable).
But all in all, this book will explore, artfully, playfully, curiously why and how we make choices and what we can take from the shit that comes with it. Delving into personal experiences alongside research, we will look inside our wonderful brains to find out how it ticks along to travel through the “middle-land” and back again. We will look at what is pulling the strings from the inside-out and how we can pull that kerplunk-straw to decision making without all the proverbial-balls (aka bollocks) dropping on us. We will even look at some ways in which to pick up those hairy peachy fellas, should all-hell of broken loose and we have dropped them, realising it isn’t the end of the world but the open door to gaining wisdom and insight into who we are at a deeper level.
Ready to join me on the toadstool? Let’s go!
WHY WRITE THIS BOOK
As a former-teacher and Coach, the one area in which I spend most of my time discussing with clients is around choice. In particular, the limiting belief that comes up when we feel we don’t have a choice or the difficulties we face in making a decision and strutting our stuff through change. This can often feel overwhelming, isolating, and truly flippin lonesome.
As I have already suggested, I know a fair bit about choice, decisions and change and have capsized my kayak on many occasions in these areas. If this book helps just one person to feel that they are not alone and that they can smile at a connection of thought, feeling or experience and that helps them to take a step forward, then a little gem has been gifted to both you and me.
HOW TO READ THIS BOOK
Okay, I am not here to teach you to read, I think we can all agree on that. But having read a lot of self-development books, I am acutely aware of what another Coach once told me “All self-development books all kinda say the same, just in a different format”.
With that, what you are about to read might not be anything new to you. BUT there is a strong chance a little snippet or two gives you an “a-ha moment” (here’s hoping). I want to keep it simple, so 10 chapters long, some quotes (because we all love them for Social Media) and even some illustrations for those of you that need a wordbreak.
Read the chapters back to back or read a chapter that suits you – I am not fussed. WHAT I WILL SAY is that if you complete the exercises at the end of each chapter once you have read them, and invest some time and effort into doing them, you will get more out of it. Yes, yes nothing new in that advice – but ask yourself this if you are a collector of self-development books – how many times have you done the exercises?! Many people don’t!
To link back, what my coach colleague friend alluded to was, in part, true. The one area I have found with clients, and even with my own experiences, is that when we do the exercises in self-development books, they start to come alive – it is the closest way, in my eyes, that a self-development book can ever become as magical as Harry Potter himself.