Removing What Intimidates Us

Yesterday's client had a pile of papers on her office floor. They had been gathering there for months. She was too overwhelmed to face the papers individually, so everyday she would add to the pile.

So I sat down on the floor next to the paper mountain and invited her to join me. I like to get my clients to jump right in. It gets them out of the pain of avoidance.

It was difficult for her to sit next to the papers. They were like a snarling dog. So I handed her one piece of paper to consider. That was easy for her. We do better if we just focus on one thing at a time, and ignore the rest . I asked her if she needed the paper or not, or did she need to take action on the paper. She was able to make a decision. We kept this up, piece by piece.

Eventually we reached the source of all the paper clutter. We came upon a stack of papers that represented a book she was working on. She hadn't touched the manuscript in six months. She turned pale and unconsciously gripped her hand around her throat. I told her what she was doing. She was surprised to find her hand on her throat. I said it meant she felt like the book was choking her. I like to gauge how a person feels about things by their body language. The body doesn't lie.

I asked her to take her hand off her throat. I asked her to tell me about the papers. She said the top stack of the papers were criticisms of her book from a writing class she took. Underneath them was the book. I asked her to remove the criticisms from the manuscript and set them away from her. She did.

We're not inspired by criticism. It's the most common form of motivation. But it has a way of making people freeze. Kind encouragement is the best motivator.

I asked her to hold her book.

I asked her how she felt about the book now. She said positive and she was open to writing again. She told me out of the fifteen critiques, one was supportive and had some positive pointers in how to strengthen and make the book even better. I asked her to pick out that critique. She did. I asked her to place it next to her book. She looked at them both and said she felt ready. She was sitting up straight. She was emanating strength.