The Terrifying Side of Creating Space

In coaching relationships we talk about creating space for what you want. The idea is that you need to get rid of the clutter - literally and metaphorically in your life. You need to clean out your closets. Get rid of the stuff that doesn’t fit you, doesn’t work for you, doesn’t represent who you are now. Say goodbye. 

It’s part of the process that you need to go through when you want to live from your center. When you are ready to create a life that reflects who you are and what you value you need to take a look at your current reality. You have crafted your current life to support the life you are living right now. It makes sense that if you want something different you need to start to make different choices. 

In becoming more aligned with your true self, you will need to make some hard decisions about your life. Are there relationships that are holding you back?  Are you doing things that don’t reflect your changing values? Is your environment working against the progress you want to see in your life? Just like a person going on a diet purges her cupboards of empty calorie foods, you will need to do a purge in your life. 


We refer to this process as ‘creating space’ for what you want.

But here is the scary part of creating life change. When you end relationships, clear out the physical clutter in your house, and get rid of the things that aren’t working for you or serving the greater purpose of supporting you in the life you desire, the space isn’t filled immediately. 

You need to start slowly filling the closet with clothes that fit and reflect your lifestyle and values. You need to find relationships and community that fill the void if you have moved on from people who were holding you back in some way. Once you have let go of what isn’t working, you need to start again. 

Everything in you will want to hurry this process. You will feel lonely. You may question your decision. You may find the new clothes don’t feel comfortable yet. They don’t quite fit the way you imagined. You may feel like an imposter. You may find yourself standing in line - literally and metaphorically - at that cheap fast fashion store with an armful of clothes to try on even though you know in your heart you want to only buy ethically sourced, environmentally responsible clothes. It takes commitment and determination to set it down and walk away. Again. 

Nature abhors a vacuum and you’ve created one. A big empty space waiting to be filled.

And creating space for what you really want is a good thing. It took courage. Be proud of that empty closet and the space you have created. Slowly it will fill again with the good things that you desire in your heart. Remind yourself that it takes time. That the discomfort you are feeling is not an indication you have made a wrong decision. Hold the space. Put a note in your physical closet to remind yourself. Write in your calendar, “Weekends soon to be filled with life-giving activities.” Trust that you will fill those spaces again and it doesn’t have to be today. 

You’ve created the space, hold your intention for the life you want and be open. Even if you are terrified.

The Hardest Thing I Have Given Up

Recently I did a series of long hikes with my good friend and podcast co-host Jo-Anne Gibson. It’s our fourth year hiking together and we are aware of the patterns in our conversations. I mentioned something to her and then I added, “If I am still talking about this next year call me out on it.” We had a good laugh because we've recognized this particular pattern in our lives. We generally bitch and complain about something one year. And then the next year we are ready to do something about it. And the following year, we have moved on. It’s been really encouraging to see how these changes happen and it can help us be patient with ourselves and others.

I would say the pattern looks something like this:

1. Awareness - This stage usually is dominated with complaining, bitching and whining about a person or circumstance in your life. You are unhappy with what is happening. Often this is the beginning phase of awareness and you still haven’t stepped into your own role in the problem. You see the problem as outside of yourself. You see someone else or the situation as the issue.

2. Readiness - In this stage you are aware of your role in the situation. You have moved beyond being a victim. You own your unhappiness or discontent. You are ready to make a change. You don’t want to keep talking about it. You want to do something about your situation.

3. Ending - You finally take action. You make the change. You stop talking about it and do something.

I’ve seen this pattern in my life over and over again. And so each Fall, on our long hikes, I know that the thing I am complaining about this year will eventually be resolved. All my talking about it is a way of becoming more aware of what is bothering me. It helps me get really clear on the issue - the real issue.

But there is one thing that has taken me a long time to move from awareness to readiness. One problem that I have spent all of my adult life trying to overcome. It’s my deep rooted need to be liked. It shows up in my conversation often stated as, “I don’t want to hurt X” or “I don’t want to disappoint Y.” Those things are not the real issue though. The real issue is I want to be liked. And because I want to be liked, I am not always completely transparent about who I am. At times and with certain people I feel quite compartmentalized.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness  and I highlighted this quote:

Standing alone in a hypercritical environment or standing together in the midst of difference requires one tool above all others: trust. To brave the wilderness and become the wilderness we must learn how to trust ourselves and trust others.

I’ve been thinking about trust and the need to be liked. I think they are related. Learning how to show up as myself in a situation requires courage. It is a risk. Like most of our deep rooted issues it probably has ties to my childhood. I learned that if I did things that my parents didn’t like there were dire consequences. Spending much of my adult life in a religious community with rigid rules about what was right and wrong allowed those roots to go deep. I learned not to say things that would upset someone. Being liked was being safe. 

I’m tired of talking about my need to be liked. I’m ready to take action. I’ve decided to end living a life that is compartmentalized. I’m interested in living truthfully so that we can heal the world. I think as long as we live compartmentalized lives we are disconnected from our true selves, from each other and from the earth. For me that means acting like a leader, focusing on self-development, talking about the impact my choices have on the environment and other people and contemplating the spiritual significance of all of the above. I’ll be writing about these topics. They will be themes in this blog. I’m not even 100% sure how it will all unfold. I just want to start the conversation and direct you to some of the resources that are helping me live truthfully.

The hardest thing I have ended is caring so much about what other people think. About what you think. But I know that we can’t begin something new until we are willing to end what isn’t working. I’m creating that space here. I’m trusting that you will like me. And I know that creating a safe place begins with speaking my truth.

Don't get out your Fall clothes just yet...

You can feel it in the air. The nights are cooler and the days are a little shorter where I live. Fall planters are on the shelves at the garden centres. I saw Halloween candy being stocked in a store. Schools are back this week or next week depending where you live.

Where did summer go?

I've been thinking a lot about how we end things. I've got more to say on that topic coming up. I've worked with people and organizations in transition for a long time. I've been through many of my own transitions. I love change. I can hurry into something new with barely a glance back. I think I am becoming wiser as I age. I am more eager to try and enjoy what is and not be in such a rush.

In my work with people in transition, I have become aware of how important it is to end well. Good closure can help us transition well. So, before you get out your flannel sheets, I'm suggesting you take some time to end summer well. You'll thank me in February for reminding you now to squeeze out every drop of summer.

Here are some thoughts I have for you to consider:

  • What could you do to savour these last weeks of summer?
  • What is something that you wanted to do this summer but didn't get around to doing? Is it too late or can you fit it in still? I wanted to go stand up paddle boarding - I think I can still fit that in on one of the warm days remaining.
  • What are some of the things you can only do in the summer that you love? Make plans to enjoy as much of it as you can now.
  • How long can you go before you need to stop wearing sandals?
  • Can you get away from your desk and get outside for lunch as much as possible this month?
  • Will you dare to wear white after Labour Day?

It can be so tempting to rush into the new season. And for some personalities we are drawn to 'what's next.' As we head into the last official long weekend of the summer - take time to enjoy it and be in the moment. It will end soon enough.