Feeling Stalled, Stymied or Blocked? Go Deeper...
by Eric Hellman
In a previous article, I shared some of the challenges I’ve had in my career expressing spirituality.
Working as an environmental consultant and activist in the early ‘80s, I once tried to share some ideas (albeit rather clumsily and out of the blue) with business colleagues and family. At the time, I wrote about separateness and the impacts of judging and criticizing others. And people around me thought I had ‘lost it.’ Close friends took me out to lunch to inquire about my sanity; others counselled me not to express such things publicly.
Feeling humiliated and rejected, I made a commitment never to talk about them again. Shortly afterwards, a series of inner experiences prompted me to leave the environmental field. But for several decades, I kept that commitment to stay silent – while at the time searching for ways to connect my work in the world with my spiritual training and experiences.
Two years ago, an insight into how to do this finally crystallized for me. And last summer, I completed a website for this new work, which I call “conscious change.”
Starting to ‘Put Myself Out There’
About four months ago, the thought came to me of offering a free workshop – as a way of introducing my work to local ‘change makers’. I drafted a flyer to describe the core ideas, then asked a friend who understands these ‘two worlds’ to review it and share her thoughts. This may not sound like much; but after 35 years of withholding my core work, it was a big step for me.
Unfortunately, her response wasn’t what I expected. When we met for lunch, she seemed reluctant to even bring it up. Finally she said, “It’s rather generic and general. Anyone could offer this.” She then started to probe: “What makes your work different from everyone else who coaches people in creating change?” As I began describing why it was so important to me she could see my passion. And she suggested I take my workshop description a bit deeper.
Returning to my office, I did my best to re-draft it. This led to three new flyers, which I then shared with another close friend. Her responses and our conversation showed I was headed in the right direction, but still wasn’t there yet. What had changed mostly in these new flyers was the packaging – the format, look and graphics. The content hadn't really deepened and grown. So it was back to the ‘drawing board’ yet again.
Excavating the Depths
This time, I felt a deep resistance. A part of me DID NOT want to move forward. I hemmed and hawed, sputtered and stalled. Eventually, I pulled out my journal, to see if writing about it would uncover what was blocking me. And finally out came my truths. I was STILL afraid of talking about spirituality publicly – in fact, even naming it. I was also afraid of describing my spiritual worldview, and beliefs about the power of thoughts, ideas and consciousness. And more…
In this 'uncovering,' it felt as though I was unearthing something so deep I could barely touch it. Barely say the words out loud, even to myself. No wonder I couldn’t write it in six pithy lines on a promotional flyer! But I kept going… pushing myself ever so gently, leaning into the resistance and the terror that lay underneath. What was it that I really wanted to say, or teach? What spiritual insights were still hiding inside -- and why was this process so difficult?
Hitting Pay Dirt
Finally, the nuggets began to surface. The things I couldn’t say were now coming to light. As I started to name and write them, new workshops and new flyers began to emerge. New images of how to portray them also surfaced. And bit, by bit, by bit, I began to feel as though I really had something to offer, and actually wanted to talk about it publicly.
As a result of other comments I’d received – e.g. about what I meant by “change” or about my background and credentials – I also began to design a new website. This would not only introduce the workshops, but give people a better, simpler introduction to who I am and what conscious change is about. It all seemed to flow together.
When I finished this work a month ago, I was exhausted. It was though I had done a deep excavation of my self, my psyche, and my work. However, the results had been worth it. I now had a new website, descriptions for seven workshops, and flyers to go with them. Ideas for even more workshops were starting to surface. And the desire to tell people about them was growing stronger within me.
Why do I share this story?
Our flyers and websites, bios and resumes, tell a story about us. Not just of what we’ve done or want to do – but also of what we can’t say about ourselves or do in our lives.
Sometimes we try to play it safe – so we hide things, or talk in generalities – in order to look respectable and be accepted. We think people won't notice; but they do. They see and feel it. There’s no real energy behind our words, and that’s what makes us sound ‘like everyone else.’ Thankfully, my friends recognized this. Without their help, I might not have gone further. And I would have neatly avoided the dirty work of digging more deeply inside, to find what I am really here to do.
If you’re feeling stuck in your life or work… if things aren’t advancing the way you’d like… if people aren’t coming or calling, or they’re wishy washy about what you’re doing... perhaps it’s an opportunity to go deeper: into who you are, what you want to say, or what you’re feeling called do. Be kind with yourself, but gently lean into it. See through the frustration and resistance. And go towards what scares you. Maybe it’s your time to bring into the world something you "can’t say"… and what you really have to.
I’m not saying it will be easy. But when you start to hit pay dirt, you’ll feel it inside. The spirit, the energy, the aliveness will start to flow, like an underground stream or aquifer you haven’t had access to for a long time.
And then there’s one more step: Giving yourself permission to put it out there. That’s where I am as I write this.
An old, deeply wounded place inside still scares me. It remembers being hurt and rejected, and fears being treated the same way again. That part of me still wants to hold back from telling people about my workshops. Yet each day, I take time to uncover, face and heal that place within. Because when I go 'public' once again, I want it to be – not from force or shoulds, but – from a place inside that speaks to me of love, of peace, of exuberance and gratitude for the opportunity to do so.
I’m not fully there yet. But I am making progress. So stay tuned… and just watch me.
Eric Hellman is a life, work and social change coach, and the Director of the Centre for Spirituality at Work. His new website (and flyers) are at: intro.consciouschange.info. And he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.