“Arg! Things are crazy. I used to feel like life really was wonderful and now I feel anxious and challenged almost daily.” This was me speaking to Tabitha, my dear friend and an amazing coach. Not only had covid hit, but my husband was deployed and we were in a custody battle to protect his son.
It was so interesting to me. Being coached integratively, potentiated every area of my life, not just one or two. I reached a point in my life where I finally, after decades, was living at the cause of my life. It felt like a kick in the pants to all of a sudden feel like I was down to living at the effect of so many things.
I had learned that one of the greatest things I cherish about being in the coaching profession is that you are surrounded by the most positive, big-hearted, uplifting, non-judgmental people. I had also learned that doing the work to self-actualize doesn’t mean all life is magically “challenge free”. It does mean that you have the capacity and the self-companionship to rise above it.
So, there I was, admitting to Tabitha I was feeling out of whack. One of the dynamics of stress is that we forget our resources. Under stress, the brain closes down its creative functions to handle the stress. Tabitha was about to remind me of this phenomenon.
She said, “I know what you are going through feels overwhelming, but let’s double-check that. Let’s look at the Levels of Development.” Bare with me, we are about to take a detour.
In Integrative Coaching, we use a tool called the Levels of Development to help discern 1) the nine milestones in self-mastery, 2) track progress as a new milestone is reached, and 3) see if we are hanging out in the healthy, unhealthy or average ranges.
Self-development is like riding a bike. Once you know how to ride it, you can’t go back to not knowing. However, we can be self-forgetting at times, like I was. Under stress, it is good to have compassion that we are located underneath the stress. So let’s look at rising above it.
Let’s say you start your journey towards increasing your levels of mastery. These range from unhealthy to healthy. Un-resourced on the inside to fully resourced on the inside. Disintegrated to fully integrated.
You take the Levels assessment and you are starting off at level 4.
It would look like this:
Your level of development is where you hang out on an average day. Since covid, or challenging life circumstances, are not your normal average days we can slip down a level. Under stress, we tend to slip down one or two notches. For example, if your current level is four, you may have moments where you slip down to level five or six under stress.
It makes sense that people are more reactive and divisive right now. We are collectively under stress.
The good news is that as you move up the levels and increase your capacity in life, when life gets stressful you only slip down one or two levels instead of falling all the way to the bottom of the unhealthy ranges. So, let’s pick the story back up.
Tabitha and I read the levels of development. Over a span of 10 years, I had developed from level 4 to level 9 and hung out at 9 during normal life circumstances (yes, skeptics are slow learners). What Tabitha and I discovered that under the stress of covid, a deployment and an urgent family matter, I slipped down to level 7.
Once we expand our inner-resources, they act like flotation devices and float us. What I learned is that I felt stressed, but my actual buoyancy was still pretty high.
I thought about this and realized that if I was going through this amount of stress at any other time in my life I would have just been a puddle of stress on the floor.
Instead of worrying about what level you are at. Focus on staying buoyant at the level you are at. Step one of being emotionally buoyant during a turbulent time is to Level Up. To level up, I invite you to follow this path:
Keep in mind, the pandemic does carry some opportunities. We can either stay stuck in the stress or rise above it. We can complain, or we can take the time to reflect and review our values and gifts. We can wake up upset, or we can choose to examine what really matters to us at the end of each day and align with that each morning.
This is an opportunity to level up.
By Laurel Elders, PCC
IICT Founder / Senior Faculty