Put together the man, and his world will fall in place
At some point in my early twenties while scrambling to put my life together, hopeless and desperate, I decided to seek help. I needed someone to help me make sense of it all. I looked up a therapist, saved up enough for session, and gathered the courage to actually go and see her.
As I sat in her office, tearfully recalling the most recent of my traumatic experiences, I begged her for answers. WHY?! Why was it always happening to me? Why did attract narcissistic partners that left me worse off? Why did I feel so isolated and alone? Why was my life so unsatisfying and unfulfilling? Why did bad things ALWAYS happen to me? Was this all there was to life? An endless cycle of trauma, pain and misery? What was the point? My world, in contrast to that of those around me, seemed to be in an endless inferno, I felt like a helpless observer at the mercy of my circumstances and environment. From where I was sitting, life seemed to have a vendetta, a personal score to settle with me, and all I could do was watch as it all happened.
Even though I felt hopelessness and alone, I wanted more, I wanted what others had. I didn't want to just exist, I wanted to live.
Growing up in a typical African setting, I believed then, like most, that "my destiny was already written in the stars". I was merely a passive participant in life, an idea I had inherited from my culture which was heavily influenced by colonialism, Religious indoctrination that resulted in generations and generations of people who believed themselves to be less than. So as I sat in the office of my therapist, years of being told, "That's just the way it has always been", was no longer enough for me! I wanted to understand. I wanted answers, I wanted an explanation.
There in that office, my thirst for healing, mental health and personal development was born.
Later, while attending an introduction to psychology class, the lecturer told a story to describe what therapy and psychology does. In the story, a busy father tears up a map of the world and tasks his son to put it back together with the intention to buy himself time before he goes out with him to play. When the son puts the puzzle together in record time, the father is intrigued as to how he did it. The son replies that he noticed there was a picture of a man at the back of the map. By focussing on putting together the man, he actually ended up putting together the map.
In my case, my world, included not just my own experiences, traumas and beliefs. I needed to unpack all the indoctrinations my forefathers had unknowingly burdened me with in order to discover my potential. I needed to learn how to an active participant in life, understand the relationship between my thoughts, actions and feelings. Not only that, but I also needed to learn to see myself as a just as deserving and capable as those I deemed "lucky". To be assertive, to speak my mind and stand up for myself. I would have to convince myself that I could have a better life and had the capacity to create it. Most of all, I needed to learn to view my trauma and negative experiences from a position of strength, as a survivor rather than as a victim.
I had to mentally put myself together in order for my world to fall in place.
This is why I coach and support African people in particular, because I recognize the impact that our history and culture had in how we view ourselves and our place in the world. I help people like me, for whom "that's just the way it is" doesn't satisfy their curiosity. For whom "the way it is" isn't good enough and have a deep hunger and desire to be better, do better and make their world better.
This is what I do with my personal form of coaching. I teach people to change themselves, by taking responsibility for what is within their control while learning to cope with the things that are without their control.