Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. −Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak
It seems her life was being held in measure to a book of values written by the life of her mother−at least the perception of her mother’s life to which she held tight. So tight in fact that it created an irreconcilable tension between perceived standard and authentic reality.
You know those times when a voice speaks something that makes you say, “Ouch!” And then you slide into deeper shock upon realizing it was your voice! Such was the case with the question I posed during one particular session with Susan.
Susan had been telling me in great detail about her mother. As I listened I remember thinking how unbalanced such admiration felt. That’s when I heard it: “Do you think there might be a need to separate your admiration for your mother from your need to be like her?” When I realized that the voice was my own, my eyes quickly scanned for sharp instruments on the table where we had just dined. Fortunately Susan did not try to hurt me. But if looks could kill …
After our mutual shock subsided we talked freely about the intent of the question. Susan began to see the unnecessary standard she had placed on herself; holding back the flow of the authentic Susan. It was particularly powerful when she was able to embrace another question: Wouldn’t it break your mother’s heart if she thought she was part of anything holding her daughter back?
It thrills me to know Susan opened that day to listen deeply and stepped through a portal to authentic reality and unique impact.