I had a conversation the other day that helped me re-ignite a fire…
A fire I had forgotten about.
And it took me screwing up and self-correcting to finally get to the right spot.
Here’s what happened earlier this week…
I met with a woman I don’t know very well. She reached out to me because she has just been given a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. She said she felt she had a triple digit amount of weight to lose. She doesn’t know where to start.
She asked me to tell her how I lost weight and reversed Type 2 diabetes. She said she wanted to hear my story.
I was trying to find the right words to help her understand a few things about what I had encountered that I thought might be specifically helpful to her. I was trying to explain that my journey was not linear. It was not easy, nor over.
The trade offs were life changing in every possible, positive way immaginable.
I explained that I remembered the day I mentally understood that I was trading medicine prescribed in a pill bottle and syringe for MEDICINE in the form of healthy, nutrient dense foods.
I remembered when I finally understood I was trading a lifetime of being lazy, inactive and comfortable for a new lease on life that would make me wildly uncomfortable and have me running in the woods and facing exhilarating fears head on.
I understood I was in the life-long process of building a whole new lifestyle.
I wanted her to understand that with every fiber of my being, I had become willing to trade certain death with Type 2 diabetes for a chance at what I knew could be a life worth living out loud, fiercely and completely each day.
So I’m in this conversation with this woman and I have this intense energy building in my head and chest to try to help her understand ME and my journey…
Yet I can see that I am failing in trying to help her understand that the power to save her own life lies in her own hands… I could see that she was overwhelmed with the task that was stretching out in front of her.
And then it FINALLY registered through my thick skull what it was I was actually seeing, feeling and experiencing with her…
My story, combined with her own journey winding out in front of her were BOTH scaring her.
Beyond the tears, the averted eyes and bowed head — there was just fear. I could see it. She was trying hard to hide it. But it was too bag, too pervasive, too consuming.
I felt like I had to stop and re-group. For both of us.
I pulled out my best imitation of my ‘Wendie’ breathing techniques.
I stopped. Mid-sentence, mid-story. Sat up straight. Made solid eye contact and then I just took a few deep breaths.
DEEP, loud, intentional. That habit has become soothing for me in times of distress. When my friend Wendie Gum breathes that way — she can calm everyone around her… She can calm an entire freaking room of people. I have seen it happen. For real.
I was trying to steal just a bit of her magic. And hoping it would work to help me figure out how to put this conversation back on the right path.
And then I did something that’s hard for me to do.
I shut the hell up.
AND I started to listen to the silence.
I had been right to stop talking.
The silence was really, really tense and full.
So I just kept breathing.
I tried to convey to her, simply with my breathing and my eyes, that I could and would wait for her, WITH HER, in the fear and overwhelm.
I would willingly sit there ready to listen and just be with her for as long as she needed me to be there… I wanted her to know that struggling with emotions and words was safe and OK and warranted and healthy between us.
And then I waited for HER to fill the silence.
And she did.
And I let her talk, cry and grapple for words.
Which is what I should have done from the very beginning…
See, I have a fire burning in my heart and soul. I want everyone to catch the passion to CHANGE what’s broken in their lives. And to be fired up. And to be excited by the challenges in front of them.
I fundamentally understand that it has to be their OWN fire. I can’t tend it, can’t light it and have no right to even share in the warmth.
This conversation proved to be a perfect reminder for me. Spencer (coach) is always reminding me to respect, trust and work the process.
Well… It turns out that I really needed the reminder to RESPECT THAT PROCESS for others.
It’s NOT my process. Not my fire. Not my opportunity.
It. Is. Theirs.
And it was also a great reminder that I wasn’t always fired up and ready to take on the world. I sat there staring at her and could suddenly remember when I was terrified. And ashamed. And overwhelmed.
I could see me sitting across the table.
I remembered when I just wanted someone to listen. And understand. And not judge me. And maybe say something that I’d never heard before that I thought might just be POSSIBLE…
I was there in a similar, fire-less pit for a very long time. Too long.
And while I wanted someone to light the fire for me… I really just needed someone to listen and understand.
When that happened? THAT is when things finally caught fire for me.
I really want to be the person I so desperately NEEDED when I started on this journey.
The fire I have is really NOT to tell my story.
The fire I have in my soul is to HELP other people…
This week I was reminded that people don’t need to hear my story, they just need me to care about THEIR story.
Could listening actually ignite a fire?