by Jerry Marrs
A very common tool in life coaching is the creation of a list of core beliefs by which one defines themself and lives their life. This is often referred to as one’s document. This set of core beliefs creates the framework by which one tackles other challenges in life. Challenges which often arise include career or job changes, parenting challenges, caregiver challenges, retirement, the loss of a marriage, loss of a loved one, or having to live with illness.
People define themselves all the time, but the definitions are frequently dependent upon others. For example: I am a great husband; I am a great wife; I am an executive; or I am a fireman. By defining ourselves this way we give others control over our definition of self. For example, one spouse may choose to leave a marriage, the executive may get fired, or the fireman may get injured and be forced to retire. When something like that occurs, that portion of one’s definition of self crumbles.
The solution I use in my coaching is to create a document, a definition of self, which is independent of anyone else. The document encompasses the innate core sense of who one is and who one wants to be, and applies that to various aspects of life. For example, part of the definition of my core being includes: I am love; I am respect; I am forgiveness; and I am patience. I then apply these definitions to my life and use them to behave as the best husband ever, the best father ever, and the best life coach ever.
My document also includes specific goals I want to accomplish. The goals I have set are driven by my definition of self and generally centered around my coaching practice, my health, and my family. For example, my definition of self includes “I am strength” and “I am athletic.” I use these definitions to set exercise and health expectations for myself. The goals I set include daily exercise, a healthy diet, and little alcohol.
Another definition of my core being states: I control me; I control no other and no other controls me. Thus, I acknowledge that I cannot blame my actions on another and that I have no control over anyone else’s actions. This belief, in conjunction with the other definitions of my core being, has had a profound and liberating impact on my life.
I recently attended an Ontocore, Create Powerful course in Los Angeles. I chose to drive to the course from the Bay Area. As I drove to LA and back, I practiced love, respect, forgiveness, and patience towards drivers around me. I also remained focused on my belief that I control no other and no other controls me. When other drivers cut me off, drove somewhat erratically, played on their phones, etc., I ran my possible reactions through my document. Cursing or getting angry did not align with my core being as the actions would be inconsistent with my intent to be love, respect, forgiveness, and patience. Additionally, yelling at someone to slow down, get off their phone, or pay attention is inconsistent with my belief that I control no other. Most importantly, by refusing to get angry, I did not give anyone else control over my thoughts, words, or actions. I did not waste any of my time being angry at someone or later telling conflated stories about the guy who “nearly killed me.” However, if someone is clearly reckless or possibly drunk, I will call 911.
On the drive, I realized that by removing angry or frustrated thoughts from my mind I have opened considerable room in my brain, which has allowed me to perceive life in greater detail. For example, colors were more vibrant, the landscape was prettier, and I was able to spend more time focused on my goals.
Not getting angry is a skill I have been practicing for quite some time, and it takes time to get better and better at it. I have achieved this result, in part, by reading my document at least twice a day to continually remind myself who I am and how I am to act, and to engrain my beliefs into my subconscious. I have not always acted as love, respect, forgiveness, or patience throughout my life. However, I have now made a conscious decision to be these things in all I think, say, and do. Before I act, I ask myself, is the next thought, word, or deed consistent with my core being? If the answer is “no,” I choose to change my actions. I do not always succeed, but I have given myself clear parameters about how I am to behave. Actually living by the document takes time and patience to achieve but, over time, the reward of a happy and fulfilling life makes all the work worthwhile.