The Boring Cient
I was coaching a man who was telling me about his concerns. I listened carefully, watching my feelings. After a short period I noticed I was bored. It was not that what he was saying was boring. He was making significant progress in many of the things he had set out to do. He was an entrepreneur. He had written a book that was receiving notable attention in Business Week and another national magazine. He was making progress on forming a new company. But his tone was lifeless.
I continued to watch myself to see what would evolve. I became more bored and stifled a yawn. Then I stifled several more yawns. Pretty soon I was in a constant state of yawning! I couldn’t stop myself. I felt deeply embarrassed because I could not stop my body from its reactivity. I had this thought: “This is pure torture! It’s like being stuck inside a prison cell, deprived of light and water.”
Finally, I said to this man, “Do you see the flowers over there on the table?” There was a large display of yellow lilies in full bloom. “And do you see those other lilies by the window and on the mantle?” He nodded that he did see them. “Well, in January, they were nothing. All of them were nothing but poor bulbs about 2 inches in diameter stuck in the mud. It’s now May and the plants that they come from are almost 6 feet tall. And as you can see they are bursting with color! They are blooming with life! Why is this? It’s because these plants want to grow. They want to bloom. They want to burst out of their cocoons and come to life! But it’s not only them. All plants, all animals want to live. They want to grow. They want to burst from their shells and become what they can become. But it’s not just plants and animals. Humans too belong to nature. Humans want to grow. They also want to become what they can become. What about you? It seems to me that you are trying your best to prevent any kind of growth from happening. Every time something hopeful turns up, a new growth occurs above ground, you go out there and pour Roundup all over it. You stomp it down. You prevent that thing from growing. You don’t allow the least flicker of creativity or individuality to enter your conversation. Who you are as a person is completely covered up. All of nature is out there wanting to display itself. But you are in here hiding away, covering yourself with blandness. You’ve got this amazing creativity and you are making surprising progress- why are you covering it all up? Do you suppose I don’t notice that you are killing every shred of emotional life that’s in you? Do you think you can get by droning on pretending you are communicating something? I mean, do you really believe yourself when you speak like this? Wouldn’t you enjoy connecting with something that’s alive in you?” (I wanted to wake him up!)
He started to laugh. He was smiling. I asked, “Why are you smiling?”
He said, “You’re right! I have been hiding out. And yes, I do want to live! Thank you.”
Sometimes you have to give a guy a kick in the pants, even if you practice nonviolent communication.