Get out of the exclusive trap with an inclusive perspective

“What brings you to life coaching?” I asked Pete.

“It’s a feeling I’ve had for a while, but haven’t had the courage to face,” he said. “My life is good. I have a high paying job. I adore my family. If you were to ask my friends, they would say, ‘he’s got a great life!’ “

“What’s missing?” I asked.

“I have an idea what’s missing, but I can’t face it,” he said.

“What’s your fear?” I asked.

“I’m afraid of what would happen if I traded some of my family’s security to find my happiness,” Pete said. “I have some unhappiness deep down that I cover with busyness. When I’m busy, I don’t feel the emptiness. But even that’s not working. I feel trapped.”

“What’s trapping you? I asked.

“I’ve been in my job for 10 years,” Pete said. “Each year my salary and responsibilities increase. The security is great, but the more secure I feel, the more I feel trapped.”

“I think our thoughts create our world,” I said. “What thoughts do you have about being secure and happy?”

“There’s an inverse relationship,” Pete said. “When one goes up, the other one goes down.”

“So from your viewpoint, it’s an either/or situation,” I said. “You are either happy or secure, but it’s tough to be both.”

He nodded.

“That sounds like a belief,” I said. “Your belief might be that happy and secure are either/or, not both/and propositions.”

“What do you mean by both/and?” Pete asked.

“Instead of an inverse relationship — one goes up when the other goes down — how can we look at it from a ‘both/and’ perspective? In other words, you don’t have to choose one or the other. What would it look like to have both?” I asked.

Pete looked perplexed. “It’s hard to think about having both happiness and security at the same time.”

“I wonder if your either/or belief is keeping you stuck,” I said. “Let’s play with the concept of both/and. Have you ever felt both secure and happy?”

“I felt both after college when Carol and I married and I started my career,” Pete said. “We didn’t make a lot of money, but we didn’t have huge expenses either.”

“Were you both secure and happy?” I asked.

“Yes,” Pete said.

“So both/and is possible,” I said.

He nodded.

“Knowing this, what’s your fear about looking at what’s behind your uneasiness?” I asked.

“I fear I’ll have to choose between being secure or happy. My family depends on my security,” he said.

“You’re saying you’ll have to either be secure or happy, right?” I asked. “What if we were to shift the thought of either/or to both/and? This could alleviate the fear and allow you to explore new options.”

“That doesn’t feel as threatening,” he said. “Just looking at it doesn’t mean I’d need to leave my job. I don’t hate my job. What I do hate is feeling stuck.”

“What action steps will help you to explore the both/and perspective regarding your work?” I asked.

“Since I don’t want to quit, what if I explored how I can find happiness in my secure job,” Pete said. “Maybe it’s not what I’m doing, but how I’m approaching it that is most important. I’m willing to play with the idea. It’s better than feeling stuck and unhappy.”

Coaching challenge: Look for a situation where you approach it with an either/or attitude. Play with the idea of changing it to a both/and perspective.

This gives you a creative platform to explore ideas and uncover possibilities.

Sheri Fisher is an intuitive life coach living in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column are fictional to maintain client confidentiality. For more information, go to


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