Helena Clayton | Tight and loose



Tight and loose

16 Mar 2022, Posted by Helena Clayton in Uncategorized

Years ago, as part of a mindfulness training, the wonderful meditation teacher Ed Halliwell, drew a line on a page. TIGHT and one end. LOOSE at the other.

How do you live your life? he asked.

But he had barely started writing when I was laughing out loud. What could it possibly look like to live your life LOOSE? What ….!? I had no recognition of that way of being.

It shocked me.

So for years now, part of my own work has been to loosen the way I am on the inside, and in the ways I show up in the world. It’s slow work – loosening that tightness.

When working with OD consultants and anyone who feels they’re in a ‘helping’ job in organisations or leading change, I see a few things:

• I have to get this right
• What’s the solution to this problem?
• What should I be doing?
• How can we fix this?
• This intervention has to change x
• We have to work at pace.

I still see these in myself sometimes too and sometimes:

• This is connected to the Rescuer in the Drama Triangle
• And/or connected to the helper’s need to be a hero or heroine
• There’s an addiction to helping others, a co-dependency, perhaps
• It’s to do with need to prove our worth in a function that’s not always fully respected.

I know these things in me too. And there’s another thing I recognise in me too, and that’s the belief that I can make a difference. And that I should.

As laudable as that is as an aim, I am coming to see that it’s not always a helpful belief to hold because it makes me work TIGHT.
So what helps me work LOOSE? Or a bit looser, anyway!

In part, I think it happens naturally because I’m older and I care a bit less about certain things. I feel the strength in that. This is just something that has developed over time and is the result of a lot of ‘chop wood, carry water’.

But I also have some bits of philosophical thinking that keep me good company on this journey.

These phrases (that are so much more than that) help me manage my own grandiosity, rein in the feeling that I should or possibly even could make any meaningful difference. They help me lean back a bit. They help me find more spaciousness in my practice.
Here they are:

‘Be water, my friend’.
From Bruce Lee, you’ll find the full quote here. If I ever had a tattoo, it would be this. And if I can be more like water for my clients (and everyone around me, for that matter) that would be a good thing.

‘I really don’t mind what happens next’.
This I find really hard. I notice I often DO mind. That’s my love of control kicking in and so it’s an ongoing practice for me, to let go of attachment to outcomes. And nowhere more so that with my clients. The quote comes from the philosopher Krishnamurthi. When someone asked him for the secret to his great serenity, that’s apparently what he said.

‘Show up, speak my truth and let go of the consequences.’
This came from a supervisor when I was training with The Hoffman Process. Each part of this has its challenges for me in my OD practice.

‘When I surrendered, that’s when things really started to happen’
From the wonderful Gina Holland, of Celebration of Being when she and I were exploring the balance between making things happen and letting things happen – and what becomes possible when we ‘get out of the way’.

‘You didn’t cause this, you can’t control this, you can’t cure it’.
Coming from the Al-Anon literature, for family and friends of alcoholics, this phrase could also be written for those of us who are addicted to trying to fix organisations, who are addicted to their own patterns.

‘If you’re working harder than your client then something is wrong’.
A common challenge offered to many of us (and certainly me) in much coaching supervision, it’s also applicable in any consulting or helping role.

‘Detach with love’
Also from the wisdom of Al-Anon, this reminds me that I can separate, create physical or emotional boundaries and still retain a loving connection.

So wherever you are on the TIGHT/LOOSE spectrum, I hope there’s been something for you in here.

H x

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