Being vs doing

One of my favourite parts of being a coach is supervision. Supervision is when we, as coaches, get to talk to another coach about something, or we get to practice a new technique or explore a topic. Last night I explored the topic of being vs doing. 

Paying attention to signs

It's something that's been popping up in my life for about six months. My coach would say to me things like "step into being" or I'd be listening to a podcast and the speaker would say "who are you being right now?" Or I'd see it on Instagram, in books; hear it in random conversations or in films. I (finally) recognised it as a sign to be curious about what it meant. 

When I first started exploring I thought I knew what it meant but I couldn't articulate it, to myself or anyone else. Who was I being? At first, I thought it was about the role I was playing at the time e.g. I'm being my best coaching self or I'm being kind - because that's the language we use all the time, right? 

Then, a few weeks ago I was on my morning walk and I had a lightbulb moment. When I choose to go for my walk I am 'doing' something, I am consciously walking and moving my body and doing some exercise. But I also use that time to think through a problem or to create a new idea. In those moments I am still in doing mode. I am focused, fast, and active. 

However, there are times, when I am walking intentionally, noticing my surroundings that I am 'being'. I realised that that's what all those folks meant about stepping into being. It's what I'd call being mindful. It's also a feeling for me. I can't 'do' being, but I can feel it. I feel calm and connected. 

Please note: doing mode isn't bad, in fact, when we're in doing mode we can achieve great things, the problem arises when it's our default mode. 

Working with a coach

This came up again last night when the coach I was working with asked me a question I can't remember but was something like - “what did I want to get out of the session?” My answer was that it was all in my head and I wanted to bring this into practice. I felt like I'd been thinking (overthinking) this and I wanted to start doing more to find that feeling of being. 

The feeling of being

We did a visual exercise where he asked me to choose a shape that represented me, another to represent the element I wanted to explore (in my case I chose that feeling of being - calm, present, open). He asked me to position them and I overlapped myself and the feeling, for me, they were inseparable. Then he asked me to say my truth around that and I said "I am being" but it didn't quite feel right so I amended it to "I am ready to step into being" and with that amendment I felt a rush of excitement in my chest and energy flow through me and a big smile on my face. He then asked me to choose another shape that represented what I was letting go of. I chose a triangle. I placed it far away from the shapes of me and my feeling of being. He then asked me to name my truth about this shape and I said "it is already done". 

At that moment I realised that all the thinking I was doing about stepping into being was still doing. Seems obvious now!! But when I reflected and tuned into my intuition, without thinking, I was already embodying that being. He asked where I felt this and I said in my stomach, it was like a heavy stone of truth, heavy in a good way, weighty, honest. I was able to release the weight of that truth, to let go of the heaviness of doing and be with the lighter feeling of being. 


Moving from doing mode into being mode

As we fill out days with meetings, phone calls and commitments, the busyness of doing can become addictive. In a frenetic way of living where the more we do, the faster we go, the less we give ourselves permission to stop. But, there is immense value in giving ourselves a few moments to just be…where we can connect to who we are and allow the calm underneath to rise up. 

When we go from doing mode to being mode where we let go of the need to problem solve, achieve or plan. Notice your body being a body, your mind being a mind and without trying to change it, let any emotions rise and pass as they are. When we allow ourselves to be, we slip into a state of non-judgement, acceptance and awareness. A state of openness and self-compassion, letting each moment be as it is.

Exploring your own being vs doing

If you're reading this blog today it's not a coincidence. It's a sign to explore your own being vs doing. How often do you get stuck in doing mode? Question your busyness - do you need to send that last email? Do you really need to do that extra hour of work? See what happens when you relinquish the need to constantly do; when you give yourself permission to stop and be. Notice what changes. If you discover some new perspective, clarity or peace. I love this quote: 

And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important. - Iain Thomas

Helping yourself move into being

It might take you some time to reflect on what this means for you. It's taken me six months and the truth is that I've been in doing mode for about 40 years, it's going to be a lifelong journey to step into being mode more often. There are things you (and I) can do to help ourselves along the journey:

  1. Take a few moments every day to just be. I use intentional walking (consciously tuning into my senses), meditation, or yoga. Anything really that allows you to be in the present moment, not worrying about the past/future and not actively doing. 
  2. Notice how you feel when you slow down. Describe what it feels like and where it is in your body. 
  3. Tone down your multitasking. Focusing on one action at a time can allow you space to be, even if you're in doing mode. I get that it's hard, I'm a hardcore multitasker. To make it easier take small steps eg. Turning off notifications, putting your phone down when you're eating or watching a film, and creating a space where you can work uninterrupted. 
  4. Give yourself permission to stop and rest. It's not lazy, you don't need to feel guilty, it's essential not to be 'on' all the time. It's ok to just be. 

I know it's not easy. We all have heavy mental loads, people who need us, a to-do list as long as our arms, but those things are always true. There is always more to do. I invite you to consider the possibility that there is also less to be done. That spending more time in being mode might allow you to lighten your mental load, reduce the to-do list and be present for those you love AND bring more calm into your life. 


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