Test Each Hypothesis and Transform Vulnerability into Power
Testing your hypothesis about where the Achilles factor comes from involves identifying themes. When themes resurface in yoga discussions, the odds are that they relate to an Achilles factor and that they are valid reasons why you’r e doing what you’re doing. Let’s look at how Randi, Valencia, Monty, and Laney tested their respective hypotheses and helped remove their obstacles in the process.
Randi discovered the repeated theme that she did not trust men. She knew she was attracted to men but realized how deep her distrust went as she talked with her coach. As a result, the initial step of her plan involved her going out on coffee dates with men, but making a continuous effort to do so with an open mind, realizing that she might at times distrust a good man, and at other times be attracted to a guy she shouldn’t trust. With her eyes open, Randi started to date more frequently. She used her yoga sessions to learn how to accurately size up her dates and debrief herself, articulating her feelings about the experience, and addressing the negative feelings that could sabotage her. Dating regularly was a critical goal for Randi, and she achieved it faster than she thought possible.
For Valencia, an important yoga interaction involved exploring her accomplishments as a businesswoman. Though these accomplishments were significant, Valencia had minimized them in her own mind, perhaps believing that those business accomplishments paled with what a homemaker accomplished. In her yoga sessions, she was able to give herself a lot of credit for going against her father’s negative view of women and conquering the business world. She pinpointed the behaviors at work that suggested she might not be leadership material the tears, the shaky voice during presentations, the indecisiveness and worked assiduously to eliminate them. Though she had tried in the past to get rid of them, she had failed. Now, with her understanding of why she acted this way in work situations, she was successful in stopping these counterproductive behaviors.
Monty got quite depressed when the harassment at work began. He started taking an antidepressant so he could sleep and function in the job. With the discovery of his Achilles fac-tor that he was put down as a boy the same way he was being harassed at work he received compassion from his coach. This compassion was empowering; Monty needed someone to acknowledge and empathize with what he was feeling. He didn’t feel as alone as he had in the past, and this connection gave him a base to move forward. Monty came to the realization that he should have the right to any career he chose. He then hired a human resource lawyer who met with the CEO of Monty’s company. After that meeting, the harassment ceased. While some people no doubt continued to talk behind his back, Monty noticed that most people seemed more tolerant and accepting of who he was. People were now at least polite or quiet around him. His depression gradually faded away, and he found himself being more effective in his job he had more energy and took more initiative. As a result he received a promotion within five months of starting his yoga sessions. His lawyer probably had helped things get better as well.
While working with her coach, Laney was surprised at how powerful the message of not being good enough was. She made peace with the fact that her mother spoke to her in those hurtful ways, but it was more important to Laney that she work toward her nursing degree. What she needed and had never had before was a structured series of goals that would provide her with mileposts to measure her progress toward a nursing degree. Achieving each small goal on the way to her degree passing a tough class, completing an internship counteracted the impact of her mother’s words. This year she plans to graduate with honors from nursing school.
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Never underestimate the power of Achilles factors or how they can stop you short of your goals. Use the yoga process to become aware of these factors and plan for their impact. Recognize, too, that dealing with these factors requires time and effort, that you and your coach first need to understand them, test the underlying hypothesis, and then use the hypothesis (assuming it proves valid) to achieve incremental next-step goals working toward Big Goals and achieving breakthrough High-Energy Outcomes.
I am pleased to finally address the issues I believe are holding me back. For a long time now, I realized that I was excessively criticized by my parent as a child. My mother was probably very damaged from discrimination, by poor parenting herself, and by some trauma, but she truly abused me emotionally with her constant criticisms. I am pleased that I finally am going to address my self-critical thoughts that have resulted from this abuse.
As a black man, I have experienced frequent discrimination from teachers, white friends and their families, and the workplace. This has left me with some shame and feeling like there is something wrong with me. I plan on working with my coach on going for my vision dreams and never giving up and realizing that I am as worthy as anyone else.
Being overweight is the thing I am most ashamed of. As a boy, I felt so bad about myself, so all I did was eat to soothe the pain. But now I believe my obesity hurts my health, my social life, and my confidence. I am going to come up with a plan with my coach to manage my weight.
I work way too hard! My folks always instilled in me that I had to work twice as hard as anyone else because I am a black man. I am tired of this unfair standard for blacks. I am sick of seeing myself as a minority instead of an equal citizen. I am going to concentrate on the ten other spheres with my coach to get me out of the Work sphere.