Acting as if…
My client Catherine was going through heartache. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend, and he was about to fly off to an island in the sun. She had only a few paltry savings, a car that was about to conk out and a meagre income, which meant she could not afford a vacation—certainly not anything extravagant.
She envied her ex-boyfriend for being able to take a plane to someplace warm, while she had never had an opportunity to travel. She called me in tears, dejected and desperate that she might never be able to achieve her dream to see the world. She also wanted to have a child but very few men that she met seemed ready to commit and she was turning thirty. I tried to console her and encourage her as best I could, but nothing seemed to help.
In previous months, I had made the suggestion to Catherine about making a collage—a collection of the things she would like to achieve in her life—in order to help her realize her dreams. She had made a small collage full of pictures of tropic locations, put it in the back of a drawer, and thought nothing of it. I had also encouraged her to apply for a passport, even though she could not see any travel on the horizon. This would be a way of telling life what she wanted and that she had faith; it would show that she was really serious about her dream.
On the phone with me, she screamed that she did not want to live this life anymore. She was tired of waiting. She was afraid she would miss the boat. She was at a crossroads where she had to find out by herself and for herself what she really wanted to do with her life, and do what needed to be done to achieve it. Her father had offered to pick her up and bring her home for a visit to take her mind off it all. But that was not what she wanted. In her misery, she preferred to stay in bed, sleep, and heal heartache.
What could I say at such a time to someone who simply wanted to shout out her distress, her fatigue and her disappointment, except that I understood? “I know it’s difficult at the moment, but trust life. You did the right thing to break up with your boyfriend and I know that a force is at work to help you reach your dreams. Be attentive to the signals that life gives you to make your dreams come true. While you’re waiting, the best thing to do is rest and rebuild your strength.”
I called her briefly the next day for news. She was in better spirits. She had regained some of her self-assurance. She was preparing to celebrate her sister’s birthday, and she had just come back from the pet store. She had been thinking about adopting a cat or a dog, but finally she decided on a fish. I smiled to myself and complimented her on her courage and perseverance.
Things always have a way of working out when we make even small initial efforts. “Stay alert,” I said. “A message may come from a billboard on the corner or something on the radio. The universe is always trying to send us messages, to encourage and guide us along the way.” I truly believe this force is always on duty, working for each of us.
“Don’t you think that idea’s a little bit crazy?” she said.
“No, I don’t,” I assured her. In fact, Julia Cameron, in her book entitled The Artist’s Way writes:
If this still sounds airy fairy to you, ask yourself bluntly what next step you are evading. What dream are you discounting as impossible given your resources? What payoff are you getting for remaining stuck at this point in your expansion?
A week later, Catherine called me, enormously excited, saying, “Listen to this. When I was driving home from my sister’s place, I heard a Club Med representative on the radio announcing that they were looking for animators. It is really surprising that I heard it, because I don’t usually pay attention to what’s being said on the radio. I ran up the stairs to the apartment. I don’t know how I remembered the telephone number! And the woman took my call! After a brief interview, she gave me ten minutes to make up my mind.”
“Wow!” I said. “It’s your collage coming to life! Your dream job!”
“Do you think so? I’m flying to the Caribbean next Saturday. The rep was looking for five people, who are at least 21 and who have a valid passport and experience working with children. It’s right up my alley! They want me to go to the Bahamas for two weeks, all expenses paid. It’s a miracle!”
The other technique I had suggested to Catherine was to visualize her dream come true. It is another very powerful approach. You act as if your dream is becoming reality and you actually take the first step—like applying for a passport. All you have to do after that is to keep the image of the dream alive by imbuing it with positive feelings until it comes true. Truthfully, Catherine had not even put much energy into this part of the assignment, but it was enough to get the ball rolling.
To get to and from the Bahamas, Catherine would have to take seven flights. On the way back, she would be dispatched to two other countries in the south. Every opportunity was ahead of her. She had to let go of her worries, get out of the victim consciousness and continue to focus faithfully on her dream for life to fulfill her wishes.
Shifting her consciousness to a more empowering position, that’s all she needed. Not money, not someone else to depend on to realize her dream, just the belief and understanding that life had a bigger plan in store for her. All she had to do was to seize the moment, seize the opportunity—and life moved forward exactly as she had hoped.
Jocelyne Durand is a keynote speaker and consultant who provides exceptional one-on-one specialized coaching for individuals. She often is called upon to provide private sessions for individuals and coaching to achieve greater harmony and success in life. In addition, she offers specialized analysis and individualized personal short or long-term consulting, and also serves as an executive coach for abrasive leaders.