I thought I would share a conversation from a coaching meeting with a client today.

We were talking about a great post we had both seen recently on Face Book from The Power of Positivity, about Ten things to let go of to be happy: “https://www.facebook.com/powerofpositivity”. My client, let’s call him Jim, said that he had focused on ‘Letting go of Regretting Past Mistakes’ and ‘Letting go of Feeling Sorry for Yourself’ as ways to manage some of what he has been going through. He had been given those ideas by his counsellor and had been working with them for a year or so.

In my job, I am very careful about discussing glib sayings, or anything that tells people to be relentlessly positive at a time of great distress and grief. But it was Jim who brought up this discussion, so I went with it. I was really interested to hear what it was about these ideas that had helped him, and how he had used them. I knew that Jim and his partner had been through a business collapse, and up until that point they had both been very careful and respectful with each other about who had made the decisions that lead to them losing their third-generation family company.

In this meeting, Jim told me he felt entirely responsible, and had taken a huge gamble that didn’t pay off. If it had paid off, we would have been having a very different conversation. One that would probably have included words like “The Bahamas”. The reality was profoundly different. Jim felt that he had let down his wife and children, his grandchildren and his extended family. What they had been through was nothing short of traumatic.

When Jim saw the post, it encapsulated what he had been focusing on, and he realised how much the ideas had worked for him. He told me that when he started to face up to what the business loss had meant, which included the loss of his marriage, “I knew it was between me, myself and my psychologist to get through this. He (Jim’spsychologist) suggested that I use these sayings over and over as a mantra and to meditate on them. I almost laughed, but then decided it was as good an option as anything.”

Jim’s wife had been wanting a divorce and a deal to make sure she secured some of what was left. Jim had kept delaying and finding excuses, until he was able to let go some of the regret for his huge mistake, or forgive himself, because until then he hadn’t been able to imagine doing anything except telling his wife to ‘take it all’. His counsellor had been holding him back from that.

When I read the “Letting Go” post I hadn’t met Jim, and we probably wouldn’t have had this same conversation without the help of that common experience. So often I learn much more from my clients than they learn from me. Today was that kind of day; a lesson in humility and admiration for Jim and his wife. And, of course, happiness for them that they had decided to settle in an environment that even allowed a lawyer and her client to have this conversation, (and an admission to being a FaceBooker).