At different points in our lives, we will be invited to enter a 'cave'.
A quote that I read to all clients in their reform coaching journey written by Joseph Campbell:
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
We can have caves in many areas - our identity, our work, our faith, our relationships. We can find these caves by looking at the questions we are avoiding because we fear the answer to the question. I have had the privilege to walk into many different caves with clients over the years:
The 'Am I gay?' Cave.
The 'Is my marriage ending?' Cave.
The 'Am I losing a relationship?' Cave.
The 'What if I don't fit?' Cave.
The 'Does my faith need to change?' Cave.
The 'Was my parenting toxic?' Cave.
The caves come in a wide variety but the process for most people is similar: we hold back, we enter, we find treasure, then we bring that treasure out.
Two things I wanted to highlight today about caves.
Firstly, you are likely to need to spend some time in the cave. Most people have to become acquainted with the cave - and this can take a while. It can certainly take a little time to mine for treasure in there. In my faith deconstruction, I was in the 'Am I losing my faith and my mind?' cave for about 18 months. I know people who have taken a few years before they were ready to come out - of the cave and in their sexual identity. I saw a woman take three years to explore the cave of her toxic marriage fully. And a guy who needed 6 months to be willing to explore the cave of his work identity.
Take the time you need in the cave. There is treasure, and it doesn't need to be rushed.
Secondly, there will be a time to come out of the cave. Once you have done the work and found the treasure you will sense that it's time to bring the treasure out and for you to come out. This will often mean making a practical change or being willing to voice the shift in you that happened in the cave. You may find yourself wanting to speak to family or friends about your season in the cave. You may need to reform the rules of your marriage or your job or your faith afterward. The 'coming out' is when you start to align your outside to the new understandings you discovered 'inside'.
Just as going into the cave can be scary, so can coming out be. The truth is that caves change us, and not everyone will appreciate the changes. Some people would rather you stayed in the cave - 'keep your questions in the dark please'.
But just as you'll know that it's time to enter a cave, you'll also know when it's time to come out.
Coaching is a space to process the caves. It's a place outside of your 'normal life' where someone can create a non-judgemental conversation without opinion or a vested interest in your outcomes. If you know you have a cave to explore - in your work or identity or a relationship or your sexuality or your faith - I'd love to help you to create that space.