Are you tired of wearing armour at work? You are not alone! It’s exhausting to be on guard and put up a façade. However, it can be scary and very unfamiliar to let go of these protective shells. That’s why I feel inspired to share a playful approach with you that will help you show up more and more authentically at work.
Become Aware of Your Armour
My client, let’s call her Bev, came to her coaching session exhausted. “I’m just so tired of wearing this armour at work. It’s exhausting, but I don’t know how to take it off.” Bev blurted. After I thanked Bev for bringing this courageous topic to coaching, I celebrated her keen awareness. It may seem strange, but feeling the tiredness and pain is a really important step towards positive transformation.
“Would it be all right with you, if we studied for a moment what it’s like for you to wear your armour?” I asked. Bev was open to investigate, and we dove right in. “It feels tense, especially around my chest. There is no space to breathe. My palms feel sweaty, my thoughts jump all over the place. I feel slightly nauseous and anxious. Even my laughter feels fake.” I acknowledged Bev’s exquisite awareness.
Before you read any further, take a moment to tune into your body. How does it feel in your body when you’re wearing your armour? Jot down what you are sensing and where you sense it. As you do you are growing your own awareness and creating a readiness for positive transformation.
Notice How Your Armour Tries to Help
I got curious and asked Bev how the armour might be trying to help her. Bev reflected for a moment and then shared that when she was wearing the armour, she was trying to please other people and do a good job. “I guess the armour is trying to protect me.” Bev sighed: “I rely on other people to do my job. When they don’t provide their reports to me on time, I can’t properly do my job. It’s so frustrating. I guess I feel powerless at work.” I appreciated Bev’s insights.
Over to YOU! How might your armour be trying to help you? Take some quality time to journal about this question.
Imagine Replacing Your Armour
“If you were to take the armour off, what kind of garment would you rather wear, Bev?” I inquired. Bev immediately saw herself in a red cape. “Very cool! Do you want to try it on, see how it feels like?” I encouraged. Bev was keen to put on her cape. As she imagined, pulling her cape around her, she immediately noticed that her breath became deeper, her chest felt freer and she felt a lot more calm, present and focused. Bev felt powerful in her cape. “You are powerful, Bev!” I affirmed.
“Imagine going to work in your cape. What would be different?” I inquired. Bev took a moment to tune in and then shared: “I see myself taking more time to chat with people. When I put on the armour, there doesn’t seem to be any space for connection.” Bev realized. “Great insight, Bev!” I acknowledged. “Stay with imagining your caped self at work and notice what else is possible for you.”
Bev tuned in again and noticed that with her cape she would communicate more clearly. “I actually assert myself and set clear boundaries.” Bev realized that she would take her breaks and have her lunch. She would practice good self-care. “Sounds very powerful, Bev! What kind of beliefs are woven into your cape?” I probed. Bev tuned in and noticed that she felt a deeper sense of trust in herself and others. She felt more connected and at ease. “I feel more like my true self, like the way I am when I am not working.”
How about you? What kind of garment would you rather wear? Notice the colour and texture of your chosen garment. Imagine putting on your power suite of choice and notice how it makes you feel. Then imagine wearing your chosen garment at work and notice what would be possible for you. Write down your insights or draw a sketch of yourself in your power garment.
Create Powerful Shifts at Work
Together we celebrated Bev’s caped self and contemplated how she might shift from armour to cape more often and easily. Bev recognized that wearing the armour was very familiar. Even though it was very draining and tiring, Bev associated a sense of safety and protection with wearing the armour. I asked Bev what would make it a little safer to wear her cape more often.
Bev recognized that she needed to take care of the part of her that got scared. She committed to taking Mini-Retreats in the office washroom to breathe and ground herself whenever she noticed a tightening in her chest. She also put a photo of herself, wearing a cape on her phone as a reminder to wear her cape more often.
A few months later, Bev shared a realization with me: “It’s ok to be me at work! I don’t have to pretend to have the personality I think they want me to have.” Then she paused and shared that her boss had recently commented on her unique skillset of sensing what needs to be done and doing it with very little or no training. “Would it be all right to really let that acknowledgment sink in, Bev?” I encouraged. Bev paused and said: “It feels really good and it feels true. I am recognized for my unique skills.”
You too can grow into wearing your power garment more consistently and bring your authentic self to work more often. Just like Bev, you don’t have to do this alone! I am right here to support you every step of the way.