Recently I was on a Zoom call with a group of other coaches. One of them mentioned that she doesn’t grow. I was intrigued and curious about her statement and wanted to understand what she meant. (Especially as I would often ask clients “What happens to a tree when it stops growing?” “It dies”.)
What the coach was alluding to was Subtractive Psychology, Ah – ping – my lightbulb switched on. As soon as she said that, I realised what she meant. In my words, it’s about subjecting shit.
A great analogy to explain what Subtractive Psychology means is by looking at the behaviour of babies and toddlers.
A baby watches people walk and is motivated to push up on their legs, balance and take its first steps. He or she falls and may even hurt themselves. They cry but don’t think “I can’t do this” and give up. They carry on, and with their innate resilience they were born with, they eventually walk, hop, skip and jump.
Now, when they reach the “gruesome twosomes”, they can get in all manner of moods. I remember it well when our sons were that age. They swing from joy to anger with ease.
I recollect one of our boys having a hissy fit in the middle of the supermarket, stamping his feet, pulling his brother’s hair and screaming the place down. The next moment he was giggling and playing nicely with his brother, while I was an exhausted wreck. (If only I knew then what I know now.)
Toddlers don’t feel embarrassed and regurgitate the memory of the supermarket incident in their minds; it’s long forgotten. They are fully present in the moment – because that’s all there ever is.
Unfortunately, we adults often forget that our human psychology works perfectly. We already have innate resilience, confidence and well-being. We have an inbuilt system for our moods to naturally flow from anger back to ease when we get out of our own way.
Our mental well-being is always there; we have just spread proverbial “shit” over it and then try different tools and techniques to change the shit to manure. We think we need fixing. We think we are broken, but we are looking the wrong way. Adding more stuff to our thoughts such as judging thoughts and moods as negative and trying to change them to positive is a lot of hard work, and doesn’t tend to work. It’s about subtracting; shit gets in the way.
When we understand, not at an intellectual level (when has that ever giving anyone a psychological insight), but at a deep, embodied understanding, then we are subtracting shit, it is released. We can see through all our habits of overthinking, stress and anxiety. Our innate well-being, presence, resilience and calmness shine through.
When clients come to me for coaching, it’s because something on their mind is troubling them, such as a relationship, career, anxiety or stress.
Often, the biggest issue is that they’ve been going round and round in circles trying to find the solution in the same state that they created their problem. Einstein said something quite similar to this.
Coaching allows clients to have the space to quieten their minds, allowing insights to pop up that are always there. We are often so busy stuck in the quagmire of overthinking, that we forget, or don’t realise the infinite gift of wisdom that is there in all of us. As one of my clients recently wrote about his Coaching experience “It has been genuinely life-affirming and life-changing… You quickly bought things from deep within me I didn’t know were there.”
As a coach, it is such a fabulous feeling to see the lightbulbs ping on within clients when they get clarity and a privilege to be part of their journey. When clients are subtracting shit and connect with their wonderfulness, this results in improved relationships, calmer lives, more energy and motivation, knowing that they are A-ok. Awesome.
Hi, I am Lindsey Reed. I love connecting with people and enabling them to remember who they really are, their true selves. Coaching is online, the wonders of technology. If you would like to connect with me, pop an email to email@example.com.
My book Got It: The Answer to a Confident, Productive & Stress-Free Life is available from Amazon and is now in over 25 countries. It describes how we create our experience of our own reality called life. Through this understanding, we can have a more confident and freeing life.