Work With Me
Underneath all the noise, confusion, self-doubt, and anxiety—it’s just too damn much all the time, isn’t it?—there is a wise, grounded, trustworthy person waiting to meet you.
And it’s you.
Okay, I see the look of disbelief on your face—“Man, WHAT are you smoking?!” I hear the shattering glass as your Bullshit Meter explodes. But before you shake your head and click the browser window closed, bear with me for just a second.
I get it. Your interior soulscape probably feels nothing like what I’ve just described, and the path to that peaceful place seems completely blocked. I’m guessing that you’ve already spent countless hours in the self-help aisle or scouring the web, looking for the silver bullet. You may have invested in numerous books, CDs (remember those?), and Change-Your-Life-Forever® programs. And the result has left you feeling even more discouraged.
You're scared that this is now your life. You're broken, and there’s no fix. Answers are for other people.
So, lean in and listen carefully:
There's nothing wrong with you, even though all your evidence so far points in the other direction. Yes, you’re feeling stuck, but beating yourself up won’t get you moving any faster or farther.
And there is hope. Yes, for you.
I want to help you escape from the exhausting treadmill of your thoughts, worries, automatic scripts, and the well-worn patterns you have in your head—including your anxiety about all the stuff going on around you that you can’t control. I want to show you how to gain perspective and distance from that noise—even when it feels really loud—so that you can ground yourself, quiet the anxiety, reduce the whirring thoughts, and return to a place of calm.
It’s a way of operating from a more grounded, gentler, wiser, more compassionate part of your being—your “still point.” So that no matter how out of control the external world gets, you have a core of calm that you can return to again and again. A place where you can exhale and be at ease and safe with yourself. Where you can finally chill the fuck out.
Because, you see, the world is always going to spin,
but you don’t have to.
How did we end up in this predicament?
It’s a complex answer for sure, influenced by so many factors—our histories, biochemistry, upbringing, families/communities of origin, beliefs, exposure to trauma, socio-economic status, and so on. But, here are some of the big tickets that I’ve encountered in people I’ve worked with:
We’ve been systematically trained not to trust ourselves. We’ve been drilled through the years to “Listen to The Authorities/experts/grownups” and pummeled with judgments, shoulds, and rules.
From an early age, we’ve folded ourselves to fit into others’ expectations, moods, agendas, and patterns in order to get our essential needs met—and this tension has become our new “normal.”
We’re afraid to Get Real for fear of confirming our worst thoughts about ourselves and proving once and for all that there’s something fundamentally wrong with us.
We’ve been taught that vulnerability is weakness and being gentle with ourselves is lazy and irresponsible. Shame is always lurking, waiting to pounce and expose us once and for all as fakes—unworthy of love, connection, and belonging.
We relentlessly compare our hurting insides to others’ bright shiny outsides, and we assume that there’s some key part of the manual that we didn’t get. We always feel behind the power curve—not enough, not doing it right, never caught up.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear that life isn’t turning out how we imagined it would, and the ticking clock is getting louder and more insistent.
Why haven’t the other things I’ve tried worked? And why should I believe your approach will be any different?
If you’re feeling skeptical, that’s good. There are plenty of reasons to be. While I don’t know what specific things you have tried so far, here are some of my hunches on why what you’ve tried hasn’t worked.
You can't find the answer to the human condition in one book, or a one-size-fits-all approach. Most likely, that book and program was the creator’s attempt at identifying their own patterns and missing resources. You’re not a cookie, and a cookie-cutter method (based on the author’s particular flavor of cookie) probably isn’t going to work for you.
You are a dynamic and unfolding process, and you need someone to be there with you—in it, over time—in your various manifestations. Someone who gets to know your specific strengths and your kryptonite, the places where you shine and the places where you hide out. That’s where I come in.
One of my superpowers, as clients and friends tell me, is my ability to create a safe container for exploring the really hard stuff, for surfacing the things that you’re afraid to look at and say out loud.
And that’s half the battle.
I have a few other guesses about why you might have had trouble up to this point.
See if any of these resonate:
You probably don’t have nearly enough compassion for yourself. You’ve been taught that compassion is something you show to others, but that directed towards yourself, it’s a sign of selfishness.
Your perfectionism (often a mask for fear of shame) won’t give you any breathing or maneuvering room. You haven’t learned how to relax into (and celebrate) your own imperfection as a basis for action. Instead, you over-plan, over-worry, and tie yourself up into knots of “analysis paralysis.”
You haven’t developed a consistent/reliable framework for assessing and filtering out all the other voices and tapping into your own.
You haven’t created a compelling enough WHY and the rituals/habits to sustain it. You lack practical strategies designed specifically for your life and situation.
You haven’t sufficiently appreciated the impact of your past in your present unhappiness. You may be stuck in trauma responses (news flash: trauma isn’t always the result of some big event) that you don’t even recognize, because by now it just feels “natural” to you.
You haven’t figured out how to move from insight to reliable action. At various points, you may have gotten a “peek-through” rather than a breakthrough, as one of my teachers put it. And you haven’t had reliable support walking alongside you as you try to anchor and integrate new habits of being, doing, thinking, and feeling.
You’ve worked too much on the “high road” (concepts, decisions, resolutions) without sufficiently attending to the “low road” (emotions, patterns, old hurts). With the best of intentions, you’ve tried to turn things around through sheer grit, determined optimism, and “spiritual highmindedness”—leaving your precious, embodied, actual self bleeding in the dust.
So how does this work?
In my office is a brass deep-sea diving helmet. It's there to remind me during sessions that we’re on a deep-dive exploration together. I’m not there to dispense The Truth from The Mountaintop, or to try to squeeze you into my trademarked 10 Keys for a Happy Life. If I did that, I would just become another voice in your already crowded head, telling you how you’re doing it wrong.
In short, we’re going on a journey together. And it’s different with every client, depending on your unique goals, challenges, history, wounds, aptitudes, and resources. As happens on every journey worth taking, you’ll get to stretch muscles that you’re not accustomed to using, you’ll take some risks, you'll stumble occasionally, and you’ll get a little dirty in the process.
And you’re going to get stronger.
We’ll meet twice a month for in-person or phone/Skype sessions, with email support in between. (Occasionally, depending on the need, we may meet more often, especially at the beginning.) These will be working sessions, focused on whatever phase of the journey we’re on. We’ll do a deep-dive check-in, assess progress, process/troubleshoot any issues that have come up, brainstorm next steps, and commit to new actions.
As you might expect, much of the real work happens between the sessions. To bring your vision to life, there will be homework agreements. These might include reading, journaling, watching a movie, daily practices, and some real-life experimentation to help activate/embody the changes you’re wanting to create. During these times, we’ll check in via email to see how it’s going and course-correct as necessary. Accountability is a cornerstone of effective coaching. Insight without action is useless, and intention without accountability is usually doomed.
I'll be supporting you every step of the way. Whether it’s empathy you need, or inspiration, cheerleading, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, a hand up, a rope down, a gentle push, or a kick in the pants—count on me to be a strong advocate for your transformation. I'll be right beside you.
And while change can happen overnight, it’s quite the rarity. For this reason, I ask you to make a minimum four-month commitment to the process. It takes time to build trust, clarify goals, understand the motives behind the motives, break through your resistance, uncover your patterns (including the places that you hide out), and build new ways of being/thinking/moving through the world. We're not going for a short-term fix: our goal is a vision and habits to serve you for the rest of your life.
That sounds hard.
It’s really not. Especially when you measure it against the goal. The ability to quiet the noise and live with intention—from the inside out—has the potential to transform every facet of your life: your moment-to-moment sense of well-being, your relationships, your sense of purpose, your work, your play, your spirituality, and your ability to set and go for meaningful goals. And getting in touch with the root sources of your fear and hesitation will give you power over them.
The more important question is this: Aren’t you tired of being stuck? Slogging through your days in that state is even harder. You already know waaaaay too well what it’s like to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and at the end of your rope. If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results. And the clock isn’t going to slow down. There are no guarantees in this life. Our time on this ride is always one distracted left turn or one wonky test result away from the off-ramp. If not now, when?
Remember, we’re going for gold.
The still point is NOT about folding yourself into an eternal lotus position with a beatific smile permanently pasted on your face. Rather, it’s about discovering and nurturing a very special place within yourself:
A place of self-compassion, that fully appreciates the pain of being human and the scope of your personal journey, and that defaults to tenderness rather than self-attack.
A place where you are a better friend to yourself.
A place of open-eyed, radical self-acceptance—where you see and appreciate yourself, and are safe with yourself.
A place with room for all of you, including your unfinishedness, your messiness, your becomingness.
A place anchored in the knowledge of your fundamental worth, where you can recognize and own the riches already buried within you.
A place where your singularity and uniqueness are not scary.
A place where you can feel the power of finally making sense to yourself, by recognizing your own patterns and their origins. And the recognition that you can harness those same dynamics to shape your life in different ways.
A place where you feel safe enough to stretch your comfort zone, to lean into that pang of discomfort and play with the hard parts. Where you’re not afraid to leave the high pristine shelf of spiritual insight and get down into the grit and grime of the sandbox—the space that we actually live in.
A place where you can venture into new and sometimes scary territory without losing your connection to yourself, and that includes tools for encountering and assimilating the unexpected.
A place that is anchored in trust in your own resilience (including supporting habits and tools), so that even if you do lose the trail (or lose your shit), you have a reliable path for getting back on track.
A place that’s tilted towards growth—expanding your horizon, your sense of yourself, and the field of what’s possible. Where, as you begin to overcome your fears, you can breathe easier, you have room to stretch out, and you can survey the landscape without all your current anxiety. And as you scale hills and peaks along the way, your perspective shifts. You see new routes, new shortcuts, and even new destinations.
A place of hope in the possibility of lasting change and progress towards your dreams, in which you are continually pulled forward by the wonder of exploration and the growing confidence that comes from taking bold and imperfect action.
A place where you can appreciate that you are not a static being but rather a dynamic and always-unfolding process.
A place that serves as an inner base camp for your wild and restless magical adventures.
Most importantly, it’s a place where you can rest in that moment between the beats that allows you to more clearly hear the exquisite melody of life and join in The Dance.
Sound good? Then let’s talk. Contact me and we’ll schedule a relaxed, no-pressure conversation to see if this work is a good fit for you. Even if we decide it’s not, I’ll do my best to be of service during our time together. And I’ll bet there’s a thing or two we can learn from each other.
I’m looking forward to it.
A Life-Changing Experience
Before working with Chris, I was spinning my wheels--professionally, personally, and in relationships. I was filled with anxiety and self-doubt, and was experiencing constant “analysis paralysis,” which inevitably led to poor decision-making that perpetuated the cycle. Finally, I reached a point at which I was done being stubborn and telling myself "this will just pass."
Working with Chris was supportive, exciting, and at times tough: the experience was a true confidence-builder and life-changer. Through it, I gained a more actualized sense of myself and what I want to do in life. I started taking action on specific steps and telling myself that I was more than capable and to stop making excuses. I also was able to better address relationships that I was in and be honest about which ones were working for me and which ones weren't. I gained the tools to deal with so many of the issues that we all struggle with in life.
My experience with Chris was incredibly powerful. I left every meeting feeling lighter and more confident in myself, and that led to real results in my day-to-day life.
—Clay Sutherland, Houston, TX