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Find your star and START from there

Star on a Spectrum

Find your star … and START from there.

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

In coaching conversations, people are coming to terms with all kinds of dreams and realities. We take stock of the gap between what is and what might be. And we work like mad to activate our strengths and move in the direction of our dreams. It’s the sort of game that creates a little bit of magic.

A recent conversation about disorders and differences got me thinking. Is a diagnosis an inevitable and horrible label drenched in stigma? What about labels related to mental difference, mental distress and mental disorder? Is it like finding ourselves in a very small and claustrophobic box?

Could we rather view any diagnosis as a way of understanding what currently is? Could we use that information to offer us a path to accessing resources and enabling personal growth?  

For a parent facing a diagnosis for their child that might be on the spectrum, or suffering from an anxiety disorder… will it do to stop at the label? Will it do to be stopped by the label? Or would we do better to aim to build a bigger container (self-image) that can hold this one label (disorder, difference or otherwise) in a sea of other attributes?  

A friend suggested rather than being just the label, which is like being one point on a line, we are all an intersection of many lines, many spectrums, many axes. We are more like a star, than any singular point on a simple line. Recognising our star nature feels closer to the truth. It invites a more helpful mental framework in.

This framework allows us to be many things at once. Some are more enabling, some less so. Some lines merely talk to our differences from the norm. Some invite us to consider options of where we’d like to move on any line. Somehow, having a picture with many roles, identities and attributes helps us entertain a much more meaningful conversation with all the parts of ourselves. This realistic discussion allows strengths to step forward and current weaknesses to be acknowledged. This kind of conversation collaborates with our resourcefulness and recognises something true.

It offers more as a learning and growing framework. And in that way, it’s optimistic, hopeful even.

It invites knowing and being our own star, rather than the pursuit of someone else’s North Star.

It’s also deeply connected to others. There’s an element of one sky holding many stars. Of us being who we are because of and through other people.

In African philosophy (not the more recent computer operating system of the same name) this might be called ubuntu. The idea of ubuntu is translated as ‘a person is a person because of and through other people’. In this framework diversity isn’t so much inevitable as essential. We are changed by our interactions with others. Interactions also allow us to become, to take on new shapes. To grow some parts, and to allow others to fade. It means that sometimes we need some help, and sometimes we will offer some help to others.

If we are this star (even for a moment) and plot our star nature, we move into self-awareness. Self-awareness is the essential ingredient for other-awareness. And of course, wherever we find ourselves on any axis is a function of where others might be. We identify more as an introvert, because others stand out there (in a noisy happy group) as extroverts.

So many either-or pairs arrive in my mind as I’m writing this blog. And I recognise they are a little hypothetical and fail as all labels do to perfectly represent reality. Some suggest a preference, not an attribute. Others a habit, a necessity, or a means of survival. Some are labels we want no part of. An identity given we cannot wait to escape from. Some are parts we have no label for. Some lines / axes might not exist in our stars at all. More likely, these words hanging in space represent points on connected 3-D orbits. There is fluidity on most lines. There’s a point on every line where you are as black as you are white.

But let’s pretend for a moment, we find ourselves closer to one description than another. We give into what labels and language can do, rather than what it fails to do. What would your star look like?

Introvert … … … … …  ExtrovertTechnical / practical … … … … … Theoretical
Skinny … … … … … Full creamPredictable … … … … … Wild card
Part of the Problem … … … … … Part of the SolutionMigrant … … … … … Native
Optimist … … … … … PessimistBattery … … … … … Free range
Taker … … … … … GiverPowerful … … … … … Helpless
Slightly Older … … … … … Slightly YoungerIdentify as Weaker … … … … … Feel Stronger
Formally qualified … … … … … Qualified by lifeMostly a Driver … … … … … Mostly a Passenger
Morning person … … … … … Night owlSo busy … … … … … So bored
Humble … … … … … ArrogantDress up … … … … … Dress down
Neurotypical … … … … … NeurodiverseYes / No … … … … … Maybe
Dog person … … … … … Cat personFast … … … … … Slow
Carrot … … … … … StickBook smart … … … … … Street smart
Feeler … … … … … ThinkerCalm … … … … …Tightly wound
Female … … … … … MaleAble bodied … … … … … Differently abled
Left wing … … … … … Right wingExpressing … … … … … Depressing
Controlling … … … … … Laissez-faireI’ll be there Last … … … … … I’ll get there First
Too much … … … … … Not enoughFeminine … … … … … Masculine
Prefer to Host … … … … … Rather be a GuestIt’s Now! … … … … … No Never!
Generator … … … … … Energy vampireAll of the above … … … … … None of the above
Table of Star Qualities

Knowing your star suggests we can start to discover what enabling conditions the star needs to thrive. We can ask ourselves what’s our work in the world? What’s the work the world needs to be done through us? Or ask what lights us up … and do more of that. To do what lights you up often results in walking into the dawn of your dreams.

We can also consider where the black holes are in the galaxy that we need to avoid. Or as physics, poetry and paradox might have it – we can ask how can our stars avoid collapsing in on themselves and disappearing? This idea of us all being unique stars helps explain why parts of me aggravate parts of you – where I am sharpest, prickliest, and polar.

But is also helps me get closer to the reality of my own light. What are my star qualities? And how could I shine as if I knew that I am already light enough? Magic enough.

#personalgrowth #lifecoaching #self-awareness #neurodiverse #neurotypical #starqualities #dogsvscats

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