Step back, see more

I have always loved to read. When I was six my teacher sent a note home to my mam telling her that she had to find me new books as I’d read everything in the school library. My dreamiest day always includes a leisurely wander around a bookstore and some of my most prized possessions are of the literary variety. I love to gift books and receive them from others — I never feel more ‘seen’ or cherished than when I’m given one.

Recently I’ve realised that throughout my life, much of my reading has been for the acquisition of knowledge. I’ve filled my head with all manner of things ‘just in case’, so mainly with knowledge that ultimately might keep me safe. Many of us unconsciously read in this way, for example, they say that women are the most avid readers of stories about kidnap or murder. Females are wired to fear these scenarios and so reading around the subject, even in fiction somehow arms them with a bank of knowledge they could draw down on, should they ever find the need to. When my reading isn’t about acquiring knowledge, it’s been about escaping, from whatever madness or sadness is going on around me. That’s a lot of reading, for me and for others from what ultimately is a place of fear and a need to stay safe.

Now, I realise, I’m ready to read for a different reason — for perspective and for expansion. In my coaching practice I work in a systemic way, which means stepping back from what’s in front of my nose, so I can see more and take a holistic stance. I want to read in this way too, I want to read to sink deeper in to the experience and fullness of what it means to be human. I want to read to connect with my soul. I want to read from a place of fearlessness.

And this means stepping outside of my comfort zone. It means reading about uncomfortable truths, hearing dark tales, exploring opinions that seemingly conflict with my own and listening to other people’s ideas about what’s right or wrong. It means valuing listening over understanding. It means discovering empathy. It means sitting with tension and discomfort. It means opening my mind and my heart. It means stepping off the best-seller list, searching for hidden gems and old treasures. It probably means a break from fiction and I’m pretty sure it means more paper, and more shelves.

So I plan to read more books that speak to this new perspective over the coming year. I’m starting with ‘Three cups of tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, a humanitarian tale, based in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I intend to share more with you through this journey. I don’t know how yet, or even why, but I’m curious. I’m learning that articulating my inner experiences through writing is a way for me to make meaning. I’m also learning that it’s one of the ways I plant seeds of enquiry and curiosity in others — and that I know is part of my work in the world.

Would you like to join me in this exploration? The more we step back together, the more we collectively see #stepbackseemore I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments and ideas for books too, you can tweet me @space_with_in find me on Facebook @spacewithindevelopment and follow me on Instagram @space.with_in

Take care for now, Laura x

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