Locker Room Choices
One of the most valuable truths that I’ve learned through coaching is that I always have a choice. Always. Even when it is not immediately obvious.
Helping others recognize this truth is one of my favorite parts of coaching. Because when we realize that we have a choice, we no longer feel stuck or at the mercy of circumstances beyond our control. We instead move into feeing hopeful, curious, and empowered, and can take responsibility for our decisions and results.
Although I try not to coach my children, the power of choice came up with my daughter last week in an example that I want to share with you.
My daughter recently started 6th grade. Each 6th grader is assigned a PE locker and they are required to change into their PE uniforms for class every day. My daughter came home from school distraught about her locker assignment – she was assigned “the worst” locker in the whole locker room. Her locker is on the lowest row, right next to the door, in an area that feels both difficult-to-access and out-in-the-open. She was in tears about the locker.
Together, we took a few deep breaths and I then asked her what she wanted to do about the locker assignment.
She replied “there’s nothing I CAN do!” and continued to sniffle quietly.
I pressed as little.
Is that really true? Are you really without choices?
Together, we brainstormed. We got a little bit silly (she is 11, and it is a PE locker assignment…) but we kept brainstorming until neither of us could come up with any other ideas.
She could decide to stay mad and hate her PE locker every day for the rest of the school year.
She could ask the PE teacher for a new locker.
She could ask a friend to share her locker.
She could take her uniform out of the locker and change clothes in another area in the locker room.
She could decide to feel sad/mad about the locker for a few hours (or days) and then move on and enjoy PE.
She could stage a protest outside the locker room with signs saying “hell no, I won’t go”.
She could wear her PE uniform all day every day so she never had to use the locker.
She could carry her PE uniform in her backpack and change in the bathroom.
She could change schools.
She could skip PE.
As we created our list, her face brightened and her spirits lifted. She was in charge, no longer a victim of some random locker-assignment process. She realized that she DID have a choice.
At the end of the day, she decided to feel sad for awhile and then to move on and enjoy PE.
This is inarguably what I would have recommended to her from the start, but the process of recognizing that she had choices was more powerful than the outcome itself.
I offer this suggestion to you:
The next time you’re feeling stuck, out of control, or powerless, make a list. Brainstorm ALL of the possible solutions, ALL of the options and choices. You always have a choice. You are powerful.
P.S. As evidenced by the list above, I can get pretty creative when helping to brainstorm possibilities and choices 😊 I’d love to help you if you’re feeling stuck. Schedule a brainstorming session at ilselarsoncoaching.com/contact