I can just hear you now… “WHA?! Why is Jana writing about video games?” Well, let me tell you.
When we were young, my sister was really into video games. She even somehow convinced our parents to buy her a Nintendo system so she could play Super Mario Brothers. I didn’t play it as much as she did, and I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but I remember this one level in the game where I got through the level and then got to the “boss” at the end and I could not beat him. It just seemed impossible.
Fast forward a lot of years to me in a session with one of my private coaching clients. My client was sharing her frustration about a situation that she feels like she should have already addressed. “Why am I experiencing the same thing over again?”
Now, remember… I am not a gamer, so I have no idea where this came from, but what popped into my head was this crystal clear image of that boss in Super Mario Brothers.
Because here’s the thing… In video games (or at least in this particular video game), you go through different levels in which you encounter various little situations that you have to learn (through trial and error, observation, etc.) how to overcome. Once you get to the end of a level, you have to beat the boss, who essentially tests you to make sure you’ve adequately learned the skills you need from that level to be successful in the next level.
We go through life having a series of experiences that fall broadly into different categories. Each experience teaches us something. And then, it seems, we have these tests that come up so we can make sure we’ve really incorporated the lessons into our knowing. Then we can move onto the next level.
And, once we’ve beaten the boss on the first level, we get to the second level and discover that it isn’t usually that different from the one prior. And then the third and fourth and on and on. They each become a bit more challenging. There are a few more things thrown at us. We start to feel like we keep doing the same thing over and over again, and encounter basically the same issues.
But it’s not exactly the same, is it? Because you’re at a different level. You have a new perspective. And that perspective can make all the difference.
You can release from the self-judgment and self-criticism and all the “shoulds” and just allow yourself to recognize how far you’ve come. When you first started playing this game (“life”), you had very few tools available to you. Now, you’ve beaten quite a few bosses and you’ve moved up quite a few levels. Life looks substantially different now than it did then, right?
One of my prior coaches used to talk about the concept of the spiral to illustrate this point. You start at one point in the spiral and then you move upward in what feels like a circle, but it’s actually not a closed loop. Once you’ve gotten back around to the same part of the spiral, you’re actually in a totally new “elevation” as it were.
So, give yourself a break. And remember that you will eventually beat the Big Boss on this subject and get to celebrate in the castle… er, I mean, you get to celebrate your achievement.
But then there will be another game with another starting place and a new set of bosses to beat. We’re never done growing. We’re never done learning. Thankfully! How boring would that be? 😉
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this analogy!