Navigating a Pluto Transit Part 3: Childhood patterns re-emerge

The first time I coached a ‘client’ during my Pluto transit, this is what happened. I was given an assignment where I would coach the client and my mentor would be observing the session.

My brain went into freeze mode and I realise that I was just not able to process things normally by the time I’d heard my client ask me the question for the 5th time, and my mentor stepped in to help me finish the session with her.

Yes, there was performance anxiety – I had 6 pairs of eyes on me, I didn’t know fully what I was doing…. if I was having stage fright, that might have been it. No matter what I was telling myself about being present for the client and putting all my attention on her, my own nervous system stopped functioning normally. I had seen myself do this a few times during my working life, and I just never really forgave myself for doing what I did (freeze and do nothing, or blabber nonsense). I notice I’ve had this pattern of punishing myself every time it happens, and I’m not gentle – I hit myself even harder, and I get even more agitated with myself, wishing that I was not so stupid.

By the time the debrief with my mentor came, I was already feeling very low, without knowing it, because I was in robot mode by that time – totally not in touch with my emotions. I allowed my logical brain to function. I took all the feedback that was given to me, without realising that I just dug myself into an even deeper hole of despair. I felt a lot of shame by the time the debrief ended. And I had to cry. I put myself in a washing machine and turned the switch on while I continued to run myself in the cycle, allowing it to run on a loop. I helped myself to sleep that night with visualization exercises which got me quite surprised – my heart had many holes in it, and told me to stop injuring it – it was too much for it to bear… but I had no idea what that meant.

I just couldn’t seem to be able to find the “off” button on the washing machine’s cycle.

I was in full victim mode and was unable to pull myself out of it. I sought help from my therapist. Upon reflection, I realised that I had taken on 100% responsibility to answer the client’s question and get the “correct” answer across to her. I felt so nervous because it was my responsibility. But then I look back now and realise, that this isn’t my role, my role isn’t to provide her with the ‘correct’ answer. My role is to ask her the questions which would get her to also reflect and find the right answers for herself. The client’s journey isn’t mine to do or to tell her what to do. I can guide, I can ask her questions, help her to see things, reframe, but never to give her a definite 100% answer for what she wants to do, because only she can do that. So perhaps it was also a conflict going on in my heart about this – on the one hand, it seemed as though it was 100% mine to bear, but actually in reality, the client is responsible for her own actions and feelings. I felt immediate relief.

I now know that I did not have to provide her with some golden answer that I thought I supposedly had. It was strange, but as I took out the responsibility from the equation, I actually felt more empowered. Perhaps it was the client who would be more empowered this way?

My therapist then asked me, who was the one punishing me for making mistakes? Was there anyone around me? And I couldn’t see anyone apart from myself. (When I was young, my parents had a part to play when I made mistakes and they weren’t tolerant of them, but in this case, I was the only one standing, continuing to beat myself up for my mistakes). It was at this point in time that I realised that if I was doing it to myself, I could also stop. And so I decided to stop. I decided to exercise compassion towards myself.

I did another visualization exercise with my future self and asked her what was the purpose of me making those mistakes then? She said it was all lessons to be learnt, part of a process. The mistakes aren’t there to penalize me, but to help me grow. This lesson was reinforced as I further integrated my understanding of it – I was meant to go through this washing machine because I needed to experience this process for myself. How my clients would feel, what they would face too, going through a similar process. It becomes a much deeper understanding for me, instead of an on-the-surface/hypothetical understanding of what the washing machine is like, after having gone through this process. It would also help me to identify when the client is in the washing machine.

The biggest lessons I’ve learnt from this:

  1. Give yourself plenty of time for the impact and lessons to integrate beyond the cognitive level. It truly takes lots of time for one to fully ‘get’ the whole experience. I think it took me about a week to get through this episode.
  2. Presence of the astrologer/coach matters, but it is not the astrologer/coach’s responsibility to provide the client with answers. She doesn’t give you definitive answers based on the natal chart, she can confirm some things, but not provide client with a definitive answer – it is the client who has the answers themselves, but they need a guide. And this is the role of the astrologer. Empower the client.
  3. Don’t expect perfection out of myself. I was not doing this for the 100th time, this was my first time coaching someone in front of others. Be more forgiving of myself, and put on the learner hat to allow myself to make mistakes, and grow from these brilliant nuggets of experience.

My body’s response to this ‘performance’ was clearly an old trauma of feeling that pressure to perform to standards of perfection, which were deeply ingrained from a young age. I grew up in an age where mistakes were not tolerated. I was considered to be ‘stupid’ if I made any mistakes, and punished for them. I remember constantly feeling as I was never good enough as a kid. This isn’t my parents’ fault – they did the best that they could with what they knew. But some of these became deeply rooted into my self-perception – that I could never be good enough at anything or with anyone. That I just had to keep striving to improve myself. And so, when Pluto unearthed this for me back in early 2022, I was so relieved to have gone through this lesson. Painful as it is, I’m still here, in one piece, wiser than I was before. Loving the transformative growth that Pluto brings.

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Psychological Astrologer and Business Alchemist