I’m wondering today about others’ perceptions of life coaching. I definitely used to scoff at the title. When I decided to become a life coach, it took me a while to embrace the phrase “Life Coach” as my identity. I thought I could maybe use the skills of a Life Coach with others, but skirt around actually saying it.
Now, I have no strong feelings about the words I use to connect with people who want to change their lives or reach a goal. The words seem irrelevant. I just want to share with everyone how dramatically my life has changed, and help others experience the changes they desire. I’m dying to connect with the people who are searching for a way to change but aren’t sure how, or they feel powerless to follow through with the changes, or they feel stuck. Because I wasn’t sure how, I felt powerless, and I felt stuck. I learned a set of tools that empowered me and paved the way for change. I know how to help others do the same.
What was different this time?
Just like I used to roll my eyes at the idea of a life coach, I was very resistant and annoyed by the entire self-help industry. To me, it was full of platitudes and self-indulgence.
I wonder now what is different. When did that annoyance and resistance melt away?
I think it’s a result of this one major shift in my life: I used to trust that if I decided to do something, it would happen. I knew I could accomplish anything. In my mid-thirties, I lost this trust. When I had an idea or a plan, I would genuinely think to myself “You know it won’t happen, you’re a person who doesn’t follow through.” Then, duh, I wouldn’t. I confirmed that thought, over and over.
Through life coaching, I regained that trust.
The two that facilitated that shift are:
1. Cultivating an awareness of what is happening inside my brain.
I’ve learned to become a curious, compassionate watcher of my thoughts, to approach them with a gentle curiosity, and to see how allowing certain thoughts will have a direct impact on how my life plays out.
2. Learning the skill of processing any emotion.
The most powerful example of processing an emotion for me is sitting with an urge (or desire). It can be an urge for a glass of wine, a bowl of ice cream, to avoid the thing on my calendar that I don’t feel like doing, to yell at my kids… anything. I learned to sit with the desire rather than resist or act on it. I again enter the watcher role, and see what my brain is up to. Without fail, the urge dissipates, I get to reap the rewards of allowing it to pass (losing weight, not being hungover, better relationships with everyone, a completed to-do list and so on…) and I feel like I have a superpower!! I feel like I can do anything if I prioritize it. I trust myself to follow through. It’s incredible.
Why has this been different than any of the other times I tried to lose weight, cut back on drinking, get my schedule under control, or any of the other things?
Perhaps because everything I’m doing puts me in the driver’s seat. I’m not handed a set of rules to follow (though they’re available if I want them). My intuition is guiding me.
Maybe because I decided to go all in. On paper, I had everything I wanted in life. But I was still numbing myself to life with alcohol, food, and general life chaos. I felt powerless to enact real change, even though I desperately desired it. I saw that life coaching, and the tools that came along with it, had changed so many lives. So I didn’t dive in half-heartedly. I embraced the concepts and applied everything. I failed, over and over, and then showed up and did it again (a habit I have cultivated as a result of being able to sit with the feelings brought up by failure, and being a compassionate, curious watcher of my brain).
I guess this is all self-indulgent, but I’m so happy it is, because I get to be part of helping others experience the joy that I am now.
If you find yourself resistant or annoyed at the phrase “Life Coach” like I did, I’m curious why. Maybe you had a bad experience, or you just think the idea of it is ridiculous. Maybe you know someone whose life was a mess, and now they call themselves a life coach (I mean, if you know me very well, that’s already the case!). Getting curious is not designed to change your mind about Life Coaches, but a way to practice being a curious watcher of your thoughts. I appreciate moments when I realize I’m resistant to something, because I know getting curious will lead to learning something new about myself.
If you’re annoyed with the phrase, but craving the results, let me know. I can help.