“Why would I work with a life coach”?
That’s a question I get a lot. Almost every day someone hears what I do and asks me, often in a voice tinged with some challenge, why people need life coaches and what I do as a coach. I love being asked the question because my answer usually isn’t what they expect.
“I’m a systems analyst, I look at where people are now (A), where they want be (B), and what’s not working in the process of getting from A to B. And then I help them get there”.
“Oh yeah…… And I don’t advise or tell people what to do”.
“What? …….. Really? So what do you do”?
I think of my work as a coach like that of a flashlight.
I like to think of my work as a coach like that of a flashlight. A really, strong flashlight. The kind that doesn’t conk out in raInstorms or on super muggy days. The kind of flashlight that you can use to pound in tent-stakes, or that has a flasher option to enlist help from others. I’m the flashlight that shines a light on all the habits you have been hiding behind, maybe without even knowing you are doing that.
The analogy of a flashlight is also pretty apt since it’s the client who has to do the work. Just like your teachers telling you in school that copying only made you dumber, it’s no good if I am doing all this running around and working for my client while they sit back and watch what I already know how to do. Coaching is really about stepping up for yourself and diving into the work. Shedding your old habits and creating new ones that really let you live boldly.
I’m here to help my clients see their habits and then make a conscious choice about whether they are helping or hindering.
Helping?….. Great, we strengthen those!
Holding back?…… That’s where the work of shedding starts!
“BEFORE WE GO ANY FARTHER CAN I TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LOVE SEEING WHAT MY CLIENTS CREATE FOR THEMSELVES ALONG THE WAY? IT MAY SOUND CORNY BUT SOME DAYS I JUST WANT TO CROW LIKE THE PROUD PARENT WHO SEES THEIR TEENAGER MAKING ALL THE BEST DECISIONS FOR HIMSELF. IT’S EXCITING AND ENCOURAGES OTHERS TO LIVE BIGGER AND HAPPIER. “
“So what do you actually do”?
One of the key things that we work on in coaching is to identify the “Gremlins”. “Gremlins” or as I call them, “Critical Voices” are those voices that we have each internalised from our childhood. They are the voices of our parents and teachers, coaches and community leaders. They are the statements that we heard from people who at some point held some power or authority over us and whether they were true for us or not, we internalised something from them and then went about living our lives as though those things were actually true.
Critical Voices are those voices that we have each internalised from our childhood.
The trouble surfaces when we get to being adults who are living lives that don’t quite fit who we are or who we want to grow into being. Like constantly wearing a sweater that is several sizes too small- we get so used to the feeling that it’s tight that we forget that it doesn’t actually fit us any longer. We go along feeling more and more stuck until a seam bursts and it finally hits us that we need to change something. Sometimes this “aha moment” comes when people have actually forgotten that they have a sweater on in the first place. Coaches can point out the tight parts.
But even too small sweaters with reindeers and snowflakes are hard to shed sometimes. Imagine that your limbs are so used to being wrapped tightly in the sleeves, that taking it off feels naked, totally vulnerable! The common reaction to feeling his way is to dive right back in even if getting it back on is a bigger struggle. That gift sweater from Aunt Sally is going on! Because the feeling of being uncovered is new and raw and can be difficult in the beginning.
We often only become aware of old habits or patterns of behaviour and thinking when they rub us raw. When we notice that there’s a part of life that feels wrong or tight, that’s when we pull at the sleeves of the sweater and notice… “Hey! I have this old thing I’m wearing! When did I put that on”?
Now as millennia have proven, Just saying you want to change something isn’t always the most effective way to make it happen. How many times have you made a resolution to do something different and after a few days or weeks, you simply forget? Or you find it’s harder than you thought, or…
OR… The Gremlins start showing up big time, and boy are they loud!
You’ll know them once you are paying attention to them. Their clamour grows louder and louder the more you are working to rid yourself of them. You can imagine each voice as it’s own little creature, one with really grabby hands who has been taking control for years. Now it’s been discovered and is kicking and grabbing onto whatever it can in order not to be removed from power. Imagine plucking one off your shoulder as it sits there whispering in your ear all the opinions that it grew out of.
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
- “Big boys don’t cry”.
- “Nice girls do what they are told”.
- “You aren’t good at math”.
- “Your brother is the creative one in the family”.
- “Leave it to your sister to cook the perfect dinner for us all”.
- “You need to do better for the team”.
- “Good students work hard every single day”.
- “Next time you need to stick to the plan you made”.
All these and many statements like them, when they come at us from powerful adults in our youth, stick in our heads and get so embedded there that we forget they were not our own voices, or our own opinions and we act as if they are true. Maybe they are, then again maybe they are not.
One way to know for sure that you are addressing the Gremlins, or your Critical Voices is that they will get louder is when those voices you are working to see them clearly and to rid yourself of the unhelpful ones.
The benefit to working with a life coach is that you are now an adult coming to the table with the clear intention to change what is not working for you, to identify what is working, and to make more things work better whether they are in your career, your love-life, your relationships, or in some other area of your life that you want to live more fully into. Working with a life coach will be a collaborative process that is really all about getting you the tools and support you need while ditching that too tight sweater, shredding the Gremlins and finding new ways to make your Critical Voice a useful tool rather than something that stops you dead in your tracks.
Jump on into our conversation here and offer any thoughts about your own gremlins and where and how they show up- How are you combatting them and what have you found that helps you?