I always feel a little self-conscious admitting that I have a life coach. For one, I work in mental health and life coaching, though it has everything to do with mental health and well-being, is not credentialed. Credentialing means that the profession is monitored by a licensing or certification board who ensures the provider has some level of proficiency. I think I looked at them like other alternative medicine modalities and my recommendation to patients was to do it if it seemed helpful, but I also cautioned them about wasting money on therapy with little evidence behind it.
So when I needed therapy, I went. I saw three different therapists over the course of the year. Two of them were people covered by my heath insurance. They basically assessed me for pathology, clinical depression or anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, personality disorder. I wasn’t really depressed. I had some anxiety but it wasn’t pathological. And the gist of what I got was, “You’re doing really well given everything that is going on.” This was decidedly unhelpful and disappointing. They were basically saying, It doesn’t get better than this. So I stopped going.
CONTROL!!!! That’s all I really want! If I had started a blog back then, that would have been its name. Let me feel like I have some control in this shit storm that has become my life! I’m sure this idea of control is what originally drove me to the self-help world. I knew I was smart enough and I knew how to put in the work. I just didn’t know how to be happy or calm or even neutral in the midst of my chaotic life. So I found life coaching and it really resonated with me. I loved the idea that I could CONTROL my thoughts, which would allow me to CONTROL my feelings, which would allow me to CONTROL my actions and my results. I thought I was buying into CONTROL of my life!
So I went to work. I learned the principles taught by my life coach, Jody Moore in her Be Bold coaching program. I set about trying to change my thoughts so I could change the flow of everything that came after it. And the amazing result of this is not what I planned. So if you are like me, a hard worker, someone who has all but shut down the feeling part of yourself, and a smart cookie who is living in the land of thoughts—this is what you might expect to get out of life coaching—and spoiler alert—it’s not CONTROL.
- It gave me a pattern for recognizing problematic thoughts and beliefs. I was a fish living in the water of my own thoughts. I lacked the ability to separate myself from my thought patterns and life coaching gave me a very practical way to build this skill. I can’t say enough about the importance of this skill. I was a slave to my thoughts before I learned to separate myself from them. Learning that this was even a thing, and then how to transcend it was worth every penny I spent on the program.
- I understood that my thought-identified self is not an indication of pathology. It’s easy for me to want to use a word like neurosis when I think about this part of myself, but the truth is, whether you suffer from depression or anxiety or bipolar disorder–or schizophrenia even–the condition of being thought-identified is universal until life teaches you otherwise. So don’t worry! You’re not ahead of or behind the curve—you’re right on track. Many people live their entire lives more or less immersed in the water of their own thoughts, completely unaware of what is washing over their gills.
- I gained a vocabulary to identify and discuss my feelings. I was SO emotionally shut down when I started this process. It took me a couple of months to identify that one of my main negative emotions was disappointment. IT HAS A NAME!!! I remember the first time I realized it. I sobbed about it (in my car, which is usually my favorite place to cry) and then I called my sister to tell her about my enlightenment because I was so mind-blown. Not everyone has this struggle. Some people are too identified with feelings, but for me, this was huge.
- I learned how to feel my feelings. Okay, I have a feeling. I’ve identified it. Now how do I let it out?!? Why is this so hard? Jody Moore had several discussions about this in her coaching program. Her ideas helped me to lean in and start feeling. (See How to start feeling if you interested in this).
And this leads me to the final and biggest thing life coaching gave me. An opening. It gave me a way out of my former life and into the next version of myself. And it gave me a pattern for how to continue to build the next version and the next and the next because it opened me to consciousness. I found that I have an incredible mind that is so capable and bright, but that it’s also a terrible master. Life coaching opened me to the idea that my mind was best used in the service of my heart. It set me on the path to quieting the chatter in my mind and finding the inner voice, the knowing.
There are many paths to this end and I hope you will find one that works for you. Because there is something better, something richer and deeper—and it’s your life—and it’s worth your attention.
And I’m not becoming a life coach. No sales pitch. Just truth. Namaste.