The Power of Health Coaching
Updated: Dec 22, 2020
“It is what it is…so I just have to accept it...”
Have you ever heard anyone who sounds like this? Someone who is unhappy with something, but, for some reason, has decided to just accept it as their fate. I’ve heard that someone. That someone was me.
When I was working on my certification in health coaching, I was also working on being a client. Over the course of six months, I was not only practicing my coaching skills, I was also learning what the coaching experience is like from the client’s perspective. Admittedly, this was scary and intimidating.
I had to be vulnerable.
I had to share more than just details of my life - I had to share my strengths, values, weaknesses, feelings and desires with people I had just met. When I first started out as a client, all my insecurities took over. I was overcome with thoughts and questions over what my colleague coaches would think, how they might judge me, and where is the line of over-sharing.
I found myself making excuses – “I’m already active, I’m already in therapy, what more could I possibly have to talk about changing that I’m not already doing?” I found myself thrust into the client role being ‘that someone’, taking what I thought was the easy way out by talking about things I knew I disliked, but also knew were beyond my control – my job, my MS diagnosis, other people. I’d join the call, talk about things in my life that were annoying and set action steps around them, but these conversations had little impact because I was being careful not to bring myself too much to the conversation.
I didn’t yet understand the power of coaching – the power of talking in a non-judgmental space to someone who is really showing up, actively listening and sharing back my experience. I didn’t yet understand the power of letting myself be stretched by the experience, the questions, the envisioning of a different future, a different self.
I thought I could talk at the surface and never have anyone notice. However, the more I talked, the more my colleague coaches listened, the more I noticed. The questions, the visioning, the space to share left me knowing – the job, the diagnosis, the other people – they weren’t the issues I needed to change.
The way my colleague coaches reframed what I said, I knew these weren’t just surface topics.
I knew I couldn’t change my job, my diagnosis or other people.
All I could change was myself.
I couldn’t change my job, but I didn’t have to accept being miserable at work as my fate. I couldn’t change my job, but I could shift my perspective around going every day. By talking out what this looked like, I saw the impact on my mental health, my spirit, and my personal relationships. I was irritable, unfulfilled, depressed and projecting my anger onto my family.
I wanted to change - to be transformed in my body, mind, and soul. Not my job, but how I went about it, how I let it affect me, how I viewed it. I realized I wanted to go to school and be intentional in my relationships, mindful in my lesson planning, and empathetic in my listening. I wanted to see teaching as an opportunity again rather than a burden and, by January, I was able to do more than tolerate being at school – I was able to begin to engage in meaningful relationships with my students again.
I knew I couldn’t change my MS diagnosis, but I didn’t have to let worrying with every headache be my determined destiny. By talking out my feelings around my MS diagnosis, I began to see the root of the issue – a loss of control, a lost sense in my body, a lack of mind/body connection, a loss of connection with myself. I began to see I had built a wall inside of myself, separating my mind and body because I was scared and angry about my diagnosis.
I couldn’t change my diagnosis, but I could change how I responded. . I started changing how I handled it by journaling around it, incorporating meditation in my daily routine and being intentional in my movement and exercise.
I knew I couldn’t change other people, and I realized the root of my issue with others was in my own insecurity. Going into coaching, I honestly didn’t know one good thing about myself. But with regular, genuine acknowledgments from my coach - real affirmations about who I am at the core of my being - I saw there was something there.
And if I chose to intentionally put in the work, I may deeply embody and believe in myself – at the core.
Little by little, I talked, she listened. I listened, she asked. I answered, she gave me space. Non-judgmental space to do and say what I needed, when I needed, when I was ready. I set goals, she checked in. And the cycle continued. By the end of the cycle, I no longer simply accepted my fate, I no longer strove to just stay at the surface, I no longer blamed my current state of being on outside circumstances.
Instead, I learned to take responsibility for the outcomes in my life, I regularly dove deep into my thoughts and feelings and I accepted the only thing I can fully control in my life is myself.
Am I “fixed?” Definitely not! But, I’ve grown. And I’ve learned how to keep growing on my own – the goal of coaching! I now use my favorite pen to schedule self-care – things like writing and meditating. I’m slowly adding in focused yoga and intentional stretching. When I find myself berating myself, guilting myself or questioning myself, I attempt to reframe it into productive, realistic thoughts.
Sometimes I can’t. So, I use my favorite pen to reschedule writing time or meditation. I look at what went wrong and alter my ideas accordingly – scratching them, tweaking them or adding in new motivators and rewards just as my coach taught me to do.
And when I still can’t, I reach out – to a friend, my husband or my coach. And I dive right in with what’s going on because change only happens when we choose not to simply accept that life is what it is and I’ve learned change only happens
if I choose to show up, too.