Last week, on the 6th of January, my day started in a wonderful way. I had a summary session about my 2017 with my own life coach, Rob, and ended it so refreshed and happy. With a clear vision ahead of me for 2018 and beyond, I felt this innate drive to start taking action.
"Wait, so you're a coach but you also pay to have your own coach?"... a question I've been getting from friends quite often in recent months.
"Well... yes," I'd reply. "What's so surprising about that?" Am I not a human being too? In need of guidance and an outside opinion every now and again?
So it had me thinking, now that life coaches are 'on the rise', it might be worth talking about this pivotal question... "Why should I hire a coach?"
My reply is simple... because we all need one.
Back in 2001, whilst I was doing the SAT 1 training with Claudio Naranjo in Trieste, a wonderful psychiatrist and former Hoffman Trainer, Dr. Paolo Baiocchi, said this to me:
"People on the outside can see the inside of us much more clearly and objectively than we can ourselves. They can see what we, alone, cannot."
As a coach and counsellor myself, I'm delighted to confirm that we are all fooled by our ego and the variety of sub-personalities that dwell within us... no exceptions. As we grow up and the days pass, we unconsciously and consciously build layers of denial and deception, which inhibit us from being free to be who were really are and living out the purpose intended for us on this Earth.
Soon after entering the working world, as the age of responsibility dawns on us at an unanticipated pace, we start to glaze over. Blindness becomes the most powerful tool of self-defence against the weight and stressors of adult life. It 'protects' us, but it also prevents us from unleashing our full potential.
The various primitive self-defense mechanisms that get activated in childhood build a fortress around us even before adolescence. This, over time, turns into an invisible prison of unnecessary fear, that we inhabit quite comfortably by the time we are young adults.
Minimising and rationalising are two of these defence mechanisms that start firing up as we grow older. Under the guise of keeping us safe, they actually perpetuate our entrapment and keep us from discovering or stepping into the life purpose we're meant to discover. They do this by helping us shy away from taking responsibility... they keep us safe, and small.
Projections and displacement help us avoid taking responsibility for our self-destructive or self-sabotaging behaviours by allowing us to keep blaming everyone and everything on the outside.
Comparison and procrastination keep us stuck in our lives and career, deceiving us by giving us a momentary sense of comfort whilst we are going absolutely no where, very quickly.
Compulsive self-doubt and self-pity paralyse us and trap us in the resulting cycles of toxic fear, shame and guilt.
Self-repression, forgetfulness and over-compensation are amongst many other defence mechanisms that help us block, forget or counterbalance unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses so that we can avoid experiencing pain.
A life coach can reveal that which is working against us, from the inside (see more about this on a previous blog post). They can guide us to recognise where we might be blocked or lost on our life journey. They can motivate us when we cannot see the light and suggest tools we can use to develop self-awareness and long-lasting personal wellbeing. They can be a teammate or buddy that pushes us to move faster and to reach higher on our journey.
I really enjoyed having my coach, Rob, by my side last year. My old life totally disintegrated until finally, after 6 long years, I was ready to start rebuilding it and re-integrating everything new that was flowing in. I may know a lot about myself thanks to many years of studying, work and introspection. And being a coach means I can often see and correct my own behaviours and recognise when they distance me from my life purpose or are sabotaging my life. But it is frighteningly easy to become arrogant, complacent or forgetful (we are, after all, only human), and there's always a right time to have a good old confrontation with someone who can look at us more objectively to show us what we're refusing to see.
Growing older, we grow more self-assured and self-reliant... we believe we don't need anyone to help us, especially us life coaches! We can lose track of what it means to be humble, which to me is up there on the most important human values we can attain.
Investing time, money and energy working with a coach could be the gift you give yourself this year. We find it pretty easy to spend on material things like cars, luxury holidays, new shoes, more stuff, but were never taught the importance of spending on ourselves, our development, our expansion and therefore often shrug it off as an unnecessary or indulgent expense.
A wardrobe full of clothes only lasts a season, a car will eventually wear down. What would it mean to invest more money on our intellect (logic), heart (emotions), body and spirit? When these aspects of us are educated, nurtured and guided better, they can only lead to greater awareness and higher quality of life, which domino effect to create success in our work, finances, relationships and happiness. They are no doubt more valuable than a bank account... but can unequivocally help you grow a bank account, if that's what your heart desires.
Last year, against all my fear, I decided to invest a big chunk of money in myself through hiring a life coach and developing my mindfulness through a meditation intensive with a mindfulness coach. I knew that I needed someone to look at me from the outside and guide me to see what I alone wouldn't have been prepared to. It was vital for me to restart and reinvigorate my life after my separation and subsequent divorce and loss of a family. My health had declined, I'd spent a year's sabbatical in solitude and I'd relocated my life from Singapore to Europe all on my own. I felt lost and fragile and recognised that I could easily sabotage myself by shutting down and avoiding my life and career issues.
So, in March, I picked myself up and chose a coach. Money was irrelevant, I was investing and committing myself to my self-awareness and wellbeing journey through the work I'd be doing with Rob.
After only a few weeks, I have to admit, I felt like magic was unfolding in front of me. He helped me recognise, see and let go of what I hadn't been able to until then.
A year on, and still supported by him, my life coach, I'm delighted to be entering the next chapter of my life.