I had a lovely lady see me early last year who helped me realise how important it is to be very centered and intuitive as a life coach. To protect her identity, I am going to call her Wendy. Our first session really did make it clear that our sessions were going to be intense. Her past was filled with abuse from her mother, education system and partners.
When Wendy walked into my office for the first time, I noticed how timid and quietly spoken she was. Herbody was contorted inwards, as though she was protecting herself and carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders.
Just a half hour later, I realised that Wendy was a woman who had participated in many personal development courses and even wound up in an abusive cult. So lets just say trust was going to be the greatest stumbling block between us. It was also difficult for her to be convinced thatanyone could help her given thatshe had already invested so much in gaining all the knowledge. I took that as a challenge, but knew trust was the first obstacle and a big one at that!
To test her trust in me, she began to flirt. Before I knew it, she was showing me her tattoos on her buttocks. It was a difficult and very delicate balance for me as I was focusing on keeping the session professional and not making her feel embarrassedat the same time. In hindsight, it is as clear as day to methat Wendy was testing my character, to see whether the weaknesses she expects in men would naturally exist in meas well. I am pleased to say, despite her good looks, I was not tempted. You would think being married had something to do with it!J
When I get clients who are feeling ultra vulnerable in any environment outside their home, I know that building their self worth is the primary focus. It would take Wendy three hours of meticulous preparation, including a two hour intense shower, getting dressed with every detail being cleaned and groomed. This level of perfection is only relevant to someone who feels like the groomed image is the only way to protect their inner world, which to themis far from perfect. And after all that effort on each occasion, this was no guarantee Wendy would muster the courage to actually leave the house.
When someone feels unworthy, dirty and useless, then everything they do is an effort, including telling the truth and especially in public. As Wendy continued to test my patience in a very strategic way, our trust began to establish and information she initially shared was confessed asfalse. I could not take this personally because when you are connected to the cause and effect chain of insecurity, you are easily compassionate to the struggle to trust and the temptation to lie. Instead, I was very grateful of the breakthrough in establishingtrust.
As Wendy began to visit every week, my receptionist commented on how upbeat and chirpy she was becoming. This was such a beautiful signof the progress of our work together. The physiology of the body changes to reflect your worth and confidence – no longer did she look pressed down and inwards. This inspiring lady was allowing herself to finally connect and belong to the world.
Many clients ask if I do counseling and I say I don’t. That’s because I do not offer that service. However, I do find that when resistance surfaces in the coaching program, my clients end up sharing a lot of emotional issues and the program is designed to allow them to resolve these issues.These are identical principles to counseling, so the truth is, counseling in essence plays a part, but it's only one part of the empowered to purpose journey.
What also amazed me about Wendy beyond her courage and determination was her intuition. Wendysensed that she would be diagnosed with multiple personality disorder or something similar if she had gone to a psychiatrist. I actually met a couple of her personalities in one session – it was intense.
However, by the end of our coaching program, her relationships had improved with her family and she went out into the real world for the first time in two decades. When I checked in with her last month, Wendy shared herrelationship with her husband were going great, they were building their dream home and she was in a job thatshe enjoyed, for over a year.
Not bad progress,given thatwe both agreed that the other road would have been to risk being heavily medicated and diagnosed with a range of mental disorders. One thing thatWendy made clear in our first session was her appreciation that I do not seek to label anyone. This is the funny thing about diagnosis and conditions. They can easily replace our intuition and personal empowerment that defines our capability to change any personality trait with a stigmatized disease that is outside our full control.
I recall a psychologist wanting to provide me with personality profiles for my clients. When he stated that there are inherent personality traits no one can change, I knew I could not partner with him.
We are born into this world with the potential to be everything. We get taught to believe ideas about our environment and ourselves, some of which are destructive. We are also taught some poor coping techniques. Why do we need to lock people into ‘mental conditions’ when the brain is designed to rewire and adapt to any level of perception that is empowering to our environment?
I get thatthere is a role to manage those who are lost, stuck and need to be managed so they are safe for themselves and those around them. I truly appreciate the mental health profession for the great work it does everyday for those people, their families and the community at large. However, psychiatric drugs have become too heavily promoted and hence the temptation to diagnose and lock people into mental diseases that profit multinational corporations is a conflict of interest that does need constant attention.
We all need to realisethat show oflove, respect, compassion and kindness is the first thing we do when helping people heal from their mental illnesses. This consistent love would fix many people long before drugs become the only alternative. I wrote the eBook Solving Depression because I also see anti-depressants prescribed too readily to people. I will ask my assistant to link to that eBook so you can download it for free.
A client last week told me her doctor gave her 30 days of free anti-depressant samples. My client wanted to stay off them and her doctor saidthat the latest studies showed getting off and on again could damage her brain. This gutted my client, and thankfully she did not get sucked into the fear mongering. This really did upset me, because I can see too many of our well intentioned doctors being conditioned into prescribing medication that numbs us from feeling life.