COACHING THE LIFE COACH
“Every coach needs a coach.”
I don’t remember who said that, but to me, it’s very true. I’ve been coached by coaches and a therapist, but I’ve also coached therapists and other coaches. I think we all need help sometimes and all of us could use a listening ear. There’s also, always something we can learn from each other.
Louanne*, a new life coach, came in for personal coaching. A true coach, she had her set of goals prepared as well as how she thought was the best way to reach them. But she had trouble asking herself all the relevant questions. I was happy to lend her a hand.
“I don’t like my body; I’m overweight and I’m ashamed of my stretch marks and cellulite,” she started.
‘Oh honey, but you look perfect to me,’ I almost spontaneously said. I was asking myself what she saw when she looked in the mirror. All I saw was a pretty, curvaceous woman.
I quickly thought: ‘Don’t minimize her feelings...’
“How do you feel when people look at you?” I asked her.
“I feel that people think I’m disgusting. A few days ago, when I was walking along the poolside at a resort, I felt that everybody was looking at me, particularly at my thick thighs. I looked straight ahead and walked very quickly to get to my pool chair as soon as possible.”
“What would you recommend to someone, who wants to change that feeling?” I asked.
She thought about it for a moment. "Maybe …try to relax a little while walking and look around at the other people and see that they are really minding their own business and not paying any attention to you. If you still feel insecure, you could also pretend that nobody’s around.”
“How would that advice change how you feel about your body?” I asked.
“I don’t think that would change it. I mean, I’d still hate it,” she said.
“What would help?” I asked.
She laughed and said: “I think if I could jump into a body make-over machine and come out with the body I want…that would do the trick.”
“What is stopping you from getting the body you want?” I asked.
“I guess just laziness and procrastination. I always aim to start on a Monday. And if that doesn’t work, I aim to start on the following Monday. There’s always something coming up and I never start,” she said.
“Give me an example of something that would come up,” I said.
“Well…It’s not really something coming up. I guess I’m somehow avoiding it or postponing it. I hate exercising and I love to binge-watch Netflix series. I also love food and drinks. Particularly sweet things, like desserts, and sugary cocktails, although I know they're not good for me. I always overdo it and end up bloated and drunk.”
“What can you do to minimize eating those things that are not good for you?” I asked.
“Well, as I said, I am a lazy person…I only go to the supermarket on Fridays. If don’t buy anything sweet at the supermarket, I wouldn’t go out again just to get it. Maybe I could just make sure I don't buy any sweets.”
“How difficult would it be to stick to that?” I asked.
“I think it would be easy during the week because I barely have time to eat. My work is completely online, from home. If there are sweets at home I would grab one. If there are none, I would likely grab something else,” she said.
"Something else such as…?" I asked.
“A fruit. An apple, orange, banana…something sweet,” she said.
“That’s a clever choice,” I said.
“What about exercising?" was my next question.
“Lately, I’ve started thinking more and more about that. I do realize that it’s good for me, not only for looks but for my overall health. I’m almost 35 now. I spend most of my day sitting. I don’t want my kids to miss their mama,” she said thoughtfully.
“What are your options?” I asked.
“Well…I don’t like going to the gym since many people would be watching and judging me. I think walking might be an option. I could wear baggy clothes and still exercise and not feel all those eyes on me. But I’d have to find someone to look after my kids. I’m a single mom...” she said.
“How old are your kids?” I asked.
“9 and 12,” she answered.
“How can you include them in your routine?"
She thought about it for a minute.
“They could walk or ride along on their bikes,” she said. Then I could spend some quality time and talk to them about their day while exercising. That would literally save so much of the time I don’t have!” she said enthusiastically.
“So, does next Monday sound like a good day to start? Next Friday I want to hear how the walking went for the first four weekdays. Can we agree on that?” I pushed.
“Yes. I’m going to make an effort,” she said.
“Serious effort?” I asked.
“I’m counting on that,” I said.
“And those cocktails, how much do they impact your life?” I asked.
“Well…. I love to prepare cocktails at home. I have many cocktail mixer bottles in stock."
“So, they’re right at home, all for grabs…” I said.
“Yes,” she sighed. “But I can’t just pour all that money down the drain…”
“Who would appreciate some bottles like that as a gift?” I pushed.
“My ex’s sister. We’re still friends as she’s very much loved by my kids,” she said.
“Where would you normally have a drink?” I asked.
“I mostly drink at home or occasionally, when I’m out partying with friends. I’m a very responsible drinker,” she said.
“Meaning…you know your limits?” I asked.
“Meaning: I never drive drunk,” she laughed.
“Oh…" I said. "So whenever you get drunk you have someone drive you home?”
“How many times did you get drunk over the last six months?” I asked.
“About twice a month.”
“And when you get home, what do you do?”
“I usually go right to sleep.” I only go out when my kids are staying at their dad’s. That’s twice a month…Maybe it’s a better idea to stop going out altogether.”
“Would that be the solution to your drinking problem?”
“Well, if I don’t go, I don’t stay out late and then don’t drink too much.”
“What about your social life?”
“My social life would be history. I lead a pretty lonely and boring life. Those two times a month are the only chances I get to go out. I would miss all the fun and catching up with my friends.”
“What makes you drink too much?” I asked after a moment of silence.
“Well, while we’re at it, they keep offering me drinks, and the longer I stay, the more I drink. I always end up drunk,” she explained.
“So, if I hear what you’re saying, it’s not the ‘going out with friends that is the problem, but the staying out late and the excessive drinking, that comes with that, am I correct?” I asked.
“What are your options if you still want to keep going out twice a month?” was my next question.
“Well, I could go out and avoid drinking altogether, but I don’t think I would want to go out and not drink a single drop of alcohol. I have to find a way not to overdo it,” she said.
“That’s it… I don’t think it’s healthy to cut off completely,” I said.
"I know alcohol is not the main problem. My excessive drinking is the main problem. The same goes for my excessive eating, excessive spending, etc. Anything in excess will cause you problems,” she said.
“I think I found my solution for that…. To still have my cake but not eat it completely,” she laughed.
“And what is your solution?”
“I go out, and ask a friend to take me home immediately after two drinks,” she said.
“You think you can manage that?” I asked, to be sure.
“Absolutely,” she said. “The more I think about it, the more I realize that drinking is not the solution to my problems. I drink to forget, but just keep adding an extra problem: A hangover. It happens all the time.”
And then, it finally came out.
“I can’t get over my ex… “I just can’t... every time I go out the memories keep coming back. And I drink and drink, to wash them away,” she said, holding back her tears.
“It's a painful process…” I said calmly. “A breakup is in essence the death of a relationship. You have to take your time to mourn…Try not to wash away the pain,” I said. “Sit with it, and trust, that day by day you will feel better."
"Yes," she said thoughtfully, "maybe I have never granted myself the permission to really mourn this loss. And now, I'm drowning myself in work and I'm sabotaging myself, trying to eat and drink it away."
"You know that you can’t wipe away this person. Not by drinking, not with food, work, or even coaching, or therapy. He will always be a part of your history. There will be beautiful memories and also painful ones. And he will forever remain a part of your life, as the father of your two beautiful children.” I said.
She looked at me with her deep blue eyes and said: “Talking about it helps. To have someone understand your feelings without judgment is priceless.”
“That’s what coaches are for!” I said.
“Amen!” She said.
*name changed for privacy reasons
Desiree Swaen - Certified Relationship and Love Coach
For in-depth information about my work, I invite you to purchase my book, Confessions to a Love Coach. The twelve short stories, collected during my first five years as a coach, describe client-coach dialogues in real coaching sessions. Each story has a message that might serve as a life lesson.
To buy, click on the following links:
De Wit Van Dorp (Dakota)