THE MYTH THAT LIFE COACHES HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER

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I’ve been trying to think for a while now how to write this article. I’ve had the title in mind for several weeks.

I’ve noticed something, a sort of unspoken myth, if you will, about life coaches: that a life coach is someone who is somehow above the rest of the population and has things all figured out. The reason I know this is because I myself have sometimes felt that way about mentor coaches and coaches who have been at this a lot longer than me. I somehow allowed an image to grow of people who don’t struggle, don’t know what it is to suffer, who somehow magically knew how to get their coaching practice off the ground and had no problems with putting themselves out there. Deep down, I know these ideas aren’t true, yet they surface on days when I’m feeling particularly challenged and feel like giving up.

Thanks to people like Kim Avery (one of the amazing people I had the privilege of being trained and coached by) and her willingness to be vulnerable, I am reminded how true it is that God’s strength is best shown in our weakness. Her willingness to not only share bits of her journey, but also to share how scared she was to share, is something that emboldens me and surely anyone who hears her.

Lest you think that I’ve come to coaching because I think I have it all together, let me relieve you of that idea right now: that’s not why I started coaching. I started simply because it was time. Because for years, a whisper in my heart grew so loud that it started shouting to me to get started. And getting started has changed me in many ways as I’ve gone through a deep, heart and life-exploring process that is just like the process I help clients go through.

What I came to the table with is a deep level of faith, a high level of empathy (which, I admit, has sometimes been my downfall in the past) and a whole lot of experiences that have allowed me to see into other people’s issues, pain, relationships, dreams, confusion, lives and hearts.

But I also came to the table without a clue what to do in terms of business, websites, and that word I still wrestle with—marketing. To say it has been a learning curve would be an extreme understatement. Add to this the extreme circumstances going on in the life of a close family member that affect me daily and well, let’s just say it’s a challenge. However, it’s never boring.

It’s interesting that the same things that are hard for me as an artist, are hard for me as a coach. But just because we aren’t naturally good at something, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it or that we can’t become good at it with practice (Kim Avery is, again, a great example of this).

I’ve had to get over the idea that telling people about what I do is annoying to them and remind myself (daily!) that I have something valuable to offer and if I don’t tell people, they’ll never know. That goes not just for coaching, but for my writing, music, acting and other creative abilities as well.

I didn’t come to the ability to hone in on what someone is saying and not saying by having it all together, believe me. I don’t think I came to it through training either, although the fine tuning of training has been invaluable. I think I came to it through my own self-awareness and some crazy gift of hearing what a person isn’t saying and being able to tune in to people on a spiritual level. When I was a child in elementary school, I was a confidante to other kids who needed someone not just to listen, but to understand their struggles.

I think what makes life coaches have something so incredibly valuable to offer is: we know how it feels.

How what feels?

How it feels to wonder if you’re even fit for the task of whatever you feel called to. How it feels to struggle with implementing healthy boundaries so your life will have more balance. How it feels to know where you want to go, but not know how to get there. How it feels to walk by faith and not by sight every single day. How it feels to have to push perfectionism aside if you want to get anything done. How it feels to feel down sometimes. How it feels to stop procrastinating and do the next right thing. How it feels to plant seeds and then wonder when they’ll ever bear fruit. How it feels to need support and encouragement. In short, we know how it feels to be human.

We can understand because we’ve been there and, on a lot of things, have come through to the other side. But mainly, because we listen at a deep level and are trained to ask powerful questions, we can help you work through your challenges in ways that work for you. Not because we have all the answers, but because we’ve seen how powerful coaching is in our own lives and the lives of our clients. We know how empowering it is when someone trusts that you actually have the answers within yourself and asks you questions to help you navigate your way to finding them.

Inspiring you to connect to how valuable you are, and to what you have to offer this world, is what I’m here to do both as a coach and as an artist. What I’m also called to do as a coach and as an artist (and a human!) is to keep it real.

If you want to learn more about what I do, you can visit my coaching website by clicking this link: Art of Life Coaching.

Till next time, wishing you peace and courage…

Monique

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“NO” IS NOT A FOUR-LETTER WORD

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I originally wanted to post a piece on this topic at the beginning of the year because I thought that after the holidays, the effects of not saying “no” might still be ringing in people’s heads. We’re now almost a quarter of the way through the year and I’ve had plenty of conversations with people who are wrestling with saying “no” and I realized again that it’s always a good time to talk about it.

Too many people are exhausted, overwhelmed and burned out because of the fear of saying this little two-letter word. Or perhaps because of not knowing how to say it. Fact is, the word “no” can often be a positive thing, yet we tend to think of it as a negative one.

Consider some possible situations when “no” might be a great thing to hear:

“Do I have cancer?” No.

“Are you cheating on me?” No.

“Did I make a mess of dinner?” No.

“Did I break anything?” No.

See? There are times that “no” is a beautiful word.

But now, let’s consider some times that “no” is still a beautiful word, even when it’s uncomfortable.

“Will you take responsibility for my problems?” No.

“Will you take the blame for my mistakes?” No.

“Can you pretend you don’t notice how rude I continually am to you?” No.

“Can you take on this project [even though you have a pile of other things to do]?” No.

“Can I disregard your schedule, and your life, and expect you to see me or talk to me whenever I want you to?” No.

Now, those questions are most likely unspoken, yet they are still there simmering below the surface whenever another person insinuates, directly or indirectly, that behaviors, problems, or actions of theirs are somehow your responsibility. Or that you should drop everything because they expect you to. Your “no” to these unspoken questions or implications can also be unspoken. For example, by not taking the blame for someone else’s mistakes or behaviors by removing yourself (permanently or temporarily) from their presence, especially if this is an ongoing pattern. And by politely declining their requests, which are sometimes really just sugar-coated demands. Overbearing people have a knack for assuming others will comply with their requests, so you need to be able to stand strong in order to resist them.

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It’s possible that if you have trouble saying “no” that there are some limiting beliefs you have about yourself that may be causing this. Even more likely is the possibility that you lack healthy boundaries both with yourself and with those around you. Sometimes knowing what you need to do does not immediately lead to doing it. This is where coaching can be very beneficial to keep you on track.

Sometimes people have trouble saying no because they are afraid of conflict. This is often at a high cost to yourself because then the conflict that goes on is within as you wrestle with self-doubt and self-deprecating talk. But beating yourself up doesn’t empower you or bring you inner peace.

Here are some suggestions on healthy ways to say “no.”

“I won’t be able to do that for you at this time. I have too much else on my plate at the moment.”

A healthy person will honor such a request without trying to make you feel guilty. If they try to manipulate you or coerce you into meeting their request anyway, you can simply say it again, prefaced by, “As I said…” Hopefully this will cause them to accept that you have declined their request. If they persist, politely excuse yourself and leave (or hang up if you’re on the phone…or stop responding to their emails if they continue to badger you online).

If someone is upset with you though you did your best to accommodate them, you can acknowledge their disappointment while saying you did your best. For example, if someone tries to blame you for something not turning out as they hoped, you can say, “I can see that you’re disappointed right now, but I did the best I could.” That way, you acknowledge how they are feeling, you take your part in the situation and you leave the other person to sort out their part. Remember, you are not responsible for managing other people’s emotions, only your own.

If someone requests something of you that you can’t do right way, you can say, “I’d like to help you with that, but right now is not a good time for me. Can we arrange a time that works for both of us?” This is a gentle way of saying “no” that leaves options open to a different time that is beneficial for both parties.

Another excellent option is that, instead of saying “no” right away, simply say, “I need to think about it and get back to you.” A lot of times we struggle with saying “no” because we said “yes” too quickly. Giving yourself time and space to consider a request is fair to you and to the other party. It’s fair to you because you can decide without feeling pressured. And it’s fair to the other person because it communicates that you are willing to consider their request.

And if you do anger someone for saying no, keep in mind that just because someone is mad at you doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. Sometimes they are simply mad because they realize that their attempts to control you with guilt, fear or obligation are not working on you. But again, that’s for them to sort out.

So the next time someone asks you to do something (or implies that your compliance is a given), take a second to ask yourself if this is something you truly feel you should do and then respond accordingly. If you need to think about it, say so.

You have so much to give to the world. Just make sure you’re giving it where you truly feel called to and not where you are being pressured to.

These are just a few examples, but there are many more. There is a lot of letting go involved in saying no. Letting go of outcomes. Letting go of other people’s behaviors and emotions. Letting go of the need to please people. Letting go of worrying. Letting go of someone possibly being disappointed with you. But as you start to bring this powerful word into your life, you will find that you have more space and freedom to say “yes” to the things that are most important to you and it will become easier for you.

Not only that, you’ll feel stronger and more confident when you don’t give your personal power away to people who use your good-natured heart to manipulate you. The more you respect yourself, the more others will see that they need to respect you too if they want to remain in relationship with you.

Change usually takes time and practice. Things that are difficult now will become easier the more you apply the things you learn.

I wish you strength on your journey and light on your path. I’d love to hear your comments, concerns and questions below.

If you need more help with saying “no” and you’d like to schedule a free 30-minute exploratory coaching call with me, please click here and book yourself an appointment. I’d be happy to talk with you!

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