I just want to say a big “Thank you!” to everyone who participated in helping me get my Life Coaching qualification with Beyond Success, the company that I did my Emotional Intelligence-based coach training with.
Getting qualified was the final step in my Life Coach training; something that I had been putting off for about 3 years because I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting a sick, depressed life coach. However, one of the things that I learned from Mickel Therapy was to complete the things that we’ve been putting off since they all contribute to our sense of powerlessness and unconscious stress.
So towards the end of last year I committed to completing the qualification process, which involved recruiting five clients and coaching them for at least three months in return for the anonymous feedback which the company uses to assess that I’m doing a good job. I had a coach myself as part of my training process, and her support and faith in me was invaluable.
The process wasn’t without some challenges: one client dropped out part way through and I had to recruit another at short notice, I realised that I was too emotionally involved with another client to coach her effectively, and I messed up the timing of the surveys at one point which left me very worried that I wouldn’t meet the requirements of the qualification process. As each challenge arose I faced the choice of whether to quit, or to find some way to overcome it; and with the help and support of my clients, coach and intuition, I was always able to find a way.
All of the clients I coached overcame some significant challenges and had better health and an improved quality of life at the end of the 3 months. Three of them wanted to continue coaching and became my first paying clients, and I’ve since recruited two more via word of mouth. This is really significant since it gives me an income, gets me back working, and I can do it from home. Several of my clients were house-bound when I started coaching them, so working via Skype really worked for them too.
An interesting thing I noticed is that the clients I was coaching for free as part of my qualification process started making the most progress when they began paying for coaching. That could partly be because their sense of safety increased the longer that they worked with me, but I also think that paying money for something increases our emotional investment and therefore makes the coaching process work much more powerfully.
One of the biggest hurdles I faced in becoming a coach was asking for money in return for my time and expertise. The most important thing I have to offer is my empathic presence; that’s what really does the healing, and all the other tools and techniques I use with my clients are just icing on that cake. Asking for money in return for my presence brought my self worth issues to the surface like never before, and gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into healing them with my coaches. For someone like me with a fear/shame based personality, having support from a variety of different caring, empathic people who were willing to just let me be me and experience what I was experiencing without trying to “fix me” was really invaluable.
I’ve also learned to be selective about who I will work with, to preserve my own boundaries and ensure that I’m treated in ways that feel good to me at all times. One of the principles I teach my clients is to listen to their own inner wisdom about how they feel in any situation and be assertive when other people are treating them in ways that don’t actually feel good to them. Teaching this to other people has helped me to step up and be more assertive in my own life. I believe that assertiveness is a vital skill for stopping other people’s stress from entering our nervous system, and it’s been quite a journey for me learning to overcome my anxiety about standing up for myself.
Working closely with other people suffering from CFS for an extended period has also given me deeper clues into the illness and what works in dealing with it. My clients are very open with me, so I get the benefit of multiple experiences to learn from rather than just my own.
Recovery clearly takes time, and I think that learning to go with the process rather than fight it is really important. Of course we all want to be better right away, but this driven neediness just adds to our anxiety. If there’s a quick fix out there, I haven’t found it; but I do believe that breaking down the social isolation and spending time with people who aren’t stressed out is really important.
I’ve just finished a session with a client who was struggling with feeling so tired all the time, and suggested the affirmation “It’s OK to feel tired”. I also mentioned that everyone feels tired sometimes; we feel so tired so much of the time that we forget that it’s normal. Immediately she felt her nervous system relax. It seems so simple, yet the timing and relationship needs to be right too: If someone told me unsolicited to recite a trite affirmation like that in the midst of my suffering, I probably would have told them to go fuck themselves. Well, internally at least; I’m still working on the assertiveness thing you know! But in the right context, just giving someone permission to self-validate their own experience works magic.
How we choose to look at our experience clearly makes a big difference to how much we suffer, and having a conscious witness who understands what we’re going through really seems valuable.
One thing I’ve learned through this process is the paradox of where we put our attention. If we’re completely focused on ourselves and on getting well, we can end up feeling isolated and anxious. But putting everyone else’s needs before ours doesn’t work either; in fact a history of people-pleasing is one of the common denominators between me and my clients. I’ve found it really helpful to shift my focus from just getting well myself, to helping other people get well; while staying mindful that my health and wellbeing must always come first. If a client is stressing me out, they have to go! But when I feel calmer, more relaxed and more energised after a Skype session with a client, I know we’re both on the right track.
So I’m very grateful to everyone who helped support me and work with me during the qualification process. It’s really meant a lot to me, and I intend to pay that gratitude forward to my present and future clients. So a big THANK YOU to everyone involved. You can now see my profile on the Beyond Success coaching website. Here’s to moving forward…