Lesson Learned By A Coach, From A Coach.
As a coach, I am a firm believer in having a coach. I didn’t realise how beneficial having one could be, until I became one myself and started receiving my own coaching sessions. Probably in a similar vein to all therapists being in therapy; someone to bounce ideas off, share problems, concerns and emotions with, deep-seated thoughts that are best to ruminate with someone else, who is completely independent and non-judgmental, can never be a bad thing.
If there’s a problem brewing with your significant other, it can be beneficial to talk it out with your coach, because they can often get to the root cause of your issue. Help you ascertain what you’re really sad/angry/upset about, delving deep, ask questions to help you clarify what you’re truly wanting to say, leading to a more productive conversation with your partner, as opposed to a blow-up confrontation over something stupid like it easily could’ve been.
It’s incredible what a slight, subtle change in perspective can do for you. It could even change your whole world and outlook…for the better!
I’m going to share a personal story from my own experience, to show you the benefits of what that small perspective shift can accomplish.
After being married for seven years, I found myself stuck in the same, irritating cycle. One of frustration, resentment and guilt. I seemingly couldn’t escape it and it made me feel miserable. I was perfectly happy in my relationship and loving our life with two young boys, but external factors kept intruding on that world.
Obviously, the last couple of years have been pretty crazy and scary for everyone involved, so taking all of that into account, there were still factors of our life I was not quite content with, that caused friction and frustration.
Our living situation, whilst it has its reasons, isn’t what either of us had probably hoped and dreamed for on our wedding day. So, to be in the same position, seven years down the track, when our place was small for two adults, let alone adding two kids into the mix, it can be alot! But, as anyone who has tried to buy a house in the last two years can attest to, the housing market lost its collective mind and became a difficult place to find a home for our family.
So this situation lead to my negative, never ending cycle. I felt frustrated by our circumstances, resentful of things not being different or the way I had anticipated they would be, then guilty for feeling that way….this merry-go-round of emotions had been going on for years, so I just believed this was how I would feel until we moved…or I died!
I had an upcoming session with my new coach and thought I would to focus on strategies with how to cope with my frustrations surrounding these circumstances.
I detailed everything I was struggling with, the feelings of frustration and resentment, then the subsequent shame and guilt for feeling those emotions. The associated anxiety of knowing I was stuck in this nasty cycle that constantly spiraled me out of control. I asked to work on how to manage these better.
We dove deep, exploring where my feelings were originating from. A lot of my feelings of frustration, sadness and resentment was the residual leftovers of believing our first few years of marriage would be a certain way. That we would have our own little home, or by the time we were ready for a second child, we would definitely have our own, spacious home and enjoy special family time. So not only were our current circumstances at times a frustration for me, but so was my shattered expectations that never materialised.
My coach asked me if I could assign any other emotion to my circumstances, to all that I was feeling. Sadness….annoyance…like a bad, selfish person…? I was stumped for anything other than what I had already identified. He asked if he could share a thought, or a word to see if it resonated with me. That word, was grief.
Grief? Had I ever thought of assigning grief to it all? No, I honestly hadn’t. I was intrigued by why he had thought to offer up that word. He offered up a simple suggestion/question; what if the next time I start to feel my cycle of frustration-resentment-guilt begin, instead of following my usual spiral, I allow myself to grieve the fact things are not the way I want them to be. Give myself permission to grieve that my husband and I didn’t get to spend our first few years of marriage in the way I had anticipated and/or hoped they would be. Acknowledge little annoyances of our current circumstances are understandable and that I don’t need to feel ashamed or guilty for feeling those things.
I was blown away, I had never thought of it from that perspective before. It gave me something interesting to contemplate, to sit with and ruminate over. Over the next few days, I thought about it and did some research into grief; the processes, stages and varying kinds of loss that come under the “grief” banner. I knew the basics, but was intrigued to learn about a type of grief called NonFinite Loss. It’s basically when certain aspects of our life doesn’t match up to the expectations we once had, we can experience a kind of grief in relation to it.
So, armed with this newfound knowledge and shift in perspective, I decided to lean into those feelings. I let myself experience the grief of disappointment that our circumstances aren’t how I imagined them, that I’ll never get those early years back in our marriage, to have them be how or what I wanted them to be. I’m allowed to feel sad about that. I’m allowed to feel annoyed and resentful sometimes, because I’m human and experience both positive and negative emotions and that’s ok. Not everything always turns out the way you want, need or desire it to be and it’s acceptable to grieve what could/should/would have been. It’s also appropriate to feel these things, but still hold space for being grateful for all that I do have, and love, cherish and be thankful for that too.
And do you know what happened…? I was able to let it go. Being stuck in that cycle of frustration, resentment and guilt, I wasn’t allowing myself to actually process my emotions. I was just reliving them over and over again and it got me nowhere. So, when I actually gave myself permission to grieve, allowed myself the grace to be sad and disappointed over things I guess I never really thought I should before, it released their hold over me. I was able to find acceptance in our situation and contentment.
Things that frustrated me in the past, no longer hold any power over me. I’ve already dealt with the associated emotions in my head and my heart and it barely affects me anymore.
My whole outlook has changed with that ever so subtle shift. The difference of looking at things from another perspective has completely altered my life and improved it for the better. I feel happier in myself, in our current living situation and my relationship with my husband no longer has any underlying resentment that it once might have. Sure, are there still frustrations that come up? Of course. But there is no longer the resentment, guilt or shame spiral there once was. I have simply accepted things as they are and have stopped holding onto the imagery of what I thought they’d be. I feel lighter, happier, more fulfilled and able to enjoy what we actually have, instead of pining for things I believed I wanted, thinking they would make me happy. I have released myself from it all and am in such a better place now because of it.
That is the power of coaching; the monumental improvement that a slight shift in perspective can have. This is just one basic example, but one I wanted to share with you. Even though I am a coach, I too have blind spots in my own life and can benefit from having someone independent, caring and non-judgemental to hold space for me to work all my things out with :)