What IS life coaching anyway? Coaching in all of its forms (executive, leadership, business, sales, life, etc.) seems like the new “thing.” The CEOs of million and billion dollar companies have coaches, your next door neighbor has a coach, your friend has a coach, or no one you know personally has a coach, but you seem to hear the term a lot. What’s the big deal? Why coaching?
For most of my life I felt like Uno does in the picture to the left looking eagerly at the lake. I felt like I was looking longingly at beauty, at fun, at joy, at living life but not feeling like I was truly experiencing it. Instead I felt like I was stuck in that deep sand around the lake by our home like Uno, churning hard but not getting any closer to the lake and joy. My friend and colleague Heidi Nord, who specializes as a Brain Pathway Coach for those who experience anxiety and depression, summed up my experience of life until age 20 or so brilliantly when she discussed recently in a blog about oscillating between depression and anxiety for most of her life. She calls it “Toggling from Depression to Anxiety.” That blog was a revelation for me. I realized that I had alternated from overly-productive anxiety rooted in fear of falling behind and perfectionism to depression because I was exhausted from pushing myself so hard and STILL NOT BEING PERFECT. I wondered during this time why I couldn’t seem to be happy. Why I couldn’t seem to find peace. Why friendships didn’t feel fulfilling. Why my romantic relationships didn’t feel fulfilling. A note for all the horseback riders out there: I wondered why I couldn’t seem to have a loving, safe feeling, fulfilling relationship with a horse. Why my time with my horses seemed to be full of miscommunications, frustration and even fear sometimes.
I have slowly worked my way out of the anxiety-depression cycle. I certainly still fall back in some days, but not nearly to the extent that I experienced before. The answer to working my way out was life coaching, drastically accelerated by interacting with horses from the state of being that life coaching promotes (for more on this, check back soon for the next blog on Equine Assisted Life Coaching).
I completed life coach training with the Martha Beck Institute in 2013. There are many schools of thought in coaching, I picked Martha Beck’s because it is rooted in nature and the body, which I found very powerful, and, of course, tied to horses. If you’re interested in the details of Martha’s philosophy, you can check out her books such as Steering by Starlight, Finding Your Own Northstar, The Joy Diet and Finding Your Way in a Wild New World to name a few. What I see as the foundation of the MBI style of coaching is trusting your body and questioning your mind. I know this sounds odd because the world we live in is analytically and mentally driven; however, I found that all of my reasons for anxiety and depression were rooted in thoughts or “beliefs” that were untrue. My body always knew they were untrue, I just didn’t know how to understand my body, and I could PROVE to my brain that they were untrue through Byron Katie’s The Work. By disbelieving my mind and trusting my body, I found joy. I found beauty. I found play. I found meaningful friendships. I discovered a tremendous relationship with my now husband. And, again for the riders, I found that clearing out my untrue beliefs that I held about myself cleared out the untrue beliefs I held about myself as a rider and horseperson as well as my untrue beliefs about each individual horse I played with. Clearing all of that out took the static out of my communication with horses and revealed loving, safe, fulfilling relationships with them.
With those tools in my tool belt, I feel more like Uno below, happily splashing in the lake with a friend at his side. When you’re feeling Love and Joy, the world doesn’t seem like such a scary place. With life coaching, I was able to see the world for what it is, a beautiful and safe place to play. And that my friends is why life coaching… 🙂
If you have experienced life coaching or another form of coaching, I’d love to hear about your journey in a comment below!