Are you meant to be a life coach?

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00:00:42 Hi. Welcome to Season Three of Master Coach Mindset™. My name is Rhonda Britten and this Season we are talking about The Making of a Coach. Today’s Episode is all about expecting the unexpected, your Client’s painful past. I don’t think any of us go into becoming a Coach thinking we’re going to deal with our Client’s painful past. I think, if you are like me, I put that in the realm of therapy. I’m not going to talk about my Client’s rape when she was 12. I’m not going to talk about my Client’s divorce at 32 and now she’s divorcing her second husband. I’m not going to talk about those things. Those are therapy issues and 99% of the time you’re right. Those are therapy issues, yet they will come up in your coaching Sessions.
00:01:32 I want you to think about your Client coming to you to achieve a goal, a dream, live an intention, solve their biggest problem, whatever they’re coming for. Again, whether that’s finances or health or business or just having a more positive attitude, more joy, more light. People get coaching for lots of different reasons and they’re not anticipating, “Oh, my rape when I was 12 will come up,” or, “Oh my gosh, I feel like I’m reliving my parent’s divorce.” Nobody intends to go to coaching believing those things are going to come up and visit us and no Coach really thinks that they’re going to have to deal with these things when in fact, as we’re helping our Client move toward that dream, create that new reality, it’s natural. I want you to hear that. It’s natural for your Client’s painful past to visit because that painful past is probably what’s in between their now and their future.
00:02:32 Whatever their now is, “Hey, I want to lose 40 pounds,” and it’s like, “Great, I’m a Health Coach, I can do that. I’m a weight loss Coach, I can do that.” You tell them what foods to eat and you tell them what exercises to do and you monitor them. You have these different exercises about their bodies. You’re doing the work of weight, of loss, weight loss, of feeling better about your body. Well, what you don’t know and what may be a surprise is that as this woman … I’ll just use a woman example, is as this woman loses 10, 20, 30 pounds, she starts feeling unsafe. And it reminds her and it kind of starts bringing up the memories of her rape when she was 12 or starts bringing up the time that she was assaulted in college.
00:03:15 It’s not like she thinks it’s coming up. It’s not like you think it’s going to come up, but you must be prepared because any time we’re helping a Client with a dream. And they need support in getting there, which, oh, by the way, all of us do, no one can do this alone. It is natural for our painful past to come up, our suffering to come up, our things we’ve avoided to come up because those are the things that are stopping us from learning the lessons, from getting the tools, from becoming the person we need to be in order to achieve that dream. I’m not saying become a therapist and start coaching your Client about their rape at 12 years old. What I am saying is don’t be surprised when it happens.
00:03:58 Now, of course, we want to move them into therapy and they may stay in coaching as well. I have a lot of Clients that work with their therapist one day a week and with me another day a week. The therapists and I work pretty much in sync through the Client and sometimes I’ve talked to the therapist. That’s a whole new level of connection with a therapist. That might be right for your Client and there are ways for you to start supporting your Client right in your coaching Session.
00:04:24 The first thing that I want you to hear, and I do want to say it is the first thing I want you to hear, is I want you to remember that usually a Client, a person, a human being; when they have a painful past, when they have a horrific story, when they have something they’re embarrassed by or ashamed by or blame them self for, they don’t want to talk about it because they’ve been judged for it, they’ve been belittled for it, they’ve been ashamed of it, they’ve been blamed for it. Our Clients have a natural tendency to avoid the very things that they need to talk about in order to get their dream, to make their dream happen or to solve their biggest problem, to lose that weight, to make a million dollar, etc., or just be happy.
00:05:13 I hope you’re hearing the two things I’m saying. One, is yes, that’s a therapy issue, and two, what can you do in a Session now as it’s coming up? The greatest gift you can give to a Client who is having a spontaneous memory pop up or you ask a question and it just leads them to remembering the rape. Again, you’re not purposefully doing that, nobody or nothing is. It’s just in between them and their dream and now they’re starting to lose weight and it’s bringing up their vulnerability and their lack of safety and they feel like they don’t have enough protection. Your number one job is to listen without judgment, with deep empathy and deep compassion, and say the following words: I’m so sorry that happened to you. I am so sorry that happened to you.
00:06:14 I don’t know a human being alive that doesn’t need to hear I’m sorry not once, not twice, but a hundred times because it doesn’t get into our psyche when something horrible happens. It’s like the first time somebody says it, maybe the 10th time somebody says it, we kind of just brush it off like yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the 10th, 100th time, the 1000th time that it actually melts our hearts and we’re able to release that feeling, that emotion, that judgment, that blame.
00:06:43 Your number one goal in that Session, with that Client who is now revealing something from their painful past, is to just, with compassion, with an open heart, listen. Respect their past. No judging, no blaming, no questioning, like well why did it happen? Don’t dare ask that question. Instead, just allow them to speak, allow them to be heard about something that I bet most likely they’re ashamed of, embarrassed by, avoid, don’t want to think about. Remember, people who have something in their past that they’re ashamed of are experts at avoiding it and if they’re sharing it with you now, listen. Simply listen. Again, after they get complete, after they’re complete, you can say, “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” That is one of the greatest gifts you can give to somebody that is moving through a spontaneous memory and on their way to their goal, one way to their dream. It’s going to happen. It is going to happen, so expect the unexpected.
00:07:55 Understanding. All Clients want understanding. I mean, we want understanding, I want understanding. We want understanding, but don’t be confused by your Client feeling understood and then being able to move through that painful past, being able to move towards their dream. Understanding is almost like a false high. “I feel so understood.” Okay, that’s awesome. Again, I’m grateful and I would be like, “yes, good, good, good, that’s awesome.” And understanding is not enough. It does not solve the problem. Again, it warms our heart, it makes us feel seen, it makes us feel important, it reduces our shame for telling our embarrassing story, or our painful past, or share our suffering, or feel humiliated, or again, whatever that feeling is that your Client is having that you’ve had, that I’ve had. Understanding is lovely, but it is not the gift we want to give them in whole. It’s a nice gift, but it’s not the gift.
00:08:4] The gift that we want to give them is to lessen their suffering, to help them reframe the experience, and to help them move forward towards their dream. A question you could simply ask your Client in this moment, let’s say they bring up their rape at 12 and they’re going towards weight loss, you could simply as a question tying the two things together and saying, “What do you think it is about you being here and working on losing weight that brought up this spontaneous memory?” Just tie them together. Simply tie them together and allow them to go, “Oh, well, I think it’s because losing weight makes me feel vulnerable.” “Vulnerable, tell me what you mean by that.” Let’s talk about vulnerable because the two things that we can do in our Session right now is we can reframe the experience and we can define words. When we define words and we get their definitions of words, we’re actually creating a language that both of us are on the same page because your Clients say vulnerable and you say vulnerable and we may not be saying the same thing.
00:09:58 Always ask your Client, “Well, what do you mean by vulnerable? Tell me about that. Tell me what weight loss means, tell me what weight loss gives you.” Ask, define, so that you can actually understand “their vocabulary.” When you say, “I understand,” and when you’re in agreement with that language, then you’ve created a co-language. You are now in partnership with that language, which then allows your Client to relax, to feel more understood, to feel more heard, and to be able to be more vulnerable and transparent.
00:10:29 The two things that you can do in any coaching Session, especially when you’re dealing with expecting the unexpected, when you’re dealing with a spontaneous memory from the painful past, when you’re wanting to reduce their suffering, is to define words to get on the same page, so that they feel understood. Again, that’s just the first step. Then, the next thing we want to do is reframe the experience. Now, I’m going to say it again. We are not therapists. That doesn’t mean we can go in and reframe a rape and turn it into like, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad.” No, don’t do that. Yes, we want to move them into therapy and what can you do in this Session?
00:11:05 Let’s talk about what that reframing language looks like. Reframing this experience. Again, the first thing I’m going to do if somebody brings up something like I was raped at 12 when I thought we were talking about weight loss is I’m actually going to make this okay. By doing what? I already shared this with you. By saying, “I’m so sorry this happened to you. I am so sorry this happened to you.” Then, I’m going to tie them together. “Tell me what do you think brought this up when we were talking about weight loss? Tell me what weight loss, you know, losing the 20 pounds,” again, whatever they just said, “the 20 pounds and this memory have in common? Tell me about that.” They, themselves, are going to start understanding what’s happening.
00:11:54 Then, you can ask them … let’s just make up what they say. “I just feel vulnerable. As I lose weight, I don’t feel like I’m safe.” “Great. Let’s talk about safety. What other ways could you feel safe besides weight? Are there other ways to feel safe?” Now, you’re taking that word, which is what they don’t feel anymore, i.e. in weight loss, which reminds them of their painful past about when they were raped because they were unsafe. Now we’re giving them a way to think about safety beyond just weight references, but a dialogue about safety. How can they feel safe in any situation regardless of what their weight is? This is going to start to slowly, methodically reframe the situation.
00:12:41 Again, we’re not reframing the rape, we’re reframing the safety they feel about weight loss. We’re talking about weight loss in different dimensions, so that they can then feel safe to continue on their journey. The rape we’re going to honor, we’re going to respect, we’re going to listen, we’re going to say, “I’m sorry that this happened to you,” we’re going to be authentic, we’re going to be kind. We’re not going to do this, “Oh, no1” Please don’t do that.
00:13:11 I’ll never forget the first time I told somebody that my father killed my mother and killed himself. They were like, “Oh, no. Oh, my god. That was horrible. Oh, my god.” What did I feel? I felt like now I had to take care of them and I’ve been doing that for 20 years, so that’s one of the reasons I never talked about it is I was done taking care of everybody because from the moment my parents died, I had to take care of everyone else’s feelings because they were in shock and they couldn’t believe it and they were triggered. When you go … you’re catastrophizing. You are making it all about you and making it worse and making your Client care about you. No making it about you.
00:13:53 Our opportunity with our Clients is to just allow that space to be. We may be triggered inside, right? We may be triggered inside. We might be like, “Oh, my god. Reminds me of what happened to me.” Right? We may be triggered, but this is not the time or the place for you to discuss you being triggered. Again, we want to go back to what we talked about in the last Session, which is stay centered. We want to be able to not be distracted by our own feelings and thoughts going on inside of us, but actually be able to go, “Okay, yep. Those things are coming up for me and I’m going to put them to the side, stay present with my Client, and then after I get out of this Session, I’m going to go take care of myself.” Whether that’s a therapy Session for yourself, whether that’s calling your Coach, whether that’s going to take a walk, whether that’s getting your journal out and reflect, because again, you absolutely, I’ll guarantee you this 100%, your Client Sessions in coaching will trigger you.
00:14:49 Not just therapists get triggered in Sessions, Coaches get triggered in Sessions. Even when you’re talking about finances, or health, or weight loss, or business building. All of it can bring up painful memories of the past, can remind us about our suffering, can cause our negative self-talk to increase when they’re moving forward to build their confidence. You’re trying to build their confidence, but their negative self-talk increases. Why? Again, it is the thing that’s in between them and their reality right now, in their present reality right now, to where they want to go.
00:15:25 Remember, as you’re moving somebody forward in their future, the things that are holding them back must come out in order to be released, so they can let that go, so they can choose their new future. Really important for you to know that. Super important. Yes, you must expect the unexpected and you must be able to put your own feelings of shock aside because victims of violence, horrific situations in people’s past, people are used to shutting it down, avoiding it, not talking about it because they’re embarrassed, ashamed, or feel like they have to take care of you. Your job is to put yours aside, deal with it in your own private time with your own Coach and therapist, etc., and be present to your Client. Be able to go, “Yes, go ahead. Tell me whatever you need to. I’m right here for you.”
00:16:33 Make sure you maintain boundaries. Just because a Client is having a deep feeling, they’re in their suffering, they’re in their pain, maybe they’re reliving that rape, doesn’t mean that you have to have that feeling. Make sure that you know where you end and they begin. Don’t take on their feeling to feel connected to them. Instead, maintain your centered, stay clear, make sure you can be there with compassion, understanding, but don’t take that feeling and make it your own because that, once again, is not giving your Client the freedom to feel their feelings because now it becomes all about you.
00:17:07 Next, stay centered. I’ll say it again and again. Stay centered. Remember, they’re reliving something, you get to witness it. You have the honor and privilege to witness this painful past, this memory spontaneously coming up for your Client. This is a honor and privilege because as you listen and allow them to process through it, you are actually giving the opportunity for them to release it. Stay centered. Don’t get all jittery, don’t get all discombobulated, don’t be like, “Oh, my god, I don’t know what I’m doing.” Yes, you might be feeling that inside, but remember, you can take care of that after the Session. Right now, you’re going to stay focused, stay centered, and stay present.
00:17:49 The next thing is to provide structure. Ask them things like, “What can you do after this Session to take care of yourself? Who can you call? Do you have food at home? Where are you going to go next?” Let’s say they have a business meeting. “Is the business meeting required? Can you be late? Can you take a few minutes to walk around the park? What can you do?” You want to provide them the structure, i.e., permission, for them to take care of themselves, so that they can basically nurture themselves back into their body, into their being. Because if they’re having a spontaneous memory, they may very well be outside their body. Now, they’re going to be … what’s that word I want …porous and vulnerable and if they go into a business meeting afterwards or they’re supposed to go into a difficult conversation, that may not be the best time. Provide structure. Allow them, give them permission by asking them questions, what’s their next best step after this Session?
00:18:46 Next, you can provide hope. By reflecting on how courageous your Client is by sharing this story, as well as asking them questions like, “Well, how long have you been avoiding sharing this story, or haven’t told this story, or when was the last time you told this story,” or, “I’ve never told this story.” Let them know how courageous they are and look how much they’ve grown. Reflect back to them their courage and strength and fortitude and what they have to be willing to do in order to tell this story. This gives them hope that they have changed, that they are growing, that they are enough.
00:19:22 Give them that gift and also remind them that they do have strengths and they do have resources and they are enough by asking them to acknowledge themselves. To talk about what kind of person would be able to tell this story that maybe hasn’t been able to tell it for 10 years. Ask them what kind of person does that and they would say a courageous person. They’re going to say a person who is willing to be seen and you’re going to be like, yes. Now, where else do you do this? Where else do you have strength and courage and fortitude and resilience, etc.? Tie what they’ve done in the past, maybe with different exercises, into the present, so that in this moment they can use the resources from their past experiences, by things they’ve already overcome and changed and shifted, into this moment to give them hope, to let them know they’re going to be okay.
00:20:08 Lastly, admit you need help. We’ve talked about being an expert in a previous Session and yes, do I want you to be knowledgeable and practiced and skilled at being a Coach and practiced with your content and knowledgeable about your content? Of course I do, but you must admit when you’re in over your head. You must admit you need help in order to support your transparency, your authenticity, your vulnerability. Keep your heart open and keep your mind open. What does that mean? Mentor trained supervisor. That you have a supervisor that’s paying attention to your Sessions, that’s giving you feedback that really matters. You need a trained mentor and actually to give you that feedback that really, truly is going to help you integrate all those things that you’re triggered about in your Sessions, so that they can become part and parcel of who you are, you can release what no longer serves you. Learn the skills that are necessary in order for you to embody and integrate so that you can move forward in your life, too. Really important. Does that make sense?
00:21:11 I can’t express enough how on the way to any goal, on the way to any dream, on the way to anything, any problem being solved, the past is going to come up and your job is to know it, expect it, so you’re not surprised. I am so excited because the more comfortable you are with expecting the unexpected and being able to be in the presence of someone’s painful past, to be in the presence of their suffering, so that you can … just listening to it, it lessens it. That allows your Client to be set free and you’ve said nothing, or I should say barely nothing. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone’s soul and I am so excited for you to walk this path and no longer be afraid or worried or concerned about what comes up for your Client because you can sit with it no matter how painful, no matter how embarrassing, no matter how foolish, you can sit with it. With no judgment, no bias, and no labeling. When you’re able to do that, you truly are giving your Client freedom. With that, I look forward to seeing you in Episode Five.
Until then, Be Fearless.