How Life Coaching Changes Lives

How Life Coaching Changes LivesIt was two weeks before Christmas when I received a phone call from Rebecca who said, “I have had two warnings at work and I am about to lose my job. I need life coaching to save my job and I have one week.”

Now as a coach I am confident about my abilities but I must admit this request felt like a tall order as I had no prior knowledge of Rebecca or her work situation. However, I love a challenge so I scheduled a coaching session and in one session was able to help her see what took her off track at work and what she needed to do to save her job.

Two months later Rebecca’s employer commented on the change in her and how well she was doing. Nearly three years later she is still in the same job and has coached other staff members, who found themselves in the same position she was once in, on how to turn their situation around. That’s the benefit of coaching.

A lot of people misunderstand what coaching is and feel it is another form of counselling, or giving advice, it is neither. Although coaching is about finding a solution, this is often not the real goal. The real goal is supporting a client to view the world through different filters, when we do this a shift occurs that can change a person’s life.

When we focus on giving advice our intention is to get the client from “A” to “B”, and we don’t hear what people are really saying. Listening is such a great skill and I must admit it wasn’t one I had when I first started coaching. I came from an advisory background and I gave way too much advice in the early days. When we really listen, not only do people feel valued, we hear the clues they drop in their everyday conversation, about their limiting beliefs, rules or habits. These are what people need to become aware of, and in many instances change, if they want to create a more fulfilling life.

Another skill a good life coach has is the ability to ask questions. We know ourselves better than anyone else and we know the solution to our problems, the right questions bring solutions to our conscious awareness. A coach can also introduce a different alternative that a client may not have thought of themselves.

The Heart Process coaching model, which my school teaches, has three core elements that form the foundation of all the coaching we do.

Three elements of life coaching

  1. For change to occur there often needs to be a shift in perception. We listen for clues that indicate where a client has gone off track. Then through questioning we support clients to clear the obstacles that prevent them from being who they want to be and living the life they want to live.
  2. We teach life skills. Not all life coaching is about teaching life skills but without conscious knowledge of self and how to be the best person you can be it’s very easy to be influenced by the world around you. We show people how to become a centre of influence. Self knowledge enables us to expand our horizons, create harmony in our relationships and allow more into our lives.
  3. We support clients through the process of change by helping them create strategies to achieve their goal.

Whether you are a coach, or a person being coached, life coaching changes lives. In the 20 years since we started hearing about life coaching in the mainstream media it has become one of the world’s fastest growing industries and although the ICF say they expected to see a levelling off by now, it is not happening.

I urge you to consider coaching. Coaching can help you:

Feel safe. The great benefit of coaching is that you have a non-judgemental friend by your side who wants to see you succeed.

Feel heard. Many of us don’t feel heard and a life coach hears what you really say and can help you gain clarity as to what is most important.

Go further than you will go alone.  It doesn’t matter if your goals are personal or professional it is proven that we achieve more when we have the support of a coach by our side.

Celebrate your successes. We need to acknowledge our successes and we need to celebrate them and that is something your coach will be more than happy to do with you.

Becoming a life coach is one of the best choices I have ever made because not only do I get to work with people who value my contribution, helping others keeps me on track in my own life.

To find out more about becoming a coach visit: http://www.hartlifecoaching.com.au/life-coach-training-3-2/. Or, to find a life coach visit: http://www.hartlifecoaching.com.au/life-coaches-2/

 

 

 

 

The Difference Between Fantasies, Wants and Needs

wants and needsEvery now and then I dream of living a radically different life, this usually occurs when I feel overwhelmed, disconnected from others, or stressed. On those occasions I may do some research, but I’ve never taken any action towards turning those dreams into reality because they are fantasies, a way of escaping from reality.

Wants on the other hand usually come from our intellect, or the left hemisphere of the brain and it’s very easy to mistakes wants and needs. Generally, wants are based on logic and reason. Let’s say you want to feel secure, your mind works out that if you earned a certain income, in a secure job, then you will feel that way. The mind then goes searching for a way to achieve that goal. On the surface it appears to make sense but wants take us away from our calling, while needs take us towards our calling.

Wants and needs can appear to be very similar and the way to differentiate between the two is to be aware of how they make you feel. Choices made using logic and reason always come from the left hemisphere of the brain, when we spend too much time in the left hemisphere of the brain we turn on the sympathetic nervous system which initiates the ‘fight or flight’ response. When this happens we get a rush of adrenaline, our focus improves, our heart rate rises and our muscles are primed to respond quickly. That may sound good but when you live that way constantly you live in the stress zone.

Needs come from the right hemisphere of the brain because they are about feelings. This hemisphere enables us to be more creative, to use our imagination and access our intuition. This hemisphere of the brain turns on our parasympathetic nervous system which enables us to rest, digest, repair and reduce stress levels.

Our needs always represent feelings that make us happy. Meeting our real needs can transform our lives. Our needs have a very definite purpose, they guide us to the choices and a life that will support us to grow to our full potential. When we meet our needs we live in balance and use our whole brain, which is the way we are meant to live. Our needs come from our heart and soul. Our heart speaks to us through positive emotions, our soul speaks to us through intuition, feelings and/or signs that guide us to the life that makes us happiest. Signs can come in the form of obstacles, problems, opportunities, insights and dreams, they always support us to face our fears so that we can grow and evolve.

The Institute of HeartMath, a non-profit organisation, based in California, provides scientifically validated methods devoted to harnessing the power of the heart and brain. Scientists have found that the signals that come from the heart have a greater effect on brain functioning and cognitive ability. According to HeartMath the brain responds to signals sent from the heart and those signals influence attention, memory, perception skills and problem solving abilities.

It’s easy to misunderstand what heart’s desires really are because we have been so conditioned by corporate giants and the media to want more, more, more. Our heart’s desires are more about feelings than things or achievement. You only have to look at your life to see if you following a fantasy, a want, or a need because your emotions clearly show you when you are on the right path.

Connecting with your heart and soul

So how do you connect with your heart and soul when you have been disconnected for a long time? You take time to be still and to listen. By taking 10 minutes a day to begin with to go within and meditate you access the right hemisphere of the brain. This won’t radically change your life, it’s like walking for a kilometre a day, it’s a start. Ideally you need to meditate for 20 – 30 minutes a day on a regular basis. Over time this practice will change the structure of your brain and your response to stress, it will also increase your tolerance to stress.

You also need to live consciously so that you can recognise the choices and reactions that take you away from fulfilling your needs. This is where mindfulness can help. Being mindful means focusing on the present moment, not the past or future, for 10 minutes three times a day. This simple habit decreases stress.

You may wonder how these practices can help you fulfil your needs and that’s a very valid question. Relaxing and trusting life to show you how to achieve a goal is scary because we are not used to living that way, remember most of us have been conditioned to use logic and reason. To create a different reality, we need to trust our inner guidance system to show us how to achieve our goals, this means detaching but it does not mean doing nothing.

Trust is a very proactive process. It means asking for guidance, listening, then acting on the guidance you receive. Last year my inner voice told me to give away my car. That idea scared me, but my inner voice was very clear, I wasn’t to sell my car, I definitely had to give it to someone who needed it. I am still not sure why at this stage but I have a very deep knowing that this is what I was meant to do.

Tell your mind what you need and it will look for a way to bring it into your life because your brain was designed to support you. The RAS (reticular activating system) is a portion of the brain which decides if information coming in goes to the conscious area of your mind, or the unconscious. When your brain receives constant reminders it knows what is important to you and brings any information on that subject to your conscious awareness. We tell our brain what’s important by repetition, so saying affirmations, visualising, looking at pictures on a vision board are all ways we can remind our brain of the opportunities we want brought to our conscious attention.

Your brain is working for you every waking minute of the day.  Meditation will help you to be still and receive guidance. Being mindful will help you recognise how often you focus on your worries, fears or what you don’t want. Develop habits that support your needs and remember that the more repetition and emotion associated with those needs, the easier it becomes to attract them into your life.

 

How to get Depressed and Stay that Way

HOW TOIf you’ve ever experienced a recurring problem then most likely you know what it’s like to feel depressed.  I am not referring to clinical depression which is a mental illness, but situational depression that can occur when you aren’t living the life you want to live.

We all have our own personal variations but, generally speaking, the cycle of depression goes like this. When we cannot handle a situation we automatically respond the way we always have: some people confront their problem head on and go looking for a solution, some avoid and use distractions such as spending, eating or drinking, and some fall into a slump and do nothing.

When you stop reacting in your usual way, you have the opportunity to look within, learn and grow. Sometimes solutions are staring you in the face, but when you are so caught up in the problems and the feelings you are experiencing you don’t even see them.  Continue reading How to get Depressed and Stay that Way

Find a Compelling Reason

compelling reasonNot knowing how to achieve big goals is what stops so many people from even trying to achieve their dream.  But the fact is that most successful people have no idea how they are going to create their dreams when they first start out, they just have a very strong desire that motivates and keeps them going when things don’t work out.

When I bought my first home the prospect of taking on a large mortgage terrified me.  Tying myself down financially went against everything the freedom lover in me hated, but my desire for stability outweighed my fears, and that was my compelling reason which provided me with the courage to step outside my comfort zone.

More recently taking on the accreditation process for my life coach training program so overwhelmed me I felt like running away.  I hate complying just because a Government official says I have to.  I hated having to fit my course into a structure that would meet Government criteria, when it worked perfectly well the way it was.  I hated having to change the wording in some instances to fit a criteria which I think is stupid.  Added to that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at first.  My desire to make a difference though was my compelling reason and it was greater than the obstacles I faced.  So, I broke the tasks down and kept telling myself that I am intelligent person and that I can work it out.

I did the eight day training and assessment course and found the other people doing the course were so helpful.  Often when I didn’t know what I was doing I would take my questions to the class and someone else would tell me just what I needed to know.  I asked for help and so many of the lovely coaches that I’ve trained gave me their support. I focused on one very tiny element at a time, figuring that if I got one part right, I’d be able to work out the next step, and I did.

Although the accreditation process went against my essential nature I chose to comply because of the longer term benefit.  Now I am so glad I did it and I feel so proud of myself and as a result of working on the course intensively for four months, it turned out better than it originally was.

Don’t limit yourself because you don’t know how.  Not knowing and feeling afraid often tells you that you are on the right path.  Find a compelling reason and start, just remember that progress is often associated with discomfort but discomfort is only temporary, whereas the rewards of following your heart are long lasting.

Living with an Open Heart

As a child I cried a lot. I cried when I was hurt, scared, sad, if I saw an animal or person injured or suffering. Crying wasn’t a trait that was admired in my family. I was told to toughen up, that I was too sensitive and so I learnt to shut down, to close my tender heart and bury my feelings. There was even a period in my life of around 20 years where I incapable of crying, even when my son died.

I used to think that the biggest obstacle that stood between people and their dreams was their negative thinking. I now know that it is having a closed heart. So how do you recognise a closed heart?

We often confuse sensitivity with being reactive. If you have a tendency to be jealous and fly off the handle when your partner looks at another woman, that is not being sensitive. If you withdraw when anyone says something that hurts you, that too is a reactive pattern. My Dad thought that his ability to block out unpleasant emotions was a strength, it’s not. The problem with any behaviour that protects us from feeling is that it can too easily become habitual. When you shut down emotionally on a regular basis you stop listening to your heart and you don’t even know that your heart is closed.

You can’t armour yourself against pain or sadness, they are a part of the fabric of life just as you can’t make another person love you, or prevent yourself from feeling hurt if they don’t. When you close your heart, even with selective people, you are virtually saying to yourself, “I am not okay the way I am”.

Throughout my life I have experienced rejection, sadness and betrayal and with every painful experience I closed my heart just a little more. I became selective as to who I let in, and the people I felt safest with were my children. It took another personal crisis before I reached the point of letting go and opening my heart.

It took a long time for me to realise that there is nothing wrong with being sensitive. There is nothing wrong with being vulnerable. There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries with people you love. I never thought that setting boundaries was a problem for me, and it wasn’t with people in general, but it was with people I loved.

Until we fully allow our hearts to open, to be vulnerable, we cannot fully experience love. Author and speaker Brene Brown, who is best known for her work on vulnerability, says, “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves”.

 

Finding Your Calling

We spend a great deal of our lives stumbling around in the dark complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding then something happens that sheds a light, and if we are open and willing, we have an awakening.

When I was ten years old I prayed for a baby, even at that young age I knew I was meant to be a mother. If I couldn’t have had children I would have adopted, fostered or even started an orphanage in an impoverished nation. My calling was that strong. As an adult I knew I wanted to write. Initially my desire came from a need for recognition, but I also had a very strong desire to share what I had learnt with others. Now I write in my mind every day. It’s something I love doing and I can’t help but write, and I would continue to write even if no-one read my work.

We don’t just have one calling, we have multiple callings which we are called to act upon at different life stages. A calling can also be called life purpose, or vocation. It is something that your soul is calling you to do and until you follow that calling you may feel dissatisfied, as if there is something missing.

Some people expect that when they discover their calling they will be happy, that everything in their life will work, but that isn’t necessarily so. Knowing your calling is one thing, acting on it is another. When you follow your calling you develop strengths that enable you to share your gifts with others. Along the way there will be lessons to be learnt and fears that need to be faced as well as joy, fulfilment and a feeling that you are exactly where you are meant to be, doing exactly what you are meant to do. A calling is always about growing to your full potential and it always supports you to evolve.

You are either moving away from your calling or towards your calling

I once worked with a client who had recently retired and she was feeling lost and directionless. This feeling always precedes an awakening. She had a project that she was working on that had the potential to make her a substantial amount of money, the problem was it didn’t fulfil her, and she didn’t really need the money. As we talked I became aware that up until this time in her life most of her happiness had been derived from her achievements, mostly work related. While achievement can be a way of following your heart, it is generally ego driven. There comes a time when, if we are to grow spiritually, we need to leave our egos behind. I encouraged this woman to let go of her need for achievement and to focus on what made her happy in other ways and to build new strengths. This often leads you to your calling.

We get signs to awaken all of the time. These come in the form of problems, tragedy, personal crises. Most people miss these signs because they engage in habits that keep them stuck, complaining, worrying, blaming or avoiding. Everything in your life is guiding you to become the person you were born to be, if you are willing to take up the challenge.

My first awakening occurred when my son died when he was 5, I was 33. I knew that there was nothing I could do to change what happened so I made a commitment to make a difference with my life, to do what he would have done if he had lived, as well as what I was called to do. I have never regretted that choice – it changed my life.

When we don’t listen to our calling the unhappier, or more stressed, we become. Our personalities change. For about 20 years I was in love with a beautiful man who had so much potential. As life challenges came his way he blamed, abdicated responsibility and avoided anything he didn’t want to face. Over time his entire personality changed until he became someone I didn’t like and wouldn’t want to spend any time with. It’s unfortunate that I have seen so many people, who I once liked or admired go down this path as well.

If you have been searching for your calling, but still don’t know what it is, ask yourself what are you resisting. We resist our calling when we are afraid. You may still be an ethical, nice person who on the outside seems okay, but if you are observant, you will notice the little changes that are occurring within you. You may not laugh as much, you may struggle with your moods, you may experience health, relationship, work or financial problems. You may have become more cynical or lost your joy.

Finding your calling isn’t something that usually happens overnight, although it can, if you are open. It’s a journey that you can start at any time. You don’t need to wait for a wake up call.

Step 1. Look at the challenges you face, these are signs

By identifying your challenges you can then choose values that will help you grow.

For the past couple of years life has been telling me to value myself, so the value I chose to work with is respect, especially self-respect. Anything I give to myself I always extend to others. Life has also been encouraging me to be patient. As I act upon these values I find I react less, and other people’s moods don’t spoil my day. I am calmer and I know this is who I need to be to spread my message of hope and joy.

A calling is never about getting or achievement, it is always about growing and giving.

Step 2. Be mindful

Mindfulness is a tool that supports us to manage stress. It can also help us identify our needs, what makes us happy and what takes us off track.

Focus on being courageous, willing and accepting and look for ways to actively demonstrate these traits every single day. Ask for guidance as to what you are meant to do. A calling doesn’t have to be around a career, but it will always be around giving. Callings come in all shapes and sizes, the bigger your calling the more likely you are to know what it is you are meant to do.

On a typical day take three minutes to walk around the room or space that you are in. Do this without any particularl goal in mind. Just walk wherever attracts your attention.

When the three minutes is up get a pad and pen and write down where your mind went for those three minutes.  Did you:

Have thoughts about the past?
Think about the future or jobs you have to do?
Did you replay a conversation you had with someone?
Think about how frustrated you feel?
Did you look for a solution to a problem?
Did you criticise yourself?

This exercise gives you an idea of where your attention is placed throughout the day and the many different things that distract you from being present. What can you do to ensure that your attention is on things that bring joy to your life.

Step 3. Look for positive way to bring more joy into your daily life

The more joyful you are, the easier it becomes to recognise your individual calling. Actively seek ways each day to do something that brings joy, it doesn’t matter how simple it is, it is all about how that action makes you feel.

One day you will notice that you didn’t find your calling – your calling found you.