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Do You Need a Life Coach or a Therapist?

Do You Need a Life Coach or a Therapist?

You’ve decided to invest your time and money into improving yourself and your life situation. Do you need a life coach or a therapist?

Well, as with most things, it depends. It depends on a lot of factors. We all need a little help sometimes. And it’s important to choose the right kind of help for your specific issues and what you’re hoping to get out of it.

So here’s what you need to know before reaching out.

What is Life Coaching?

I get this question a lot from people who are curious about life coaching or working with me, and they’ve never worked with a life coach. They usually know about therapy from personal experience, from friends or family going to therapy, or from seeing it in movies or TV shows (remember Frazier or even the Sopranos).

Life Coaching can be therapeutic, but the two professions are very different. I like to describe life coaching as a partnership with the life coach asking insightful questions that clients wouldn’t ask themselves, so that aligned and helpful answers can come to light. I believe you know yourself best, you just need a little help in the form of coaching questions and other support to experience that clarity or a-ha moment where things begin to make sense and can begin to change.

Life coaches also help you evaluate your current situation so you can get crystal clear on your true desires and goals. They encourage your progress, and provide you with accountability, support, structure and tools so you can produce your desired results more quickly and efficiently.

How is Life Coaching Different from Therapy?

The Core Difference

Most therapy involves a diagnosis of some mental or psychological disorder – a problem that needs to be treated because it’s disrupting one or more areas of your life. Life coaching typically takes someone who is already functioning well, but may still be suffering, and helps them to develop and grow to the next level.

When my Mom died expectedly I found a therapist to help me with that tremendous loss. I continued to function at work well, but my personal life was disrupted by my grief and sorrow; I didn’t think I would ever get past it. I needed support to work through the depressing thoughts and to function in this new world without my Mom. Therapy was the best choice for me at that time.

Past, Present, Future

Another difference is that therapy typically goes into depth about various issues, usually dealing with the past so that you can function better. And life coaching focuses primarily on the present and future and is more action-oriented and results-driven.

Types and Specialties

There are various types of therapy, like talk therapy, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy. There are also specialties within life coaching based on the coach’s skillset, training and experience.

In my life coaching business, I work with hard-working professionals dealing with a lot of stress and pressure (like me when I worked in my corporate HR job). I combine life coaching tools, like what I call thought-healing (or what others call mindset or mindfulness), and I combine it with my specialty, energy work, that is very effective at getting to the oftentimes hidden, or subconscious, root cause of what’s preventing you from achieving your goals. We meet weekly or biweekly for consistency and momentum, and before long goals like reducing stress, feeling better, improving relationships, or having more fun in life are achieved.

Sessions

Lastly, sessions with a life coach will feel a lot different than ones with a therapist. Life coaching provides structure and accountability while therapy is more open-ended.

In my coaching sessions, I combine inner (energy) work and outer work – but there’s an underlying structure tied to the client’s prioritized goals. This structure helps us celebrate successes and progress, and discuss challenges or unhelpful blocks slowing down progress. And in each session there’s always homework for the client to accomplish between sessions.

So, Which One Is Best For You?

Do you need a life coach or a therapist? Actually, you don’t have to choose, if you need both. I have life coaching clients who are also actively in therapy, that’s perfectly fine. I’ve also had clients who I referred to other professionals, including therapists, for more specialized support.

The most important message here is to get help. I’m a big proponent of getting help rather than suffering alone. Especially in the challenging times we’re living in, life can be hard.

Some of us grew up being taught that asking for help is a sign of weakness and have a hard time with it, but you must push past that limiting belief for your health and wellbeing. It’s that important!

Over the years, I have had a hard time seeking out help, but I’ve come to learn and now know that most people love to help other people. It’s unhealthy to suffer for long periods of time, thinking whatever you’re grappling with will get better on its own; it usually won’t. There are resources out there for you, you just have to find the best one for your specific needs.

If you’re not spending time investing in your mental and emotional health, with a life coach or a therapist, you will not only continue to feel terrible but you’re blocking your ability to be the best version of yourself, in your personal life, your relationships and in your career.

Do you have any questions about life coaching not answered above? Drop them in a comment below.

Are You Cultivating Helpful or Unhelpful Habits

Are You Cultivating Helpful or Unhelpful Habits

Almost everything you do is driven by habits. We all have good, helpful habits and bad, or unhelpful, habits. You can think of your habits as the drivers getting you closer or further away from achieving what’s important to you. Habits are the foundation for major change in your life. That’s why it’s so important to understand if you’re cultivating helpful or unhelpful habits. To achieve your goals, you want to provide the best support and conditions that set you up to be successful. This happens by cultivating helpful habits that are directly aligned to those goals. And by eliminating any unhelpful habits that are slowing or blocking your progress.

How to Cultivate Helpful Habits

Bad habits are the saboteurs that make it harder to achieve what we desire. As mentioned earlier, helpful habits move you toward achieving your goals and desires, whereas unhelpful habits slow or block your progress. To increase your success when changing an unhelpful habit, it’s best to replace it with a new helpful habit. It may be as simple as making a small pivot. Like when you quit drinking soda you replace it with Zevia instead for a week or two, and gradually pivot again to water or herbal tea. Decide what you want to achieve and move toward that goal. It’s more effective than focusing on what you need to stop or get rid of which often creates more pressure and feelings of being deprived. Also, start small with new habits. If it feels too big you’ll either get stuck and never stop or quit after a few days. For example, if you want to begin a daily morning routine that includes journaling and prayer or meditation, start with 5 minutes per day, and gradually increase it by 1 minute each week. To increase your chances of success, create a process and track your results. Something as simple as placing a check mark on a calendar for every day you complete your morning meditation is helpful. Track your results for at least 8 – 12 weeks to evaluate your progress, make any adjustments and to ensure long-lasting results. Get leverage and support when working on your habits. Ask a friend or colleague to point out if you’re demonstrating a habit you’re trying to change, or to complement you when they see you sticking to your new habit. For instance, they can point out when you’re late to a meeting or if you’re on your phone and not listening when others are talking. Cultivating your habits using the above strategies will support positive results. More tips on cultivating habits for success can be found here.

Two Words that Help Change Your Mindset

Here’s a suggestion from one of my own coaches. Change the phrase “I can’t” to “I don’t” when in a situation where you have a hard time sticking to your helpful habit or goal. For instance, let’s say you have a healthy eating goal of limiting high carb processed foods like flour and sugar. You’re out to dinner and the bread basket arrives. Instead of saying or thinking, “I can’t have any bread”, say or think “I don’t eat bread, that’s not for me”. This subtle shift helps change your mindset. “I can’t” is very limiting, and puts you into a victim or less-than mindset which may blow up on you in the long-term. “I don’t” is empowering, you’re in charge, you’re taking responsibility and it’s your decision. You should be able to feel the difference in energy in these two statements. Where can you make this shift? Think of a few examples and commit to making this shift at the next opportunity.

Act with Intention: Cultivate Helpful Habits

This method of cultivating helpful habits works for creating helpful habits and for changing unhelpful habits. The key is to put intention into the helpful habits you want to create, and be as specific as possible by adding in a situation, time, and location. For instance, you’ll meditate each morning for 5 minutes in your bed immediately after waking up, at 6 a.m. Include how long, where, when and how frequently. Or another example is you’ll take a fun 20 minute walk around the block with your dogs after dinner on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. For unhelpful habits, you make the trigger of that habit your situation, and then change how you respond. It’s a simple pivot toward what you want to achieve, like in the quitting soda example earlier. That response (having Zevia, water or tea when habitually reaching for a soda) becomes your new habit. Two more tips for cultivating helpful habits are: Make it fun. You’re more likely to stick with something you enjoy doing. For example, add your favorite music to your exercise routine or listen to your favorite books or podcast during your new walking routine. Be compassionate, kind and easy on yourself. You may slip up and that’s ok. Pay attention and stop any negative self-talk or harsh judgments, like “I knew you’d fail” or “you never stick with anything”. Instead, just refocus on the results your striving for, get excited about achieving them, and kindly say or think to yourself, “this slip is ok, you’re making great progress”. In the comments, please share one helpful habit you’ve successfully created this year and what goal it has helped you achieve.   Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

Put a Stop to Your Self-Sabotage Once and for All

Put a Stop to Your Self-Sabotage Once and for All

Let’s put a stop to your self-sabotage once and for all.

Do you want something in your life but can’t seem to attain it? Maybe it’s a goal, dream, or vision you have and yet, month after month, year after year, the time passes by and you’re no closer to achieving it.

Have you already realized you’re sabotaging yourself? Do you actually witness yourself about to do the opposite of what could make you fulfilled, yet you still take that unhelpful action.

Sometimes it feels out of control or like you’re not the one driving that behavior. That’s your subconscious keeping you from living your best life.

Or maybe you’ve rationalized that it’s ok to watch TV for 5 hours when you planned to work on your finances, organize your office and then go for a walk.

You tell yourself that you’ve had a long stressful week at work and you deserve to numb out while binge-watching a TV show. But this short-term ‘reward’ doesn’t support or help your long-term goals.

Dissonance and Cognitive Dissonance

Dissonance is the opposite of harmony. It’s the tension when two conflicting or disharmonious things are combined.

For instance, you say you want less stress in your life and began to see good results by meditating daily, yet now you don’t make it a priority and don’t take the time to meditate at all.

More specifically, cognitive dissonance is a theory in social psychology. It refers to the mental conflict that occurs when your behaviors and beliefs don’t align, like in the meditating example above. You believe and know meditating daily reduces your stress, but your behavior of no longer doing so doesn’t align with that belief.

This mental conflict, or cognitive dissonance, can cause you to feel uncomfortable, stressed, anxious, ashamed or guilty. And since you have an instinctive desire to avoid these types of feelings, you attempt to relieve it.

That’s where the self-sabotage comes in and can have a significant impact on how you think and behave, and the decisions and actions you take. You may get some temporary relief, but in the long-run it’s unhelpful and destructive.

For instance, you may ignore your doctor’s advice, blood test results or published research that causes dissonance. And you may explain things away or devalue them to continue in your pattern.

Years ago, one of my co-workers knew smoking cigarettes was cancer causing yet she explained that it was necessary to calm her nerves given her demanding role at work. She also justified her smoking habit by saying she was concerned about gaining weight if she quit, like she witnessed in her other family members and friends. We’ll believe and keep doing just about anything to relieve the discomfort.

Self-Sabotage: Your Saboteur at Work

You may believe that this sabotaging voice is trying to protect you from harm or that it’s really helping you in some way.

But self-sabotage really is you creating problems for yourself that interfere with your true goals.

It’s not some outside force creating havoc in your life. Realize this and take responsibility for you and your saboteur.

And understand that your saboteur wants you to maintain the status quo in your life.

These are examples of saboteur thoughts. Do any of these sound familiar to you?

  • You’re not good enough or I’m not good enough.
  • You don’t deserve this or I don’t deserve this.
  • They’re going to get upset with you.
  • That’s too hard.
  • I’ll never be successful at this or you’ll never be successful.
  • I’ll do it tomorrow.
  • It’s not okay to be wealthy/happy.
  • It’s not safe to put yourself out there, they’ll criticize and judge you.

Listening to your saboteur is a choice you’re making so that you can feel differently. Pay attention to these thoughts or beliefs; noticing them is the first step in stopping your self-sabotage.

Additionally, expect the saboteur to get stronger whenever you begin to make positive changes in your life. Expect it and be ready for it. The action steps below can help.

Act with Intention: Identify your saboteur and stop your self-sabotage

The saboteur loses its power over us when we’re aware and can identify it, realize we have other options in that situation, and then consciously choose the action at that time that serves us best (gets us closer to our true goal).

Here are some actions to take to identify your saboteur and stop your self-sabotage. It takes practice and work, and consistency, and over time you’ll be back in control and seeing positive results.

  1. Identify your saboteur by answering these questions. Where are you sabotaging yourself? What does your saboteur often think or say? In your environment, either at work or at home, what self-sabotaging language is being used, by you or others? For instance, a new opportunity at work has come up. It would be a promotion for you and you’re excited to learn more about it. Then you feel a little apprehensive, even nervous or scared, and the following thought stream pops into your head “I’m not ready for this. What if I fail? It’s easier to just stay in this role and not put myself out there to be rejected.”
  1. Next, you want to challenge and change those beliefs. Every time that thought, belief or language comes up, recognize it as your saboteur and change it. Then consciously choose a new thought and behavior that supports your long-term goals and wellbeing.

In the example above, you recognize those thoughts and beliefs for what they are. It’s your saboteur.

  • Challenge “I’m not ready for this” with “Of course I’m ready, this is the perfect job for me.”
  • Challenge “What if I fail?” with “What if I don’t fail? What if I don’t even try?”
  • Challenge “It’s easier to just stay in this role and not put myself out there to be rejected” with “This new role is part of my long-term career plans, I’m ready for it and I’ll do a fantastic job. If I don’t get selected now, they may consider me for other opportunities in the future because I pursued this role and they know I’m interested in my career growth.”

You may need to get some leverage involved in order to change that thought or behavior. To do that, ask yourself, “What is this costing me in terms of health, wellbeing, relationships, and success? How is this holding me back from my goals and dreams and the vision I see for myself?”

In the example above, the leverage could be envisioning yourself in 2 – 5 years in the future, in the same role, earning a similar salary, not being challenged or growing professionally or personally. How would that feel? What have you missed out on? What are you still tolerating? How does staying stagnant impact your wellbeing, relationships, your long-term goals and dreams?

Challenge Yourself

If you’re struggling with achieving a particular goal, your saboteur could be at work. Sometimes you’re not even aware of it.

I challenge you to get really focused, act intentionally, identify your saboteur and stop your self-sabotage once and for all.

Leave a comment below when you start seeing the positive changes from stopping your self-sabotage. Share your success to encourage others.

Take the Time to Integrate

Take the Time to Integrate

The definition of integrate is to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole.

Taking the time to integrate is to intentionally stop taking in more and to combine what you’ve already have for deeper growth and development. Once you integrate, you get to deeper levels of knowledge and fulfillment in your life.

For instance, if you love to learn new things, you may have a tendency to read more and more books, take more workshops and listen to more podcasts. It almost feels like an addiction at times. A friend or colleague recommends a new course or workshop and you sign up, take it, and quickly move on to the next one.

Many times you don’t gain much, in fact, you just consume and never implement what you’ve learned.

You never integrated it; you never took the material to a deeper level where it could make a significant impact in your career or in your life.

The Myth of More is Better

More is better is a myth. The constant strive for more in our culture prevents us from seeing and experiencing the true value of what we already have.

It supports the idea and feeling that wherever you are is not good enough, because more is always better.

It’s hard to be grateful and appreciate all that you have now when your focus is on getting more.

I’ve worked with people who were always focused on the next project or the next job, and never appreciated all they were experiencing in their current role. They missed the fulfilling things like the relationships they were building, the people they were helping and the new things they were learning.

The energy around more is better feels like a chase – a futile one. You’re chasing after things just to accumulate more. And once you have it, you’re dissatisfied and off to the next thing, and the next and the next.

And it’s not just physical things. We’re constantly absorbing more and more experiences, information and energy but without the time or opportunity to sort through it all.

Take the time to sort through it and you’ll begin to feel some significant improvements.

Why It’s Important to Integrate

The chase for more erodes your energy and your sense of fulfillment. Taking the time to integrate gives you your energy back. You begin to feel more in control and organized.

Taking the time to integrate helps to reduce the overwhelm, stress, and exhaustion you experience in your day to day life. If you’re feeling uncentered, off-balance or even fractured, it may be the signal that it’s time to integrate.

Act with Intention: Take Time to Integrate

Here are some suggestions to start taking intentional action around taking the time to integrate.

First off, slow down and realize if you’re in a “more is better” mindset and exhibiting behaviors like described above. When you notice this behavior or thought, change it to a more helpful behavior or thought. Simply saying “slow down” or “stop” can be enough to bring about some awareness.

It took some time to get here, but now I quickly recognize if I’m going down a ‘learning” rabbit hole. Any emails or suggestions for a new book, course, training program or free live event I either delete immediately or I scan it to see if it’ll be useful and put it on my “maybe later” list.

Taking time to integrate is more than just not taking more in. You want to intentionally integrate experiences and information as they occur or directly afterwards.

One good practice is to spend 5-10 minutes after a meeting or workshop to integrate your key takeaways. Things like what you learned, what you’d like to implement from the training, if anything. Better yet, take notes during it to include which things you’d like to test out and apply to your own life.

Additionally, take a break and stop taking more in – for days, weeks or months if needed. That means no new podcasts, books, workshops or courses during this time period.

During this break from consuming more info, data and things, sort through what you already have. This can be done by simply taking the time to think about things. Embrace daydreaming. Let you mind wander. Meditate. This is how your brain sorts and categorizes information.

A good question to ask is: Is this information useful for you and can you apply it to your life? If not, let it go.

If it’s useful, your next step is to take action and test it out. Apply it and experience this information.

Lastly, after testing it out review what you’ve learned through the application and experience of integrating it into your life. Are there any additional lessons or knowledge? Have your beliefs changed as a result?

Taking the time to integrate is the best way to become a more unified whole. You’ll find it brings new levels of understanding and wisdom, and you’ll feel more fulfilled in your life.

 

 

Photo by Aiony Haust on Unsplash

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Do you ever feel pressure building up at work or at home? Pressure is great for growth; you need it to keep moving in the right direction toward your goals.

It helps you to expand and create in the way that only you can. You want to use pressure to benefit you, and don’t let pressure become stress.

The Pressure Cooker at Work

The thing about pressure, if it goes unchecked and just keeps building and building without any release (think of a pressure cooker), that’s when it can turn into the unhealthiest kind of stress called chronic stress. The stress that causes health and other issues.

You don’t want to let pressure become this type of stress. Learn about the 3 types of stress and what to do to if you’ve got chronic stress here.

As I look back at my previous career and work habits, I could sense the pressure building, feel it, and yet felt powerless against it. Over time without actively addressing it, the stress became chronic, taking its toll on my mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

It’s common to feel this type of pressure regularly when in a high demand job or fast-paced work environment. The important part is to address the pressure before it turns to stress.

Pressure is a Sign of Growth and Change

Lately that familiar feeling of pressure has returned in my work life. I’ve begun some new coaching work. I typically work one on one with coaching clients, however, I started some coaching work for an external company where I must learn their systems and processes.

It’ll take some time to acclimate to all this newness, and I continue to remind myself that it’s part of the growth process and only temporary. This reminder helps in times when the pressure rises.

When you take on new assignments or when you’ve switched jobs to a new company, how was it for you? Those first 30-60-90 days can be rough.

You’re attempting to do the work you were hired to do, but getting up to speed with who’s who, how things are done, new systems and processes – it all takes extra time and extra effort.

When Pressure Becomes Stress

You may experience increased pressure due to other external forces too. Maybe someone was laid-off and now you have to take on the work they performed. Or maybe you’re experiencing more pressure from leadership, or a higher than normal work demand, or a lack of job security.

Even a lack of flexibility and autonomy in your work and your work schedule can leave you feeling stressed and as if you have no control. Over time or with too much pressure all at once, it can become overwhelming and stressful.

The effects of work-related pressure turning into stress is evident in your physical, mental and emotional health. Common ailments can include musculoskeletal problems like chronic back pain, joint pain and carpel tunnel syndrome. Gastrointestinal disorders, like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcers typically have a stress component.

Mentally and emotionally, issues like anxiety, burnout and inability to get good quality sleep (sleep disorders) are a result.

Pressure becoming stress also has adverse effects on a company’s performance and bottom line too. Increased healthcare costs and absenteeism are a result of chronic stress in the workplace.

Business leaders and owners should have an interest in managing the pressure and stress in their environments. But many times they get caught up in it as well.

Act with Intention: Don’t Let Pressure Become Stress

Here are some strategies to implement so you don’t let pressure become stress.

First off, stay present and conscious in the moment. In other words, realize that something is causing pressure. Pay attention to situations that you know will likely impact you.

Also, be realistic about what you can and can’t control. If the pressure is getting to you, take a few minutes to list out what the causes might be and circle the ones you can control.

Next, take action. For those items you can control, try a new strategy or approach to change the outcome. For instance, if you feel stuck in an unproductive weekly meeting and can feel the pressure beginning to rise as you think about the other work you need to be doing, have a direct conversation with the meeting leader. Give some suggestions for improvement like having a clear agenda with time allotments for each item. Or maybe suggest less frequent meetings with email updates weekly.

And for the things you can’t control, let them go. If you have a tendency to take on things that aren’t yours or that you have no way of influencing, it’s best to recognize that early on and let it go.

For instance, being late to a meeting due to a traffic accident causing traffic backup on the road, or technical problems on a webmeeting due to bandwidth overuse – let it go. Getting frustrated or upset doesn’t help. These things are beyond your control, and you when you recognize that and let it go, it takes the pressure off and allows you to move forward in a calm healthy way.  

 

Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash