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Life Coaching


The idea of life coaching has become very popular recently (perhaps partly because some people still feel uncomfortable with the idea of therapy or psychotherapy), and also because, as it's a fairly vague and wide definition, you could become a life coach by just saying you are one or doing a short training course.  (I've actually been working as a life coach for a few years as part of a voluntary project.)  Having said that there are professional bodies which are continually changing the guidelines so you can easily do a few Google searches and come up with someone registered to a professional association.


But what is it?


Basically a life coach works with you

on any area of your life you choose, to help you learn and incorporate practices in your life to improve that area, and hopefully your whole life.


Using the analogy of fitness coaching you could decide you want to work on improving your flexibility - a fitness coach might suggest specific exercises or that you add a yoga class to your regime.  After a while you could then decide you want to work on strengthening your leg muscles, again they would suggest appropriate exercises and maybe supplementary classes. Another thing a fitness coach might do is to work with you to look at your overall fitness and define areas of weakness or strength, for example if you have a weak lower back they might suggest you prioritise this so you can build up from there.


I came to life coaching through therapy.

After several years with my psychotherapist I told her I was getting bored with the process at which point she suggested we might do some life coaching instead.  She also suggested (and lent) me great books to help me understand a lot of the concepts we were working with and provide even more exercises.  Of these the "gateway" book was "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway".  It's quite timely that I write this now as the author Susan Jeffers died last month (October 2012).  Even before she died her contribution was already being compared to the spiritual teachings of the Dalai Lama.  I feel very privileged to have actually sent her some of my work and to have received the most wonderful review of my film from her.  This book really changed the face of life coaching because she wrote in such a refreshingly honest and down to earth style.  Other very famous "self help" authors such as Stephen Covey (who also sadly passed away this year) and Anthony Robbins are great (if you want a really good laugh listen to some of Tony Robbins live audio tapes; it's like self help stand up or even watch "Shallow Hal" in which he had a cameo), but... I find reading these books or even anything more than a mini-book by the Dalai Lama hard going, whereas Susan's books are unfailingly accessible.  (I also highly recommend her books on relationships, including "Opening Our Hearts To Men".)


The underlying premise of life coaching

(which is such a relief to anyone who has ever contemplated or struggled with psychotherapy) is that we don't necessarily have to analyse WHY we have a particular difficulty with one area of our life, but by simply changing our behavior and acting differently we can heal.


Using the fitness coach analogy again rather than looking back at why you put the weight on we can say, "Right, we start now, and you just focus on losing the weight."


I've worked with people who have struggled for years with psychotherapy

without seeing success and they have made huge progress in two or three sessions.  For me it's a lot like being a Zumba Instructor; instead of focusing on the past you come into a room and act and feel fit and healthy... and suddenly you are.


Another huge benefit of life coaching

is, I feel, that you work to move yourself out of a situation rather than analysing it.  And, for me, I found that I could only really see the situation I was in, and understand it, when I had moved away from it enough.  Sometimes trying to heal an experience is impossible if we are still experiencing it.  It's a bit like trying to clean off the mud when we are still stuck in it.  Instead we start walking... in a while we're out of the mud... then the sun comes out and dries us... the mud flakes off... and suddenly we can look down and back and see that it's behind us.  (A shower also doesn't hurt at this point.)


However, a word of caution.  Sometimes moving forward can bring us deeper into our problems, or take us into even more challenging situations (a bigger mudslide).  I was lucky enough to be working with a life coach and therapist, so it was a wonderful situation in which when I felt overwhelmed or when things came up for me I had someone who could help me through them.  My other analogy is plumbing; a psychotherapist is like a fantastic plumber who has been trained to deal with the scariest plumbing emergency, whereas a life coach is the kind of plumber who will help you install a shiny new bathroom.  Sometimes we need to start installing the shiny new bathroom to find the underlying problems with the drains and the water supply, but then you might need to call in the psychotherapist because noone likes their drains backing up.


Pretty much any practice or treatment can form part of your life coaching.

I highly recommend meditation, as well as any type of massage to help deal with body image issues and much more, and, if in doubt, try Find Your Perfect Escape and trust that whatever appeals to you is a perfect next step for you.


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