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Not today. My Brain Hurts- a look into this thing called coaching
Lori M. Bender, MSW
Founder of Carolina Lifestyle Coaching
Take this for what it’s worth. My brain hurts. My mouth hurts. My heart hurts. And, I want to hurt someone at times. Am I losing it? Did I chose the wrong career? Am I experiencing burn out? I can’t answer these questions at the moment because I can’t say anything good, so I am going to say something at all.
I am a professional life and wellness coach and I’m an addict. I am addicted to helping people make positive change! Ninety nine percent of the time we coaches are all the things we are perceived to be: non-judgmental, patient, compassionate, empathetic, warm, responsible, kind, and encouraging.
But, then there is the other one percent.
Let’s just start with patience. Sometimes that word makes me want to throw things. It’s not that I have problems with impulse control; I just get tired of waiting like everyone else. Waiting for others to respond. Waiting for people, to “see the light”; waiting for deals to come through. Waiting is not good for me one percent of the time. My creativity runs low. My focus energy dwindles. My well runs dry, and I start looking for things that will break windows. I have even envisioned scenarios like staying in bed all day, writing “fuck it” across my computer screen with a Sharpie, and even quitting this gig and going to wait tables at forty-nine years old – something I have never done.
Hold on… I need to relax and breathe a moment. I am slightly revved up….
Continuing on with compassion? Other than the Dalai Lama who can be compassionate all of the time? Okay, you’re right. Mother Teresa. I seriously want to meet the person who kindly listens and responds every day, all day, to other people.
I am the first person to say I love observing people and discussing their thoughts, behaviors and perceptions about life, but one hundred percent of the time? Oh hell no. I just am not made that way. Fire me now. It’s okay. At least I will be happily unemployed. I won’t tell you to meditate and do yoga if you don’t tell me that I have to be compassionate all of the time.
Responsibility? I really am responsible! For a profession that does not require a nine to five desk job in a suit, I can rock the computer scene with the best of them. Like right now. I stumbled in to the office at nine o’clock to start my day, I just happen to be wearing (out seasoned) polar bear pajamas and sporting a messy bun. No teeth brushed. Bypassed traffic jams. Have not had to curse anyone out this morning. And, I get to go for a run in a little bit. I am responsible, but there are some days when I, too, say “screw it”. I rebel and forget that I am in the helping profession. Better yet, I forget that I am an adult. I take mental health days like you. I call in sick. I visit my kids and friends who live out of state. I go with my husband from time to time on his business trips, but I put in work. I know people who go overboard in the responsibility area of life and let me tell you, they are not happy. They are stressed and obsessed with results. They ignore the importance of relationships, being a friend to others, and even their own health and wellness. Calling in sick is and never has been something they would consider because doing so unravels the ingrained message that “in order to be important, validated, and needed, I have to work seventy hours an week.” Sad, huh?
Being responsible and available for clients is a nine to five job, but there are days when I want to go hide in the forest and swing in a tree hammock.
Finally, encouraging? Hmmmm, this is something that I am really good at. It is easy for me to tell anyone to hang in there. Everyone can say nice things even when they are having a bad day, right? It must make us feel important to be the personal cheerleader to someone who is down and out. But, good grief, there comes a time when you want to scream, “can someone cheer ME on, for once?”
You see, in the professional coaching industry coaches spend emotional energy listening and collaborating with clients, every day. Probable much like team leaders in other industries. You would think being on a team with your client would lessen the load of mental “work” because we are combining efforts towards one goal, but it never happens like this for me because when I’m “in”, I’m “all in”.
Sometimes, a client cannot Skype until 9:30 at night. Sometimes when I am sick with a cold or have a headache, I still go face to face with the laptop and phone. Family engagements? Yes, these, too get bypassed if a client has scheduled a session. Skipped dinner? Yes, this happens, too. What about those who hire you to help them with nutrition and clean eating? Detrimental relationships? Time management? New self-care habits? We spend hours together and their accountability for their goals and desires may fail. They skip out of their responsibilities and accountability. They run. They hide. They disappear. Never to be heard from again.
As a professional coach I GET the fact that change is difficult. I understand hard work is involved in self-care and stress management. I know it is scary processing effective change. I know that the mind and the body have to work together for significant risks to be taken, different perspectives to be considered, and for life as we know it, to improve.
This is why sometimes, my brain hurts. There are days when I need a coach. I want someone to challenge me to be happy and smiley all day long. I want a cheerleader who will show up with pom-poms and give me a pep talk. “Go team!” I want a nutritionist to tell me what to eat for high energy and less brain fog. I wish for the day that Skype crashes! I some days subconsciously pretend I am sick so I don’t have to be creative with the “business” side of this business.
But guess what? THIS IS LIFE, my friends. Every job is different. Every job has its ebbs and flow. I am no different than you. I hold no magical powers (damn it!). I am not born with bigger quantities of empathy. The Dalai Lama did not pray with me. Mother Teresa did not anoint me.
I am as ordinary as the next. I am not promised tomorrow just like you aren’t. I need a good cry sometimes, too. I am neighbor, an aunt, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a mom, a friend, a writer, a day dreamer, a lover of nature, a dog owner, a maid, a sports enthusiast, a scrap-booker a lover of photography, an empty-nester, a bike rider, a person with some regrets in life, a sufferer of hypothyroidism, and…
I am someone who is passionate about what I do and therefore, need to heal my brain periodically. I know when to stop and breathe. I know how to recognize and eliminate triggers that stress me. I know when to grab green tea instead of coffee (a regular regime for me these days). I know when to resort to my value system. I know how to retrieve the kindness and compassion needed to do my job well. I am in tuned with my body and my mind and consciously remind myself that each day is a gift. I know when to mentally take a break. I am grounded and centered (most of the time). And, at times, I think I have life fairly figured out.
But there are still those days that my…brain…hurts. It is telling me to relax and sending a strong message to listen to my body.
I really won’t hurt others. I won’t throw things at the windows. I will never wish for Skype to crash. I won’t cry over spilt milk. I will, however, listen to my mind, body and soul and be available for myself so I can be available for others.