1. "Can a Coach Help Me?"
This is a question I obviously would not see during a one-on-one coaching session, but is something I am asked often when I appear on podcasts, and during other talks I have given.
So...Can a Coach Help Me?
But do you NEED a coach in order to retrain your brain?
There is so much information readily available that can teach you how to rewire your brain and therefore you do not NEED a coach.
However, one can be helpful, and there are many advantages...Yet at the same time, we must also recognize that there are limitations to what a coach can/should be used for.
Here are my thoughts...
How A Coach Can Help You:
A coach can help you to see different ideas and viewpoints that you would not necessarily think of on your own. Coaches have an ability to speak from a calm and rational place, often different from the client perspective, which is most often coming from the limbic system’s point of view and contains fear and worry. Coaches have an empathetic edge, but because they are not inside of your specific circumstances, they are able to see many options and solutions that you may not have current access to (because the limbic system, when activated, limits our ability to see possibilities and/or resolutions). When we are in a limbic place, the limbic system steals the show and does not allow us access to our prefrontal cortex aka our rational-thinking mind. Having a coach shed new light on your situation can reveal understandings that might take you weeks or months to discover on your own. (And again, that is due to your current brain state and has absolutely nothing to do with your intelligence!)
Coaches can speak from their own personal experiences, many of which are similar to what you are experiencing. It helps to know that you are not alone, and feels comforting to have another person validate your experiences. I sometimes have clients cry tears of joy (and relief) simply because I am able to tell them, “I totally understand how that feels.” It’s an irreplaceable feeling when I hear, “I hear you and I am validating you.”
Additionally, coaches talk to many other clients, which actually serves you. Because each client has his/her own individual experiences and there are always similarities that run through all humans who have an imbalanced nervous system. So the fact that coaches are exposed to many different clients, all with their own stories and experiences, allows the coach exposure to new information, ideas, and insights that the coach is constantly collecting to inform his/her skillset/coaching abilities.
Coaches all have their own approaches, skillsets, belief systems, and their own strengths and weaknesses. It is important to have an idea of what you are looking for before you look for a coach because then you will know if a specific coach fits within your needs. Are you looking for somebody to hold you accountable? Do you need somebody that thinks ‘outside the box’? Are you looking for a structured approach? A tailored approach? A coach that can do both? Somebody who can teach you about different healing modalities?
Do a little bit of research into the coach’s specific coaching style and if you feel that style will match what you are in need of. Try not to make a rash decision based on another person’s recommendation. Ask yourself a few questions before you decide, such as: “Why am I in need of a coach?” “What am I looking for in a coach” “Does this coach’s style resonate with me?”
In addition, try not to get stuck thinking that a coach needs to have experienced the same sensitives and/or conditions that you now experience. In most cases, a coach who has had an imbalanced nervous system can understand anything and everything that you are now going through. The reason this is important is because if we believe we need somebody whose experiences mirror ours, then we are neglecting the entire scientific process behind the impaired nervous system: That chronic stress and trauma is what created all of our symptoms.
Boundaries with coaches are important. When we go into the coaching process it is crucial that we are open-minded and willing to be receptive to new information. This might mean having to question beliefs that we have held onto for many years (sometimes our entire lives!) and to be okay with that. Coaches can ask us questions and make statements that disrupt our belief systems and that can cause serious discomfort. It is okay to be honest with a coach and tell them that what they are saying is difficult to hear. It is also okay to disagree, to respectfully challenge, and to end up deciding that a particular coach is not entirely for you. If you do decide this, make sure it is truly because the coach is not a good fit, and not because the coach brought up ideas and opinions that challenged your belief system. The belief system needs to be challenged!
My Overall Thoughts:
I love watching clients improve, change their limiting belief systems, decide to shed old layers, and embody their dream-selves. Answering this question has made me wonder whether or not my clients would be able to create these changes without me, and I absolutely believe they could. Because we all have an innate and intuitive ability to heal ourselves. We all have an inner wisdom that can guide us in our decision-making. But the limbic system creates mental clutter that can be difficult to see past without another person helping us to un-clutter it.
2. "I Am Feeling Stuck With Increased Symptoms. What Do I Do?"
Let Me Explain My View On This...It Is Likely QUITE Different From Most Other Views...
I have many clients who email to ask me if they can make an appointment to speak with me “as soon as possible”. And what is most often the reason? The majority of the time, my client will explain that they are in the middle of a ‘difficult period’ with their limbic systems and that is the reason they need to speak promptly.
In my coaching, I encourage my clients not to use language such as ‘spike’ because the meaning of that word (and other similar words) communicates to the brain that we are in a decline, that we are stuck, on a downward spiral, and that we are at the mercy of our limbic system, as if the limbic system randomly creates spikes in symptoms and we just have to ‘ride it out’.
Well, allow me to explain why I do not believe any of that to be true.
Our limbic systems are in a constant state of reacting to stimuli. The brain is processing sensory information every single second of the day and is deciding whether or not that sensory information is safe or not for us. In addition, we are constantly choosing how WE react to the environment, which also sends messages to the brain regarding our safety.
When we have a spike in symptoms there is always a reason. It can be that we have challenged the limbic system in ways that it has not experienced in a long time, it can be that we have extra stress at work, we are arguing with a loved one, we have a big event coming up that we are nervous about, etc. etc. I could go on forever!
It can also be that we have been focusing intensely on no longer believing what the limbic system is saying. This one can be tricky because we tend to think, “But I’ve been doing everything RIGHT!!!” Correct, you have been doing everything ‘right’, and that is what the limbic system is not fond of!
Well, my point here is that when we have an increase in symptoms, there is always a reason. And that reason (extra stress, event coming up) is going to communicate to the limbic system that we are not safe. And that is okay! Because we have all of the tools that we need to lift ourselves out of an increase in symptoms just as quickly as they came on.
Begin to look at an increase in symptoms as a lovely communicator. See that it is the nervous system communicating with you by saying, “There’s threats out there, I need you to tell me that everything is okay!” and respond by immediately smiling, throwing your arms around yourself, letting go of any tension in the body, and saying, “I feel amazing!” or “I love you” or “I am strong and resilient” over and over to add some extra feel-good chemistry in the brain.
Bottom line is: You can get yourself out of an increase in symptoms quickly because you know many ways to communicate safety to the nervous system and therefore, you are never at the mercy of a ‘spike in symptoms’.
Think of the term ‘nourishment’ and then figure out what that means for you personally. What creates a sense of nourishment for you? What makes you feel nourished and whole? (If nothing, that is okay! Luckily, we have vast knowledge bases of information we can seek out [the internet, books] that can give us ideas on calming, nourishing, loving activities/hobbies/experiences.) Decide what nourishment is for you, write out what it looks like so you are visually reminded, and then do those things extra for a few days.
You are in complete control because you know that the nervous system responds to new situations or stress with symptoms. Since you know this, you can change the pattern!
3. “Am I Done Yet?”
I get this question from clients when they begin to feel they are living their lives with ease.
Once we feel that we are able to be more present, once we feel calm in most situations, and once we feel a sense of confidence moving through life and all of its circumstances, we can see ourselves as being 'done' with the 'I-use-a-program-to-retrain-my-brain' phase of our lives.
However, we should be careful with the language we are using and the way we are perceiving this new phase in life. Because there is no 'finish line' or end point when we are talking about the relationship we have with our brains and nervous systems...That relationship is quite possible the most important one we will ever have! And if we see ourselves as being 'done', we neglect this relationship all together.
I have clients who perceive there to be a 'finish line' and due to life just being life, that 'finish line' seems to be getting further away the more my clients put pressure on themselves to get there. I hear it all of the time-clients getting upset and frustrated because they thought the finish line was right in front of them, and then a life stressor occurs and they feel the rug was pulled out from under them.
But the problem is not with life, it is that we believed this 'finish line' to be an attainable place. Because believing so creates the idea that once we reach this perceived goal, then *POOF!*, life is immensely different and we suddenly live on rainbows with unicorns.
And of course, as we become more rebalance and regulated, it DOES at times feel like we live on rainbows, but we must not forget that life stressors will still happen...And that is okay!
Because life will always provide us with circumstances that require us to calm ourselves down, to need to reframe, to release tension in the body, to not internalize, to focus on all of the good instead of focusing on the negative, etc. etc. etc.….So we need the tools we are learning now, the ones that resonate with us, the ones that we connect with, and the ones we are rewiring into our very being...We need to carry those tools with us throughout life.
And seeing a 'finish line' creates the illusion that once we reach it, we can leave the tools behind.
And that is just silly!
Rewiring the brain is a process of self-growth. It creates an awakening within, and many transformations happen along the way. And the idea behind this process is that along the way, we acquire tools that allow us to communicate with our nervous systems on a deep level, and once we understand these tools well, we take them with us...everywhere we go. And these tools are intended to nourish the nervous system and let it know that we are safe- no matter what...And that we can handle life-no matter what.
Additionally, we want to make our relationships with our nervous systems a priority. We want to develop and cultivate a deep, nourishing, and ongoing relationship with our nervous systems that will last a lifetime. And we want to build that relationship to be healthy, resilient, forgiving, loving, and compassionate.
And once we do so, we will get to a place where we know so deeply, so wholeheartedly, and so genuinely, that we can handle anything that life tosses towards us…and once we are there, the concept of a finish line entirely disappears.