Coaching

The Story of Me + Coaching

I’m a happy person. I’m interested in the world, I’m always learning, and I’m never bored. Really. Normally, when I’m having a tough day, I have a bit of a chat with a friend or DP or some time on my own and I’m able to release the hard things… like leaves on a stream.

In the Spring of 2016, however, I felt completely flat, like someone had drained all the colour out of my life. It sort of snuck up on me; I was a little sadder every day until I realized that I was not at all myself. {I’ve learned to think about this differently; it was me… just sad me.} Anyway, this joyless, black and white reality freaked me out; it was definitely not the place I wanted to live my life and I knew that it would become increasingly difficult to support the teenagers at our school if I wasn’t able to get some new thoughts. I couldn’t figure out how to help myself.

A friend recommended her life coach who lives in the USA. I didn’t know anything about life coaching but this coach had helped my friend through a really dark time in her life. Had I been at home in Canada, I probably would have seen a psychologist or psychiatrist but finding English-speaking mental health professionals can be challenging overseas and this was complicated by the fact that the therapists in Tokyo are also my colleagues to whom I refer students and adults from our school community.

What the heck’s a life coach?

So I began making arrangements to work with a life coach even though I didn’t really know what a coach was. Of course, I did what I always do… I read a book. In Martha Beck’s book Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming the Life You Were Meant to Live she defines coaching as a relationship where the coach helps the client clear away the obstacles that are blocking them from their best selves. She believes that the client is the best expert on their life and that coaching can help a functioning person live a better life. She sees people not as broken but as whole. That approach really appealed to me.

Although the schedule I proposed was both intense and unconventional, my coach was totally up for it. She listened carefully and asked me such great questions. She didn’t ask me about my childhood and she didn’t seem curious about the parts of my life that were not directly connected to those issues causing me dissatisfaction or suffering. She used a lot of tools and activities and some of them flung me into the deepest end of my very own feeling pool. At the end of each session, I was better able to understand my own wobbly thinking and develop new thoughts to take their place. Eventually I was able to start thinking about what I wanted to do next in my life. The process was kind of magical, actually, and I will always feel grateful to my coach for her investment in my happy life. As the colour seeped back into my life, those wild magentas and canary yellows of my soul, I realized that I would take a gap year from working in schools and that, in the future, I would focus on finding work as a social-emotional counselor. As it turned out, there was one more surprise waiting to be discovered.

While I was being coached, I read two more of Martha Beck’s books: Steering by Starlight: Find Your Right Life, No Matter What and Diana, Herself: An Allegory of Awakening (The Bewilderment Chronicles #1) which is a self-help book in the form of a novel. Martha is a Harvard educated sociologist who became one of America’s first life coaches and I really liked the tools she shared for helping people. I began using some of these tools with students at our school and then, in June, I took a bigger leap and began her nine-month coaching program to become a life coach myself.

Here are some things I’ve learned about the coaching process as someone who has been coached and as a coach in training:
* Coaching is about filling in the gaps between who you are now and who you’d like to be and become.
* A coach can help you understand the difference between your social self and your essential self. Most of us have a very bossy social self. (Mine is a tyrant.)
* Coaching can help you move into your body and pay much closer attention to the important signs that it is sending you. Some of us have been living mostly from the neck up.
* Being coached is not about New Year’s resolutions or being more productive all of the time. There’s no need to become a self-help energizer bunny or to schedule every nano-second of your day. In fact, a person might discover that what she most need is to slow down. To breathe. To notice. To be grateful. To be of service to others. To be gentle with herself. To rest.
* A coach asks where you could be happier and then really listens to your answers in order to help uncover your limiting beliefs. She’s trained to recognize your “shoulds” (often dating from childhood) ~ those thoughts that have most of us locked up in mind prison.
* Coaches employ a number of different tools to help you dissolve those thoughts that are stopping you from taking action, taking a risk, moving ahead.
* A good coach helps you identify and clarify what you believe, and helps you become more comfortable with your own unique path.
* Through coaching, the client learns how to create and implement a plan. I love the idea of the turtle step ~ an action small enough to help you gain confidence and succeed. A coach checks in, follows up and holds you accountable.
* Working with a coach could help you establish better boundaries with other people including those who love you. Boundaries are about knowing what is okay for you, what is definitely not, and learning how to say no.
* A coach keeps confidential everything that is said during your sessions.
* Just like a therapist or counselor, a coach cannot do your work for you and cannot “fix” you. The client has to do the work. There are no short cuts.

Praise

“Monna is the Marie Kondo of the mind. She has helped me declutter my mind, throwing out unhelpful ideas and those which were none of my business. She’s guided me through setting a plan which will help me find my North Star. Thank you Monna, I’m on my way.” ~ L. in Australia

“I had never participated in any life coaching before, so admittedly I was a bit skeptical if it would be helpful. Thankfully, I gave it a shot because working with Monna over the course of a few months was really beneficial for me. I found Monna to be warm and patient and genuine, and I actually looked forward to diving in and discussing things that have not always been the easiest for me. What I found the most helpful was that she always found a way to turn a negative statement into a positive one, flip a bad experience into something I could learn from and present my self-doubt as a building block for much needed self-care. I’m truly grateful to Monna for this experience.” ~ M. in Montreal

“Monna is incredible, both in her ability to be right there beside you, facing your goals together, while also flying above the situation to provide a wide view. Her questions are like doors into wonderland- every one had me seeing my dreams as simultaneously clearer and closer than they were before. Monna is a gift- make sure you work with her now. I suspect she’s on to incredible new horizons in this work.” ~ C. in Los Angeles

Work With Me

If you know you’re ready to work with me, or if you have some questions about how coaching works, email me at monnamcd {at} gmail.com. Let’s talk.