A coach is not a licensed mental health professional and any advice or commentary here should not in any way be considered medical advice. Depression can be a serious, medical issue. If you are experiencing depression, please seek out a qualified mental health counselor and do not use this discussion, or any other article, blog, or material on the internet as a substitute for a qualified mental health professional. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide call one of the suicide hotlines: 800-SUICIDE (888-487-0468) and 800-273-TALK (866-699-0189). If you have a plan for suicide then go to the closest emergency room immediately for medical treatment.
As a life coach, I’m frequently compared to therapists. I suppose I get it. We have some similarities. Our core mission is to help clients be happier and function better in their world – more or less.
There are major differences though and there are a lot of aspects of therapy that I think can actually get in the way of people thriving in their lives.
Often, I work with clients who have either done therapy or that do therapy alongside their coaching. From their experience, and from the knowledge of those who have taught me (therapist Cloe Madanes, the Peyshas, and Tony Robbins), I can see a lot of ways that therapists can get in the way of their clients’ success.
Here are a few examples:
Tempus Fugit. Memento Mori. This is an old phrase in the Christian Faith that you don’t hear often anymore. Even in the world that deals with the afterlife, death is an unwelcome subject for so many.
Translated from Latin it means this: Time flies. Remember death.
To Christians, this phrase is used to help focus the followers of Christ – a reminder that this life is very temporary when compared to eternity; and that while it is easy to get swept away in drugs and alcohol, or Netflix, or one-night stands, remember that you only have so much time to get it right before your time is up and your judgment comes.
The phrase has a sort of whimsy to it that caught my attention when I first heard it. Often paired with skull and crossbones, I could imagine a Jack Sparrow type character saying it to me while winking. Like most people, when I first heard this phrase, death wasn’t something I thought of regularly. Nor did I want to. Death is an uncomfortable thing and we tend not to like to think that we too will meet our ends.
But then it occurred to me that even in the secular world, this phrase lives in the works of artists, musicians, filmmakers, and philosophers alike.
Think about it for a minute. How many times have you been asked, if this were the last day of your life, what would you do? How would you live your life?
For years I resisted the idea of detailed planning since I so highly value variety and I was convinced that planning would cost more time than it would create.
Recently I’ve been re-working everything I know about planning. I’ve been a meticulous digital calendar user, but I recently switched to writing in an actual planner with pen and paper – the Tony Robbins RPM system to be exact.
I’m deep into my journey and it appears I was right on some level – planning does take a significant amount of time. It may save me some time in the end but that’s not the real benefit to me. The REAL benefit of a high-level planning system isn’t the 15 minutes you spend doing it every day. The real benefit is the clearing out of the mental cobwebs and the reactivity that dominates our brains every day.
So many of us live with this daily sense that we’re not doing enough, or we’re doing the wrong thing, or we’re doing too much. Most of us don’t take the time to think about it in detail like this, but that nagging anxiety that plagues many exists precisely because you haven’t come up with a clear, concise vision for your life or your day (you can’t have a clear vision for your day without a clear vision for your life.
A global pandemic has broken out and it’s changing all our lives – maybe forever.
Not only are many getting sick and fighting for their lives, the rest of us are living in isolation while the stock market crashes and some of us aren’t sure if our jobs will still be our jobs in a week or a month.
This type of drastic, rapid change is unsettling to say the least.
Difficult times are one of life’s guarantees. For some, it will create despair and helplessness. For others, it’s a time to invest in themselves, their families, and their relationships to come out of the dark time a great deal stronger than they were when it started.
Here are 4 tips on what you can do to thrive during uncertain times:
I can’t repeat it enough: If you’re not happy in your relationship, then you’re not happy.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, you might be scrambling to get some flowers or that perfect gift for your significant other, but on the day of love the best thing you can do is become intentional about taking your relationship to the next level.
One of the biggest lies believed and repeated in our culture is the lie that good relationships are easy or that good relationships just happen. Relationships, like a sport or your job, are a set of skills that you need to hone for you to be successful.
So while people spend countless dollars on education for their careers, seminars for how to better themselves, and self-care routines, far less people than should invest time and money into their relationship – due to that faulty belief that things should just “fit” between people truly in love.
For Valentine’s Day I’m going to give you 3 tools to understand and improve your relationship. If you use them, you will improve your relationship exponentially:
Growing up I was never much of a planner. To-do lists felt like a waste of time and planning often seemed like it added more work than it alleviated – which of course is the opposite of the goal of good planning.
On top of that, I have always been good at improvising on the fly and playing jazz in my life, so it just never seemed like much of a priority to sit down and plan everything out.
As I’ve gotten older, my responsibilities have grown and my dreams have gotten bigger, I’ve started to hit the limits of where “planning on the fly” can take me.
Like many clients I work with, when I’m not intentional about what I’m doing with my time and where my life is headed, I start floating along the river of life and just hoping that things work out.
This is obviously not the philosophy of someone who wants to accomplish anything of substance in their life, so I’ve revisited planning in a major way and have implemented amazing planning that has changed the course of my life forever. Here are some basic concepts in planning that will change your life forever:
One of the things I see constantly in my clients is people holding themselves back based on their own self-concept rather than the external factors in the world around them.
Throughout life, people make decisions about themselves that may or may not be true. Or they are true some of the time and people extrapolate that idea to their entire life.
How many people do you see that would tell you they are “shy,” but then you’ve seen them be the life of the party one or more times? How many people seem quiet, but then get up to give a presentation at work and magically find another gear where they are commanding and inspiring? How many people think of themselves as a total bad ass at work, but then come home and are easy-going sweethearts with their children and spouse? And I’m sure everyone is familiar with the often celebrated lady (or gentleman) in the streets who’s a “freak” in the sheets.
All of us have these apparent contradictions in our personalities if we look for them, but most people never stop to investigate these beliefs that sit in the back of their heads and filter all their decisions. We all have dynamic personalities and we all “perform” differently depending on the setting and who we are with.
If you want to move up in the world, level down, or pivot in a different direction, one of the best skills you can develop is to gain control of the different parts of yourself so that you are capable of calling whichever version you need at the time you need. Here’s how to get started:
There’s a lot of clichés in the personal development space. I will often repeat them because clichés are often overwhelming truths that we should pay more attention to than we do. One such idea, which doesn’t get nearly enough attention, is that empathy and forgiveness is the root of happiness in yourself.
If I could impress one personal development lesson it would be this: Have empathy for yourselves and others because we are all doing the very best we can.
It’s at this point that you are inevitably thinking about the co-worker you hate, your sexually harassing boss, your ex best friend who has been long written off, or any other number of people that you absolutely DON’T think is doing the absolute best they can.
Believe me, I know the feelings you have towards those people. The feelings are dark, cynical, and seductive. They will take over your life and leave you alone if you allow them to live in your head or your heart.
I was listening to Pope Francis address a giant crowd of Catholics on Christmas today and I was moved by a lot of what he said.
His eventual point was interesting in that it was very close to the guidance I try to give to my clients. He talked about how we need to accept the gift of Christ so that we could in turn be the gift for others.
This is a Christian way of saying what I have thus far found to be one of the best directives in life: be more so you can give more.
As Francis discussed the idea of Christ coming as a gift for those who didn't “deserve” - he made it abundantly clear that we will receive the gift anyway and as such we should accept it gracefully and move forward in giving ourselves to others. Whatever your religious affiliation, we can all recognize that we are often extremely hard on ourselves to the point where we feel we don't deserve love and grace, let alone feel like we can contribute to the world around us.
That being said, in the personal development space there is no shortage of people obsessed with their own growth. People spend countless hours sculpting their physique, padding their back account, finding that strategic edge in their business, or sharpening their mind with the next best idea.
But for what?
I’m not a reality TV watcher, but somehow a recent argument between Kim Kardashian and Kanye West got served to me by YouTube and I found it fascinating. Their famous argument is something that EVERYONE in a relationship is going to go through, so we can all learn from what is going on with this celebrity couple.
Here’s the often unspoken truth about personal development: When you grow as an individual, it’s going to put strain on your relationships - often to disastrous results.
For background’s sake, Kanye West is one of the most prolific rappers on Earth who has previously promoted all the trappings of rap music - derogatory language, objectification of women, self-worth derived from material things, and so on.
Recently and famously he has re-devoted his life to his Christian faith. He has sworn off creating negative content and music for “the culture” and is only going to make music that celebrates his love of Jesus Christ.
When an individual makes a dramatic turn like this, it is unavoidable that there will be conflict with those who have loved the old you. Kanye’s wife, Kim Kardashian, expressed this beautifully in an argument over whether or not she should dress sexy for other men to see when she said “your transformation doesn’t mean I’m in the same spot with you.”
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: