To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), Sandy McKay, certified Co-Active Coach, tells us how Co-Active Coaching can help us re-evaluate our lives as we 'return to normal' after a very difficult year.
Coaching the person, not the problem
Many people have been re-evaluating their lives since the pandemic started and as a Co-Active coach, it is a topic that’s recurring with my clients. It’s at the very crux of their indecision, inability and uncertainty how to ‘get back to normal’ when the lockdown restrictions lift.
The proportion of adults in the UK who feel that life will return to normal in six months or less dipped to 17% in January from 24%, a survey by the Office for National Statistics shows.
‘The pandemic is taking its toll on people’s mental health, with feelings of life satisfaction, happiness and feeling that things are worthwhile dropping with the early 2021 lockdown,’ the statement read.
“Am I doing the right thing? Is this what I really want?"
If you’ve been asking yourself the same sort of questions, you’re not alone! However, most people get stuck in the thinking phase. They think and think and think again about their questions. And the more they think, the more overwhelmed they feel.
We’re all on a unique and very personal journey which may have changed shape beyond recognition during this past year. And as the pace of our lives has quickened, (even pre-pandemic) and we face endless Zoom meetings, potentially combined with childcare and home schooling, we’ve been cornered into an increasingly action-oriented and results driven life without healthy boundaries.
We’ve wound up on what we might call ‘the hamster wheel’ experience of life, running endlessly in circles despite desperately trying to get things done…only to find ourselves back where we started. And yes, this may feel exaggerated by the pandemic, but who of us weren’t feeling at least a little this way before the pandemic forced us into our ‘boxes’ – disconnected and hungry for meaning and belonging.
‘All coaching clients, whoever they are and however grand, successful and important, fear two things: vulnerability and loss of control,’ Jenny Rogers writes in Coaching Skills – A Handbook. What could bring about these fears more than a pandemic? Professionally trained coaches, especially those who have gone on to become fully certified, are trained to examine these and other uncertainties to inspire understanding and growth.
Whether in our role as partners, parents, team members or managers, we need to hear what both our heads and hearts are signalling to us and listen to those around us. To support and free us to look at what’s ahead and to ask what does that look like for me? How is that different from now? What do I want it to look like? If we drive towards that cliff of ‘future normal’ at full speed like Thelma and Louise, there could be a crash waiting for us. But if we take the time to reverse the car, take in the bigger view, the options - what can we see from here? What new possibilities have come into view? What truths appear when we step back a pace or two?
This is where Co-Active Coaching plays a role. At its most basic, co-active simply means ‘being in action…together’. Stepping off the hamster wheel to take a look from outside. To take in the being in the doing. The person at the heart of the action. Getting grounded in the action. Because when the co and the active go together, the action of our life is both nourishing and fulfilling. We’re suddenly aware we’re living truly on purpose. On OUR purpose. And knowing when we’re off purpose.
So what can Co-Active Coaching do for you?
One of the most common topics for clients in this past year has been their perception of what matters – amplified gratitude for the smallest of things. And for life. Our vision of ourselves and the future we hope for. Although performance and achievements are still a part of life, many are seeing those diminished in pursuit of a life goal that is more about living on purpose.
No one among us would have wished this pandemic upon the world, but here lies an opportunity to step back, take in the view and learn from this experience. Growth through courage. Renewed strength through self-compassion. Zeroing in rather than tuning out.
Remember, the smallest of steps can have the biggest impact. Be kind to yourself. Even if it’s a tiptoe, go to the edge of your comfort zone in small steps. Then reward yourself for getting there. Then take a few more steps toward something else. It will take time, but it’s in this time that a Co-Active Coach can be there challenging and championing the creative, resourceful and whole person you are.
'Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tiptoe if you must, but take a step.' Naeem Callaway
Sandy McKay is both a Certified Co-Active Coach (CPCC) and Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and a member of the International Coaching Federation. To find out more, you can reach Sandy on LinkedIn and Instagram.
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