This was beautifully expressed to me recently when a coach colleague shared this experience
A coach I met recently shared a fascinating story with me about a client they were working with and some profound learning they had experienced.
By their third session, the coach noticed how hard they were finding it to connect with the client and find the truth in the stories the client was sharing. They had a growing sense that the client was not being authentic. The coach noticed how this was affecting their own flow in the sessions.
After this third session, the coach spent much time reflecting on why they felt so uneasy about the situation and admitted to themselves that something just wasn’t right. Maybe they just weren’t good enough as a coach to support this client?
The coach decided to share their unease with their client at the next session. Whilst waiting for the client to arrive, the coach convinced themselves that the client might be better off with a more experienced coach as the coach clearly had now developed some bias that would get in the way.
The coach gently approached the subject with the client and said “I’m truly sorry, but I have to admit I am struggling to connect with you and more importantly I find myself doubting whether you bring real events in your stories or ones you imagine yourself having”……this last part changed everything !
The client shared how they had imagined when they were younger, that their life would be so very different from what it was now. It transpired the client was mourning the life they had hoped they would have and the person they believed they would become. Their unconscious grief for this representation of self, resulted in the invention of a new reality in which the client remained the same age, the same values and the same personal goals they had had 25 years ago.
This realisation had a profound affect on the coach and resulted in transformation for the client.
This story is both a brilliant reminder of what we do as coaches and at the same time a sobering reminder of the complexity of our humanity.
As coaches our gift to our clients is to support them navigating their personal truth in search of something more whole, more true, more fulfilling – the story is heartwarming in that regard.
Yet the story also serves to show how ‘wierdly’ our very humanness can work for us.
Our brains and bodies can take us on strange journeys, through thought and feeling patterns, to strange places. In this case, for this client, from clarity of vision for self, to grief for an unfulfilled, imagined self, to the creation of a false self, with all its stories, false realities and ties that bind that client to a life less than their potential.
It shows also the power of our stories of self. The story we imagine for ourselves, the story we exist in, and the story of what we might be.
Stop being who you were or who you could have been… instead, be kind to yourself and be who you are.