Meaningful relationships can be both highly rewarding and also extremely challenging. We’ve all had difficulties dealing with people in our lives and we often fall into the same patterns over and over again in relationships. It can be humbling to accept the fact that we could gain a lot from a little bit of external help. Here’s where coaching comes in.
When navigating relationship challenges, people tend to fall into one of two categories: those who blame themselves when something isn’t working, and those who blame the other person (or outside factors). Whichever category we fall into, we usually develop complex internal stories about our issues that can be very difficult to break free from.
Coaching can help us view our relationships and the roles we play in them from a neutral third-party perspective and clarify what really needs to change to improve them. Once we’ve gained new insights, our coach can help us brainstorm and experiment with solutions to improve current relationships, or find new ones. Sometimes this process feels like a wake up call, other times it helps to deepen instinct we already had. And sometimes it serves to validate that the other person really is responsible for what’s wrong, in which case our coach can help us develop new strategies to deal with the negative effects this dysfunction has on our life.
Let’s consider one example from a client who wanted to work on her relationship with her mother: the client reported that almost any conversation with her mother would eventually devolve into an argument. Her coach had her complete several role play exercises that involved writing letters to her mother (which she would never actually send), and then writing her mother’s imagined responses. By diving deeply into both her own and her mother’s side of the discussion she was able to find new ways to avoid falling into the same patterns and move meaningfully forward.
You coach can guide you through exercises, like letter writing, to improve active listening and help cultivate more empathy for what the other person is feeling or experiencing. Empathy can be a huge asset when trying to change behavior (of ourselves or someone else). In fact, problematic behaviors often arise simply because the other person detects a lack of empathy from us.
A coach can also train us to better control our emotions – which is no small task! As the human species evolved over time many emotions became hardwired in our system. For example, if we were under attack we would instinctively either 1) fight, 2) flee, or 3) freeze (often called the fight or flight response – researchers now acknowledge the third instinct to freeze). So today if we feel under attack we are likely respond in one of these three ways, tailored to our modern situation. If our first tendency is to fight we may lash back out, or adopt a more subtle bitter or sarcastic attitude; if our tendency is to flee we may literally flee and remove ourselves from the situation altogether; if our tendency is to freeze we may just shut down at the first sign of confrontation.
A good coach can help you identify your unconscious response patterns and train yourself to develop new ones. While the specific situations and patterns you address will be unique for every individual, your coach can help you gain insights like the above to create radical shifts in how your relate to others.
Ultimately we want to help you figure out how to get the most joy and fulfillment from all your relationships. You can try working with our coaches risk free using our 7 day free trial.
As always we’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you may have.
The LiveCoach Team