Have you noticed that 2019 seems to be off to a promising start?
Social media has seemed kinder, gentler, and overall much more positive (or perhaps I have successfully narrowed my "follows" to those that leave FB and IG better than they've found it - either way its a win!).
I've seen friends and acquaintances posting about their very raw need to get on track, make improvements, stop procrastinating, and otherwise find more fulfillment. And how is this received? Positively! With encouragement and suggestions and virtual high fives for being so open and REAL. I'm loving this trend. I hope it keeps up.
But also, this trend has stirred something within me. A desire to tell perfect strangers that I can help! Understandably these poor passers-by are suspicious. What am I selling anyway? Whatever it is - it's not for them. Because they aren't broken. They don't need help! I know this is the thought process because this would be my knee-jerk reaction.
See, there is a prevalent and pernicious stigma surrounding a woman asking for help.
Seriously. Sit with that for a second.
We often perceive others negatively if one of us asks for help. After all, we women are the organizers, the beautifiers, the nurturers, the doers of all the things. To be vulnerable outside of our most intimate relationships is a recipe for unraveling. We give one another the advice all the time to ACCEPT the help offered but to ask for it...?
That woman is clearly deficient. Why can't she handle herself? Her kids? She's screwing it up. She needs to get her shit together.
Sound about right? We worry that others think it but really we're thinking it about ourselves. We don't mean to think these things - it's human nature. Only the strong survive, natural selection, and all that. But this isn't a dog eat dog world (it can be but that's not the legacy we want to leave behind or the culture we wish to acknowledge). This is a world of mothers, daughters, sisters, and dear friends. And we don't wish suffering on those we love. In fact, we get frustrated at times when our friends DON'T reach out to us for help: Why didn't you CALL me?!
And our partners exclaim: Why won't you TELL ME when you need help?!
We keep our counseling and our medications a secret. We hide our vices and coping strategies.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that any of these things is bad or wrong. I'm merely stating that this is what causes the stigma. And calling out things as they are is a monumental step toward positive change.
And as we all know (don't we all know?) that asking for help - seeking it out - is an incredibly courageous thing to do! It takes real bravery to say: I am struggling. What I'm doing is not working. I need inspiration. I need motivation. I need a period of rest and reflection. Those are hard things to say out loud. To own. Even harder to act on!
Furthermore, the (ahem) older I get, and more invested I become in building a solid foundation of skills - the more I realize that it is maturity that drives a person to seek coaching. Recognizing and owning the fact that we know that we don't know is to leave childhood behind. This is often referred to as a growth mindset.
Many Fortune 500 companies require employees to participate in a mentorship program. Study after study indicates that teaching and fostering an environment of growth leads to success (in parenting and in business).
In other words: when we elevate one another - we ALL rise.
And even I, the uncrowned queen of never asking for help, would have loved the benefit of a Wellness Coach at numerous times throughout my life. I would have happily traded the money I have spent on gym memberships or one-size-fits-all workout programs or specialized diet cookbooks for an individualized, personal support coach. Someone who heard me, who saw me, who compassionately walked beside me for a time. Someone who encouraged me to take care of myself so that I could take care of others.
Be the change you wish to see in the world. -Ghandi
Be who you needed when you were younger.
These maxims ring true because as humans we often have a desire to share with others the hard-won lessons we've learned. We want to alleviate the suffering of others. Lighten their burdens. Leave them better than we found them.
I know I do.
So when people ask what I do and I tell them and I can see the follow-up question behind their eyes that they are too polite to give voice to:
What kind of person uses a Wellness Coach?
Answer: Ordinary people. Extraordinary people. People going through hard times. People going through transitions. People needing a reset. People fed up. People starting up. People adjusting to new jobs, new demands, or new life stages. People learning new skills or people re-learning old skills. People trying to simplify or streamline. People who are certain and people who are just curious. People just trying to survive. And people looking to thrive.
I believe in the positive and transformative power of people. I believe you (yes, you!) have the power to change your life, your family, and your community. I have seen, and experienced, the complete metamorphosis of a person given the inspiration and agency to own their vitality.
If that is something you feel you could use in your life, then you are the kind of person who uses a Wellness Coach.