Then and Now: What's coaching done for me?

October 4, 2018

Recently someone asked me, “Mary, what specifically is different in your life since you have been coaching.”

I thought it was a helpful question to answer since I’ve noticed that it’s hard for people in this field to really explain well what they do and how it ends up being so effective.

Therefore, I’d like to talk about some practical things that are significantly different in my life now due to the work I’ve done by being coached for the past 8 years or so.

Things then & now:

Then: Read into people’s comments to try to determine their motives- resulting infrequent false accusations, but ones I was fully convinced were true because I had facts.

Now: Ask what people mean, or practice giving the most generous interpretation to their words and actions, resulting in more loving and trusting relationships. 

"We practice generosity when we extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others."

Brene' Brown

Then: Think that since I could see the answer so clearly to other peoples’ issues, it must be my job to either fix it, or talk them into doing something about it.

Now: More often hold others as able to solve their own problems and leave it alone unless they ask me for help.

Hold others as able.

Then: Derive my self worth from all the wide variety of things I can do for other people, how well I can do them and the positive things they say about how wonderful I am.

Now: Choose who I want to be based on my conscience between me and the Holy Spirit, and practice basing my decisions on the vision he has given me and whether or not those decisions help or hinder that vision.

Then: Pay attention to what’s not working, how much money I don’t have, how being a mom is hard, how I’m really a wreck, how I just can’t get it together and keep it there, where Brandon and I are always missing each other, where he lets me down, how much my kids aren’t getting, what isn’t working in church, school, housework…

Now: Practice focusing more on what is working, rejoicing in how far I’ve come, how God faithfully provides for us and takes care of us, how many things I can find to celebrate about, what kids are doing well, how much Brandon and I enjoy each other, how we collaborate, how hard my kids are trying, how things just keep getting better and better and I can trust God for the results.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:8 ESV

Then: Spend large amounts of time listening to songs asking God for help, begging for help, funny songs about mistakes, praying/ begging for answers, noticing all the times God feels distant and stacking the deck against his reality. Even when thanking God, stay somber.

Now: Praise him for his abundance, whether I can see it or not, believe for his provision, journal from a positive space that even though I feel certain ways, what I know is true is…, listen to music that gets my mind off my problems entirely and focuses on how he causes me to be strong, how I can endure with joy, how I am a champion for Him, how sovereign he is, how he reigns over everything, how fun it is to live this life for Him and how amazing it is that I get to live for Jesus in this way, get super excited about his goodness and abundance.

Also, I dance. Lots. It looks stupid. And I don’t care.

Then: Dread going to bed because the next things I’d have to do is get up.  Stay up late, feel more sleep deprived than was necessary.

Now: Sleep well, get consistent rest, take care of my body’s need for sleep wherever I can  and take the time I need to recover when I do have to be up at night.

Rest.

Then: Force the kids to stop fighting.

Now: Help the kids navigate their own conflicts.

"Say what you mean, but don't say it mean."

Andrew Wachter, Marriage Counselor

Then: Wear cast offs, old worn out stuff, things others had that I hate because I was convinced that it wasn’t Godly to want new clothes from the store or I was being greedy.

Now: Recognize that I am setting an example of taking good care of myself to my children, my siblings, and others.  Realize that I take better care of others when I do the work to take good care of me. Wear clothes that fit, replace them when they need it, trust that God provides for this NEED.

Trusting God sometimes means going and getting what you need.

Then: Eat the leftovers from others’ plates, eat stuff that wasn’t good for me because I shouldn’t need better food than anyone else, over eat things that don’t support my body because I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings that made the food, keep it a secret that their food is making me feel sick.

Now: Eat what’s good for me about 75% of the time.  Not perfect, but discovering that my eating habits were more about what other people thought and emotional coping, now I have new strategies for those and I don’t falter as much here.

Making good choices while dining out.

Then: Exercised out of disgust for my body image, and not consistently or often.  Also , was really hard on myself and exercise didn’t really count unless it was a good 30 min break a sweat workout.  Couldn’t move for three days after, and frequently got sick from exercise.

Now: Find creative ways to move almost everyday, and love it.  Love my body where it is, love the feeling of being active, always look for ways to incorporate movement into my daily life, look forward to taking a walk almost every day.  Swam in my first triathlon ever last year, jump at my first trampoline park this summer, and in spite of injury, refuse to say I’m done.

"No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying."

Tony Robbins

There’s tons of more things, but I think you get the idea.  A LOT is different. Brandon and I get along almost all the time now, Jonathon and I- while we still hit rough patches, love each other and are always willing to try again, there’s humility and honor, I take bigger risks with less panic, I don’t lose my temper nearly as often, I feel better every day, I ask for help more before I’m falling apart, I say no more often, I come up with creative solutions more regularly, I take action on what I need to do more consistently.

Life is good!

I’m not anywhere close to perfect.  I have yuck days. I lose it. I still occasionally give into fear, I get all up in someone else’s business from time to time and have to apologize for it, but the time that I spend in these moments is a blip compared to how I LIVED there before.

And it isn’t something I DID to get here. It’s the slow process of changing my mindset.  It’s first being willing to see that something needs to be changed, wanting something new, and in spite of not really understanding how it works, trying to go for it anyway. I remember the moment in a training room where I wanted to feel different about life to badly and I couldn’t see how to make it happen for anything.  I was actually yelling at the trainer in desperation. Thankfully, he had patience with me.

It was a while after that frustrating moment, after continuing to trust others that it could be different before it actually clicked.

If you are looking for the how, I bet you already know a hundred how-to’s. And if you know a bunch of how-to’s already and you don’t have the feeling and joy that you are longing for, it’s a good indicator that it’s now the how you need.  It’s digging into what you are really believing about the thing, what games your mindset it playing, and how much attention you give to defeat that holds you back. And those are beasts difficult to tame without support.

I would say by all outward appearances, our living situation has gone from barely acceptable in many people’s eyes to worse.  In fact, some would define failure: as living with your parents when you are 40, WITH all your kids and not having a financial way to provide for them.

But I’ve never been happier, more joyful, more content with God’s abundance, in better relationship with my family, enjoying church more, loving life more, and seeing God’s provision all around me.

Having fun with my coach, Mandy!

And that inside peace and joy that oozes out despite circumstances is what is really different.  It’s there, and I’ve learned what helps it stay and what I do that makes it disappear and I make choices to get it to stick around.

And that, my friends is just a snippet of what coaching has done for me.  Want some?

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Living in fear and anxiety is a habit. Just like we can make new choices to not chew on our fingernails, we can choose to live in joy and freedom.
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