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.


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.