by Catriona Futter
How often do you expect yourself to do something well because you are a coach, and you know the theory of what is required of you? It may be that you are presented with new circumstances that you have never encountered before but because of your coaching skills and experience, you expect yourself to sail through. Sound familiar at all?
I am currently in the throes of one of the most significant life changes I am likely to encounter. Our elder daughter has left home for university after 18 years of living under our roof, our care, and our guiding authority. And in the midst of a global pandemic, complicating things somewhat. In the space of a few short weeks, she has not only stretched her wings, but has flown high and free into newly expressed confidence and independence. This of course is what we want for her as parents. Delight, joy, pride and anticipation of exciting learnings and experiences ahead fill my heart. But so too do grief and sadness at her loss from the family home, and a complex set of emotions involving the remaining three of us renegotiating home life as a three as well as our constantly evolving relationship with her.
What floored me at the start of this process was how unprepared I was for how lost and at sea I felt with all these emotions. I am a Life Coach. I have coached people through transitions, including women who are seeking to rediscover themselves and their new purpose and identity in a now-empty nest. I know the theory of transitions and have written about this, especially the uncomfortable messy middle.
What am I expecting of myself?
I know the theory and have the coaching skills and tools – and therefore I expect myself to live out the practical experience well, despite having never lived through anything like this before. How often would you say this has been true of you?
It was the grace-filled words of a dear fellow CCNI coach that brought me back to where I needed to be. Together we reality-checked my expectations and beliefs of myself and my ability to handle this transition seamlessly whilst keeping all my normal plates spinning and my emotions in check. In so doing, I realised what I was expecting of myself was ludicrous. And more so, it was not what God was expecting of me. I then identified new beliefs that refocused me on God being in charge and gave me permission to not only let go of what was unrealistic but recognise my need for grace and self-kindness.
When might your coach training sometimes cause you to expect too much of yourself?
To believe that you should be able to handle this perfectly because you have coached others through something similar?
Self-awareness of course is key here. Noticing the disconnect between how we would coach others and what we expect of ourselves. Stopping to identify what we are expecting of ourselves and bringing that before God for Him to show us what we need to see: where are we being unrealistic? Where are we tending to rely on our own strength and skills? And what is God showing us about Him and about ourselves? It can be an uncomfortable process, but spiritual growth and formation occurs from honest and humble self-reflection and having open hearts surrendered to the great I AM who knows the next step and simply invites us to trust Him.