July 14, 2023

What happens when life happens

Guestblog by Ruth Nelson-Andorf

What happens when life happens?

I recently had an experience that made me reflect on this.

So, what do I mean by “when life happens”?

With the expansion of the home office, we can separate rooms and create office space in our homes, but do our emotions, and feelings also adapt to the different physical spaces? How do we separate emotions into time and space?

As coaches, how well can we switch our minds into the suited mode of the space we are presently in? Like switching a light on and off.

Our home is initially our place of refuge. It is where we relax, where we don’t have to perform for others, where we can be our most vulnerable selves, where we sooner speak our minds and show our deeper emotions, and where we feel psychologically safe.

A home is a place where personal situations take place. And now it is also a place where we work.

So what happens when life happens at untimely moments? And personal and professional situations clash. In my case recently, a heated discussion with my adult daughter right before a coaching session.

Was this planned? No, definitely not. Life happens.

While quickly making myself some tea in the kitchen to take into my office for my next coaching session, a casual conversation with my daughter suddenly turned into a disagreement, ultimately ending up in some door slamming 10 minutes before my first session with a new client.

My first feelings?

Shaky, indignant, upset, bothered, angry.

How was I feeling before the disagreement and how did I want to be feeling instead?

Curious, calm, positively excited, professional, human.

As I entered my office after the eruption, I wished that I could just have some time to myself, and then go upstairs to my daughter, and we would talk calmly and smooth things over, and apologize to each other as we always do.

But there was no time for that.

So, what could I do instead, with the now less than 5 minutes I had left, to be prepared for my new client? I wanted to have my mind free for our first session together and be totally present.

First, I had to consciously tell myself that the time to clear things up with my daughter would come —  after the session. And now, I had to find a way to push my personal feelings aside for the time being and focus on me being a coach. For those of you who are like me, predominantly emotional as opposed to rational, you will understand how difficult this can be.

So, in those few minutes, I stood at my desk and closed my eyes.

Consciously concentrating on my breathing.

This made me feel calmer. I sat down and then felt that I needed something to remind me of who I am when I am coaching. I decided to pick up a printout of the ICF core competencies that I always have somewhere on my desk.

I find that scanning over the ICF or EMCC ethics or CCs helps to put my thoughts on what I know, and what I am good at and focus on my role as a coach.

How else can we embody a coaching mindset in a stressful situation, and mentally and emotionally prepare for the session?

When life continues around us, a type of “compartmentalizing” our emotions can help us be who we want and need to be in that moment. Important is that we do acknowledge our emotions, and deal with them appropriately when the time comes. Negative emotions which are stored in our body for too long, can cause dis-ease.

Here are some methods that I have since thought of trying before entering a coaching session to help focus on the client, maintain a presence, and listen actively.

Read a quote, mantra, or written message to self that can help me be mentally in the professional space I wish to be.

Placing a special object that symbolizes how I want to be. Maybe with a certain color. (Chakra colours come to mind here). Or something that I can take with me if my coaching takes place outdoors.

A self-drawn painting or photo that supports the mental professional state in which I wish to be.

These ideas can also be used to empty our office minds at the end of the day to focus on other areas in our lives.

If you are interested in sharing your experiences and ideas around this, come to one of our free coaching meetups and exchanges!

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