Personal growth is a lifelong process, and for the wellness coach it is a key component of their professional development as well. I’ll be blunt. If you are afraid of personal growth and change you’re not ready to be a coach. Do your work. Do your healing if need be, and when you can lovingly embrace your own growth as a whole human being, go for it, coaching may be right for you. Acquiring professional skills are an important part of your professional development, but that’s not all there is to being a great coach. It often comes down to “who” you are, not just “what” you are doing.
Wellness and health coaches are often working with clients who have to face their fears. While not there to do therapy, the coach will have clients who are facing change in their lives that sometimes shakes the status quo to it’s core. Lifestyle improvement helps the course of an illness and some of our clients will come to us for just such improvement while facing a life-threatening disease or health challenge. Our clients deal with grief, loss, self-doubt and fear as well as excitement, anticipation and joy. The better equipped we are to handle such emotions within ourselves, the better able we are to remain centered and be of real value to our clients who are in the midst of such experiences. Such a coach can empathize easily and express it in a helpful way. Such a coach has the courage to stand in there with their client through the tough times.
In the many years I practiced psychotherapy and counseling I found myself saying that when people try to numb certain feelings they discover that there is no “local” anesthetic, only “general”. When we run away from certain feelings, minimize them, suppress and repress, all our emotions take a hit. The result may be an insulator from our pain but at the same time we have reduced our ability to feel joy, sensitivity and connection. When we engage in a conscious process of self-development, exploration and growth we enhance our “full-feeling reactivity” as I believe it was Carl Rogers used to call it. We have access to more of who we truly are.
The Wellness Coach’s Personal Growth Plan
Some personal growth comes our way as just part of living. The opportunity arises and we grow from it. The best coaches and the best human helpers of all types that I have seen also seek out personal growth experiences. They want to “stretch” themselves. They aren’t afraid to do some travel out on the edge of their comfort zone. They make a conscious effort to grow personally. Such endeavors are as individualized as anything like that can be, however, let me make a few kind suggestions for the wellness coach looking for ways to grow.
1) Solo time. Don’t make a stranger of yourself! Spend some time alone where you can eliminate all the distractions that take you away from listening to yourself. Spend several hours in your own personal retreat. It’s not the same as meditating, though that can be part of it too. It’s time to truly “be here now”, to allow whatever wants to come up to rise to the surface. If you discover that there is pain and old wounds that need attending to, so be it! Make an appointment if you need and do that work too. What you may discover though, is that like vision quest guide John Milton (www.sacredpassage.com) will tell you, once you get beyond letting down and de-contracting, and beyond all the distractions, you are able to “rest in the radiance of the open heart.” Even a couple of early morning hours just to yourself (absolutely before you start your workday) can have profound effects.
2) Read. Reach back to a classic like Carl Rogers’ On Becoming A Person, or Victor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning. Read something beside a “how-to” book. Read fiction. Read blogs. There are tons out there so be choosy about which you follow. Expand your view of the world.
3) Stretch. Find what you are attracted to that will provide an experience that will stretch you to move further into new territory. Go on an outdoor adventure trip. Travel to a country where your own language is rare. Train for a long distance race. Learn Tai Chi. Check out the credibility of some kind of experiential personal growth course and go for it! Esalen is still very much in business (http://www.esalen.org/) and so are many other such places. Sometimes leadership training can be a true personal growth experience too (http://www.leadingfromwithin.net/blog/home).
4) Live your life in balance so you can be a bit “out of balance” sometime and be glad of it! Maintain that healthy wellness lifestyle that gives you the energy and stamina to dance all night, to go further down that path than ever before, to see an amazing sunrise, to try something extraordinary.
What are some of your favorite ways to consciously “grow”? What holds you back from doing them more? What inspires you to live an extraordinary life? Please leave your comments!