Healing approaches

Transformational coaching: Creating space for new possibilities

Woman Juggling Balls

By Laura McAvoy, transformational coach.

All too many women become engulfed in the complexity of family life as they attempt to juggle roles, responsibilities and demands. They often lose sight of who they are, what their desires are and what is truly important to them.

A first indication that a disconnect may have taken place is that people feel flat, generally dissatisfied or ‘stuck’. For some women, this situation can become very uncomfortable, leading either to a numbing and suppressing of that inner niggle, or feeling emotions, such as anger or shame, rising to the fore.

If an individual ends up staying in this zone for any length of time, it can have an impact on their self-acceptance, confidence and resilience, making it harder to break free from a loop of dissatisfaction and inaction.

But this ‘stuckness’ can actually act as an invitation. For, in reality, it is our inner guidance rising up to tell us that something is going on that can no longer be ignored. Something about where we are focusing our energy, time and attention is no longer serving us.

When viewed in this way, the fact we have noticed how stuck we are could almost be seen as a gift – as long there is no self-judgement in the noticing, that is.

This is where transformational coaching comes in as it offers women a way in to exploring the richness of their own power, wisdom and creativity. The aim is to help them tune into their inner guidance, embody their truth and generate significant shifts in their personal and professional lives.

Butterfly on zen Stones

‘Transformation’ is a powerful word, but the work is all about supporting women’s journeys based on a partnership of equality and respect. Women are not ‘broken’ or in need of ‘fixing’ and so their coach does not offer advice. Instead, by means of questioning, reflecting, challenging and space-holding, each individual is trusted to find her own answers. It may sound very simple but it can also be immensely powerful.

By drawing attention to the story a woman tells and gently unearthing old thinking patterns, she is supported to shift perspective and change her beliefs about what is possible. Significant insights usually come to the fore quite quickly and, as a result, she will start to feel less trapped or stale, and instead feel more empowered to move forward with confidence.

I call this being in a space of ‘almostness’. It is a space of possibility. ‘Stuckness’ may alert us to the fact that something needs to change, but when we are willing to accept and relish the openness of being ‘almost’ but not quite there, we often feel empowered to explore things more fully.

The path to clarity is rarely linear though. In fact, it is much more aligned with the circular form of feminine energy. This means that women coming to this work for the first time often feel as if they are being held and understood.

Women can look at their situation, their needs, and how they are being in their own lives knowing that ‘almostness’ is OK. They can spiral around this space, focusing on different angles and perspectives each time until they begin to gain clarity and insight. That is when they will begin to shift – although very often not in ways they had envisaged at the start.

But each client is always in charge of her own journey. How deep any exploration goes and to what extent new thinking is created, or new actions taken, is always the choice of each individual.

Strength

As for me, I am the founder of ‘Open Out’, an organisation that offers transformational coaching and dialogue, group coaching courses and coaching circles exclusively to women. My speciality is in helping competent and capable women, who have got to the point where they want to reassess their lives and feel that they are being called to change – whether that change be physical, situational, emotional, relationship-based, psychological or spiritual.

The coaching experience is often about helping someone return to wholeness, and for many of us that includes returning to the ‘tribe’ of womanhood. But in reality each individual can own any turning point in her life if she notices, engages with, and allows the personal growth that is inherent in each experience.

As a result, I often integrate mindfulness and meditation practices into my work. Mindfulness principles such as focusing on the present moment, accepting things in a non-judgemental way, letting go and the like are really helpful when we are keen to make a shift in life.

But do be careful not to be in too much of a rush to set goals and get to the end point and instead enjoy where you are for now. As the old adage goes, we all have to arrive somewhere before we can depart.

When a woman chooses healing and wellbeing – as is her right – it is often connected with the health of her family, relationships and wider society. I feel honoured to support that reclamation and am always awestruck to see the impact of each individual’s new choices and ways of being as they ripple out in positive ways.

But for anyone who feels ready to start this journey, make sure you find the right coach for you. Coaches come from a variety of backgrounds and have a number of different specialisms and interests, but to ensure your work together is fruitful, it is vital that your relationship is a positive one and you feel their approach works for you. In other words, take the time to find someone who really resonates with you as it will make all the difference in the world.

LauraMcAvoy

Laura McAvoy provides transformative coaching and dialogue for women. She also offers group coaching courses, coaching circles and 1:1 work, all of which incorporates mindfulness and meditation. She works in Saffron Walden, Essex, and the surrounding area.

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Inspiring lifestyles

Three reasons why parental wellbeing is vital to children

family of three lying on bed showing feet while covered with yellow blanket
Photo by Simon Matzinger on Pexels.com

By Sarah Stollery, kundalini yoga and meditation teacher.

Although you may not realise it, your health and wellbeing as a parent are really important to the health and wellbeing of your children. Here’s why:

1. We regularly undergo sensory overload

Parenting today is more challenging than it has ever been. We are constantly exposed to a tidal wave of conflicting advice and are under pressure to be perfect homemakers, while often working full- or part-time into the bargain.

But we are also constantly processing sensory information from the world around us, sifting through it at a rapid pace, discarding what is insignificant and attending to our top priorities. It is about engaging with our surroundings, whether virtual or physical, and we do it during most of our waking life. As a result, we tend to place little value on those unstructured periods of internal focus such as day-dreaming.

The problem with this situation is that an overemphasis on the external can lead to sensory overload and a chronic neglect of our own wellbeing as well as that of our children. We zip along feeling fine, but because we spend little, or no, time listening to our own internal voice, we fail to notice that we are filling up with frustration, intolerance, anger and sadness – until it all gets too much and we end up feeling depressed or anxious.

So now more than ever it is crucial to find opportunities for solitude and give ourselves time to reflect, daydream and just simply to be quiet so we can hear the voice within that is so often drowned out.

So make a point of scheduling moments to enjoy a bit of silence. Here are some tips for making quiet time part of your daily routine at home:

  • Choose a time of day that works for everyone in your family (if possible) i.e. if you have school-age children, a good time may be just after they have had a snack but before they start their homework. For younger children, between bath time and bed time may work better;
  • Decide on a short chunk of time, say five minutes, and work up to more if it suits you, but do ensure it is achievable for your family;
  • Involve your children when planning how to spend your quiet time. Would they like to try a meditation (see the Relax Kids website for lots of guided meditations for kids and adults)? Would they rather listen to music? Could you even make a corner of your home into a Relaxation Zone?
  • Invite your children to chat about anything that arose for them during their quiet time. This is a fantastic opportunity for you to connect and find out what’s going on for them;
  • Some children may like to keep a diary during, or just after, their quiet time in order to help them process their feelings and experience.

 

light sunset people water
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

2. Children learn by watching what we do not what we say

As the old adage goes, actions speak louder than words. So the most effective way to teach our children how to make wellbeing a lifelong habit is to model this behaviour for them now.

But this is far easier said than done as it means taking a hard, honest look at our own wellbeing habits and assessing where we can make changes in order to provide the example we would like our kids to follow. Here are some examples of where we, as parents, often overlook our own wellbeing by:

  • Being socially isolated and failing to ensure we have adequate emotional and practical support around us;
  • Ignoring our own needs for developing a creative outlet;
  • Consistently making ourselves the lowest priority, overlooking the importance of self-care and failing to meet our own health and wellbeing requirements;
  • Feeling unable to express ourselves authentically and without judging ourselves;
  • Denying our parental intuition due to external pressures;
  • Overstimulation from input such as social media, the news etc.

The idea is that if you explicitly attend to your own wellbeing, your children will follow suit and grow up doing the same.

3. Awareness is Key

When we begin to proactively manage our own wellbeing, tune the world out and tune in to ourselves, we naturally become more self-aware. I am not talking here about critical self-judgement, which is about analysing our own behaviour and giving ourselves a hard time about it.

Instead I am talking about taking a step back and assuming the role of observer in order to look at what you are doing in an objective way. The aim here is to find ways to effect the positive changes necessary to improve you and your children’s wellbeing.

So, for example, if you missed the deadline for signing up for that Zumba class again, rather than downplaying it as an oversight or memory lapse, it might make sense to dig a little deeper. Perhaps the real reason you did not sign up for it is because you do not actually like dancing and, deep down, would prefer to sign up for a painting class to get in touch with your creative side.

Despite being a trivial example, it does serve to illustrate how it is all too easy to undervalue wellbeing and thus unconsciously communicate this attitude to your children.

But awareness can also offer a different perspective when facing challenges with our children that may have a direct impact on their wellbeing. For example, realising that I felt the need to control what my son ate had a huge impact on my behaviour at mealtimes, which in turn affected his eating habits – for the better.

Sometimes coming to such awareness can take effort and be uncomfortable and challenging. But with such awareness comes objectivity and, with objectivity, we can start to parent in a way that truly puts the wellbeing of our children front and centre.

In other words, cultivating awareness is at the very heart of wellbeing. It is what allows us to be conscious that we would love to try painting, for example. And the great thing is that, as we cultivate our own wellbeing, our awareness develops in tandem. This means that our wellbeing improves still further, and accordingly, that of our children, in a truly virtuous circle.

sarah stollery headshot

Sarah Stollery is a kundalini yoga and meditation teacher and co-founder of The Cabin, a self-directed learning community for home-educated children. She is passionate about empowering people of all ages and stages of life with the tools to thrive in these challenging times by creating space to learn, explore and integrate a wide range of wellbeing practices.