An antidote for patient performing

A guest post by Adrianna Cole.

Entering a life coaching session with a presumed topic is empowering. Clients have identified a problem and proudly assume they’ve cut out half of their coaches' work. These sessions are effective, oftentimes we do know what we need “to do” thus guiding our coach there as they pull these answers out of us like thread from a spool. Other times, I have in fact found that some of my most transformative and illuminating sessions come from not knowing the answer to the question: “so, what’s here now?”

There are two sources for this symptom: either everything is “fine” or “I’m so lost I don't know where to begin”. Entering a session without having anything to work on potentially feels awkward. My reflex is to craft the perfect problem in order to spoon-feed my coach; a reflex that is oftentimes rooted in people-pleasing. Or perhaps, doubt that maybe your innermost problems are rather uncoachable, so you stick to the palatable topics (relationships, career, weight loss, and mother issues). This stems from a lack of trust for your coach, a fear that they will disappoint you, furthering any potential alienation that you already feel.

In this circumstance, at the beginning of your session, you have the choice of whether to patient-perform or to surrender. Surrendering in a therapy session is like moving to the back seat of a vehicle during a long road trip, taking your eyes off of the road to rest and trusting that your companion will keep you both safe. Physically manifested – surrendering in a therapy session looks like: detachment from discomfort, hyper presence, and a serene and sincere patience.

Detaching from discomfort is relishing in uncomfortable silence. Attempt to sit back in a metaphorical chaise lounge and let them poke around your mind. Wade in the silences that you could choose to fill in with therapizing yourself. Allow your coach to do the heavy lifting.

Engaging in hyper presence is to vocalize what’s happening in your mind as it happens. This is not to contradict sitting in uncomfortable silences but to amplify and garner trust in your coach. The cobwebs in the basement of your mind deserve to be looked at and ignoring their desire to be seen is a disservice to your coaching session that reinforces the lack of trust in your coach – going to the back seat of the vehicle only to keep one eye open, not trusting that your road trip companion will keep you safe. If feelings and thoughts arise in a session, let them flow through your throat, they want to come up and out for reasons that you may not understand… yet.

In our capitalist society, we live in the time of now. There are thousands of antidotes to any perceived problem that one may have. Discomfort and even agitation arise when you’re reaching for the climax of a session. “It’s not working. They are absolutely not getting it,” shuts down your session. Patience opens up the session to answer the aforementioned question, “what’s here now?” Override the impulse to find the quick answer and lay back in the back seat of the car and trust that you will get where you need to go, mile by mile until one moment you’ve woken up and poof you’ve arrived.

Once you found your life coach and feel affirmed that whatever reason you sought one out in the first place will be addressed and all of your needs will be met. When you establish that you both are a match, trust that impulse and loosen your grip. Allow them to work their magic and show you why you chose them. When you enter a session, especially with nothing to talk about, recline your chair and sit back through the discomfort and let yourself bubble up just to see what comes out.