What Do You Really Need When You Need Support?

I recently had a therapist come to me for coaching on how to build a more lucrative private practice. During our first session she shared with me that she felt stuck. Her practice wasn’t large enough to meet her financial needs nor did it reflect her years of training and experience.

When I asked her why she felt her practice had not expanded, she quickly answered, “I’ve done a lot of work on the psychological reasons of why I don’t have a solid practice. But that’s not why I’m here. I’m here because I am passionate about helping people heal but I don’t know the practical steps I need to take to build the practice I want”.

I understood immediately. This was someone who had hired me, not for the “how come”, but for the “how to” of business building. And when we’re feeling stuck, it’s important to understand the distinction. Since my client was so clear about what she needed, I was able to give her a strategy right away for building her practice.

So when you feel stuck, a great question to ask yourself is, do I need reassurance or do I need information? Each one serves a different purpose.

A good way to figure this out is to use this body-mind awareness technique: imagine reaching out to someone for either reassurance or information. Then take notice of how you physically feel when you picture receiving one or the other. Which type of support makes you feel calmer, more secure or excited about next steps? When you know which type of support caused those feelings, you will know who to turn to.

Here are some additional things to consider when you are wondering what kind of support you need.

REASSURANCE

• When you need this kind of support there are usually emotions clouding the picture. You may know what you want to do but find yourself holding back because of fear or anxiety.

• Receiving reassurance can be someone listening, and, or asking questions till you figure out why you may be afraid or nervous. Or it can also be someone simply saying, “go for it, you can do it”.

• For this kind of support, think of the people you trust, who are kind, sympathetic and enthusiastic about you. They will be the ones to help you gain clarity.

INFORMATION

• When you find yourself more frustrated than fearful, you are probably in need of information. This form of support is about how to move an idea or dream from concept to implementation.

• It does not involve the processing of feelings because the sticking point is educational not emotional.

• When pondering who could support you, think about the people you respect and whose personal and professional style you admire. Schedule or book time to meet with them so that you can get moving again.

Understanding whether you need the how to do it or whether you need the you can do it, will help you figure out who to turn from there.

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It’s All About Perspective

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When I was growing up, my mother used to say to me, “You resemble your father’s side of the family. You have short legs and a long torso”. She was so confident in her opinion, and because no one else contradicted her, I came to accept her view. In my mind, I was a person with short legs and a long torso. Done deal. But about 15 years ago I had a reality-changing moment that upended my long-held belief.

I was working with a personal trainer who I really trusted because of her background as a dancer and her focus on strength, flexibility and balance. As we were working on some leg exercises, she said, “I need to adjust the equipment because you have long legs.” I looked at her in amazement, so much so that she stopped and asked me what I was thinking. I told her my mother’s version of my legs and she laughed.

She said, “Karol, I work with people of all shapes and sizes and I can tell you from experience, you don’t have short legs”. She then stood next to me in front of a mirror and with her hands, showed me the distance of my waist to my knees and my knees to my feet. By having me focus on the visual image in front of me, my trainer helped me shift my perspective and drop an old belief about my body.

Over the years clients have also come to me with ingrained beliefs about who they are. They have said “I’m not smart or strong or beautiful or deserving of love”. This perspective deeply affected their self-esteem and confidence. Of course sitting opposite them I saw such a different picture. With time, self-examination and support their view of themselves did eventually change. When that happened they shifted into an updated reality, one that made them feel happier with who they were.

How about you? Is there a perspective that needs changing in your life? If so, here are some questions to consider.

  • What messages were you given about your intelligence, looks or capabilities?
  • Who did you learn them from?
  • What phrases do you automatically say to yourself about any aspect of who you are?
  • Is what you believe really accurate?
  • When is the last time you got a reality-check about your perceptions?
  • Who could you turn to for a reality-check?

When you do get feedback, take a moment to write, text email yourself what you have heard so that you can refer to it anytime you need a boost.

“Why not use your mentality, wake up to reality” is from a Cole Porter’s song, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and I think it captures the shift in perspective I am talking about.

By the way, here is a recording of Frank Sinatra singing, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, who in my opinion is one of the finest interpreters of music and lyrics there has ever been. I’ve Got You Under My Skin

The Right To Be In the Room

The room was filled with a variety of men and women and bustling with energy. I had been invited to talk to them about how good communication skills could increase the visibility of their businesses. During my presentation I laid out a series of actions steps ranging from speech crafting, to customization of topics, to where they could find speaking opportunities. The audience was enthusiastic and very invested in making their businesses a success.

At one point, I asked if anyone wanted to receive on the spot coaching for a particular visibility issue. A woman raised her hand and shared that she had recently completed a 3 year training program and received certification as a health coach. She went on to say that prior to this she had worked in the health care field and after her children became of school age, began her training.

After asking what kind of support she needed, I began coaching her on how she could funnel her passion into a variety of presentations topics. At some point during our coaching, she seemed to freeze and I could tell she had checked out. When I asked her what she thinking, she said, “I don’t have enough experience to talk about what I do. I just graduated and there are people who have been doing it a long time and I haven’t.”

As I switched to my therapist hat, I took a moment and then said to her, “You have a right to be in the room.” I paused again and said,.”You have the right to be there. You may want more experience speaking, you may want more experience coaching clients, but you have the right to be in the room.” As she stared back at me I asked her a series of questions about her background in health care, the amount of hours that went into her training program and all the life experience she had being a mother and spouse. We figured out together that it added up to quite a lot.

As a therapist and coach I have repeated that phrase to many of my patients and clients. They want to write books, ask for a raise, start a new business or simply let themselves be seen and noticed. They feel ashamed because they can’t “just do it” no matter how much they want to. Most of the time it’s due to the negative beliefs they have about who they are and what they have to offer. When they share those beliefs with me, I never dismiss their fears no matter how illogical. However, I do ask them to explore what is really holding them back.

In my experience, people shift when they understand where their fear started, challenge it’s validity and get support for a new way of thinking. Only when their outdated view is understood and dismantled, can they catch up to who they are in the present. And when that happens, the relief I witness is palpable. Not only do they discover that have the right to be in the room but also get to take up as much space as they need.

Here are some questions to consider when you find yourself wanting to shift your perspective:

What would you notice or feel if you had the right to be in the room?

How would you be standing, sitting or speaking if you had the right to be in the room?

What is one step you could take today if you knew you had the right to be in the room?

Who is one person that would support you if let yourself believe you have the right to be in the room?

Remember, when you are ready there are lots of rooms out there waiting to be filled and you too can be the one to fill them.

Have any thoughts about the right to be in the room? I’ve posted this article on my public Facebook page. Please feel free to share your comments.