Doing the Work by Amy Thurstan
I’d been in and out of therapy for the neck end of 20 years. My therapists were well-qualified, experts in their fields and the space they held for me at various times in my life was absolutely critical. Without sounding like a massive drama llama, simply put, I might not be writing this if it weren’t for therapy.
As time passed though, I became so familiar with my ‘stuff’ and unpacking my trauma for the umpteenth time, whenever life dealt another blow, it became something I was a story-telling level expert at and honestly, I was bored af listening to myself repeat it.
I often left therapy feeling a little better, a little lighter… a problem shared, and all that. But I still couldn’t make any significant change happen. I didn’t know how to be any different in the world. I knew my ‘stuff’, the experiences I’d been through and the unhelpful patterns of behaviour that were repeating, but I couldn’t figure out how to make things different for myself in the future.
That’s where coaching has been and continues to be, simply put, game-changing…
To help illustrate what consistent, good coaching has done for me, let’s look at Amy in a couple of scenarios from a ‘before’ and ‘after’ perspective… although I’d like to be very clear here. Despite what the thousands of Instagram ‘miracle’ coaches might claim, the ‘change your life in 6 weeks’ type statements are b*llsh*t. Don’t waste your time. Or money. I still regularly access coaching and probably will for as long as I can foresee. For me, this is a life-long process of getting to know myself, creating time and space to think, reflecting on my choices, getting curious about what is going on for me, and experimenting with what might be different.
- Before – strong perfectionist driver, highly critical of myself and others, resentful of other people’s success, and often over-worked myself or over-delivered in an attempt to create safety for myself. Driven by unhelpful family narratives that associated my value as a human with how successful I was in terms of a career. Strong and ever-present victim mentality.
- After – I still set high standards for myself and others, but I allow myself to ask stupid questions, and I’m more compassionate towards myself and other people when we make mistakes. This self-compassion also means that I like myself, regardless of my job title, salary, or perceived ‘status’ when it comes to my career. Healthier perspective and work/life balance.
- Before – co-dependent, attracted by drama and avoidant partners, consistently seeking to rescue and/or be rescued, strong please others driver resulting in loss of self, and unhealthy behaviours around food, alcohol, and sex. Inability to self-regulate, spending long periods of time in sympathetic arousal, exhausting to be around, unable to communicate so used protest behaviour as an alternative, often showing up in a rebellious child ego state.
- After – aware of my unhelpful patterns and able to make better choices in terms of who I spend time and energy with. Enjoying adult-adult relationships. Resisting the urge to rescue or persecute others and not looking for people to do the same to me. Able to instigate and have difficult conversations. Recognising when I’m falling into an old habit and able to interrupt myself, and do something different.
Life can still be hard at times. There’s no getting away from that and I hate toxic positivity as much as I hate seeing people drop litter, so I’m not about to tell you can create your best life, or win every day with the help of a coach, but I can tell you, that if you’re sick and tired of feeling ‘stuck’, or you want to make something different for yourself but you don’t know how to, coaching might be a good place to start.