Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life Coaching Developments

I have been finding the process of life coaching (I am the coachee, not the coacher) very interesting and valuable. I realized I wasn't happy and wanted to make the changes necessary to become happier, but was stuck. In the past I have made a variety of choices, some good, some bad, to help me through a sticky patch. In general, the best choice has been counselling. However, I recognized a limitation for me. Therapy is primarily an intellectual exercise. I am good at intellectual exercises. I can learn, no problem. But I wasn't facing a challenge based on lack of information or insight, at least not a challenge that could be overcome through thought experiments.

Hence my choice to explore life coaching. So far I have found it a good balance between practical and theoretical development. One of the things we have been working on is recognizing defense mechanisms. For that I have learned about a theory of development that claims that many of us spend a lot of time and energy in our adult lives trying to meet needs that were unmet as children. The result is often a reaction to certain situations that is out of proportion to current events, but makes sense when seen as a continuation of childhood drama and trauma.

I can accept this theory and work with it for two main reasons. First, there is no condition that I, as the adult-child in this story, have any knowledge or appreciation of events that may have been harmful to me as a child. Second, there is no way for a child to escape childhood without having unmet needs, so I don't have to either identify unmet needs or blame my parents for my unhappiness as an adult in order to move forward.

My life coach is basing the assignments she gives me on Ingeborg Bosch's therapy called Past Reality Integration. The assignments are designed to help me learn to recognize my feelings, and why I feel what I do when I do.

In my reading pile currently lies Alice Miller's The Drama of the Gifted Child, which contains some wonderful parallels. I'm not sure to what extent Bosch is influenced by Miller, but certainly reading Miller is giving me the intellectual background to understand myself. I also feel reassured in my decision to pursue life coaching, because the intellectual effort alone seems useful, but in itself can effect no changes.

And change is what it is all about.

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