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Personal Responsibility and Life Coaching

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 286

Have you ever been confronted with a problem that seems so enormous that there was no way out of it? I bet everyone who reads this article felt this way at least once in their lives. I've been there. The sensation is a lot like being stuck in the middle of a one lane road with a big boulder right in front of me. Time stands still, and there's no way forward. The way back is downhill, and you don't want to go down there again.

I have good news for you. The "enormous" part of this scenario is one of your own making. Ergo, if you made it, then you can un-make it.

I'm sure you heard of this before. You say, "That's not much help. The problem I'm facing is actually a big one." And maybe it is. I'm not saying that whatever problem you are facing is not daunting. That's why it's called a problem.

I want to point out that every problem has a solution. A problem exists in a context, where you are the key player. You are part of the problem, and therefore, part of the solution. Let me illustrate by telling you a true story.

I currently work at a residential facility for chronically mentally ill adults. If you can imagine Purgatory, this would be the closest thing on Earth to being in one. My clients come from all walks of life, being united in one thing: the misery of having a disease they can't be cured from. Many of them live their lives in such places. They can't find work, or have long lasting relationships, because of their psychiatric problems. Many of them don't have loved ones to turn to.

The heroine in this story is one of my clients, who I will name Jackie. Imagine a woman who looks like an adolescent, complete with purple sweater, no makeup, drab hair, glasses and over-sized pants. She is a young woman in her early 30's who lived in "the system" since she was 12 years old. Jackie's life is dictated by her mother, who decides where she lives, what she buys, who she sees, etc. Here is a woman who never made an independent decision in her entire life. Why is this? It's because Jackie has what is called Borderline Personality Disorder. Jackie suffers from the storms of her moods. One minute she is sweet and caring, and very childlike and vulnerable. Another minute she will cut you down with the harshest words you will hear from such a sweet person and throw an object at you on top of it. As a result, she is not able to maintain any relationships with anyone, nor is she able to finish school. She is very much alone in her misery and suffering.

When she was assigned to me, Jackie was at first very accommodating, cooperative and insightful. That made me uneasy, because I knew at one point she will flip into the opposite. I waited for the other shoe to drop. When it did, it was a spectacular sight.

I received a frantic call from one of the staff at my job, saying that Jackie had a "tantrum". I hastily went to her room to find out what happened. I was met with what looked like a tornado disaster scenario: cabinets thrown to the ground, with contents spilled on the floor; clothing everywhere, papers floating in the air, and Jackie crying loudly in the middle of her bed. She told me that she was having memories of being abused as a child. "I can't stop thinking about it", she said. This is not new for her. When Jackie remembers being abused, she becomes a child all over again. Nothing would comfort her.

At that moment I had a flash of insight. Jackie could not be comforted because comforting is not what she needed. Jackie needed someone to tell her the truth about herself. So I approached her and firmly said, "Jackie, look at me." She looked at me with enormous teary eyes. I said, "Who owns your thoughts, Jackie?" She looked at me in shock. I repeated my question. She sat silent for a moment then said, "I do."

"Who owns your feelings?" I said. Jackie replied, as if in a daze, "I do." "So if that's the case," I continued, "who gets to control your thoughts and feelings?" "I do", she said. "Very well then", I continued, "if you control your thoughts and feelings, who gets to say which thoughts and feelings you can have?" A dawning light came to her face. "I do," she said. I stood up and pointed to her room. "If you don't want something, what do you do with it?"

Jackie said, "I throw it away". I said, "Imagine if you can make yourself feel and think in any way you want, anytime you want it. How would you like to be right now?" Jackie said nothing for a few minutes. I put a hand on her shoulder. "Nobody has ownership of your mind but you." I then walked out the door, leaving her alone to think about what I said. When I walked out I realized that Jackie stopped crying. Later I found out that she never did that before. Jackie usually goes downhill after such episodes.

A day later Jackie came to me appearing very excited. "Could you tell me again what those questions you gave me yesterday were? I'm going to write it down and put it on my wall." I told her again, and she dutifully wrote it down on a piece of paper with colored pens. We met many times after that to make new questions, such as: Who owns your body? Who owns your memories? And the list went on. I introduced the concept of self-ownership to a person who never thought of it before. Those few questions made a huge impact on her.

Jackie was intrigued by the idea that she could be anything she wanted. I encouraged her to play with her new found knowledge. "After all," I said, "you could be your own canvas, to paint in any color you want." Jackie and I planned a makeover. She colored her hair, bought new sophisticated clothes and a really nice haircut and hair color. Jackie discovered that she was bisexual and attended her first Gay and Lesbian group. She met a few people who became her friends. In the space of a few weeks she transformed her image into a grown up woman. Jackie began to laugh more, and reveled in the discovery of what an adult can do for herself. She became her own person. By the time she left my care, Jackie's mother called me and thanked me for giving her daughter another chance in life.

The reason why I like this story is because it illustrates a fundamental principle that as a coach I live by. It's by far the most important one that I help people discover in themselves.

You are and always will be the sole owner of your life. As an adult, you are the actor, the playwright, the crew and the audience in the play you call your existence. People may come and go in your theater, but when it comes down to it, you are the only person that counts, the crucial element in the process of change.

When Jackie grasped this truth, she realized that despite her circumstances, she was able to make significant changes that she didn't make before. She still struggled with her psychiatric problems, but she is more motivated to make herself into the person she longed to be. Jackie understood the truth about herself. She is an adult, with all the powers and abilities all adults have. No problem, whether big or small, escapes one's capacity to solve it. Sooner or later, with work and dedication, and a little bit of help, problems get smaller. Sometimes they disappear completely. This is a fact that I hang my hat on, because it always happens. I encourage everyone to tell themselves this truth, because through this we can foster hope in our future.

To learn more about life coaching in action, contact

Source: EzineArticles
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Article Tags:

Life Coaching


Personal Responsibility


Jackie Stopped Crying


Mental Health


Self Improvement



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