Since the 1980s, life coaching has become a distinct career path, and it has grown in popularity ever since. We spoke to several coaches from Atlanta and around the world to find out some of the top reasons people seek the help of a life coach.
For some people, a persistent sense that something is missing in their lives provides the impetus to reach out to a life coach. They experience a lack of satisfaction or fulfillment in their lives, but they’re not clear about what is missing. “My life is ticking all the boxes; objectively, everything is good. But I still feel like something is missing,” say many of Tara Van Dam’s clients. Van Dam is an integrative life coach and owner of Wholistic Joy Wellness in Atlanta. In such situations, it is not about moving around certain pieces of one’s external life to create a desired result; it is about going within to discern and understand the origin of the feeling.
“It’s about shifting focus from the external world to looking within,” says Van Dam. In a society heavily influenced by social media, looking within ourselves for our answers seems a radical and bold approach. Certified life coach Carol Lazgin adds, “People are in their life, but they can’t see their life. A coach’s job is to hold up a mirror to the client for them to notice and develop awareness.”
Sometimes people are clear about their goals but struggle with being consistent enough with their efforts to be successful, so they look to a life coach for support. “People want coaching to improve their lives in concrete ways. Coaching focuses on action, and with that action comes increased confidence and competency,” says life coach Kate Crow, owner of Shift It! in Red Hook, New York. “In therapy, people talk about thoughts and feelings with the idea that it will trickle down to their actions. In coaching, we flip that around. We say, ‘let’s take some actions,’ knowing that the thoughts and feelings will follow.” A life coach can serve as the objective guide in one’s journey and play the dual role of cheering them on each step of the way while also holding them to their highest vision for themselves. “Why get coaching?” Crow asks. “Because we’re human and we get stuck,” she answers.
Dealing with Crisis
Divorce, job loss and health crises can be devastating and difficult to process, and life coaching can help navigate these unexpected events. Anna Garcia, who was voted one of Australia’s top 10 life coaches, explains that trying to change what has already happened is like trying to change a photograph. “What needs to change is the consciousness that created the situation.” A life coach works with her clients to cultivate a higher level of awareness of the beliefs and thoughts they hold that determine the direction in which their energy flows.
The direction of one’s focus is key to success. People unwittingly tend to focus on what they lack rather than on the vision of what they desire. Garcia helps her clients by working with them to envision what they want to create, whether it is a healthy body, financial abundance, or the love of their life. When we change our level of consciousness, our outside circumstances change, she says.
Quelling the Inner Critic
According to a recent report from the CDC, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of people experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/or depression—from 36.4% to 41.5% of those surveyed. The nation’s mental health has been particularly challenged recently, and some are reaching out to life coaches to help them develop a sense of centeredness and peace. Van Dam helps her clients learn how to deal with their “inner critic”— the voice inside their head that continually bombards them with negative messages about themselves and their lives. Listening to that voice leaves people feeling sad, discouraged and lacking the confidence necessary to move forward toward their dreams. Van Dam guides her clients to question that inner voice.
“We take the negative voice at face value without looking for evidence that the opposite is true,” she says. Van Dam encourages her clients to give themselves gold stars—just like what kids get in elementary school—to help them appreciate whenever they demonstrate kindness, compassion, strength and competence. With regular practice, the voice of the inner critic quiets down, helping people experience more satisfaction and peace.
Renowned teacher Abraham Hicks explains the theory of the Law of Attraction as “that which is like unto itself is drawn.” The theory holds that an individual attracts to herself what she focuses on most. It is the premise behind vision boards, which people use to post images of their desired life conditions, such as vacations, cars and relationships, and display them in a prominent place in the home. However, when the desired circumstances fail to manifest, frustration can set in. Bijoux Wright-Romero, life coach and owner of Fabulous and Grounded, advises them, “Be aware of what you’re putting out there energetically.” People often focus on the lack of what we desire more than the feeling they’ll have when their vision becomes a reality. Wright-Romero used this approach in her own life to manifest a life partner and wedding. Before she had a romantic partner in her life, her sister held a “fake” bachelorette party for her, complete with a bride-to-be sash, decorations, balloons, drinks and a cake tasting. Her father even made a toast to her as he would at her wedding. One year later, it all came to be. Wright-Romero says that while it is not necessary to hold a fake party each time we want to manifest something new, it’s important to remember to focus on the feeling we’ll enjoy when our vision comes to pass.
Internationally acclaimed author Louise Hay said, “Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives.” Empowerment coach Angela Oh, owner of Empower Love Now, notices that many clients come to her with a victim mentality; they want to know why bad things are happening to them. Oh explains that such a mentality stems from a lack of self-love; in some cases, it even originates from self-hate. Oh works with her clients to take back responsibility for their lives, helping them to develop a healthy self-love. One practice she encourages her clients to do is to meditate for 10 minutes a day. “Sit quietly and breathe and listen to your crazy mind. Then breathe again.” She explains that it’s about showing up for yourself the same way a good mom shows up for her children.
Building Financial Abundance
It might seem odd that someone would seek the help of a life coach for issues regarding money, but life coach Anna Garcia says that it’s not uncommon. At some level, people who go to a life coach for help with money understand that there is more to creating financial abundance than meets the eye. The key is “to not focus on getting more money, but to change your relationship with money,” says Garcia.
The subject of money is often loaded with emotion, she adds, but money “is just another form of energy—like spaghetti!” Part of her work is to release any emotional charge and help people approach their relationship with money in much the same way as they would approach a relationship with a person. Dr. John Demartini, an author and speaker who’s been a big influence on Garcia, teaches, “Money comes from having equanimity within yourself.” It is yet another example that addressing our mindset and our thoughts can be more effective than seeking to manipulate the circumstances around us.
Discovering Life Purpose
“I’ve done what my parents told me to do and walked that path, but I am not fulfilled,” clients explain to Wright-Romero. Not knowing one’s life purpose can leave one feeling unsettled, frustrated and even a little panicky. When clients seek help in discerning life purpose, Wright-Romero guides them to tap into what brings them joy. Howard Thurman, an American author, theologian, educator and civil rights leader, counsels, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Wright-Romero encourages clients that want to leave the corporate world in search of more gratifying work to explore how the activities they most enjoy could produce income. It often takes some guidance and support to learn to tune into their inner guidance and trust its nudges.
Some people seek help from a life coach to further their spiritual growth. Life coach Diana Cohen describes this client as “someone who understands life can be more peaceful; things can be better.” Though spiritual growth is a journey within our own psyche and soul, outside help can be a tremendous help along the way. A life coach can help craft personalized affirmations and practices that ease and accelerate the process. Cohen states that clients that seek spiritual growth “want to be the best version of themselves and understand that it’s an ongoing process. They have a knowingness that there is more to life, and they have to find it.”
Diane Martinez is a certified holistic life coach based in Sandy Springs. She offers virtual and live one-on-one life coaching and small group classes on Zoom. Follow her on Instagram @lifecoachmartinez and visit ConsciousCreatingLifeCoaching.com.
More Articles on Life Coaching
This article is one of four in a special section on life coaching. Here are the other three stories.