What technique from a life coach or self-help book worked best for you?
April 26, 2020 7:30 PM   Subscribe

I have had a couple of sessions with a combined counsellor/ life coach which I initially sought out partially for someone to be a listening ear to cope with living alone during UK lockdown (I get groceries delivered so only leave my apartment to take out the trash or get prescriptions). I am now getting more support from online friends as some of them are also at home at this time and we are all seeking and giving support to each other. Rather than just quit the counselling/ coaching I'd like to have maybe five more sessions exploring a different coaching technique each week. Can anyone speak of a technique they learned in coaching or a self-help book which was especially helpful?

As I said above, I'd like to learn no more than four additional techniques from coaching to give me a bit of a toolkit to work with. I have bipolar which most off the time is on the depressed side and only very rarely on the manic side (last time 2016). I live off disability benefits as it has been many years since I functioned well enough to work. The depression manifests itself as poor self-care, spending a lot of time in bed, and a "two steps forward one step back" set of results around cleaning and tidying my apartment. I don't have a strong motivation to learn to cook but I would like to make healthier choices in my online weekly supermarket shop. The first two techniques we worked on were a positivity journal where I wrote down things I liked about myself plus any positive actions I took that day, plus trying a couple of affirmations (the particular ones addressed a self-esteem issue I had but I felt some resistance as though I didn't believe what I was saying. I felt better using another "I am capable of making positive changes and feeling good about myself").

In our remaining sessions I would like to talk to the coach about using a checklist to build routine, for example having 15 minutes of Duolingo and 10 minutes of mindfulness apps as new habits, and maybe 10 minutes cleaning each day too - doesn't sound much but from past experience this would be sufficient to tax me. I would like to use a session to talk about strategies to overcome social anxiety once lockdown ends, and safely use online communities meanwhile. I would like to have one session breaking down the one main task I have to do soon - a big declutter of my place to get hold of financial paperwork and then contacting different banks to get old bank statements (this is information the government is asking for me as it seems they overpaid me, I now think they probably have too, I haven't been spending that money and am happy to return it, it's just the task of getting all the information so they can calculate the amount seems a mountain to climb). I would like a session on goalsetting over and above the usual SMART formula, for example maybe if it was appropriate disclosure to discuss how she used goal-setting to switch from a stressful business career to one she enjoys more now). Other than developing and maintaining a good self-care routine I am struggling to identify other goals when the more "normal" ones like good job, family, children etc don't look like they are going to happen for me (I am 50 at this point). However looking at things more positively I do like the Maya Angelou quote "If you're always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be" and feel there is a better quality of life could be had even with my disability.

For context, the counsellor/coach before COVID-19 used to offer in-person sessions. Partly because it's cheaper and more convenient (no room hire!) for them to work by Skype at home, and I genuinely think out of a desire not to profiteer at this time, the Skype sessions are affordable by UK prices currently while under lockdown - £20 ($30 approx) an hour or half their usual rate. So while under lockdown I can't go out and overcome social anxiety by going to Meetup meets, there are issues I can work on at home. I could afford to keep working with them for a fair bit longer, the limitation is more that I think I am best sticking to attempting to incorporate about half a dozen fundamentals into my life rather than either learning more and more techniques or having lots of sessions just discussing feelings or talking about what I did in the last week (I have had person-centred counselling before and it helped but I don't want more of the same).

To cut a long story short, does anyone have their own experiences they could share of a coaching technique that worked especially well for them, and also if you wanted to share about the results it brought? Could be either something used in working with a coach or something from a book (please share which book!). I do find personal anecdotal data quite powerful more than general statistics. For example I have a penpal who shared their enthusiasm for CBT and gave examples of a hierarchy of anxious situations he worked through - it didn't make me want to try CBT but it made me want to get professional help. Other than goal-setting, checklists, affirmations, and positivity journals/ gratitude diaries, is there anything I'm missing? Or can anyone share successes using the techniques I have mentioned?

Thanks in advance to the green for any insights as this would really help me bring some focus to my remaining sessions.
posted by AuroraSky to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Check out the book The One Thing.
posted by slidell at 8:01 PM on April 26, 2020

Best answer: I have done something called a, "Source Remembered / Source Forgotten Map," that reminds me a lot of the kind of parts work I am doing with my therapist now in order to integrate my parts into my core self.

I did it as part of couples/relationship work, so how it worked was my partner and I each wrote down thoughts, feelings and actions that we have when we fight, things like suspicion, specific suspicious thoughts, actions like accusations of mal intent, etc. Then the source remembered part of the map would be filled with the thoughts, feelings and actions you have when things are going well, when you trust each other, you remember your are both working to support each other and do indeed have each other's best interest in mind, etc.

To contrast the parts work I'm doing is more fragmented that that simple kind of yin/yang chart that can be drawn up from that map. In my parts work I have been writing letters to, "my insecure self," "my impulsive self," etc. being empathetic, understanding, and compassionate from my core self acknowledging that the actions I take in these states are kinds of coping mechanisms I have adopted in order to deal with life, and while it is wonderful and admirable and I am proud that I strive to perform more ideally, it is so important to be accepting of yourself where you are at. :)

And I have one more for you. This is in the positivity journal/gratitude diary vein, so I apologize, but it is a variant I have done called a, "courage bite," journal, where you write down little courageous acts you do throughout the day. Really any time you push yourself out of your comfort zone, and you want to reinforce the behavior or performing any act that took a little courage, this is a great way to do that. Just write it down in a little journal or notepad that you carry around (could even be your phone). Then when you need some inspiration you can reflect on all of the courageous things you have recorded.

I hope this helps.
posted by Zanthir at 8:18 PM on April 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This was actually from a blog called Yes and Yes, but it's been really helpful in helping me maintain some good habits that tend to fall by the wayside when I'm not feeling great: the bookmark habit.

The idea behind a bookmark habit is that it functions as a backup on those days when you just CANNOT bring yourself to do the complete, ideal form of the habit you're trying to form and keep. You can do your bookmark habit instead so it doesn't feel so much like breaking the chain because you still did something, even if it was just a little bit. This only works if the bookmark habit is SO BRUTALLY SIMPLE that it would almost be sillier NOT to do it.

Example: if your ideal habit would be a complete skin care regimen, the bookmark habit might be "splash water on face". If your ideal habit is "Spanish Duolingo", the bookmark habit might be "make sure the streak freeze is on". If your ideal habit is a 30-minute workout, maybe the bookmark habit is "do a single pushup".

Sometimes doing the bookmark habit is just enough to get you started doing the thing you wanted to do in the first place. Sometimes it's not. But it's a LOT easier not to just throw in the towel on a habit if you know that you did even the smallest thing in service to it.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2020 [9 favorites]

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