As coaches we often work with clients who want to be ‘happy’. Bottom line most agendas, and they’d like to work on being happier in their lives, relationships, with themselves, co-workers, bosses, job, and so on. Why only clients? Don’t we, as coaches, want to be ‘happier’ too? If only we had more clients, better clients, more money…
For most of us (and our clients) happiness refers to a feeling – a sense of pleasure, gladness or gratification. We want to feel ‘good’ – all the time! And the moment we face difficult situations we stop feeling good – so, we panic and start doing things to bring back the ‘good feeling’. Our culture has programmed us to believe that if I’m not feeling ‘good’ (whatever that means!) there’s something wrong with my situation or me. So, we start chasing the feeling ‘good’, often times, in unhealthy ways: excessive work, drinking, eating, binging, travelling, partying and so on. When all these things really don’t satisfy the inner craving – we STEP UP our efforts. We’re now set up for cycles of anxiety, and even depression.
When our clients are working through uncomfortable feelings, we fall into the trap of dishing out feel good platitudes, encourage positive thinking, and get our clients to do stuff which helps them feel good. How many times have we worked with our clients to be more accepting of the feelings that they are going through?
Even more dangerous is the scenario when we as coaches are uncomfortable with our clients feeling uncomfortable. We want them to feel good – we assume that is our role as coaches, and the function of coaching – to create a good feeling. Not necessarily true all the time!
As long as we are not able to understand happiness for ourselves – it will be hard for us to help our clients navigate these difficult waters. Are we okay with uncomfortable feelings within us? Or do we want to make them go away quickly too? How we respond for ourselves is how we will support our clients!
Stay tuned to this series on working with your clients (and with yourself) with authenticity!
Reference: The Happiness Trap: Stop Struggling, Start Living by Dr Russ Harris