All You Need To Know About Coaching

“So, Tammy, what exactly IS coaching?!”

It’s about time I answered this question.

If you haven’t worked with a coach yet, you’re gonna want to read this.

I’ve called myself a few things over the years, life coach, death coach, grief coach, and 10 years into this coaching journey I thought it was high time (long overdue, actually) to get clear on what that really means. Because research shows only 20% of us feel fulfilled and satisfied with our lives and less than 10% believe our lives are ideal. We believe that feeling stressed out and burned out is normal and even wear them like a badge of honour. It’s about damn time we reversed those stats! Coaching can provide the path from stress to satisfaction, from striving to thriving and beyond. First, we need to get clear about what coaching is (and isn’t) and how it helps us transform our lives – let’s get started.  

Coaching 101

Did you know coaching actually started in the ‘70s? It was born from social and behavioural psychology and as its popularity grew, so did the scientific study of how our subconscious affects and shapes our behaviour. Coaching quickly gained traction because it was action-oriented and focused on goal-setting … perfect for those who were feeling stuck and craving forward momentum. 

People also appreciated that there was no hierarchy, your coach is less an authority figure / medical expert and more of a partner on your journey.  Because coaches believe YOU are the expert on YOUR life, that you are whole and resourceful and have all the answers within you. 

Coaches co-create a safe space with their clients to uncover those answers that we’ve been avoiding because we’re too busy or too scared to do it alone. It’s a little bit of inspiration, a lot of encouragement, and someone who won’t let you stick to the shallows (the good stuff is always deeper down). And through this empowering process, clients reach levels they’ve never dreamed of before.

Coaches believe you have all the answers inside you – together, we simply need to bring them to light so you can move forward with certainty feeling a little lighter and a lot less stuck than before.

How is it different from therapy?

This is the question we get most often, which makes sense because although coaching can feel therapeutic, it’s not therapy. In short, therapy utilizes a medical model to help people overcome past trauma in their lives. It typically involves a mental health diagnosis to outline a treatment plan so clients can learn effective coping skills to manage their past trauma. These skills help move them from dysfunction to function so they can climb out of their proverbial hole and find solid ground again. ⁠

Then once they’ve found their footing, coaching helps to get them where they want to go. For example, my clients often come to me saying “ok, so THAT happened, now what?!” They’re looking to take charge of their life, gain actionable tools, and move forward. 

There’s a lot of overlap between therapy and coaching. Some people can benefit from therapy OR coaching and many people do both at the same time (I know I have!). I’m a fan of both industries, it’s simply a matter of what your needs are at this moment in time. 

For me, I loved seeing how coaching took my clients further but I also wanted to take it/them deeper. To satisfy my inquisitive scientific brain I became a Daring Way™ Facilitator (Brené Brown) and Advanced Grief Recovery Method® Specialist because both Brené and GRM are rooted in evidence-based research (meaning #thishitworks) AND I wanted to weave in the 5000-year-old yogic philosophies that I fell in love with during my yoga teacher training (like this one).  It’s this blend of Spirit and Science that sets me apart, defines me as a holistic coach, and helps my clients get the incredible transformations they do.

What can I expect from working with you Tammy?

We start with a Discovery Session to ensure compatibility and that coaching is the right path for you. Then if we move forward, I’d send you a written coaching agreement outlining your custom coaching package and some assessments/pre-work. If we’re doing 1:1 coaching we’ll meet once a week for an hour online – meaning you can do this work from the comfort of your own home.  Everything is confidential.  I’ll ask powerful questions to help you become aware of patterns and beliefs so you can begin to shift them. And together we’ll determine accountability for your goals and actions.

I provide a safe, encouraging, supportive environment free from judgement so you can relax and explore. I listen carefully to what you say (and don’t say) and ask questions to help you dig a little deeper (because there’s always some gold in those shadows ;). I’ll operate as a sounding board, loving mirror, and ongoing resource as you accomplish your intentions. Together, we’ll expand your view of what’s possible and discover the insights you need to help get you unstuck. 

For example, I’ve had clients who finally realized their dream of touring South Africa with their son when they initially thought it was impossible. Another who quit their corporate gig to start their own successful photography business. Another client found love again after devastating heartbreak and another who reunited with their mother after 20 years when they believed that relationship was beyond repair.

What’s expected of me as your client?

Above all else, I expect you to cultivate a core honesty with yourself because insights arise from truth-telling. We can’t heal what we don’t acknowledge and accept.

To set intentions that are truly meaningful and significant to you (not the “shoulds”, we’re talking about those deep desires) and commit to making them a reality…even if you think it’s impossible right now. 

You need to be willing to be vulnerable and go deep, which is why we prioritize creating a safe and sacred container to dance with your darker and heavier emotions. 

This all sounds great, but HOW does transformation happen?

By shifting your language and beliefs. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Yep, it’s as simple and complex as that.

Because here’s the thing, it only takes ONE negative word to…

  • Put the fear centre of your brain (your amygdala) on high alert
  • Release cortisol and other stress hormones that keep us stuck in fight/flight/freeze 
  • And once you’re there, frozen with fear or ready to run, it’s almost impossible to tap into your logic and reasoning and find the calm objectivity you need to see the problem 

No wonder we continually get stuck and can’t see the way out!

Let’s use Tristan as an example to see how it generally works:

Tristan doesn’t make the soccer team when they’re 8 years old. This is devastating to them because their friends are on the team and they love playing the sport. What makes it even worse is their twin, Sam, makes the team and their parents love going to the games to cheer from the sidelines. Tristan’s mind then crafts the story that they suck, nothing they ever do is good enough, and their sibling Sam is always going to be the shining star of the family. This in turn forms the lens through which Tristan will see the world even as he matures into an adult. That lens is often revealed through their language of ‘why even bother trying out?’ or ‘no one cares about me’.  The things we say to ourselves over and over become beliefs and affect all areas of our lives (career, relationships, etc.). And we treat those beliefs as the gospel truth because they’ve been repeated so many times, instead of questioning them. Those beliefs then guide our behaviours (even unconsciously) and keep us stuck.

The good news is that we can create new beliefs, rewrite our stories, and switch up our language – THAT is what sets us free. 

Coaching helps us to get curious about these stories and gets us moving from problem to possibility.

That can look like…

This will never work
Love leads to suffering
I can’t afford that
What did I do to deserve this?
Life is hard
I can’t do it alone
Every person for themselves
There’s always a way
Love is joy and attracts more love
I’m grateful for what I have
What am I responsible for?
Every day is a gift
Where there’s a will there’s a way
It takes a community

How does transformation FEEL?

My clients talk a lot about CLARITY. Because once you have that vision and can see that your goals are indeed possible and how to move forward … well, it becomes hella exciting to take action and get there.

In particular, my grief coaching clients talk about feeling HAPPIER and LIGHTER because it feels sooooo good to let go of the pain and the old beliefs that were weighing them down (whether they knew it or not).

Grievers are excited to start to feel like they’re a part of the world again (because grief is so damn isolating). They report feeling focused, more social, sleeping better, crying less, and hopeful about the future again.

And because I’m also known as that ‘tough love older sister’ kind of coach, I’ll leave you with this sentiment. Staying stuck is a choice.  Suffering is a choice. But when you’re in it and you can’t see the way out? It doesn’t feel that way. It feels like you’re in a dark, never-ending tunnel. Sometimes all you need is someone to hold your hand in the dark who will never let go, certain that the light exists until you can see it too. Coaching not only helps you see a way out but also gives you the tools and practices and new beliefs to help you stay unstuck and navigate loss in the future. So no matter what life throws at you, you’ll be able to handle it with greater ease and way less cursing.

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