Do you have a life coach? Have you ever worked with one?
In the past, I was never interested in having one. Truth be told, the whole idea seemed a little silly to me. Why would I need a coach…for my life?
Well, after a mere two sessions with my life coach, Rob Fichel, I can tell you why: because sometimes it takes a completely objective person to shed light on an issue that we are way too personally immersed in, to be able to see with any sort of clarity.
Over the span of an hour, Rob helped me gain clarity on an issue I have been struggling with for oh, I don’t know, maybe…FORTY years!
And what is this issue? Boundaries.
Setting them, honouring them, enforcing them…setting up an electric fence, if that’s what it takes to get the message across to the boundary-pushers in question.
Let me share with you a snippet of my recent conversation with Rob:
ME: My friend wants to come visit me for the May long weekend. Again.
ME (loudly): But I don’t WANT her to…we’re in the middle of a pandemic! How do I maintain social distance with someone in my own home?
ROB: Yes, that would be difficult. So if you aren’t comfortable with having her visit, tell her no.
ME: Oh, don’t you worry…I am going to do just that!
ROB (polite pause): Okay. So…what’s the problem?
ME: I’m furious that she asked me.
ME: Because she has made a career out of pushing my boundaries! Let me tell you about the time…
Blah, blah, blah…I won’t bore you with the rest of our conversation that, admittedly, had to go in circles a few times before the poor guy could get to the crux of what was really bothering me.
Thankfully, not only is he a skilled life-coach, he is also a very patient one. And when I finally calmed down enough to stop venting, I realized that the challenge I was facing wasn’t just a ridiculous request from a friend (“Let’s hang out for no good reason during a pandemic…it’ll be fun!” Yeah…till one of us gets the virus. And I have no doubt that would be ME).
Rather, the bigger issue at play was the simple fact that it wasn’t just the outside world that had changed because of this pandemic. I was changing, too, because of it. The old me would have said yes when I wanted to say no…and begrudgingly shared my sacred long weekend with this friend. But that old me, it would seem, had zero interest in doing so any longer…pandemic or no pandemic.
“This isn’t just about setting and enforcing boundaries,” said Rob. “Your values may be changing, as well. And that’s okay…in fact, our values are supposed to shift and change throughout different phases of our lives. The important thing is to recognize what is truly important to you now…and honour that.”
After hanging up the phone with Rob, I asked myself: what are my values right now? What are my top priorities? I made a little list (personal space, quiet time, writing, rest, health, home, garden, decluttering, making space in my life and heart for a significant other).
A three-day visit, in the middle of a pandemic, from a boundary-pushing friend wasn’t anywhere near my list of priorities.
And do you know, that made it a heck of a lot easier to say no.
Here’s to the people in our lives who can provide an objective perspective and help us gain clarity when we are unable to. Whether that person is a life coach, therapist, colleague, friend or family member…may you have one. May you be one.
Now excuse me while I go set up my new electric fence.