Since I’m a life and business coach who’s also a therapist, I get a lot of questions from clients about the difference between therapy and coaching. There’s a sense that showing too much emotion or feeling too much or too intensely means they need therapy. As if moving through a major career change or into your power or becoming a musician doesn’t involve feelings.
Of course it does. My clients know feelings are a part of life and the coaching process. What they’re wondering is if the negative ones – the angers, the shames, the fears, the sads of life - have a place in coaching. Or is it all rainbows and unicorns and good vibes only.
They’re asking “can I get angry in coaching? How about sad?? Is there crying in coaching???”
You probably already know my answer - spoiler alert - is a big fat, HELL YES.
Emotions of all shapes, sizes, flavors, and intensities are part of all change and growth. And coaching is all about growth. Emotions are definitely part of my work since I coach creatives (read: highly sensitives), soul seekers, loving couples, and singles looking for love. Emotions are welcome. And honored, celebrated and mined for knowledge, wisdom & guidance.
We just don’t focus solely on the feels in coaching. That’s therapy terrain. Learning the what, why, how, and when of feeling is where it’s at in therapy. Looking for the roots of feelings, learning to embrace them and regulating them IS therapy. A big part of it at least.
In coaching, we use emotions – all of them – as data. We get curious about them and lean in to what they have to offer, what insights they hold, and how they can energize you for action.
In coaching, the focus is on the action. It might be a “being” action or a “doing” action but emphasis is on action. Learning through action – the essence of coaching.
And actions will involve feelings, for sure. As well as thoughts, core beliefs, body sensations, and a slew of behaviors.
The feeling I see the most when my clients are taking – or facing – action is anxiety. Straight up fear. Fear of making a change. Fear of face planting. Fear of Self becoming. And most often, fear of power claiming.
Makes sense. Why wouldn’t you be afraid when you’re launching your soul’s brand, stepping out of your professional comfort zone, stepping into your true self zone, or risking love?
That’s scary shit! Not for the faint of heart. It’s playing with the big kids. Being in the arena, as Brenè says. (Yeah, I’m giving her first-name basis status. She’s earned it.)
The scary shit in coaching is the good shit. It’s good fear that’s here to serve. Serve YOU. And in coaching, we turn the tables on it so it works for you, not against you. We harness fear’s energy to help you learn to assert yourself, to set boundaries, and to challenge your thinking about how you can’t or shouldn’t or don’t know how to…(fill in your dream want here).
We call on fear. We pit fear against fear. Fear of nothing changes vs. fear of making a mistake. That’s the match to watch. The match of your life.
Fear, in my experience, is the pilot light that ignites creative flames. Therapy will focus on how your OG fears started, the rules you learned about them and how to take their sting out. In coaching, we harness what’s left of them to create. To produce. To build something new.
Something that you can see, touch, hear, taste. Often something you can sell! Your time, your expertise, your art, your self. Ok, that last one sounds weird but you know what I mean.
So, yes, coaching involves fear. And sadness sometimes. Change often comes with loss. We let stuff go to grow. So, yes, there can be crying in coaching! And coaching might get you angry. Angry at outdated stories holding you back. It may bring up some shame too – cue limiting beliefs & negative messages from society. It’s all part of the experience. And it’s all okay.
AND – this is important - coaching involves happiness. And joy. And sweet freedom. And powerful liberation. Positive energy. Lightness. Serenity. And even love. Yes, love!
There’s love and joy and freedom in coaching! That’s what we’re after. That’s what you’re after.
So let’s get after it. Crying, laughing, yelling, singing, playing. All of it.
Holding the space for you to be you,