Coaching is a professional service that empowers clients to grow and reach goals. So how is it possible that coaches can be gaslighters?
Well there are tools used by some coaches that leave clients feeling confused, filled with self doubt, and even helpless and hopeless. That's not empowerment. These are symptoms of being gaslighted.
Has this ever happened to you or are you a coach who does this? Find out with this quick 5-minute read.
Read this about gaslighting if you don't already know what it is.
In short, gaslighting denies the other person's reality by confusing and blaming them. It's a form of manipulative abuse and is often done by a person of authority to gain power and control over others. Others use it as a crutch when they feel insecure. It is common in our culture and you likely have been gaslighted or have gaslighted others without realizing it. If you have, you need to stop. If you are a coach who does it, please stop immediately.
Gaslighting is usually subtle, but here is an example that is easy to see. I knew a psychologist who would attempt to control others (coworkers, friends, family) by starting an argument with them by pushing their buttons until they got angry. Then the psychologist would tell them the reason they were upset was that they were mentally ill, that they needed treatment or hospitalization, and the psychologist could help them get it. Can you imagine how this would feel? If you were insecure, you might doubt your sanity and believe the gaslighter was trying to help you, but they weren't. They were trying to control you by denying your reality.
In this post I am going to focus on one particular coaching area where gaslighting often, but not always, occurs: Spiritual Gaslighting In short, this happens when a coach teaches a spiritual tool to a client, tells the client that the tool will help them reach their goal, and if the client doesn't reach their goal, tells them it's the client's fault. Sound familiar?
These spiritual tools often have grandiose names like the Law of Attraction and the Law of Mirrors and the coach may use double talk and negativity to confuse the client.
These tools are sometimes used by scam artists but mostly well-meaning coaches use them. It happens when the coach is nervous or self-conscious. This lowers their empathy and leads to unconscious negativity and black and white thinking.
- "It's not working for you because you are doing it wrong."
- "You choose to feel bad."
- "If you wanted this enough you would do anything to get it."
- "What have you done to attract this problem?"
- "If you see a negative trait in someone else, it's because you have that trait."
- "This is your karmic payback."
- "Your low vibration is holding you back."
- "Your negativity is stopping you."
- "You're not focusing on abundance."
- "You need to register for my $40,000 platinum program to learn this."
It's easy to see the glaring negativity (and the scam) when you put these all together.
When you blame and shame your client, they don't feel safe. You trigger their fight, flight or freeze response which stops your client from being resourceful. Instead, they become MORE negative. They don't reach their goals. And they won't want to coach with you.
If you have trouble attracting and keeping clients, listen to yourself coach. Nobody wants to pay to be gaslighted.
If you think you may have gaslighted a client, here are some ways to stop:
- Stop listening to coaches, teachers, or anyone else who gaslights you.
- Stop gaslighting yourself.
- Get science-informed coach training.
- Work with an effective coach and experience what great coaching is really like.
- Lower your own stress and increase your empathy before each coaching session.
- Keep working at it until your clients are so thrilled with your coaching that they tell everyone about you (and thereby do your marketing for you).
How can you enjoy the benefits of coaching while avoiding the gaslighters?
Step into science-informed coaching. It is just as spiritual, but way more effective.