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15 Self-Care Must-Do's If You're a Highly Sensitive Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitve coach

There is an inherited trait known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or Empath, that is common amongst coaches, especially master coaches.

According to research, 15-20% of all humans are born HSPs, as are 15-20% of all "higher" animals, such as monkeys. This suggests a survival value for the overall population. In other words, HSPs are needed by others. What's different about HSPs? We notice more and sense subtleties that others miss, process information deeply, are more empathic and emotional, and all of this can cause over-stimulation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. It's a blessing and a curse! However, if you're an HSP coach, it is a gift for you and your clients as long as you're aware of it and take especially great care of yourself and your sensitivity. To find out if you're a highly sensitive coach and how to optimize your sensitivity, read on...

Highly Sensitive Persons are impacted more intensely by both positive and negative environmental stimuli.

 

This means your self care, and who and what you surround yourself with, will have a more dramatic impact on you than on someone who is not an HSP. So to be a great coach, you need to take your well-being seriously. No wonder coaches love positive psychology!

Many of the qualities the ICF requires in their Master Certified Coaches (MCC), come naturally to HSPs.  These include conscientiousness, deep connection and awareness, vulnerability, presence, curiosity, empathy, ability to notice more, intuition, deep listening, quick learning, ability to stay in the background while eliciting the client's greatness, allowing the client to lead, and regarding the client with Love 2.0.

 

BUT. Even if you are an HSP, these qualities are unlikely to show up if you don't practice wonderful self care and personal growth, because over-stimulation causes you to shut down and become irritable. Not conducive to great coaching!

 

Here are Self-Care Musts for the Highly Sensitive Coach:

  1. Rest and quiet are your biggest self-care priorities if you're a highly sensitive coach. This includes eight or more hours of sleep every night. Seriously.
  2. Get significant alone time. Especially if you're also an introvert, you need at least an hour per day to yourself to be your best.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. If you haven't mastered this yet, put it at the top of your to-do list.
  4. Keep your client load relatively small. Don't coach more than 10 - 20 hours per week. Less is more!
  5. Work with a functional medicine physician to optimize your health because the affects of illness, fatigue, and pain will negatively impact you more than others.
  6. Work with your own coach, especially an HSP coach, to be your very best.
  7. Develop a meaningful spiritual practice that helps you stay centered and open.
  8. Consider working with a psychotherapist if you had a difficult childhood. HSPs who grow up in negative environments are often prone to depression and anxiety which can harm your coaching and your quality of life.
  9. Screen potential coaching clients to avoid working with difficult people who will drain your energy.
  10. Do consider working with clients who are HSPs and need coaches who understand them.
  11. Avoid "energy vampires", especially narcissists. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, Empaths (HSPs) do particularly badly with narcissists because they don't understand how someone can thoroughly lack empathy. If you can't avoid them, at least learn how to handle them.
  12. Consider working from home. You'll avoid difficult commutes, large crowds, and noxious environments.
  13. Set up your office so it is ideal for you and your sensitivities. The more you put up with, the harder it is to coach brilliantly. And your clients deserve nothing less!
  14. Find a sales and marketing process that leverages your sensitivity rather than forcing you to be who you are not. HSP marketing and sales is an advantage in coaching, but only if you rely on your strengths. Don't let anyone tell you differently!
  15. Embrace your sensitivity along with its downsides and rejoice that you've found the perfect profession for you. Self-compassion for your extra-care needs helps you love and appreciate your self and your clients.

 

Want to take a quick test to confirm whether you're an HSP? Go here.

 

References for this post include research scientist and psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine N. Aron's updated book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff's book, The Empath's Survival Guide, The former will appeal to you if you want to know the research into HSP. The latter is more spiritual in nature and offers many practices to protect your energy.

 

Are you an HSP coach who wants to benefit from the power of positive psychology so you can flourish?

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, master coach, MCC, Positive Psychology, personal growth, highly sensitive, self care

Squeezing Your Size 12 Life Into a Size 5 Day

Posted by Julia Stewart

via GIPHY

Squeezing into a too-small box is cute when cats do it, sad when humans do.

And totally inappropriate when coaches do it. Coaches are supposed to model great self-care for our clients and, while we can't control everything in our lives, we can be honest about what's really going on. Telling the truth to ourselves is always positive, because, no matter how hard life gets, when we embrace what's true, we can start choosing something better.

Lately, too many of my coaching students are cramming too much into their lives and seem oblivious to the damage they may be doing. This post is for them - and for you, if you're over-doing it, too.

5 Reasons doing too much is a terrible idea...

  1. You're probably stressed. Over-doing it is exhausting and stressful. High levels of stress hormones over time are toxic. They can wreck you gut biome, which can damage your mental health, as well. You may be familiar with the Japanese word for death from over-work: Karoshi. Unfortunately, people tend to think they're doing great until it's too late. Wondering if you're stressed? This image, shared by a former client, will tend to "move" when a stressed person looks at it, but doesn't move if you're relaxed. optical illusion
  2. You're not giving your brain enough time to slow down. it needs that to see things for what they truly are. No wonder people can work themselves to death; they can't think straight when they over-do it. Poor choices result. And neuroscientists say those who over-do it have less gray matter in their brains, meaning fewer neurons to think with.
  3. You may not be fully present. You think you're doing so much for others, but often people just want you to really see and hear them. You can't do that when you're rushed.
  4. You're probably over-stressing those around you. Stress is contagious and can become a vicious cycle. Plus people take their cues from others. That's how cultures of over-work develop.
  5. The people around you are more likely to over-do it, too. Instead of making a better world, you may be making it worse!

What can you do instead?

  1. Practice a little self-compassion. It's okay to say "No" to more work, to ask for help, to prioritize what matters instead of pretending everything matters equally. It's okay to live by your own values instead of everyone else's. If you're over-extended, you're doing no one any favors. Give yourself a chance to just be and then start again with sanity.
  2. Notice what need you're trying to fill by over-doing it. Is it a need for significance? To win? To out-do everyone else? Are you a help-aholic who needs to be needed? A great coach can help you with this because you can get all your needs met in non-toxic ways and that's the gateway to true happiness.
  3. Identify what matters most and have the discipline to cut out everything else. It'll feel uncomfortable at first, but will get much easier. You may be surprised that no one else really cared if you did it, in the first place.
  4. Start using your strengths where they're needed most. Let people with different strengths do the other stuff. You'll save energy, stress, and discomfort for all. Everyone will be happier.
  5. If you really want to help others, model what a great life looks like. You'll be giving them permission to also live their best lives and be happier. Happy people are kinder. Everybody benefits!

Be a coach who models awesome self care.

Because potential clients are looking for this and because you'll literally coach more effectively if you're neither exhausted or stressed. Here's a course that teaches the three most important subjects in coaching so you and your clients can be your very best:

 

The Three Most Important Subjects in Coaching

 

Topics: Strengths, Needs, Values, highly sensitive, self care, certified neuroscience coach

Is Self Care Selfish?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Self Care Relaxation Lake

Self care is one of the foundations of coaching.

If your clients aren't taking great care of themselves they won't be their best with any consistency. They just won't. Likewise, great self care is part of a coach's job description. So much so that it's included in SCM's Best Practices for Professional Coaches, Part 1, #5:

"Professional coaches practice excellent self-care, so they can consistently give their best to their clients."

Coaching is expensive and your clients deserve your very best. That means your self care isn't just about you, it's about others, as well. So why don't coaches always take care of themselves?

  • Much of it is cultural. From the protestant work ethic: No rest 'til work is done, to today's current crazy work environment that is ultra-competitive and focused on short-term productivity. Recently, a woman told me her work day began at 4 AM and ended at 8 PM. She didn't even sound embarrassed about it. Then there's the man who only sees his infant daughter on weekends, because he gets home from work at 10 PM, then eats dinner while working some more. Not great for his wife.
  • Then there is the pressure on mothers to be self-less for their children (and husbands). For many, self-care induces so much guilt, it may not even be restful. No wonder marriages suffer.

Is it possible all this selflessness is really selfish? I think so.

Let me explain. In coaching we often talk about the ego vs. the true self. These are immensely valuable concepts derived from Buddhist psychology. Here, the ego is a bit different from Freud's definition. In Buddhism, the ego is that part of you that protects you from harm, keeps you safe, makes you competitive, spurs you to win, to receive approval from others, to gain acceptance. I like to think of it as an app or operating system that comes preloaded when you are born. You may not always like it. In fact, it probably causes conflicts with others sometimes, but you'd be dysfunctional without it. The ego is 100% for you, so it chafes with other egos and some spiritual and religious traditions will even encourage you to destroy it.

No wonder people deny its existence.

But the ego is a marvelous shape-shifter. It won't die until your body dies. Just when you think you've conquered it, it shows up in a whole new form. It's that part of you that needs to be Wonder Woman, who needs to prove you can outwork anyone, outproduce all the competition, who is a perfectionistic overachiever, who sacrifices for the children, the elderly parents, your co-workers, even your clients. Or conversely who is shy, who thinks, "Who am I to be great?", who can never be selfish about anything, who is always "good". All of that's your ego, baby.

The ego is not just arrogant and self-centered. It can show up that way and a million others, as well.

I knew a man who was great at launching successful restaurants. Like many types of business, restaurant work is highly competitive, stressful, and involves incredibly long hours. My friend was "killing it" until the day he collapsed in the dining room, in front of his employees and customers, and had to be wheeled out on a stretcher and hospitalized. His adrenal glands were so depleted they could no longer produce enough cortisol to keep him conscious.

I had a similar experience as a dancer in graduate school at an expensive college in New York. My friends/classmates and I were competitive, all vying for "straight A's" and praise from our professors. Faculty politics were toxic. Dancing eight hours per day in an overwhelmingly stressful environment took its toll. In the two weeks leading up to my masters thesis concert, I lost ten pounds without trying. That's not normal. A month later, home for Christmas, I stopped into a store to pick up last-minute wrapping paper and started feeling dizzy. I was indoors with a winter coat on and was sure, once I stepped outside, I would be fine. Outside, I was still dizzy, but the cold air felt good and I could see my parent's house. It was minutes away and I was sure I could get there. Next thing I knew, I was looking up into a strange woman's face who was asking, "Are you alright?" I had passed out in the parking lot.

I finished my Masters on-time with "straight A's", but I failed in the self-care department and that meant other people had to take care of me for a while. My young healthy body had collapsed and that had lasting implications for my health. To this day, if I get overtired or stressed, I have to rest or risk collapse. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Why did I do it? I just wanted my professors to tell me I was "good enough". In other words, I was driven to get two major needs met from Maslow's hierarchy, acceptance and self-esteem, like my life depended on it.

Self-care is about getting your needs met. It's not optional. You can't skip it for long. If you studied General Psych in college, or even high school, you probably were introduced to Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. On the bottom are physical needs such as enough rest and sleep, water, air, nutrition. Above, are psychological (a.k.a ego) needs, such as safety, belonging, and self-esteem. At the top is self-actualization, similar to the concept of the Ideal Self from positive psychology (Oprah would call it, "living your best life"). You can't expect to get there if your lower needs aren't met, especially the ones on the bottom, the physical needs. That's where self care comes in.

Great self care is never selfish. It's what you need to be the person others need you to be.

When you work on yourself or when you coach your clients, make sure you pay attention to getting physical and ego needs met. Otherwise, you may be doomed. Learn how to incorporate self care and needs into your coaching. It's one of the most important subjects in positive psychology coaching. The next course starts soon.

 

Register: Coaching Values, Needs & Strengths

Topics: positive psychology coaching, self care

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