Resilience coaching can bring up all sorts of things. But this phrase is probably one of those that I hear the most often. I’ve heard it as a resilience coach and I’ve heard it from the people around me. And, despite being an experienced life coach (which in my head often equates to the fact that I should have zero flaws *eye roll) I’ve even heard myself say it to my friends too. If you feel like there is something holding you back, professionally, financially, with goals or desires, or in terms of intimacy or growth then you have come to the right place. Because I know exactly that that ‘something’ is – it’s you.

Let’s just leave the self-criticism at the door

First of all, let’s address the giant elephant in the room – even if you’re the reason you’re holding yourself back you don’t need to get annoyed about it. It’s frustrating, sure, to be the reason that you don’t have the life that you want, but if you’re the source of blocking then you can also be the source of change, growth, progress and stepping into a much more powerful place. And there’s also something to celebrate here – you’re self-aware enough to realise that it’s actually you that’s getting in your own way. Plus, we’ve all been there.

What if it’s just not my fault?

This is where we start to get into more shadowy territory where subconscious beliefs start to come into play. Many years ago, way before the mind opening training that came with becoming a resilience coach I often believed that I was at the mercy of external forces. Problems from my childhood, being ‘unlucky’ in love, money, friendships or work, just never seeming to be in the right place at the right time. It made me feel very powerless because I felt like there was nothing I could do about it.

Now, with the benefit of years of therapy, coaching training, more life experience and a great deal more resilience I know that most of what happens to me is ‘my fault.’ Not in a mean and blaming way but just that what’s going on in my head is going to influence what I believe I’m worth, what I think I’m capable of, what I think I deserve etc – and that’s going to drip through into how I behave, speak, interact and whether I see opportunities and can pounce on them. This isn’t about thinking positive, I’m no Pollyana just for the sake of it – and blindly aggressive positivity can be just as toxic as negativity at times – it’s about developing an awareness of narratives that are keeping you stuck so that you can break free from them.

Negative narratives = stuckness

We all have narratives – the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, what we think, feel, want, need and how the world sees us. The tricky thing about narratives is that half the time they’re inherited from other people (parents, society, people from childhood, critical people we’ve trusted in adult life) and 90% of the time we’re acting on them but are totally unaware of them. Some can be positive – part of the resilience coaching I do is creating and nurturing positive narratives – but many are negative. One study found that 80% of the 12,000-ish thoughts we have every day are negative. On top of that 95% of thoughts are repetitive so we’re basically just recycling negative narratives and wondering why we feel stuck.

If you continuously end up in the same situation in an area of your life, something always feels out of reach – or if there’s somewhere that you just can’t seem to make any progress – there’s probably a narrative behind it. Even the most self aware people get trapped by their narratives at times. Even the Dalai Lama’s of this world (“poor me red really isn’t my colour”? I mean, maybe..). Here are a few other examples:

  • I could never earn that much
  • I don’t deserve it
  • Promoted, proposed to, wanted, coupled up – it’s never me
  • I’m not lovable
  • I shouldn’t be like this
  • When I meet new people they just don’t like me
  • Being myself means being rejected
  • I want to do that but it’s just too frightening
  • I can’t
  • I don’t have enough experience to do that dream job
  • I’m not good enough to be where I want to be
  • I won’t make a success of doing what I love
  • I’m too old/too young/too unfit/too unattractive/too emotional
  • I can’t handle it if I try and then I get it wrong
  • My feelings aren’t welcome
  • I don’t have a right to want or hope for that

I’ll stop there because these are kind of heavy words – but you get the idea. You might not always be able to clearly hear phrases in your head but maybe there’s a sense of tightness in your chest or a prickle of fear or the feeling that something or someone disapproves or dislikes whatever you’re thinking about. Or you may simply shut down, reach for a bottle of wine or a block of cheese or fall into an Instagram hole to distract yourself.

Resilience vs negative narratives

The trick with negative narratives is to start making space for them. Whilst I like cheese, wine and Instagram as much as the next person, I know that I can escape into these a little too much if something difficult has come up that I don’t want to think about. Although it’s not as pleasurable as watching videos of cats cutting cakes, making space for negative narratives exposes them to the light. It can be a real ‘aha’ moment when you do this because you suddenly see exactly what’s been holding you back. Better resilience – getting comfortable with discomfort and having the tools to deal with anything hard that comes up – is one way to make this easier.

Working with a resilience coach is another. An experienced coach might spot your negative narratives before you do and be able to ask you some powerful questions to help you get there too (note: a great coach can show you where to look but they won’t tell you what to see, that’s up to you). Armed with an understanding of what’s going on inside your head you’ll be able to see where the blocks are and then work with a coach – or a therapist, mentor, healer or on your own (depending on the blocks) – to start removing them.

A genuinely happy ending

I don’t believe in fairytales (gender-prescribed disempowering rubbish designed to distract us with nice shoes amiright) and I know that happiness is not a constant state. I think sometimes the feeling we hope we’re going to get from a fairytale happy ending comes from something much more low key. That sense that you know who you are, you’re at home in your own mind and body and you’re not at the mercy of forces you’re not aware of or can’t control. A feeling of comfort and clarity and knowing that you have the internal resources to go forward in life with courage, taking risks, going full send on fun and reaching for exactly what you want (definition of resilience right there). This is what life can be like for all of us – the first step is simply to turn and face the part of you that’s holding you back.

I know I bang on constantly about resilience but I love it – and I genuinely believe it opens the door to so much more in life. If you’d like to find out why I’m so evangelical about it book a free discovery chat and I’ll tell you everything.

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