My 6-year-old daughter is obsessed with Matilda the Musical by Tim Minchin based on the book by Roald Dahl. It's about a 5-6 year girl who immerses herself in books and imaginative stories as an escape from her abusive home and tough school life.
My daughter loves singing along to the songs in the car so as a result, I know them well too!
The one I love is “Naughty” in which Matilda references the stories about Jack and Jill, Romeo and Juliet, and Cinderella and wonders why they didn’t just change their story.
“Just because you find that life’s not fair, it doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it. If you always take it on the chin and wear it, nothing will change.
Even if you’re little, you can do a lot you mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you.
If you sit around and let them get on top you might as well be saying that's ok and that's not right”.
“But nobody else is gonna put it right for me, nobody else is gonna change my story, sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty”
I'm happy that through this song my daughter is learning that you don't have to just suck things up and that you can change your story (even if you’re little).
People often come to coaching because they are at a transitional stage of life, for example entering a new decade. They want a change but they are finding it hard to do it on their own because they are stuck (in their story).
Examples of stuck thinking are:
“I’d love to start my own business but I’m no good at selling myself”
“Either you’re committed to your career or to being a mum, you can’t have both successfully”
“It's hopeless. Everyone knows how hard it is for women over 40 to find a partner. You've seen the statistics”
“ With the cost of living crisis, people just don’t want to pay for ……x,y,z”
“Really you have no idea what it's like to be a single parent. I have no time to exercise and eat healthily ”.
Sure, there may be some truth in the above statements but they are not absolute truths. It may be that dating in your 40s is different from finding a partner in your 20s but is it hopeless?
Too often we take historical experience and make it into “the way I am” or “the way it is” whatever that situation is. As if we are powerless to have it any other way.
Perspectives are expressions of a “being condition” a state you are in.
If you think of your life right now today in terms of seasons of the year, would you say this is “the wintertime of your life” or spring, summer, or autumn? Each of these is a perspective a different way of looking at the same data, your life.
I'm soon turning 50, so I could say that I’m entering the autumn of my life or I could tell myself that I’m entering my second spring. If I see my life as autumn I could give myself permission to slow down or if I see my life as a second spring I might allow myself to look out for new opportunities. Whichever perspective I choose I will find evidence for it and as the saying goes “what you focus on grows”.
The event ( turning 50) is the same no matter what perspective I'm wearing AND the way of looking at the situation will have an enormous impact on the action I take.
A lot of women I coach, talk about their age as a constraint to moving forward in their career/work life. They use phrases like "the clock is ticking" or “my age is against me”. These are perspectives on age (supported by societal conditioning).
What if they changed their perspective to “experience is on my side” and back it up with evidence such as the UK government’s drive to get 50+ year-olds back into the workplace? Then what would be possible? See the New Package of Support for Over 50's.
3 Ways Coaching Can Help Change Our Stories
Changing Your Perspective
One of the great benefits of working with a coach is they will tune into your “absolute statements” and recognise that they are merely a way of looking at the situation. There are other ways of looking that are also true; it's just that often we have an automatic response. The goal of coaching at this early stage is to hear the default perspective and be curious about it. For example, a coach asks the client who views dating as “hopeless”: “What's it like to look at this in this way? What does it get you? What's the cost? The coach can help you stay with these questions for a while so that you have a deeper experience of this automatic perspective.
A coach then encourages you to come up with some other perspectives that are also true so that you can explore your experience and expand ways of looking at the situation. For example “What would it be like to look at finding a partner from the perspective of a “Love Island” contestant or from a teenager’s point of view or through the lens of Michelle Obama? “What’s another way of looking at this that is also true”.
A coach will listen out for your underlying assumptions and be curious and test them out with you. This then gives you choices and a new way forward.
Making Conscious choices
Far too often people believe that they don’t have the power of choice and it's the circumstances of their life that controls the outcome.
Its the job
It's the travelling to work
It's the limited income
It's the responsibility of parenting
It’s the lack of free time
The list goes on. Look at all of those circumstances. We are not victims of our circumstances our history or our judgments of ourselves. We can choose differently.
Coaching has helped so many women to identify their values - the guiding principles about what you want to stand for. Our choices in life are more likely to be conscious if they are in accordance with these values. Alongside your values your coach will help you to define your purpose; your “why” so that you feel confident with the choices you make and the direction you take.
Recreating Yourself Afresh: New Life Scripts
Eric Berne founder of Transactional Analysis (TA) proposed that dysfunctional behaviour is the result of self-limiting decisions made in childhood in the interest of survival. Such decisions culminate in what Berne called the Life Script, the unconscious plan derived from early experiences that govern the way life is lived out.
Transactional Analysis (TA) shows us that there are often unconscious “life scripts” pulling our strings from behind the scenes.
In the coaching process, once we are more rooted in our true values and purpose and have “refined” our desires. Then it’s possible to engage in imaginative and creative exercises, which invite new versions of ourselves, and help us to pull these into our present.
Working with a coach can help you to catch these unconscious life scripts and with this awareness, you can begin to start writing a different script for the rest of your life.
A coach can help you do this by asking you to imagine yourself in the medium-term or long-term future (eg 1, 5, or 10 years). You can become clear about what really matters to you and how you want your life to be.
If you’re feeling stuck in an aspect of your life, be it in your career, a business, or
juggling work and kids. You have dreams and ambitions but you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to propel yourself forward. Then arrange a discovery call with me so that you can take start taking steps towards changing your story and living your life with clarity, purpose, and confidence.