MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THOUGHT WORK & MINDSET COACHING
There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about life coaching out there.
Some people are just plain confused about what life coaching is and what it does.
Some people mistakenly think that it’s gaslighting and “spiritual bypassing.”
And even some of my most devoted students secretly think that coaching is something they can use to fix themselves on their own.
Today I’m breaking down the five biggest misconceptions about thought work and mindset coaching. Let’s do this thing.
Misconception #1: Thought work will fix you.
A lot of people believe that they are fundamentally broken, and flock to mindset work as the solution that will “fix” them. I should know, that’s how I first found it too.
But you are not broken. You are human.
And the most foundational, sacred aspect of thought work and any kind of self-inquiry practice is curiosity and compassion – which means accepting and loving ourselves as we are.
Sometimes behavioral change will flow from accepting yourself fully. Many of our behaviors and character traits are driven by self-loathing and self-criticism, so learning to accept ourselves will often create change in our lives.
But that change only flows from self-love and acceptance.
Self-criticism will create rush and resistance, and it will cause us to appropriate thought work tools to beat ourselves up.
Misconception #2: If you know how to change your thoughts, you should be happy all the time.
The point of thought work, the point of life, is not to be happy all the time.
Believing you should feel happy all the time is like believing you should be awake all the time, or feel full all the time.
We aren’t meant to be in ANY one physical state all the time. That goes for hunger, it goes for sleep, and it goes for happiness.
If you were always happy, if you were never sad, you wouldn’t know how to appreciate your happiness because you wouldn’t have anything to compare it to.
Sure, you can try to coach yourself into happy thoughts all the time – but why? It would eat up all your time and it would constrict your experience of life.
I WANT to experience negative emotion, because I think that’s a part of human life.
It’s what allows me to empathize and have compassion and understand the full human experience.
When we resist our negative emotions or label them as bad, we end up being controlled by them because that sh*t only adds to our suffering.
By learning to hold space for our emotions and letting them flow through us, we learn how to navigate the human experience with resiliency and compassion.
Misconception #3: Teaching people that their thoughts create their results is victim-blaming, and it’s only true for privileged people.
This misconception is so damaging, and it’s often leveled by people against themselves! Let’s say someone who is single wishes they were in a relationship. Then when they learn that their thoughts create their results, they think that thought work is teaching them to blame themselves for their “negative” results.
But if you study this work, you don’t accept the premise that having negative emotions means something has gone wrong. Being sad, being lonely – these are parts of the human experience.
Your emotions and your results are not inherently negative until you assign them meaning.
And even if they WERE inherently negative, there would still be no need to blame anyone for them.
Thought work doesn’t blame people for their suffering.
Rather, it teaches us to accept that suffering is a part of life, and then it empowers us to choose how we want to meet that suffering.
Can we meet it with self-compassion? Curiosity? A willingness to see the ways in which we could change some of our outcomes and circumstances? A willingness to accept the outcomes we can’t change?
THAT is what coaching grants you – the ultimate freedom to choose how to feel about anything in your life – including suffering.
That’s why mindset work is for EVERYONE, not just privileged people or people who don’t have “real problems.”
Who is more in need of resilience and emotional strength and coping tools and the ability to imagine a better life and create it than people who are facing immense challenges?
Everyone needs this work, and the more challenges you have to overcome in life, the more you need the emotional processing tools and resiliency that it teaches.
Misconception #4: Needing coaching is an indication that there’s something wrong with you.
Here’s who needs coaching: Literally anyone with a human brain.
Coaching is just the process of learning how to be a more resilient and capable human being – by which I mean, learning how to navigate life with more self-compassion, with more love, with less anxiety and self-loathing.
Everybody benefits from learning how to think about their own metacognition, their own thought process, how to relate to themselves and to others better, how to have more compassion and love and curiosity for themselves and others.
Misconception #5: You should be able to figure it all out on your own.
A lot of people think that because coaching is about examining our own thoughts, they should just be able to figure everything out on their own.
But when a doctor tells us we need to take a certain medication, we don’t go “oh ok, well I should be able to make that in my kitchen” and call it a day. We go to the drugstore! Even if it is technically possible that we might be able to become a pharmacologist, we rely on experts because it’s so much faster and more effective to do so.
We all have blind spots. We all get stuck. We all have social conditioning that causes us to absorb cultural, gender-based, race-based, size-based messaging without questioning it. We all have insecurities and biases. Nobody can see all facets of their brain on their own.
Every coach you know and respect gets coached – because they recognize the necessity of getting an outside perspective on their issues.
You don’t need to do this work alone, and trying to do it alone is not a badge of honor.
There’s no shame in getting support. Doing so will multiply your growth and save you a ton of time.
Which brings me to the theme of all of these misconceptions: Everybody needs help learning to be more skillful in this human experience. No one is exempt.
Mindset tools and coaching are meant to help you take control of your experience of the world and develop a more conscious, loving relationship with yourself and with others. Most objections to this work are actually reasons why this work is so vital: It helps you connect with what it means to be human, it helps you be resilient in the face of challenges, and it helps you practice curiosity and self-compassion along the way.