Recently I had a session with one of my clients who was struggling with anxiety, and having worked through a number of areas of her life, we needed to tackle a particular problem that would arise when she was at work. She worked in the hospitality / corporate entertainment industry and found herself breaking down sometimes during shifts, particularly if things were quiet and she was not earning what she had hoped. This typically resulted in her heading to a toilet where she would cry, before giving up for the evening and heading home early.
So how did I unpick what was going on and help my client make a transformational change?
First, we talked through what was different about the nights when she would breakdown versus the nights when she wouldn’t. She talked about how it was usually much quieter it was on those nights, which we couldn’t do anything about, but eventually we identified something we could work on. As part of her role she was expected to consume alcohol, and it seemed that alcohol played as large part in causing her breakdowns. We talked through how to manage her alcohol use throughout a shift, agreeing goals for maximum number of drinks, when to drink and when not to drink, and a strategy for sticking to this with the support of colleagues. My client had a goal and a strategy, so she just needed to go away and put it into practice.
Next, I asked my client what else was happening just before she would have a breakdown. Were there any recurring thoughts at that time or anything else that always seemed to happen immediately before? We discovered there was. Just before breaking down, my client’s internal dialogue would tell her she was a failure, and that there was no point in continuing, also comparing her to some of her colleagues whom she perceived as being more successful than her. So how did we tackle this? I talked my client through an NLP technique for dealing with negative self-talk in which she changed the internal voice so effectively that by the end of the session whenever she put herself back in that situation, she found the old internal dialogue was no longer there, and instead it was replaced with something empowering!
Lastly, during the session my client told me when she started feeling like giving up, she felt like she needed an energy boost, or a quick way of feeling more confident and motivated. I knew exactly how to help the client get this, so I asked her to tell me about three memories or experiences in which she felt amazing, three “wow moments” in which she felt full of all the emotions and feelings she wanted to experience instead of wanting to give up. Using a combination of relaxation and guided visualization, I had my client associate back into those experiences, like stepping back into a movie with all the sights, sounds and feelings as bright and intense as if she was reliving them. We brought back the positive emotions and feelings, making them stronger and more intense before installing an anchor which she could use to trigger those feelings whenever she needed.
At the end of this single 90-minute coaching session, my client had a strategy for limiting her alcohol intake which would help change the likelihood of negative emotions and anxiety arising during a work shift. She had also completely changed a recurring pattern of internal dialogue and created an empowering voice to keep her strong when she needed to be. Not only that, but she now had a technique she could use whenever she needed which made her feel “strong, confident, positive and motivated”.
This was an amazing session and demonstrates the power of coaching, and the ability all of us have to change our lives through creating our own empowering thoughts, feelings and emotions. This changes our behaviours which help us achieve the goals we never thought were possible!