Put Me in Coach!

A coach is defined as someone who instructs or trains. From my understanding, a coach should also have knowledge and expertise over another giving them an ability to train a particular skill. So… what the hell is a Life Coach? Who out there has more expertise about living (in general) over another living person? This does not refer to people such as therapists, counselors, and the like. This is about the self-described ‘Life Coaches’ plaguing social media.

From what I can tell there is no governing body that licenses and regulates Life Coaches. Now I love a good inspirational story wherein someone has either a shitty start in life, or has setbacks and keeps on moving. I get it. I love it. It makes for good TV, film, podcasts, reading, and the like. I read ‘Becoming’ written by Michelle Obama. I loved it. I loved reading about her beginnings growing up in the Southside of Chicago in a two bedroom apartment, and ultimately one day becoming First Lady of the United States. It’s a great inspiring story.

The biggest group of people I see (again, this is my own perspective) claiming to be Life Coaches are fitness folks. Not only can they show you how to look awesome they can coach you on how to be awesome, too! Oh… please. Stop. Just show me some workout ideas. You can show me how you started from the bottom and now you’re here, but please stop with the bullshit of, “I just made a choice one day and now my life is awesome.” No shit. I make choices everyday. I’m not out there coaching someone through life as if I have all the answers. I sure as hell do not.

Mostly, it’s the self-proclaimed life coaches that dismiss other’s misery or troubles as a choice, that truly rub me the wrong way. “You suck at life because you are full of excuses. You have the choice to have a great life. Just look at me.” Blah. Blah. Blah. A professional counselor or therapist would (or should) never tell a patient this. Ultimately, the person does have a choice, but when you are suffering from depression, anxiety, a personality disorder, or any other mental illness, sucking it up and choosing to not be these things is NOT AN OPTION at the moment. A professional helps you understand why you see the world the way you do. They help you talk through the issues and find solutions. If I could choose to not be depressed, trust me, I would. Life Coaches should never take the place of a professional therapist or counselor.

Again, I am in no way against inspiring others through our own personal stories. What I am against is the mindset that all people can simply choose to be happy. That people can simply choose to have a different life. To gloss over the fact that making a choice to have a better life often comes with a lot of trials, tribulations, and struggles. That some of those struggles are so bad people simply don’t make it through, and furthermore those struggles can cause further trauma. It isn’t possible to fully grasp the nature of these negative moments when they are neatly placed into a chapter in a book or a segment in a documentary. Some struggles take YEARS to overcome. Struggles that professionals are able to help people through. If someone has a story to tell, tell the whole story, and never tell someone you simply just “made a choice to have a different life” and everything ended up roses.

I started playing this ‘Life Game’ for nearly forty years ago. I have had some negative moments/traumas. Some I made it through and have healed from the wounds they caused; others I have not. I have no problem telling friends what helped me, but I offer no guarantees that the same thing would help them. I have knowledge to share, but I am not a coach. No one is.

All the world’s a stage and all the men and women are merely players…”

William Shakespeare


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