One Client’s Process

coaching

"This client wanted to share – in his words - what it was like for him to coach with Lynda Hoffman of Lynda Hoffman Life Coaching in Montreal.

 

I first heard about Lynda’s life coaching services through a good friend — my former high school guidance counsellor — who I had met for beers one day as we do every year or so.

 

He told me how he had been considering a career change and that one two-hour session with Lynda totally changed his perspective, allowing him to connect better with what he truly wanted, and opening him up to all kinds of opportunities that were available for him to meet his unmet creative, lifestyle and professional needs.

 

A devout religious man, he said, with a slight pause, that his session with Lynda and the attentiveness she showed him left him with the feeling like he had had an almost spiritual experience with her in their time together.

Stagnation

I had been stuck in life for a long while, so this stuck in my mind. While I was intellectually skeptical of any kind of religious language, I did acknowledge that this was a very real experience that he had experienced.

 

I wondered how a similar experience would help me, and how a life coach might have a different, more potential-affirming perspective than the psychologists that I had dealt with in the past.

 

I had previously tried two psychologists/therapists: one who was a social worker and the other a Ph.D. psychology professor.

 

  • The first seemed to get very sad and pity me when I told her my story of the difficulties I had gone through in the years prior. After almost a year, I decided that that didn’t help.
  • The second was friendly but because of his academic inclinations, seemed to indulge my intellectualizations to a point where I was able to escape from dealing with my emotions directly in our sessions. I felt that I wasn’t making a great deal of progress after a year and a half, and left.

Disconnection and Self-doubt

Up until that point, I had been feeling very disconnected from myself and what I truly wanted in life. I knew what I wanted in an ideal scenario and yet I wasn’t able to get myself to move forward.

 

There were days when I really couldn’t find the will to get myself out of bed to do something productive.

 

I watched a lot of YouTube and TV series over that time.

 

Not only was I unproductive, but I was beating myself up inside and feeling very down on myself for not having been able to change my situation up until that point. At age 29, this is a feeling that I had been dealing with, in some form or another, for ten to eleven years up until this point.

 

  • I had been living in my parents’ home for year and a half. My father had passed away at home less than a year prior from a fast-moving cancer.
  • I had quit my job to start an online business before that but ended up eating through savings and never putting energy towards anything creative.
  • I felt I had studied the wrong degrees and wasn’t well-prepared for the kind of career I wanted.
  • I felt ashamed that I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my relationships and dating life.
  • I had business ideas that I couldn’t get myself to act on. I was setting goals but they were so perfectionistic that I never wanted to look at them because I felt that I could never really achieve them.
  • I didn’t have confidence in the idea that I could take action to improve my situation in any kind of a meaningful way.

 

Perfection was my standard, and everything that would fall below it wouldn’t even be worth trying. I knew that the past several years had been imperfect, I felt the present was imperfect, so I felt defeated before I had even gotten started.

First Steps

I got Lynda’s number from my friend a few weeks later and scheduled an appointment with her.

 

We spent the first session getting up-to-speed on where I was at, and where I wanted to be.

 

We captured all kinds of mental and emotional blockers that seemed to be holding me back. She wrote all of these in point-form on a dry-erase board, and allowed me to keep these notes with a cell phone picture afterwards. We had captured a snapshot of “before” coaching to be improved upon over the course of the following year.

 

With all of the positivity of outlining where I was and where I wanted to go, I was still unsure.

Opening to Possibility

I told Lynda that I was skeptical of life coaching.

 

I felt that it must simply be a regurgitation of all that I had read about in self-help books, with which I wasn’t able to really help myself. Why did I think that she would be able to help me?

 

I wondered: was what she was doing based in anything scientific?

 

That said, when I researched her, I appreciated that she had professional experience outside of the life coaching realm. I felt that this would make her more grounded in real life and less in the fluffy “woo-woo” abstractions that you often find in self-help books.

 

I was also worried that life coaching was a kind of scam business model — even though I didn’t think that she was consciously a scammer. I felt that it was there to take advantage of people who rely on their coaches for emotional support and friendship, never moving forward in their lives with their own will and self-judgment.

 

I expressed my hesitancy and skepticism to Lynda. She gently asked if I felt that this was true about my experience with her up until this point. I reflected on it and realized that she was nothing but kind, intelligent, professional and concerned with my well-being.

 

I decided that even though she had a foundation in some spiritual ideas that I was skeptical of because of past negative experiences, I trusted her and decided I would give it a shot.

 

While my decision wasn’t an emphatic “Let’s do it!” but more a meek “Okay, fine. What do I have to lose?” I ponied up Lynda’s 1-year coaching fee and decided that I would sign up and see where this took me.

Rediscovering Wholeness

Where in the past, I always felt that psychologists were trying to solve something that was assumed to be wrong with me, I was excited that life coaching might provide a different approach that emphasized my strengths and my ability to surmount anything difficult that I had been through.

 

I wanted to experience a relationship that would allow me to feel fully whole again.

 

Our coaching relationship started with a building of trust. As I got to know Lynda in the way that she coached, I began to share my inner conflicts, my negative thoughts about myself, and even, after a time, certain instances where I felt deeply ashamed of myself in life.

 

There were things I shared with her that had been nagging me for years.

 

In the process, I received nothing but empathy, attentiveness, kindness and support.

 

I learned, through her perspective, to see myself not as a failed and shameful person, but as a person who had gone through some very difficult times and who could learn to be more compassionate with himself and open himself to new possibilities.

 

I learned that I could look at negative situations not as things to “get through” but “get from”.

 

Lynda taught me to ask questions like:

  • “How can I use this?”
  • “How can I make this work in my favour?”
  • “How can I find a win here?”
  • “Is this [disempowering and negative thought] true?”

 

She assigned me homework to write a list of 100 ways that I could “be in choice”.

 

Slowly my eyes began to open to the control that I had in my life — control that I had previously felt I lost forever.

Changes

After about a few months, my family started to see a difference in me.

 

I didn’t seem so down and moody all of the time. I didn’t have a short fuse. I didn’t fight, yell, argue and scream at home when upset.

 

I had started to connect with my emotions more and to feel compassion for myself.

 

Lynda was a valuable lifeline during that period of time in my life. I could talk about my problems with her in a way that I couldn’t with my mother or rest of my family — where I would risk them getting upset, or worried, or have them get sad themselves.

 

An invaluable part of coaching was the ability to send messages and receive replies from Lynda between our sessions.

 

A couple of times in the two-week periods between sessions, I would send a message to Lynda using the Signal app (encrypted chat — something I preferred for privacy and she was kind enough to learn how to use for my benefit). She would read my message, process it and send me a response with some guidance. There was a mix of empathy, kindness, understanding and challenges to look at things differently in her responses.

 

Thanks to my coaching with Lynda:

  • I am better able to take the necessary risks of small actions, without any guaranteed outcomes, to grow and meet my goals and make things “better” even if they aren’t perfect.
  • I am dating more, where I hadn’t dated for a couple of years.
  • I am fully employed, earning money, paying off debts.
  • I find it easier to get into action than before, when I couldn’t even get myself to do one productive thing during the day.
  • I am more open to new and spontaneous experiences.
  • I am more open to myself and my own emotions.
  • I am kinder and more compassionate with myself.
  • I am more aware of and taking ownership of my worth, in dating, in the social world and in the job market.
  • I am more aware of the emotionally-driven patterns that have held me back up until this point.
  • I have learned to begin acknowledging and meeting my own needs without feeling “needy”.
  • I have learned to respect and admire the efforts that I am putting in to improve my life, even though I had been stuck for a long time.
  • I have received a job offer from a startup in a leadership position in an exciting new industry, at a generous salary, with great confidence from the leadership that I am the person who they need to do the job and grow the company.
  • I’ve discovered that I need to be creative to thrive in life.
  • I’ve discovered to take into account both my emotions and thinking in decision-making, to connect with a kind of inner-intuition.
  • I am less impulsive in my decision-making.
  • I respect and account for my emotions and needs more than I did before.
  • I am far happier overall.

 

What I valued most about working with Lynda was being able to share exactly where I was at without needing to worry about feeling shamed or feeling defective.

 

With her, I received a coach who is kind, compassionate, attentive, and gives honest and direct feedback.

 

She allowed me to question my assumptions, ask new questions, own my emotions and needs and become aware of the thoughts, patterns and reactions that went into my present situation.

 

Because of her coaching, I have been able to open myself up to new ways of looking, feeling, thinking and acting in my life — in ways that have benefitted how I feel about myself, my financial situation, my willingness to engage with and live my life more fully, genuinely and authentically.

You Can Too!

I would recommend Lynda’s services to people who might have the following challenges:

  • If you feel stuck in life
  • If you know where you want to go but can’t get yourself to take action
  • If you are perfectionist or are holding yourself to an impossibly high standard that paralyzes you
  • If you live in your head and have trouble connecting with your emotions
  • If you feel bottled up, like you’re in a straigtjacket of sorts, and don’t feel that you can truly let yourself be free
  • If you feel that you have potential that is untapped
  • If you beat yourself up and feel ashamed of yourself for any reason
  • If you have trouble loving yourself and being self-compassionate
  • If you have tried self-help and psychologists and those approaches haven’t quite worked
  • If you feel you need someone who you can talk to and trust without fear of judgment or feeling like you are small in front of them
  • If you feel that you have a lot of patterns, from past experiences, holding you back in the present time
  • If you’re ambitious and want to make the most of your time and life on this earth

 

One thing I learned from Lynda is that where traditional therapy methods often focus on the question “Why”, it is not extremely useful in creating a change.

 

The question “How” [am I doing this, am I contributing to this, can I do this differently] ends up being a much more useful question to use in making a change in your life."

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