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perspective on psychological work

nudged duoton by We often fall into the trap of believing that we are defined by our pasts, that we are our past. The past, however, is merely a construction of the mind, a subjective interpretation rather than an objective reality. Although the past may seem like a solid foundation upon which to build our futures, it is, in the psychological sense, a fiction – yet we can be as deluded about this fact as about the broadcasts from worldly affairs.

Our factual history stands separate from our dreams and future aspirations. To find our true selves, we must first change how we treat our stories. We need to shift our perceptions to stop relying solely on what came before and start envisioning and enacting what we want for ourselves today and in the future. Our work on crafting the factual future is done from the present, building anew in the here and now, from the truths we uncover today.

When we employ psychology as an instrument to reveal these truths, it’s important to recognize the differences between the tools. Psychotherapy is about accepting the past and healing wounds. In contrast, coaching aims at creating a different future than the one that would have arrived by default from outside our deliberate desire and intention. It is not intended for dysfunctional or troubled individuals. Coaching’s job is not to heal the sick or feed the hungry.

While the procedures of transformational coaching may resemble those of other psychological genres, it should not be confused with therapy. In my view, the confusion arises, in part, because Jung’s analytical psychology focused on transformational experiences that transcended the empirical and delved into the spiritual. Good coaching helps people reduce anxiety, jealousy, guilt, and overcome other difficult feelings, but this is a byproduct, not the purpose of the deep work. This work necessitates understanding our emotions and identifying the core feelings that drive behaviors, preventing inadequate self-perception, de-weaponizing vulnerability (rather than embracing neediness or detachment), and celebrating uniqueness.

A coach may help men and women understand and change psychological patterns formed under maternal influence, improve their body habits, sleep, and emotional regulation, and introduce proactive self-care and exercise practices. There may be more focus on the somatic aspects and work with embodiment through movement practices and heightening awareness of bodily felt senses. The aim is for the client’s actions to consistently align with their agreements and values, even under pressure. With such congruence, they become natural leaders and attractive individuals in their personal lives.

However, coaching as a psychological tool, much like we touched upon previously, only proves effective when applied with the right mindset – a future-oriented one. Reinforcing this point, It’s there to help people reach their higher callings and unlived lives – the lives they aren’t living because they are trapped in pitiful fantasies about their pasts, poor desires, and self-critical “but I can’t” beliefs. Change is the only real objective of coaching. Change that is always happening and always present, regardless of whether we want it or not. One difficulty is determining which change we truly desire. Another challenge is following through and trusting ourselves completely to enact that change.

I don’t call myself a coach, but I refer to the process we go through as “coaching” and always call the person I’m coaching a client. This is because I don’t feel guilty about being in a deep, meaningful relationship that involves a transaction. The way a paying customer approaches a professional conversation is vastly different from how they approach a friendly chat with a “really interesting person” they call a friend. Our mutual goals do not include pleasing each other. Yes, this may disappoint individuals seeking a paid friendship disguised as psychological work.

As a client, you already have a future that will happen on its own if your life doesn’t change. You are paying for your dream to be converted into a plan, and this plan becomes our contract. This contract may involve promoting self-direction and intrinsic motivation, training spontaneity, fostering cultural belonging, embarking on experiential learning, mastering integrative physical practices like yoga, martial arts, and rock climbing, adopting introspective tools like radical journaling and working with intimate images and voice recordings. Ultimately, the contract is about establishing a productive relationship between your inner genius and your authentic self – the sole relationship guaranteed to last for the rest of your life. I’ll be your witness for a longer or shorter stint of it.

There is no specific approach or certified coaching technique. The ‘certificate’ is me – my life and experiences. You, the client, are my agenda, and you are the method. The coaching conversation is not something that happens to you; it is co-created with you, within you. We work on noticing lies, deceitful statements, distractions, and fear – the crowning fear of perceiving power to be anywhere outside yourself: in objects, money, deities, and most dangerously, in others. Everything that makes us unique and resilient is easily plagued by forces external to us. We condition ourselves to reject our inner power and instead become entirely reliant on pursuing external validation in every mundane aspect of our daily living. Relying on the presumed competence of others across innumerable domains at the expense of our inherent strengths is antithetical to the core intent behind my psychological work – nudging individuals’ self-belief and actualization of their innate capabilities.

No one fundamentally needs a coach, but everyone needs to overcome their fears, discover what they truly want, and recognize their capabilities. Therefore, one may want to hire a coach or, perhaps more aptly, an artist of psychology.