As I write these words, something like 20% of the globe’s population is under some form of stay-at-home order because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. We’re living through extraordinary times unlike anything most of us have been through before.
The process of coaching is one of learning, self-discovery, and growth: as coaches, we are here to accompany our coachees on their journey towards achieving a goal. By its very nature the coaching process is often dealing with a new challenge, one that a coachee is facing for the first time. Or sometimes it’s an old process that a coachee wants to approach in a new way. But that doesn’t mean the coachee is approaching their challenge with nothing: we all have an inner fund of resourcefulness to help us through hard places.
First and foremost is to take care of our basic safety and health needs: enough sleep, nutritious regular meals, exercise in whatever way is permitted to you, and so forth. In times of distress the fundamentals can be difficult. This is a natural part of the brain and body’s stress response, so you’re certainly not alone if you’re having trouble with things that you normally do automatically as part of your day. Focus on the basics of coping first and foremost. You’ll know when you’re ready to take on more. There is a lot of advice out there on mental health and wellbeing coping strategies; I recommend searching for some from your local mental health charity or national health advisory service. I won’t link any here as resources will vary by country and region, but please do know that there is support available for you, no matter where you are.
Taking care of your immediate coping needs is your first act of resourcefulness.
The next thing to remember is that though none of us have been through times like this before, we’ve all faced challenging times. Hardship is a fundamental part of the human experience, from the very first time we fell down and scraped our knee to accidentally burning dinner to facing failure in the workplace. We’ve all been through difficulty in one way or another, and we’ve lived to tell the tale. Without dwelling on the painful aspects of those memories, thinking about what enabled us to make it through those hard times can be a really valuable way to understand our own resources: our emotional resilience, for example, or our creativity, or our practicality.
Think now about a time that you experienced a difficulty, and take a few moments writing down the resources you used to get through it. These can be inner resources like skills and abilities, or external resources like a wide support network or physical objects or services you used in your time of need. Look over your list: is there anything you forgot? You can come back to add more resources later as they occur to you. You might be surprised by the wealth of resources you already have in your toolbox. Now, think about how you can use these resources in the current cirumstances. Is there anything which isn’t on your list, emotional or physical, which should be there? If so, how can you go about getting access to this resource?
The coming weeks and months are going to challenge us all in new ways. You might want to keep your list out in a place where you can see it so you reinforce the message of your inner resourcefulness. No matter what happens, your inner resources are always with you. They’re just waiting for you to call them into service.