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Heartbreaking or Hopeful, A Coaching Challenge, by Kimberly Dinsdale

Nov 25th, 2009 | By | Category: Coaching Women

frustrated-womanDear Coaches, I recently received the following email that for so many reasons both broke my heart and gave me hope.  I hear similar situations and questions repeatedly from women I talk to and coach (and sometimes even when I’m standing in front of my own mirror).  As a result, I’m curious . . . What are your thoughts?  How would you coach this woman?  What kinds of questions do you ask?  Have you heard this or something comparable before?  What breakthroughs, ‘ah-ha’s, answers, solutions, etc. did your clients discover through the coaching approach? What is effective, what isn’t?  You’re all invited and encouraged to post your comments and join the discussion.

I have a question that you might be able to answer. I am hoping you can help shed light on why I am the way I am and what I can do to change. Surely I’m not the only womam who feels this way. Here it is:

When I look back at my life I realize that at one time I had a lot of potential. People expected me to really make something of myself. And over the years I’ve had a lot of goals. But I’ve never really accomplished any of them. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for almost 20 years. And I know that I have great kids. I understand that many people would say that is an accomplishment. However, I see women who are great moms with great kids who have also accomplished great things. And if not great things, than at least personal goals.

Early on in my marriage, when my husband needed someone to do all the work so that he could get an special business license, I did it even though I knew nothing of about what was involved. When he needed a business plan written, I did it, again without prior knowledge. When he wanted a non-profit international agency started, I did it. In addition, I do have 2 degrees, so I know I am capable of accomplishment. Of course that was all a very long time ago. Then I spent 17 years in an emotionally abusive marriage where my self-esteem was eroded to nothing. But I am out of that now. Yes, we’re still dealing with the settlement issues, but I’m out of that marriage. I have such a desire to stand on my own and accomplish my goals. But I don’t seem to have the focus and the discipline to get the job done.

My house is a disaster. And I mean, not just messy, but a disaster. My finances are a mess. I’m still substituting because there were no full time positions available for me this year. I’m hoping to teach full time next year. You would think I would take the opportunity of this time to work on my dream of getting published or getting the house in order or learning how to manage finances (I wasn’t allowed to know about them while I was married). But I find myself procrastinating on everything. And it’s not because I am busy. I used to be involved in a lot more activities than I am now, and run a home based cosmetic business, sing in church choir, co-chair the workshop committee for a writer’s group, volunteer weekly at school, serve on councils.

I don’t feel depressed. I haven’t lost interest in these things. I just don’t do them. I’m excited about the possibility to accomplish my goals and the idea of being an independent woman, but I have trouble acting on it. I don’t have trouble dreaming about the life I want, but I don’t know why I don’t do what it takes to make it happen. What the heck is wrong with me? How do I get that focus and discipline now that I am out of such an oppressive and damaging marriage?

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2 Responses to “Heartbreaking or Hopeful, A Coaching Challenge, by Kimberly Dinsdale”

  1. mstruble says:

    Great post, Kimberly. So typical of so many women, abusive marriage or not. In my Mom’s and Women With Mission coaching sessions we deal with expectations right away. So many women live by the expectations of others, and base their own from them. I start by asking the women to list the expectations for being a good “women” or “mom” that others have. Then we list their expectations of themselves. We follow up by asking, “Which of these are realistic and true?” I have never seen them leave more than one or two on the list.! They usually have a huge ah-ha when they realize they don’t need to expect those things any more.

    That opens the door to talk about values, beliefs, and what they really want from life.

    In this case, I would ask questions to find out exactly where she is at right now. What is the real issue? Grieving, healing, self-rediscovery, clarity of what she wants, or is it a matter of just taking a baby step to change one thing she really needs to function. I have found that often working on one small thing in the areas frustrating to them, they will gain the confidence to move forward with bigger issues.

    Marian Struble
    Connected Life Coaching

  2. annmclpc says:

    Ladies, I appreciate your posting this. I would like to see more. I am a 16 year licensed counselor and want to move away from that into coaching. When I look at this my first thoughts are to ask her to talk about early messages and what she believed about herself as she moved into adulthood based on her initial intimate relationships with her caregivers. Since for myself the recognition that I was not responsible for what others thought was such an astounding realization that by learning what her own thoughts are about herself and recognizing she has a sole identity would be my thoughts here. It is so true that women, myself included, tend to give up our identity and become whomever we need to be for those who ‘need’ us. There is such a feeling at this time in her life of being in a void, of having nothing to stand on. Certainly she is in a place of pain and not yet ready to take responsibility for her choice to stay in the situation. My thinking which is NOT based on any coaching education is that a grief/loss group or divorce recovery group is appropiate which I believe would enhance her coaching experience. Now remember, I know next to nothing about coaching so tell me how u would proceed with this woman.

    ann mcelhaney, LPC

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