You may have arrived at this article prompted by curiosity, an underlying need, or by the few questions that I posed in the Learn Grow Create tutor centre newsletter.  Questions about whether making use of the services of a Life Coach carried with it for YOU, or the society that likes to judge you, a stigma or feelings of inadequacy, or even of failure.

I have found it interesting the number of people who have no idea what a Life Coach does and when asked will often revert to a Life Coach being similar to a Counsellor.  According to the NHS here’s what a Counsellor does: “Counselling is a type of talking therapy that allows a person to talk about their problems and feelings in a confidential and dependable environment. A Counsellor is trained to listen with empathy (by putting themselves in your shoes). They can help you deal with any negative thoughts and feelings you have.”

This certainly does apply but as an overall description of what a Life Coach does it hardly scratches the surface.

A second and very crucial point to mention before providing a simple explanation of what I offer with my Life Coaching relates specifically to the UK, and the character and culture of the English people.  It is well known that the English are very reserved, polite, and unlikely to show emotion in public.  This results in a behaviour type and thinking that is best described by the words from a song by a famous British band, Pink Floyd: “hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”

Long before matters in your life and your thinking reach the level of desperation it really is a good idea to ask people for help.  It is in everyone’s nature to want to help others, and a Life Coach is trained to do this in the most effective and peaceful manner … let me explain what I offer with my Life Coaching by making use of an analogy, to a Formula One racing car.

As you can imagine for this car to be effective and successful in the task that it is about to set out to perform, there are a whole range of things that need to be at their most optimum standard.  The engine tuned to perfection, a special type of oil used to ensure correct and long term lubrication, a particular and specific type of fuel on which the car will run.  Then there’s the tyres, chassis, body, streamlining, shock absorbers, brake pads (excuse me if Formula 1 cars don’t use either of these last two but you get the picture) and every nut and bolt tightened the correct amount and to the correct torque.

This is us when we are born; we are perfect little pieces of creation with all facets flawless and prepared for life, which includes our personality, character, spirit or soul and our lubrication, being our pure thoughts which keep our lives in perfect and smooth running order.

And then we become exposed to people and the world, people who offer us their views of life, the media’s negativity, sensationalism, and materialistic encouragements, and things start getting out of alignment and in a poor state of repair.  We are told that we need to fit in and comply with society’s norms.  We become conditioned and lose our unique identity and sense of who we really are.  To make matters worse we put the wrong fuel into the tank and the lubrication required to keep everything well oiled, on track and running smoothly – our thoughts – start becoming more appropriate to a lawnmower.  At some stage in life our car is in such a bad state swaying, veering, crabbing and bouncing across the road, the engine coughing and spluttering and backfiring, that driving the car becomes so unmanageable that we take our hands off the steering wheel and life takes over and we lose control.

With my Life Coaching I then help you to get back into Formula 1 condition, with your hands firmly on the steering wheel and with two key additives – you get to be in pole position at the start line, and in the new race that you enter you’ll find that there’s space for everyone to be in pole position.

Jon O’Hanlon

It is an undeniable and accepted fact of life that we are all going to suffer.  This suffering will last for differing lengths of time, will have a variety of causes, and will provide us with varying depths of despair, unhappiness, stress, and depression.

What is not a generally accepted fact of life, largely and quite ironically because people don’t give this any thought, is the fact that somewhere around 95% of this suffering will not be in any form of physical or bodily pain or distress, but it will all have its roots in our minds and in our thoughts.

For those of you who, like me, attend JP’s fitness circuits classes I will concede that our physical pain levels are a bit higher than the norm suggested in the previous paragraph.

Analysing this massive preponderance of mental causes for our suffering a bit further we can differentiate these causes into three categories.  We will think about things that have happened in our past, those that are currently happening in our present circumstances, the now, and what we fear may happen in the future.

Although many people suggest that having worrying and stressful thoughts about things in the past and future, which cannot be changed and over which you have no control, is pointless there is great value to be gained by doing so, once you have removed yourself from these thoughts, and can look at yourself and those thoughts and behaviours objectively.

This brings me to what I call the Path of Why?

One of the key techniques that I use in my life coaching is to encourage people to steer a course onto what I call the “Path of Why.”  This entails quite simply – with every single thing that you do and think, stop yourself afterwards and ask the question “Why?”

Why do I think that?  Why do I do that?  Why am I working there?  Why do I exercise?  Why do I eat biscuits with my tea?  Why do I avoid person B?  Why do I think that people with tattoo’s are Y?  Why do I believe that owls are a sign of impending death?  Why do I get angry with other drivers on the road?  Why do I believe that all men are Z?  Why do I exercise?  Why do I not exercise? Why do I believe what I do about exercise/eating habits/drinking etc.?  Why do I get nervous when I have to do A?  Always and all the time, with everything, ask yourself the question Why?

I could make a list of these questions as long as the Universe is old, and so can you.  And if you ever doubt the truth of the answers that are popping into your head, ask the question again whilst staring deep into your own eyes in the mirror – that person deep down in there will not permit any lies to get in there.

It is in the finding out the answers to these Why questions that you start to find out about yourself, about the way you think, about your core Values and Beliefs, and the Rules that you have put in place; you will discover the things in life that have paramount meaning for you and are the driving force behind all your thoughts and actions.

When you discover these answers and understand them you can then easily drop those thoughts and behaviours that don’t serve you, change others, and create new one’s that do serve you in the present and for the future.  By doing this you will understand where you are in life, why you are there, and what your purpose is … and you will discover real, true happiness and joy.

Jon O’Hanlon

People will often use the expression, “you need to put it into perspective” or sometimes, “you need to put it into context.”  It’s a good thing if either of these is being used in a discussion because it would seem to indicate that there is a willingness to understand the other person’s point of view, or explain yours.

If you look up the meaning of the word “perspective” in the dictionary you will find two definitions:

  1. A particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view.

and

  1. The art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other.

Unfortunately it is far more usual for people to ignore this “putting it into perspective” step in their thinking before, during, and after an interaction with another person.  Be it an interaction with your partner, parents, children, family, friends, strangers, all of which are of course relationships, and if you like you may take it even further to include your relationship with Nature and the planet.

You may take the two examples that I’m about to give to explain the Perspective Gap and apply them to all of these relationship types and interactions.

Perspective 1

Every single person on the planet is totally unique in their thinking, based upon the values and beliefs that they have gained from their upbringing.  The circumstances and external influences that each person experiences in their formative years are completely different.  Even I, as a twin, have very different thinking in a number of ways to my brother.  I have experienced different things and have interpreted similar experiences differently to him.

All of these circumstances, influences, and experiences provide the sum total of my world and my thinking against which I am able to interpret any new experience or interaction; my database of knowledge.  When something happens, or someone behaves in a certain fashion towards me, I will then only be able to access this database to decode the experience and … put it into perspective.

No two databases of experiences and knowledge are the same, therefore the perspectives that people will attach to an interaction or experience will often be different, there is a gap between the two perspectives.

Secondly, an example relating to another oft used expression, the generation gap.

Take for example a young person who has just finished school, say 18 years old.  It would be fair to say that they have had somewhat limited experiences in life compared to say someone 30 or 40 years older.  Like a ripple moving outwards from the centre of a lake, the passing of time allows for more experiences and the gathering of knowledge.  It is this broader knowledge that also broadens the mind and offers the opportunity of more extensive and multiple perspectives.  Again, there is a vast gap in allowable perspectives between these two people.

Perspective 2

The important point to be gathered from the Perspective Gap is this: firstly, this gap should not be considered to provide any superiority or inequality.  Having had more experiences and thus broader perspectives to apply does not necessarily make all of these good or applicable.

Secondly, crucially, and it is imperative to do this before communication takes place, you have to acknowledge in your mind that the younger person will often not see or understand your behaviour or words the way that you intend them.  They simply do not have the vast array of experiences in their database against which to cross reference your words and behaviour, and have the same perspective as you.  They will therefore have to take what you have done and force fit it into their smaller database of interactions.

This is not a bad thing, or wrong, it just is what it is.  And in doing this they have done absolutely nothing wrong and cannot be found to be at fault in any way.

In future before you communicate, especially if you feel the irritation and anger start to rise have a look again at the two definitions above, and by far the more important one to apply is the second one, consider everything from every possible angle and position in relation to each other, take 3 deep breaths, count to 10, step back, smile, remember the Perspective Gap, feel kindness and compassion towards the other person, and be more gentle and considerate in your communication.

And may all your relationships be peaceful and beautiful.

Jon O’Hanlon