I’m a helper I can’t help it, that’s why I became a Personal Trainer. Nothing gives me greater joy than helping someone achieve his or her heart’s desire! I’ve been practising listening for years, my Personal Training, Business Coaching and NLP Experiences have given me great opportunities to connect with people. The goal was always to connect with people, meet them where they’re at, and until recently, I thought that was what I was doing.
The Challenge of Helpfulness
The challenge was that I was showing up INTENDING to be helpful! I desperately wanted to show them the way, to witness a shift. Oh, how I enjoyed seeing the transformations! But this helpful intention gave me a flawed view because, in essence, I was looking for things to FIX! “There must be SOMETHING I can help you with?” Looking back now, clients often picked up on this dynamic and shared with me those things, which they thought I could HELP.
The interaction went something like this, “Tell me about your goals, what do you want to achieve” (as I waited for the chance to jump in and rescue as soon as I heard what they wanted). Then the client would say something like: “Oh, I want to lose weight, tone up, I want to have more energy, etc., etc., etc.” (as if they knew I wanted to save them). Thier comments sounded like something they’d rehearsed for other people or even for themselves, but was it what they TRULY wanted?
What was going on here? The story I told myself about how helpful I am, and the story they told themselves about how unhappy they are with their situation or themselves collided, sometimes things would improve for them and sometimes things would remain the same. As long as I interject and HELP, they will continue to be locked in their story.
So If I wanted to be helpful I needed to step back and just be present for their story to meet people where they were at, I needed to let go of this idea of helping! I needed to start by meeting myself where I ‘m showing up for this person. Can I let go of my helpfulness to be fully present for the person in front of me? I know, letting go of helpfulness? Crazy right? This thought process may be the one thing that has held my clients and me back!
Understanding the Exercise Story
I recently attended a The Story Conference, in Melbourne. I was drawn to the event to learn more about how stories shape people’s lives and possibly, adherence and approach to exercise. Years of hearing people’s stories about how “sporty” they were OR were NOT, about how they weren’t throwing the ball right, or as a teenager that they would never be any good at sports, I noticed a pattern. It seemed like most clients had one or two key events that shaped they way the approached exercise. Imagine a child moving freely and experiencing all the wonderment of the capabilities of the human body and having an adult tell them they were WRONG!
From working with many Personal Trainers over the years, I know they share my love of helping, people. Seeing change is what propels them into the industry where we use exercise and movement as a metaphor for someone’s inner strength and psychological journey if they can get stronger physically, we know they can get stronger emotionally and gradually they can re-write that exercise story.
For clients to rewrite the story, that story needs the opportunity to it is just a story and now I’m ready to rewrite it! But too often as trainers, we stop this amazing process from progressing because we are too damn helpful; we jump in with our advice, our expert tips, and our need to FIX people. Our need to fix them helps keep them broken. (Which they are NOT and never were)
One of the presenters at the conference Dr David Drake delivered a session on Narrative Coaching, the coachee to take a deep breath, allowing them to see how they are reacting. It was a process of just noticing, just holding a mirror to their inner thoughts and emotions about the issue.
The coaching process was a powerful experience and after years of listening, a penny dropped! All of our stories have a life of their own, and these stories just need to be told in a secure environment with a safe non-judgmental person. When this happens, the client can distinguish between their experience and that of others,
When it comes to changing behaviour, I used to think I was the client’s answer, now I know, they don’t need answers, they need a safe place to express the story and show up as their true selves without judgments and my helpfulness!