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When is it Time to Call in a Coach?

What happens when you do the thought work and you still feel stuck?

When you still feel anger, resentment and confusion around a certain circumstance?

Maybe it’s time to call a coach and do some emotional processing.

I recently found myself in this scenario. For a few months, I felt a bit disconnected from God and was not experiencing his consolation in my prayers times in the way I had become accustomed to. Believing I was in a period of desolation, such as St. Ignatius speaks about, I soldiered on, faithful to my prayer times but getting ever more frustrated, and if truth be told, harder of heart!

As the weeks rolled on, I began to wonder if there was something more going on. I had had quite a painful experience. I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice to say that I had taken on a role that didn’t work out the way I had imagined it would, which left me feeling like a failure, angry and frustrated.

I had felt called to the role by God and believed He had given me insight into changes which needed to be made, some of which I was able to implement, but not without a lot of conflict – which as a phlegmatic, I detest!

I had prayed about leaving the role, too, and again felt it was the right thing to do, that God was calling me to focus on my coaching business. While I felt peaceful about my decision, I still had quite a lot of unprocessed emotion around the events that had played out.

In the months that followed the frustration, feelings of failure and anger continued. I brought it to the Metanoia Catholic journal, identified unhelpful thoughts and even wrote unsent letters – a process of writing to the people you believe have hurt you, expressing your pain, forgiving them and seeking forgiveness for any part you played… just that you never send the letter. (I find it to be a helpful way to get the story out of your head and body.)

However, the disconnection with God continued, as did the hardness of heart. As the weeks rolled into months, I began to get the sense that perhaps there was some hidden thought that I hadn’t quite uncovered that was leading to an emotion I couldn’t identify and hadn’t processed.

As so, I reached out to Erin and asked if we could schedule an emotional processing coaching session, rather than just pure thought work.

As I sat waiting for the Zoom call to start, wondering what was I going to say and why had I thought this was a good idea, I began to feel the tears well. His healing presence was coming.

I started by explaining a little of the story to Erin, and as I rattled off the story which had been playing in my head, the thought popped out – the thought that had been hidden – “God set me up for a fall,” and the tears came. I found evidence to prove my thought as well. But in the cold light of day, how could I believe that a God of love would purposefully set me up for a fall, a painful fall?

Having uncovered the thought, Erin asked about the emotion that thought invoked, and was there an image coming to mind. It was then that I identified a feeling of betrayal and the image of a dagger stuck deep in my chest. (I did feel a little foolish and a tad dramatic sharing the image, but it seemed to be the most fitting!!)

Erin very gently asked if I was willing to invite Jesus into the place of betrayal, and I said yes. I could feel my body relax and a calmness descend. I knew Jesus was there but I couldn’t see Him. Erin sensed that Jesus was asking if I would forgive him (not because he had done anything wrong but because I was holding anger, bitterness and resentment against him). As I said yes, the hard shield that had built up around my heart returned and I felt Jesus hugging me.

Erin asked, “Where is the dagger?” and I realized it was gone. The place where it had been was still a little sore, like a wound that needed time to heal, but the dagger was gone, taken away as Jesus had hugged me. I knew the wound would heal in time as trust was restored through repentance, forgiveness and grace.

Why did Jesus choose that my healing of this circumstance would come in this way? Why was my own journal work not enough? I don’t know – but if I had to answer – I’d say maybe to remind me that we all need each other. We are not supposed to do things alone. Sometimes you need a helper, a guide, a witness, a coach to lead you to The Way, Jesus.