Why am I writing about trauma and all the bad stuff?
Because I’m seeing more and more of my clients be open about the bad stuff. A toxic work environment, a parent being ill, find it hard to spend money on themselves because they grew up when money was tight.
I’m also continuing to see burn out, major illness, memories of a serious incident show up.
And stress is contagious. Even if you don’t talk about it, you can pass on your stress to anyone who is near you.
So I’ve started a course on where coaching fits in, and where it doesn’t in supporting you with all of this bad stuff.
But let’s get a definition in here so we know what we are talking about.
Trauma itself is a boundary violation.
It can be physical, emotional, sexual, spiritual, intellectual, financial, energetic, responsibility.
Let me illustrate with some things I have personally experienced in the workplace. Perhaps you have seen this kind of thing around you too?
Emotional boundary violation: being raged at, or in the presence of rage.
I once had a department head who would rage at their managers. To motivate them, to berate them. All the reasons. It was just known that this is what they were like.
It made the team frustrated, snappy, careful, quiet. And the rest us us, outside the room but hearing the thunder? It had us keep our heads down. Everyone carried the stress.
Have you ever worked in an environment like this? How did you adapt?
Energetic boundary violation: cloud of chaos and anger, big emotions not acknowledged
This happened as a direct result of the emotional violation. It was just accepted that this person was this way, and almost everyone experienced some kind of embarrassment or shame that they had been raged at, or witnessed it, that no one spoke about it. The cloud of anger and chaos hung around, and we were all expected to just get on with business as usual.
Or maybe for you it’s working at a company when there have been mass layoffs, and nobody talks about the fear and uncertainty that the announcement has caused. Will there be another round? Who will be next? Do I have to notify people, again, that they’ve lost there job? Will it be me? How do I keep my team motivated with all of this going on?
Responsibility boundary violation: being held responsible for things that are not ours.
At another place I worked on a systems implementation project. I was offered a bonus for successful implementation. There was a lot of master data entry to be done, and we were a small company and didn’t have someone to write a program to auto upload the data. So I had to do it manually. It took me 5 weekends of manual data entry to get it done.
The MD decided, before the go live, to cancel the project. And because I hadn’t done a successful implementation, I wasn’t going to get the bonus.
There was nothing I could do to control the result, because ultimately the decision making responsibility wasn’t mine. The injustice of that decision really had me sit back and assess what kind of culture I was working in. And honestly, I did the bare minimum after that while I looked for a new job.
Ever been held accountable for results, but not given the decision making authority to have true responsibility and autonomy? If you’ve worked in any company, and weren’t living under a rock, then you have at some point in your career. So frustrating.
No, you don’t need to feel bad for me. That’s not the point.
The point is that bad stuff happens, to everyone.And very few of us have been taught how to actually get rid of it (no, CBT and thinking yourself positive don’t work) so we carry it around with us, and it shows up the next time.
The first time we have a boundary violation, we respond, and then we store that information in our bodies.
It’s usually only the next time it happens that we get a shrill response, a trauma response. We “over-react” to what is happening now, because our reaction isn’t just about today, it’s also about the last time, and the stuff we’ve been carrying around with us for ages.
And when we are told we are over-reacting it makes it worse because our feelings are genuine.
This isn’t the stuff you thought I’d be talking about with this title, is it?
That’s what I’m finding so fascinating and useful about this course. It’s naming things I’ve been picking up on. And I’m becoming equipped as a coach to better support you when it comes up.
Does this mean I’m doing therapy with my clients now?
No. Absolutely not.
When something comes up that suggests there may be some trauma there, a therapist will do a full assessment of their client’s trauma history and develop a plan to address it.
As a coach, when something pops up and you’re stuck, I offer a gentle intervention for that specific experience that is getting in the way of you progressing towards your goal, and then we return to the goal at hand.
This is not a new thing in my coaching, but I’m loving the depth of knowledge and new tools that this course is teaching me. Because clients, you, me, we all get stuck somewhere as we move towards our goals. Something from the past that has shaped our beliefs and behaviours is an obstacle. And we can’t move forward until it’s been addressed.
If any of this has brought up things for you, reach out.
This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.