Chris a 50 year old, successful businessman, came to see me because he had lost the zest for life and needed to find his direction. He had always prioritised work and his whole life revolved around his business. He worked long hours, which had taken its toll on his relationships and personal life.
It unfolded during our sessions that he had a very strong work ethic, enshrined in him from an early age. This had stood him in good stead in creating a lucrative business, but having reached his goal he still did not feel happy and fulfilled. He realised there was more to life and wanted to change and be able to enjoy himself and have a meaningful relationship.
Divorced, after 18 years he was wary of commitment but had met a wonderful woman with whom he had started a loving relationship.
Beneath all of this was a man still living by the values and beliefs imbued on him as a child. At the time they were useful and meriticious but now he needed to review his core values and beliefs and update them to suit the adult he now was. One of the first things we did was clarify his core values which helped him to recognise exactly what fired him up and following this we worked of long term goals to create the life he dreamed of. Using cognitive behavioural therapy and life coaching tools we adjusted traits that were holding him back , improved his sleep and concentration levels. He reduced his working hours, took up new relaxing hobbies and became far more positive about the world. His whole demeanour changed, as did his life. He is now 5 years on: happily living in a new home with a wife and child and prioritises family time, holidays and work in a far more balanced lifestyle.
Louise, a therapist loved her job but felt swamped by the volume of clients and paperwork involved. She was frustrated by the internal politics and constant restructuring of the department she worked in. Louise found herself working long hours, with no recognition, being constantly cajoled into accepting more and more responsibility. Eventually she suffered burnout and had to take a month off work following a critical incident. She contacted me during this month with a view to re-evaluating what she wanted in life and to learn ways to cope better with her anxiety. She recognised she had low self-esteem and believed she had failed.
We carried out a life audit initially, which helped her to decide specific areas to work on. Self-esteem and anxiety management were the priority for Louise: to enable her to respect and accept herself, to assert her rights as an individual and to recognise and challenge her negative core beliefs and fears.
Louise was a very empathetic, caring woman who had strong moral principles. She had a clear definition in her mind between right and wrong and this was currently causing her distress in her job. Through cognitive behavioural therapy Louise found a new way to view situations that allowed her to reduce her tension, frustration and despair. With a new vision of the world Louise was able to return to work with fresh vigour. She negotiated a new position and kept to her working hours, maintaining boundaries on herself in order to offer a quality service to clients and ensuring she had time for herself and her personal life.
Madelaine was a team manager, conscientious, successful and experienced. She had worked in the area for many years and had a large network of colleagues and knew who and where to access all services. She was a very precious asset to the organisation. However she longed for freedom, to spread her wings and fly away from all the responsibility. Being grounded and level headed she did not fly but continued her role with great frustration. She came to me to express this frustration with her current life and to investigate a way forward. Madeleine felt trapped by her own success. She could not let people down. She could not let go of the reins… for fear of what? Many things transpired: loss of her income and long-term pension, loss of status and position, being passed over. All these kept her tied to her position. We worked on her self awareness and core values, were they honoured in her position and if not how could she honour them in her life? Following this she created a dream board and learned to visualise her perfect life. With renewed confidence and enthusiasm she took a sabbatical for a year and went travelling. Her job was held for her and she returned with an enriched life experience that has enabled her to relax and delegate. She now is a more relaxed manager who encourages her team’s development.
Helen a new mum of a 6 month old baby girl came to me feeling totally overwhelmed. She had been a teacher prior to the birth of her daughter. She felt exhausted by sleepless nights and isolated at home. She also had financial pressure from her partner to contribute to the family’s income. There was a dichotomy of feeling joyful and deeply fulfilled by her new born child but at the same time drained of energy and anxious about how to manage and contribute.
Again self-care was the first stage, to recognise her achievements and take some pressure off herself. To regain some space for herself and top up her energy. Also to assist her in asking for help and not feel totally responsible. When she was less exhausted she was able to start thinking laterally and found a possible way forward. She had always loved teaching but did not want to go back to school. She created a new goal to run a mum and baby group locally. This provided her with like-minded empathetic company and utilised her experience and skills within a manageable framework.
NB. The above case studies are composites of my clients to ensure their confidentiality. The process described is greatly summarised.