A: Hi guys. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm Amanda.
L: I'm Laura.
K: And I'm Kendra.
A: And just a reminder, if you are a night shift worker and want to help Lumos with their ongoing study with their technology that may help right our circadian rhythms, go down to the show notes, we'll have a link.
Additionally, be sure to leave a podcast review that helps others find us.
But today, this came up because one of our clients had some concerns about showing up. She was avoiding her coaching session. And so we thought, you know what? We probably should talk about what actually does happen in a coaching session, and why it's so helpful for us.
K: Yeah, this actually comes up a lot. Even when we were developing The Whole Physician, we were trying to tell each other, okay, what would you tell someone when they're asking what is coaching about? And we kind of sat there and stared at each other. And you know, they always tell you when you're starting a business to have an elevator pitch. Which if someone were to ask, what do you guys do? What are you offering? It is kind of hard to encompass in a few words. So we thought this would be a good opportunity to have a conversation, not only what happens in a coaching session, but what to expect, and what you probably will get out of it as well.
So it's, a coaching session is not as scary as you think. It was funny to hear that client say that. Like I was avoiding because I was afraid of judgment. I was afraid that we might be dismissive of her problems or whatever, kind of what she's experienced in the past. Even maybe talking to a fellow colleague. You know, we're all judgey and have a judgment tendency. So this is actually quite funny to us. It was quite ironic actually to us cuz we're like, no coaching session is actually where all of this gets talked about. Where you get healing, you get revelation, you get all of the things. So we're like, ah, why would you avoid the coaching session when actually that's the best place to get all of this out.
So when we talk about coaching, it's actually creating a space that is full of empathy. It's non-judgmental. It's safe. And really it's just a sounding board. So honestly, during a coaching session, you'll find that your coach doesn't talk as much because really we're trying to listen for things as you talk to us about the situation, whatever topic that you wanna talk about. We're really just creating a space where we can hear what you're saying, helping you identify some limiting beliefs. Help you identify some programming, either you know from childhood, growing up, college, undergrad, med school, residency. Just trying to identify those problematic tendencies and just create an awareness that maybe that thought you were having about the situation is not serving you anymore.
And maybe if we could reframe that thought or maybe not go down that automatic neural pathway that's telling you Negative Nelly and try to come up with a new neural pathway that's more Positive Polly. Then maybe there's just an awareness that can happen that could train your brain to just not go down that vortex.
So in a coaching session- there are tons of different formats for a coaching session. But one of the things that I like to create in that safe space is just a focusing technique. And we talk about how important breathing is. And so we do like to start, or I do, like to start each session just with a focus. And you can do box breathing, you can do all kinds of different breathing techniques, but it really just allows you to kind of drop down into an awareness that we're gonna be present during this session. And that all of the things that may be on your mind- all the stresses, anxiety, cares, worries that you came to this session with- that we can kind of let go of and just really be present. And that just allows your brain to turn on, to focus, and not multitask at the time. But just focus and be present.
As the coaching session goes on, it's really just identifying values, things that you think that are important. Things that you value in your life, and then trying to figure out maybe why you're stuck in a certain area. So anything's game. But one of my recent coaching sessions, it was some thoughts around- and actually I identified with this a lot cuz this happened in my personal coaching- but just feeling stuck overall. Not just at work but in life, cuz you just felt like maybe you didn't make the decisions you wanted. Or if you had better framework or mindset thinking that you could have made different decisions. But also knowing that even in medicine- just because you went into medicine, all the tools that make you a great physician also could make you a great (fill in the blank). So it was an awareness that, oh my goodness, there's other things out there that I can do with the same tools that make me a great physician. That kind of awareness, those light bulbs that go off, that's really the goal of coaching.
A: Yeah. I would also say with this particular client that admitted she was avoiding us, she was like, I just thought that you were gonna tell me that it's my fault because I'm not choosing the right thoughts about it. And she came away from this session with like- the goal of this mini version of cognitive behavioral therapy. Coaching is kind of like mini- like CBT light is what Dr. Thapa calls it. She was like the goal of it is not to beat myself up. The goal of it is to actually progress. And in her situation, she had a particular diagnosis that she was carrying some judgment about and assumed that we were gonna carry judgment about also. And like, well, if you just had better thoughts, then you wouldn't feel that way. That is not what happens. So just to let you know that's, that is not how it goes down.
Instead, coaching is actually a choose your own adventure sort of situation. We ask at the beginning if there's anything in particular that you wanna work on. And it's really whatever is the biggest pain point in your life at that moment. A lot of times it's work for us and the various stresses- the way things should be, but they aren't. But a lot of times it can be stuff going on at home, relationships, parenting, relationships with your own parents. That's a huge one for a lot of people. We carry a lot of those issues in with us to our present and our futures. And so that's something that we can work on too. Some people will choose to work on personal goals, like relationship with food or relationship with health topics in general, setting goals and sticking to them. It could, can literally be anything that you wanna talk about. Any sort of thing that you start noticing once you have awareness of your thoughts that, man, I really seem to be triggered by this situation and I wonder if we can get to the bottom of it. That's a great use for a coaching session. It's like, what are those subconscious or unconscious thoughts that you're having that are creating so much drama around this particular situation. Which now that you have a little bit of metacognition and awareness around it- I wonder if there's a different way that I could be thinking about it. That's a great thing to take to a coaching session. And you don't even- I used to have stress about, well, like I can't really think of anything right now to talk about.
Perfect. Come to your coaching session anyway, and we can help you through that. We can come up with a topic, and we can just work around it. So literally there's no reason to avoid your coaching session. I've done it myself too, thinking I knew what the coach was gonna say and surprise- it never is what I think that they're gonna say. It's always something like, oh wow, thank you, because now I can have a different way- just, it's hard to examine your own thoughts sometimes without a little bit of objective perspective around it.
L: Yeah, I think that that's the big take home is that it's just helpful to have someone who is kind. Who knows what your life is like and is not gonna be judging you. Help you look at your own brain and see where your brain is telling you things that may not be helping. I went around for so many years thinking that every thought that I had was true. I didn't even, it didn't even occur to me that it could not be true. But they were all true but not the case. Sometimes that's true and sometimes we can't figure that out until somebody else points it out. And the coach is always kind about it, and it's always your choice. You get to, you're in charge of your life. We are just there to help and support you. And help you identify the things that you do wanna choose to think. So we- coaches are listening in curiosity, we are never judging. There will never be shame issued in a coaching session. Absolutely not. We have empathy and are warm. We are also physicians. So really, you could talk to any coach and it would help you, but as physicians, we do feel like- a lot of us feel like there's a little shortcut in terms of the communication because we understand what you mean when you say you're having trouble getting out of your shift on time. That you're having trouble getting your charts wrapped up. That you feel guilt about xyz thing that happened with a patient. It's just a little bit of a shortcut for us. And we love, we love our clients so, so much. We love to be able to provide that safe space for them to talk and share the things that are bothering them, stressing them, even just annoying them.
We help them clarify those thoughts that may be stumbling blocks or keeping them stuck. And too, if you don't know what we mean by this, so many different examples. But I'll give you one from one of my coaching sessions recently. I got annoyed- and yes, we get coached too.
A: We're still human.
L: Yeah, we're still…
K: Life still happens.
L: Yeah. So I got annoyed by a situation. I'll just, I'll tell the whole thing. So Jeff, my husband, came home, and he was like, do you have to work Saturday? I'm like, nope, I'm off. He was like, okay, great, we can clean the basement. And I got so mad because I was like, I actually have a day off. I actually have a lot of things I need to do. And so I take this. I didn't get mad at him. I took it to my coaching session. I was like, why do I feel so annoyed by this? And she's like, well, what's the thought behind it? I was like I feel like I'm being controlled. And, and she's like, okay. Is it, is it possible that he was just saying that to be helpful, saying that he was available to help with that?
I was like, oh, well, I guess so.
A: I mean, I guess it's possible…
K: Which is exactly how we react too still. Yeah. When we're hearing these things like I guess it's possible. I guess it's my brain wanted to offer up something else.
L: Yeah. Yeah. So and then with that new thought, I was able to release that annoyance and carry on with my day and my life. So that's just a small example. There's so many different thoughts that we might have that might not serve us. That we can help you identify and see other possibilities. Or sometimes just be curious about why. We- sometimes we'll just sit in curiosity for a while and just, instead of trying to replace it with a different thought, we'll just say, Hey, let's just really think about why is it? Why is it that we're having so much shame over this? Or what are the underlying thoughts? What is going on under the surface? One of the things that we work on a lot with our clients really is their relationship with themselves.
Because as doctors, we are taught to not take care of ourselves. We're taught to put other people first constantly. And we're taught that if we make mistakes, we need to be mean to ourselves. And we fear being cast out of the tribe, and we shame ourselves. And that is a place where we really find ourselves working with many of our clients- is to help them recognize the reality. Which is that they're amazing, amazing human beings, and they are worthy of so much self-love and how to offer that to themselves. It’s such a, it's such an important skill to learn. And so that's one that we work on quite a bit with our clients.
A: Yeah. I love, about coaching, is that first of all, it's a very cerebral activity. To examine your own thoughts, decide if they're serving you, and decide what you would like your result to be. And then kind of work backwards to figure out how to set that up and how to choose better thoughts that get you to where you want to be. So to me, it's almost a fun cerebral game to play. And, you know, we're all physicians, so we are good at hacking our own brains. When I realized that I was using my own brain to hinder myself, I was like, oh. Well that can change. And so that was very fun for me. I also always like the input that my coach gives me cuz I, again, I always think I know what they're gonna say. I never do. And what I have noticed is that they are able to highlight little- not even little sometimes- but self judgments and self-criticism. And how I'm not extending myself grace where I would to somebody else. But I don't even hear that voice. But they're able to somehow bring it to life where then I can change it. But on my own, I'm sometimes not able to see how I am getting in my own way sometimes. So that's what I love.
K: Yeah, and I love one of the things that was the biggest thing, just like Laura said. I was like, oh, a hundred percent of my thoughts are not true? That every single thought I had is not actually accurate, and I don't have to receive some of these thoughts that's actually not giving me the result I desire? And that was mind blowing for me.
The other thing I think was most impressive, for me in coaching, was identifying some of my values and the difference between happiness and relief. I think a lot of the things that were lifted off my plate were really not because it wasn't making me happy, but I felt relieved. And so distinguishing between. What truly makes me happy and then what I'm relieved to not have to do anymore. That was a huge distinction, and I will tell you that when I was writing down some of my values or when I was prompted to, what are your values? What do you deem most important in your life? What do you hold true? What are you working towards? I thought I knew all of the answers, and when I went to put pen to paper, I actually knew none of the answers. I was like, I don't even know what makes me happy. Because you just, you know, put your head down and work through life, really, and you just accomplish steps.
It's like the arrival fallacy we were talking about. I just had goals. I just had steps I needed to accomplish. What really lit me up along the way, I have no idea. And so then when I got to the point of kind of my mini- like breakdown of like, I've arrived and this is it? And then I started asking questions like, are you kidding me? I've worked my whole life, sacrifice, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And here I am, and this is actually not what I thought it was gonna be. But then really to go back and say, okay, what does light you up? What does make you happy? What brings you that joy? What is going to propel you into the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years if I make it that long? Like what is that going to be? What is that gonna look like for you? What are the results that you wanna have? That's something I think physicians just don't sit down and do or reflect on. And we get frustrated when we're five years into this and our results aren't what we “thought” it was gonna be.
But did we ever really think about what direction we were headed after accomplishing the goals, like graduating med school, graduating residency? Figuring out where you wanna set up shop and where you're gonna work? Then what? We just plow through some of this and just autopilot it so much that when I was able to kind of sit down and be like, okay, what are the results I actually want? I've just been kind of going, going, going, and in a direction I thought that just led to something. What was that something? I don't know. It wasn't until I really was prompted to sit down and spend some time self-reflecting and also trying to figure out, okay, what really does make me happy? And then from there, developing those end results.
So I think that's another thing coaching really can make us aware is- just like Amanda and Laura said- like that self-care thing. This is a part of that self-care thing. Because I think we get frustrated when years go by, and we're just not where we wanna be. But then we didn't ever really intentionally sit down and like, what does that look like for you? So that's also something that I think coaching helps a lot with.
L: Yeah. What I love about coaching is- there's so many things. But the thing that I love the most is seeing one of my colleagues, who is an amazing human being, who is suffering and have some immediate relief from their suffering. Now, we don't make it all go away immediately, but there is definitely an instant lessening of suffering just by being able to talk about things that we both understand and we don't always feel like we can talk about with our colleagues at work or even our spouses. Some of our clients have non-medical spouses and that- it seems like that may even make it a little harder for them because they don't have that person who gets it, that they can talk to at home. But offering that we don't need to shame ourselves when we want to put ourselves in a position where we're practicing some sustainable medicine- meaning that we can practice for a long time, as long as we want. We have to take care of ourselves to be able to do that.
And it's not selfish to take care of ourselves. In fact, taking care of ourselves helps us better take care of other people. And that means our patients, our spouses, our children, our parents. When we don't take care of ourselves, then we burn out, and we're not able to take care of anyone. And I love being able to help my clients see that and help them to be more committed to taking care of themselves. And more empowered to do that and realizing that again, it's something essential.They need to take care of themselves so that they're able to carry on with all their other goals and taking care of the other people that they want to take care of. By the end, when we have identified a thought that may be not working for them, and we've been curious about it and where it came from and why, and then coming up with new thoughts.
I love using techniques of neuroplasticity to help us to create new neural pathways so that these new thoughts like- I am an excellent doctor, and I deserve to take care of myself. The, and these are thoughts that the client will come up with themselves, that using some neuroplastic techniques we can help create new pathways. So these become the default thoughts, and when these are the default thoughts, we will have results that correlate with them. Which would be increased wellness. So I just love, I just love helping my fellow docs feel better, helping them help themselves feel better. I just love it.
K: Yeah. So guys, we hope that in this short little podcast we did today, we could just give you a little insight, take a little sneak peek into coaching- what it is and how it definitely can improve your results. I mean really right away. And if you couldn't tell our passion for helping our colleagues that is resounding through all of our tidbits here that we shared today.
So we had such a fun time doing our webinar, “What's the ICD 10 code for Injury Sustained in a Dumpster Fire?” If you missed it, scroll down now to the bottom of the show notes and click the link to watch the replay. Our next class is coming up on May 10th at 12:00 PM Central Time, and it's on Time Management, so stay tuned for all the details.
Until next time, you are whole. You are a gift to medicine, and the work you do matters.