Afraid of the dark?

Photo by Tookapic


If you happened to be out and about earlier this week, you may have caught sight of how big and full the moon was in the night sky.  Waxing and waning through its phases, it seemed to be begging to be noticed.  I recalled childhood memories of riding in the family car, perceiving the moon illuminating our way as we headed home.  Without knowing why, I knew there was something comforting about that.  My daughter teased me, suggesting that I must have felt like the center of the universe, with the moon revolving around little old me.  Maybe, maybe not.  But either way, it’s pretty impressive, a moon so bright, and so unafraid in the midst of all that darkness.

This week, the moon was just as present for me and my son on these country roads as it had been so many years ago in the suburbs of my childhood.  It seemed to lean in as we talked about him venturing out more and more into the world. Already he has learned so much. But as you might expect, fear has been a necessary ingredient to his growth.  He described an increasing sense that fear might only be “in our head”. Gradually, he seems to be realizing that sometimes things are not as bad as we imagine them to be. He’s discovering bit by bit, that he is able to handle more than he once thought he could, allowing him to take on the next challenge, rather than letting fear limit him.  He’s learning his own power.  For his mama, that is gold.

We’ve all been there.  How easily we allow our experiences, our own personal logic to direct us.  What’s in our heads can lead us to mistrust what is in our “guts”, moving us further and further from what is possible.  But how do you know?  Especially when so many have experienced real danger and trauma, how can we know when it’s time to defend against another hurricane, or instead to trust it, allowing an opportunity to dance in the rain?

In his book, The Gift of Fear, Gavin De Becker explains it perfectly.  Intuition.  When it comes to issues of safety, it informs us before our brain even knows what’s coming.  Trust it and listen to it because it is always right.  Problems come when our head makes mistakes in interpreting or translating what our guts are trying to tell us. Recognizing that the root of the word Intuition means “to guard, to protect”, he suggests that even the expert should “combine an informed opinion with a strong respect for his or her own intuition and curiosity.”

De Becker refers to the many signals our Intuition might use to get our attention, noting their ranking according to their level of urgency.  With fear at the top, he offers three tips:

  • When you feel fear, listen to it
  • When you don’t feel fear, don’t manufacture it (worry is manufactured fear that can actually distract us from finding solutions)
  • If you find yourself creating worry, explore and discover why

Just as the moon shines brightly in the night sky, De Becker suggests that Intuition “connects us to the natural world and to our nature”.   Instead of explaining it away or denying it, we should respond to Intuition first by recognizing it as meaningful and noticing what is illuminated.  It may not be what you think.  Avoid the distraction of what you imagine might happen, and instead give “relaxed attention” to what is actually there so that you may see the true possibilities present in even the darkest moment.

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Psychological coaching is grounded in the art and science of psychology and is in many ways very similar to traditional psychotherapy.  They both utilize knowledge of human behavior, motivation, behavioral change, and interactive techniques in order to help a client move from where they are to an improved state of being. The differences between psychological coaching and traditional psychotherapy are related to their goals, focus, and perspective. Traditional psychotherapy seeks to diagnose and treat emotional and behavioral conditions, with the therapist serving as "expert" in support of the client. Unfortunately, many have considered the pursuit of traditional psychotherapy to be stigmatizing, in part because of this perspective of the client being "broken" and in need of repair.  Psychological  coaching offers a different point of view.  The coaching psychologist is more likely focused on developing a collaborative relationship, with the client in the "driver seat", with the perspective that the client is creative, whole, and resourceful.  The clients' capacity for wellness and healing is assumed, encouraging them to move more quickly and directly through obstacles to their happiness, success, and life satisfaction.  

As a Coaching Psychologist, my goal is to support you in creating awareness so that you can access your own skills and inner resources in order to manage the challenges you face now and into the future.  While our work together may touch on past traumas and psychiatric concerns, they will be addressed from the perspective of your strengths, rather than with a focus on ill-ness or disability.  In our larger community, it is not unusual for individuals to experience mild to moderate mental health issues, making psychological coaching an accessible and viable option.  If, in the course of our work together, either you or I have reason to believe that your mental or emotional health concerns are better addressed by another service provider, a referral will be made.  

As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, I have 20 years of ongoing training and experience providing, consulting and supervising others in the provision of psychological services.  However,  as of now, the life coaching field is unregulated, allowing anyone to be a life coach - even those without training in the behavioral sciences.  As well, the coaching field is considered to lack a solid base in research, creating disagreement on educational and training standards. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is working to change this.  In order to ensure that your coach is not counseling others beyond their expertise, it is suggested that when considering a life coach, individuals  should seek coaches who are trained or ICF certified.  Along with my license as a Clinical Psychologist, I am currently enrolled in MentorCoach® L.L.C., one of the oldest ICF accredited coach training programs, and one that will enable me to be an ICF certified coach.