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Life Coaching: Sometimes we need to be reminded of who we really are

By David Mark

Sometimes, the way we see ourselves is like a fishing trawler, and the net being the different regions of the brain (especially the hippocampus) responsible for memory. We may have been fishing in some very polluted waters, and all we can remember is dredging up old rubber tyres, discarded beach toys like inflatable li-los, maybe the odd singular Air-Jordan, a skateboard without wheels, mountains of plastic bottles, and a few fish, looking as confused as we do.

We forget that this trawler once was shiny, new, full of hope, vigour and vim. We forget this trawler ventured deep into the ocean, had the power to yield huge hauls of fish and still return to dock, despite treacherous or clement weather fronts.

At The New School of Nutritional Medicine, within the coaching module, we dedicate half the of the learning programme to Inner Coaching (TM) for Year 1.

Very rarely in a person’s entire existence, do they have the opportunity and luxurious space to deeply consider and reflect on who they are, what are their deepest held beliefs (about themselves and the world) or what are their real values?

We’re not talking about the vacuous stuff created by HR departments and management consultancies (sorry People departments) pinned on digital walls, gathering digital dust, instead we are drilling into what is really important and meaningful, what values are they willing to fight for?

A long time ago, a Counselling Psychologist, Dr Wayne Dyer (2013), noted ‘no matter how many times you squeeze a grapefruit, you will never get orange juice.’ Sounds kind of obvious, no? He went on to ask, ‘who are you when you get squeezed?’

This business of who we are is complex

This business of who we are is complex, and over the two years, we spend time equally reflecting on who we are not. It is so deliciously easy to listen to the narrative having literally been spoon-fed from our earliest years, and as we move from tricycles to bicycles to trains to Ubers, these stories we have been told about ourselves can shape our beliefs about ourselves.

These repeated patterns manifest in our everyday experience and become practically impossible to detect, and often we make a natural assumption, this is who we are!

Thought Patterns

When actually these neural thought patterns akin to a four-lane motorway, can be changed and we have the ability to create a new dirt track that will eventually become a new neural motorway (Perry and Szalavitz, 2017).

Yet the question, still remains, but how? Say for instance, Sandip (not her real name) is a student at The New School, and she’s a mum with two adolescent children (Jat and Ari). She may see herself as a mum, a nurturer, a non-paid Uber driver (school and extracurricular), a thankless cook, cleaner, washer-upper, partner, daughter, sister and friend. At the New School, although we value and encourage individual reflection, journal writing and so on, we also use the subtle and yet transformative power of triads and dyads.

So, yes we teach solid, academic and practical theory, however as the saying goes,

"learning conceptually about swimming is never the same as putting your ‘swimmers’ on and fulling immersing into the very wet water".  

In every training session in Year 1, the students apply the theory by practicing being coaches, clients and observers and will also be supervised by a qualified coach. Before we run the practical session, there is always theory training. We may explore not only the deep held beliefs, values, and purpose, we will also really consider what are the resources, skills, experiences strengths, learning that a person possesses.

We use tools and interventions such as ‘The Big I,’ reflecting on the many roles a person plays, relationships, skills, and experiences, we may use the ‘Confidence wall’ and think about their timeline, what they have learned, achieved (personally, community, recreationally, educationally and professionally). 

The art is not in the coach being the expert on Sandip.

That would be impossible, as the coach does not know Sandip as well as she knows herself. Often, people confuse coaching with mentorship. The mentor may be an expert and offer technical or professional advice, however, as an integrative coach at the New School, we see the client as being the best expert on themselves.

At The New School, our theme song is a remake of Cold Play’s - Fix you. We changed the words, so that our students really understand that from a coaching perspective, we do not have the power or should take the responsibility of ‘fixing’ any of their clients. There are two big ole issues here:

1. Only the client can take responsibility for their life, and only they can change (through intrinsic means)

2. This removes the mounting pressure for the coach to be some kind of hero, or develop an unhelpful god-complex and that means the coach can be fully present and fully support their client. So, the lyrics of the song now go “I-aaaaay CAN’T fix you.’

Back to Sandip, if she is her own best expert, and through working in a dyad or triad, she can re-discover that she has so many resources, talents, and skills by herself this creates a small or significant florescent ‘a-ha’ moment, where she through the support of a skilful coach, who in many ways is a wonderful mirror, gives Sandip the reflective and reflexive space to be reminded of who she really is…her strengths, resources, power and potential.

Michelangelo's Sculpture of David

This makes me think of how Michelangelo was commissioned to sculpture a statue of David (the Biblical hero). The commission was given to Agostino, and a huge slab of marble was found from the quarries of Tuscany. Agostino abandoned the project after doing a little work, with the legs. Another sculptor was commissioned, Antonio Rodsellino (1476), and he backed out of the project immediately, claiming the marble was poor quality. After a quarter of a century, Michelangelo at the age of 26 years, was then asked to work on this unworkable massive marble slab. Michelangelo did not see the flaws of the marble, he saw the intrinsic potential and created the figure of David in what some might say was a miraculous process that the artist Vasari would describe as ‘the bringing back to life of one who was dead.’

Who are you really?

Take a moment to ponder on this. It is not only vital to know ourselves, to know our desires, loves, dislikes, purpose but would we not be settling for second best or third best is we did not get to know ourselves again?

Raising 21st-century practitioners in today's times means allowing students to re-discover who they really are, as they go out into the world to support others.


Dyer, W. (2013). Why the Inside Matters. [online] Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. Available at: https://www.drwaynedyer.com/blog/why-the-inside-matters/.

Perry, B.D. and Szalavitz, M. (2017). The boy who was raised as a dog : and other stories from a child psychiatrist’s notebook : what traumatized children can teach us about loss, love, and healing. New York: Basic Books.

To Wholeness!

From the team at the New School Of Nutritional Medicine

Learn about the Founder & Principal of the New School of Nutritional Medicine, Dr Khush Mark PhD HERE.

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