Imagine you’ve navigated your way through relationships, careers and maybe raised a few kids along the way only to hit midlife – when you though it was supposed to get easier – and things begin to unravel.
Many women in their 50s are thrown difficult curveballs whether they come in the form of an unexpected divorce, career change or the menopause. But they just attempt to ‘deal with it’ rather than seeking help. Wellbeing coach Emma explains why a life coach can give you the guidance you need at any age.
Emma is a 50-year-old mum-of-two. She’s also divorced and going through the menopause, which means she truly knows what many of her clients are going through.
She escaped a stressful job as a banker in the city to raise her children only to hit 45 and find herself in the midst of a marriage breakdown.
Emma retrained as a personal coach and now helps her clients improve their wellbeing, reduce stress and work toward the change or improvement they want.
How does life coaching differ from therapy?
Fortunately in today’s society the stigma attached to seeking therapy is slowly being broken down. But when it comes to life coaching many people are still wary purely because they don’t understand what it is.
Emma explains how her job differs from therapy.
“Firstly the qualifications I have are different to those of a counsellor. I have life coaching and NLP practitioner qualifications. But I think the biggest thing about life coaching is that it’s about helping people move forward. Where as therapy tends to look back and unpick. I’m always open to doing that if we need to but for the most part it’s about going forward and how we can improve their life from here on out.”
‘I won’t tell you what to do’
Emma insists her clients find comfort in being in an environment where they can just let go of their built up emotions.
“It’s the opportunity to sit down with someone who has no vested interest in you,” she says. “I don’t love you, whatever the outcome is doesn’t affect me. You can then say all those things that have been in your head and we can work on them from there. I will guide but I won’t tell people what to do. I’ll offer options or my own experience but I will never say ‘I think you should do this’.
“Everyone needs to get to that point by themselves and that’s the journey.”
‘I’ve been there and come out the other side’
Emma says she has first hand knowledge of many of the issues her clients are going through and so she knows the tools that work.
“I give people coping mechanisms and I think a lot of my coaching is empathic. I’ll talk about my experiences. Much of my coaching is around that. I deal with a lot of people going through a divorce. I can help them because I’ve been there and I’ve experienced it. I can tell them, I have been there, I have come out the other side and you will too.
“I also do a lot with mid life menopause and I’m smack bang in the middle of it so I can definitely relate.”
‘The menopause can be magical’
Seeking out a life coach to get you through the menopause isn’t something that springs to most women’s minds and yet Emma insists that learning to navigate your own bespoke menopausal journey will help you approach it with knowledge rather than fear.
“Listening to people talk about the menopause many women genuinely believe they are coming to the end of something but in actual fact it’s a whole new chapter ahead of us,” she explains. “I talk about the magic of menopause. Every menopause is different and no one has the same experience but it’s about learning how to deal with your unique set of emotional and physical symptoms.
“You can either suppress it all, relationship issues, empty nests etc or you can let the dustbin lid fly off.”
‘It’s not downhill after 50’
For Emma positivity plays a huge part in her coaching but it does take time to alter people’s negative perceptions of life events like the menopause.
“There is so much material that paints a black picture of the menopause or women believe they will have an awful one because their mothers did. But don’t give yourself permission to have a terrible menopause. Positive attitude is the main thing I try to instill in people.
“There are a growing number of women in their 50s who are starting a whole new career once their children grow up.
“I’m told when you get through the menopause there is this lovely sense of calm and balance. From the age of 12 you have been governed by those hormones and finally you’re free. Women often discover they want to travel or do something exciting once they’ve got to the other side of the menopause. That is something to look forward to.”
‘Stress plays havoc on your mind and body’
When you’re in the throws of divorce, menopause or a difficult time in your life it can be tough to find positivity though. So how does Emma suggest staying upbeat?
“One of the big things I say to people is connecting your body and mind. A positive mind will lead to a positive body. A stressful job or situation can play havoc on bodies and emotions. I would say don’t build up so much resistance to whatever your symptom. If someone can’t sleep I say they should think ‘I’d be grateful to have some sleep, I’d be grateful to feel rested’. If you lay there getting worked up about not being able to sleep then you build up resentment and your body responds to that.”
Emma acknowledges that it can be difficult to alter people’s views as they get older but adds: “I know there are people who just can’t step into that place of seeing life can be great as you age but I hope those are the people who start coaching or at least find someone to talk to.”