Dealing With Uncertainty: Do You Need a Therapist… or a Coach?

Maybe our stress and anxiety come from somewhere else.

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One effect of uncertainty is that it forces us out of our comfort zone, much like what we are all experiencing now during the pandemic.

Out of our comfort zone, we naturally get a different perspective as we compare the now and then. A lot of uncomfortable emotions can arise, such as overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. Am I right?

But it also evokes a lot of harder confrontations: Was I truly happy with that old life? Do I love my job, and if not, why do I stay? What is my real dream?

When the inner turmoil starts, quite often we reach for the tools we are most familiar with. It might be food, fights, or binge-watching TV; none of which works in the long term, but only as short-lived escapes. 

Others try approaches that bring longer-lasting results but require a bigger investment of time and energy, such as a therapist or a psychologist. But one tool we don’t often consider in times of trouble is coaching.

Compared to other therapies, coaching is perhaps less known. Many people know is it about setting plans, achieving goals, and transforming the messy areas of your life into something productive. But it is also more.

Life and business coach Maja Meglic, at You Can Do It Too Coaching, taught me that most people already possess the tools and skills they need, not only to deal with monumental life shifts but even to thrive in such times.

And that raises the most uncomfortable question of all: If this is really the case, what was truly stopping us from achieving the life we always wanted?

As coaching reveals, it’s usually ourselves. Many people self-sabotage their success because of limiting beliefs, subconscious gremlins, hidden fears or other inner barriers. Think of repeated excuses like, ‘I don’t have enough money,’ or ‘I’ll probably fail,’ or ‘If only I had (insert excuse)….’ These are usually just the surface of what’s lying much deeper.

Much like therapy, coaching also uses techniques to unravel deep-seated fears and finding the ‘why’ behind bubbling inner emotions. But coaching takes it a step further: you confront and overcome those inner barriers or fears, in relation to achieving a specific tangible outcome.

When we compare therapy and coaching side by side like this, the lines become blurred. But there is a significant difference. “Therapy is all about going from the dysfunctional to functional, while coaching is about going from functional to optimal,” says Maja Meglic.

Coaching is not so much about where you came from – which is where therapy tends to focus – but it is also about where you are going and why getting there is important to you.

So, Which One?

Sometimes, talking and therapy are the tools we need to navigate difficult and uncertain times. If you want to focus on the ‘why’ – what is the source of why we behave a certain way, or why we fall into the same patterns? – then a therapist is a good start.

A life coach focuses on the person – the ‘who,’ to uncover what inner obstacles are in the way – and the ‘how,’ – how to overcome those obstacles and fears to achieve where you want to go.

Sometimes, the stress and anxiety we feel is not related to uncertainty. It comes from ignoring deeper confrontations; the cure is in an action plan to achieve the tangible changes you’ve been craving for so long.

By Casey Marriott expat adventurer and digital entrepreneur.

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