This morning, I was meditating on a quote by Sydney Banks from his book The Missing Link, when all of a sudden this equation popped into my head. I didn’t ask for it, nor was I trying to generate any particular thoughts around the quote. I was just meditating to see what came up.
The equation that popped into my head is this:
However, most people live by this equation:
Understandably, the X will probably generate some curiosity.
What is the X?
What could it stand for?
For example, when I ask myself who I think I am, I receive answers like:
I’m a husband
I’m a son
I’m a brother
I’m a diversified coach
I’m inspired action
I’m all of those things and yet I am none of those things.
This is the paradox that gets a lot of people confused, probably even you right about now. This may get you wondering, how could he not be a husband, son, or brother when he is?
When I initially began exploring the true nature of who I am, I couldn’t fathom not being any of those things. It just didn’t make any sense. But then it clicked…
I am a husband (to my wife)
I am a son (to my parents)
I am a brother (to my sisters)
I am a diversified coach (to my clients)
I am honest (to my thoughts)
I am Rob (to the rest of the world)
I am love (to my thoughts)
I am light (to my thoughts)
I am inspired action (to my thoughts)
I’m all of those things to life outside of myself, and yes that includes my own thoughts (since they aren’t me). They are just labels to identify with myself and others who I am in the world.
When you ask yourself who you are, what comes to mind?
Whatever happens to come to mind is a self-constructed you, created by thought. You are whoever you think you are. The more you try to think about who you are, the further away you get from yourself.
The real you cannot be explained or described by thought. You are what comes before thought. You are the space between thoughts.
Any time you attach a thought to your identity, you are attempting to describe the indescribable. You’re labelling the person you think you are. If we require thought to be described then we are not it.
You are a miracle and miracles are in-explainable by science or your thinking.
We attempt to solve life’s mysteries via our own thoughts, yet our thoughts are arbitrary and a mystery in and of themselves.
Thoughts are a guidance system for your life, they aren’t who you are.
You’re the one who is observing your thoughts.
You can let other people’s thoughts of you determine who you are. You can let your own thoughts of yourself determine who you are. Yet, neither is entirely true.
You’re the one who isn’t trying to think your way into being somebody.
You’re the one who isn’t trying to be anybody.
You are the one…
Why do you need to be anyone other than that?
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
Some may be looking for a treatment, to me that makes it sound like we are treating a problem. Anyone who knows me, or has been to the homepage of my website, will see my words I stand by: “People don’t need to be fixed, they just need to be woken up”.
Treatments are for problems, “waking up” is realizing that there was no problem in the first place, we just thought there was.
Compassion fatigue is still very real, I know from personal experience. However, in my experience with myself and others, when one sees something as a problem they have a tendency to resent the “problem” and what they think is the cause of the problem. This is all stems from them seeing it as a problem.
But what if it wasn’t a problem? How would that change things?
The reason I am bringing this up is that I resented Allie in the past because I saw her as the cause for my “problem” (compassion fatigue). Once I woke up to the fact that my problem was thought created, that it only existed in my mind as a problem, I was able to free myself of resentment and move toward healing myself and our relationship.
From Lost To Found, To Back Home
For the previous 6 months, my entire focus was on Allie. I neglected myself to a large degree.
I was no longer consistent with my workouts. I was no longer sticking to my nutritional plan. I was no longer being social. I was no longer myself.
I knew I was neglecting myself, I just felt guilty spending time on myself when I felt I should be spending it on Allie.
By following my inner guide, I was lead down a path back to self-love. I started getting back into a more consistent workout routine. I started eating more like I used to. I started going out socially a bit more. I started learning and growing by studying nutrition.
I gradually built this foundation back up over a period of months and cruised for several years. I had hit a plateau.
I knew something was missing. I still didn’t feel like I was all the way back home. I still didn’t feel unconditional love for myself. Something was blocking it.
I still had resentment toward Allie and myself, although not as strong. The only way forward appeared to be that I had to forgive both of us.
My future had to become more important than my past.
The transformation I went through started roughly 18 months prior to my writing this. It involved:
learning NLP through iNLP Center and receiving my NLP Practitioner Certification through them
taking up a daily meditation practice
waking up 60 minutes earlier to go through a morning ritual
reading over 60 books (and counting)
discovering The Three Principles understanding (by far the most impactful and profound element)
I no longer feel resentment toward Allie or myself. I have never felt more at home in my life.
7 Things I Did To Overcome My Compassion Fatigue
Based on my own personal experience, these are the 5 major elements that brought me back home:
I understand that as caregivers we can feel guilty spending time on ourselves, and we may have difficulty creating that time as well.
But if you want to come back home and love again, you must love yourself and nourish your soul. You don’t have to do it all at once but start somewhere. It can be as small as choosing one thing you used to do that you have always loved to do and spend 10 minutes per day on it. Something that when you do it, time seems to disappear. Do THAT!
It sounds so simple I know, but there is such a profoundness in simplicity. You can only give what you have inside so make sure that what you have inside is full of love.
Self-love also encompasses forgiveness. If you hold any resentments toward yourself or the one you are caring for, you must forgive. This resentment will continue to block all the unconditional love you have to offer until you release it. Any resentments you hold toward yourself will be projected outward no matter how hard you try not to.
Bottling up resentments creates a continuous stress response inside your body which will inevitably lead to you feeling emotionally drained. It sucks all the emotional energy out of you, leaving the battery empty to feel anything else.
3. Recharge Your Emotional Battery
Without recharging, you can only sustain peak emotions for a period of time before they become unsustainable. This is when you start to feel emotionally drained, and possibly even apathetic, detached or numb.
Ways to recharge your emotional battery include being in nature, spending time with a pet, meditation, general quiet time, reading an inspiring book, light exercise etc. Generally, anything you love doing that gets you out of the environment that has contributed to your compassion fatigue is what you want to do.
This also allows you time to process your emotions.
4. DO NOT Resist Emotions
DO NOT resist emotions, this is will make your situation exponentially worse, trust me! You must feel your emotions in full force. For some, this may seem scary at first. If you are one of those people, I promise you this, your emotions cannot harm you.
Resisting your emotions actually elicits a prolonged stress response that wreaks havoc on your body. This is what leads to high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, inflammation, and nearly every other disease.
Let your emotions run their course and they will disappear on their own, you won’t have to push them away.
5. Proper Sleep
I find that the importance of sleep doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to stabilizing ones emotional world. Proper sleep is absolutely imperative to any emotional recovery. Proper sleep is determined by quantity and quality.
You want to aim for roughly 7.5 hours of sleep (some people need more and some people need less). As for quality, if you feel groggy in the mornings, it’s a good bet that your sleep quality isn’t very good, even if you slept through the night.
It is during deep sleep that our physical body heals and rebalances, including balancing our hormones, which get thrown way out of balance in times of emotional stress. Improve your sleep to heal the side effects of your emotional distress.
Exercise releases natural feel-good endorphins within our bodies. Chances are, you have not felt these good endorphins very often if you’re battling with compassion fatigue.
Regular exercise can help to rewire your brain to producing and experiencing more positive stimuli. This is important because it assists in breaking the pattern of being wired for apathy and distress.
You don’t have to go join a gym right away (although that would be awesome), you can start with a 10-minute walk every day and work your way up from there. You could join a league for one of your favourite sports as well. Just start doing something, get moving.
7. Pursue A Passion
Passion, being derived from the word compassion, will also be lacking in your life if you are dealing with compassion fatigue. With passion being generally defined as something you absolutely love to do, you will lack passion because compassion fatigue hinders your ability to love, but it doesn’t stop you.
Initially, I pursued my studies on nutrition, and more recently on coaching (and the many studies it encompasses). Studying spirituality, meditation, the mind, the three principles, philosophy, starting this blog to help up others, and much more, all have ignited a passion within me greater than I have ever felt. This passion has trickled into every other area of my life, including becoming more compassionate.
What are you extremely passionate about that you could start doing? Start doing it.
If you have experience with compassion fatigue I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments below 🙂
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
My goal with this post is to bring transparency on what it really takes to become a life coach or any type of coach for that matter. There is so much bull-shit marketing out there, this post will help you ween through it.
You will risk failure if you don’t understand what it really takes to become a coach. I will touch on this after I talk about what most people want to learn about…life coaching certifications.
With life coaching, and coaching in general, becoming a more and more recognized and sought after profession, there are more people than ever wondering how to become a life coach. However, before you wonder HOW, I want you to make sure you know WHY.
In my opinion, there are one too many life coaching programs and certifications that are marketing life coaching as a prestigious job that can pay you $200/hr, while allowing you to work whenever you want, from wherever you want.
Although there is truth to that statement, what they fail to tell you is that you need much more than just a certification. The work that needs to be done behind the scenes is rarely talked about. Why? Because you are being sold a lifestyle which caters toward getting your emotional buy-in. Getting your emotional buy-in makes them money.
If you knew what it took to become that person who makes $200/hr+ and works whenever, and from wherever they want, they might not get your money.
Firstly, Is A Life Coaching Certification Necessary?
The short answer…no. Anybody can call themselves a life coach, or any kind of coach.
Is it recommended to get certified through a high-quality and reputable certification program? YES
The coaching industry as a whole is not regulated. The International Coach Federation has put together an attempt to regulate the coaching industry but has not succeeded thus far. They have made strides toward establishing non-obligatory standards but have not established a governing body of standards that MUST be met.
From the ICF website:
“The International Coach Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.”
“CF also accredits programs that deliver coach-specific training. ICF-accredited training programs must complete a rigorous review process and demonstrate that their curriculum aligns with the ICF Core Competencies and Code of Ethics.
Today, ICF is specifically recognized among coaching professionals worldwide for:
Developing coaching core competencies
Establishing a professional code of ethics and standards
Creating an internationally recognized credentialing program
Setting guidelines through accreditation for coach-specific training programs
Providing continuous education through world-class events, Communities of Practice (CPs) and archived learning.”
Just because a life coach certification is not accredited through ICF does not mean that it is a low-quality program, although can be an indicator worth digger deeper into.
Here’s a list of some of the most sought-after coaches in the world that are not ICF accredited:
Now, this is not to say that you should just start calling yourself a coach and asking for clients. It will become evident within the 1st few minutes of a conversation with a client that you are not who you claim to be.
How To Find A High-Quality Life Coaching Certification Program
4 things to look for when searching for a high-quality life coaching certification program:
1. Research the person(s) who is teaching the program
You want to make sure that whoever is teaching the curriculum practices what they preach. Search their full name on Google.
Check out their social profiles, what type of content are they sharing?
If they are a professional coach then they should have their own personal website that offers their services. Browse their website, look at their about page, their services page, and look for testimonials.
2. How long is the program?
Any program that advertises that you can become a life coach by taking their weekend certification is utter bullshit.
Whether the program is online or in person, if it is condensed into an immersive experience, say 8 hr days over 5-7 days, it is not conducive for a life coaching certification and here’s why.
It is one thing to learn the material, it is another to BE the material. You need to use what you learn to transform your own life before you have a hope in hell of transforming the lives of others. This my friend, this takes time.
I think the minimum length to look at when researching for a life coaching certification is 6 months. This allows time to use the teachings on yourself, to become who you will coach others to be.
3. Do you get to participate in practice coaching sessions with feedback?
Coaching is a very interpersonal experience. It is unpredictable, you never know what will show up. Yet, through it all, you need to be able to remain present, hold space, and respond from your highest self.
No matter what gets thrown at you, you need to be on top of your game. This take practice, and lots of it.
4. Is there a live classroom session either by way of video or phone (minimum 1x/wk)?
This allows discussion on the current topic between students and teachers. Students rarely don’t have any questions regarding any particular topic. This gives you the opportunity to ask questions you wouldn’t otherwise get answers to. It also allows you to hear answers to other questions you may not have thought of.
5. Do they integrate “inner work”?
In other words, is a condition of you graduating dependent upon having done a certain amount of inner work with yourself?
This means, using everything you learn about yourself as a form of personal development or personal growth to be the person that you will be coaching others to be.
These leads me to the most important topic of this entire article…
And If You Don’t Do This You Will Fail…
As the old saying goes, “practice what you preach”.
Life coaching is one profession that you will absolutely not get away with not living by this. You MUST practice what you preach.
I’m not talking about practicing here and there, you must live it every single day of your life, with every single breath you take.
Some call it inner work, but I don’t like to call it that. The word “work” tends to insinuate it’s a J-O-B. I like to look at it as a way of living, a journey. So, for sake of this article, I will refer to “inner work” as “inner journey” instead.
For example, I am confident in waking people up from their old way of thinking to a new understanding of how the mind works. I can do this with a high degree of success, empathy, compassion, and understanding because I have done this for myself.
Now, this doesn’t mean that if you’re going to be a relationship coach that you need to be in a relationship, although having success in your own relationship is extremely beneficial. What you do need is a fundamental understanding of how relationships work and what makes them successful.
If you’re going to coach people on how to master their stress then you have better mastered your stress.
If you’re going to coach people on how to be more mindful then you better be mindful yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to find peace then you better have found peace yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to meditate then you better meditate yourself.
If you’re going to coach people on how to wake up then you better have woken up yourself.
I think you get the point.
You Must Be What You Are Selling
If you graduate from a high-quality life coaching certification then you should be prepared to take on your first clients. This is because high-quality coaching programs understanding that you are the product, that you are what you’re selling.
Because they understand this, you will have plenty of homework to do for yourself.
How To Know When You’re REALLY Ready To Coach
As long as you’ve gone on your inner journey, and continue to do so, you will know. You will know based on a feeling of knowing. This only happens if you are in touch with your highest self.
When you’re not in touch with your highest self, this is when you tend to get confusing messages. You become unsure of which thoughts and feelings to believe and focus on. Some call this the ego.
Knowing who you truly are, without confusion, is what will guide you to know when you’re ready. Just wait for the feeling, this feeling is your green light.
The Journey Doesn’t Stop There
Becoming a life coach is just the beginning of a lifelong journey. Your inner journey is infinite.
Always keep learning!
For example, here are 6 things I do every day:
Read a minimum of 45 minutes per day
Listen to podcasts whenever I’m driving
Meditate every morning for 15-20 minutes on gratitude, intentions, various life topics, and teachings from Sydney Banks
Journal every morning in The Daily Stoic
Writing on my blog is a form of learning for me. It keeps me in touch with my zone of genius, flow, and creativity.
Learn from every experience I have throughout each day
Check out these posts for more info on book and podcast recommendations:
But before I could even finish following that train of thought in that familiar “Mara” tone of voice, I felt the cold metal tip of a gun against my temple. And the last thought I had was, “That’s not his dick he just pulled out of his pants. That’s a gun.”
And then, the world went silent…
…And then, a thought came through. I felt a wave of fear wash over him (or us?), and I opened my mouth to speak the only words I would say to him during the entire experience. I said, “You’re scared, and that’s OK.” I do not remember if I spoke the words in English or Spanish, nor do I know if I spoke them out loud or just “energetically”
Before Mara had that thought come through, she continued on to describe her experience as unimaginable silence in her head. She experienced a whole new world beyond the thoughts in her head.
Then, that one thought came, seemingly out of nowhere. Before deciding to put those words to use, she had to make a choice of whether she was going to speak or not.
Many people act as though they don’t have a choice, even when they don’t have a gun to their head, even when their life isn’t literally on the line.
You can choose to speak or be silent. If you do choose to speak, you can choose what you want to say and how you want to say it. If you choose not to speak, you can choose to do nothing or do something.
The very act of contemplating what you would do if you had a gun to your head represents that you do, in fact, have a choice.
So, the next time you find yourself wanting to use those infamous words “I don’t have a choice”, think again.
Even if you do have a gun to your head, you still have a choice.
Learn from all of your experiences, opportunities are everywhere.
Using my personal experience as a catalyst for this article, I will discuss what compassion fatigue is, some signs and symptoms you may experience, and in Part 2 I will discuss what to do about it.
Do you seem to always feel tired?
Do you feel emotionally drained?
I know I did for the first 7 years of being with my wife Allie. I was completely drained all the time, especially emotionally. It affected my social life, my professional life, and my close relationships.
At the time, I had no idea what compassion fatigue even was or that it even existed. Fortunately, I was able to overcome it through a personal transformation I went through and will continue to go through for the rest of my life, which I will explain shortly.
It wasn’t until after I had overcome the many obstacles in my life through this transformation that I learned what compassion fatigue was and that it was something I dealt with for years. I had no idea.
What Is Compassion Fatigue?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, here are two separate definitions:
“the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time”
“apathy or indifference toward the suffering of others as the result of overexposure to tragic news stories and images and the subsequent appeals for assistance”
In my opinion, compassion fatigue is mental and emotional exhaustion, not physical. Physical exhaustion has another classification called “caregiver burnout”. These are two separate conditions.
Caregiver burnout is more to do with the physical duties of being a caregiver which may also include sleep deprivation. Whereas compassion fatigue is attributed to the massive amount of empathy caregivers have toward the one they’re caring for.
Signs And Symptoms Of Compassion Fatigue
Difficulty expressing emotions (especially love)
Loss of passion for life
Inability to hold space for your partner
Lack of motivation
My Initial Encounter With Compassion Fatigue
Without a doubt, I experienced severe emotional withdrawal and apathy. My situation, however, is a little more unique than the majority of caregivers.
Most caregivers to a significant other were previously in a relationship prior to becoming the caregiver, I was not. My wife, Allie, had Leukemia for 9 years prior to the beginning of our relationship. I chose to engage in this relationship knowing the risks.
I was flying high from May 2009 up until January 2010. Our relationship was amazing, and I can confidently say that I gave everything I had emotionally. I was loving, somewhat understanding, positive, and I was a rock and a pillar of strength for Allie.
When January 2010 hit, I fell off an emotional cliff. I took a week off work and lay in bed 75% of the time, just wanting to sleep. I was confused, extremely exhausted, and felt zero emotion for anything.
At this point, even though I loved Allie dearly and knew she was the one, I questioned whether I wanted to stay with her. It didn’t make sense, and I couldn’t understand why.
After this week of hell, I was never the same. I fought tooth and nail to regenerate the flood of emotions I had prior to that week but I just couldn’t do it.
How My Compassion Fatigue Developed
Now that I am fortunate enough to be in a good place mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I can look back on my experience and observe how my compassion fatigue developed.
I distinctly remember placing myself in Allie’s shoes through various daydreams. I would do this purposely, and I would do it often.
I wanted to feel how Allie felt so that she could share her pain with me, in hopes she wouldn’t feel so alone with it.
This was my way of trying to understand her pain, of trying to understand how she sees life and the world around her.
Did it work? It sure did.
It worked so well that it eventually knocked me off the cliff.
The worst part about developing compassion fatigue is that I was not there for Allie emotionally. When she received bad news or had a bad day, I was not the pillar of strength or emotional crutch she could lean on.
What’s even worse than that, she started to avoid communicating with me about how she feels out of fear that I couldn’t handle it.
Our Internal Compass
As much as I wanted to, love is not something I had to offer during this time. In fact, much of what I had to offer is a short fuse, resentment, and indifference.
All I knew was that I had to change before I destroyed myself and our relationship. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, I didn’t know where to start, and I didn’t know where it was going to take me.
What I did know, is the direction I was going was leading me to a very dark place and I wanted to see the light.
The road I was traveling was never ending. Leading to a destination of insurmountable despair and hopelessness, consuming my sense of direction the further I went.
I didn’t see the importance of the awareness I had at the time. The awareness to recognize the direction I was going. The awareness to recognize that I always have an internal compass to point me in the right direction.
Without recognizing this, I was doomed. Now, with my newfound awareness, all I had to do was let my internal compass lead the way.
I’ve learned that I see the world differently than most, I used to see it as a weakness because I couldn’t relate and so I submitted all the time. Now, I see it as a strength, sharing my true nature with those who want to experience a different world.