In writing this title I’m reflecting on what I’ve lived and learned these past couple years, a period that has turned out to be my most profound experience of personal growth yet. Not a small claim — after all, we life coaches are in the business of personal growth — but I wonder how many coaches have really paused to consider just why they’re being invited into the private lives of others.

I believe the best kind of coaching is being a model for Soul in a person’s life. By that I mean embodying what I call the “compassionate witness” and the “unconditional champion” within each of us, until we learn to embody these ourselves. Certainly with weight loss, clients show up mired in their struggle and burdened by their judgement. In frustration, they hand over the reins and say “Here, you be my accountability”, which I liken to “Here, you take this big stick now and continue to hit me over the head with it.”

But Soul would never see you or treat you in this way. Soul already sees you at your authentic weight, being your authentic self. Its entire focus is to guide you to what you deeply want. Its hand is incredibly gentle yet absolutely stable. It will never make your decisions for you but in your most difficult and judgemental moments, it is your unwavering, compassionate witness to help put you back at choice, find your balance and help you breathe again.

Imagine showing up once a week and spending time with a coach who understands this… who understands YOU. Now imagine having this modelled with such clarity and consistency that you are finally able to connect with and embody this part of yourself. The compassionate witness is the first essential half of self-love and I am filled with gratitude to have had a coach who liberated me in this way (a shout out to you, Molly).

The unconditional champion is the second essential half of self-love and it’s all about your bigger life — embracing life’s best opportunities and living a life of full brilliance, without diminishment, without holding yourself back in any way. There is a BIG audacious truth we each have that’s grounded in our natural gifts and talents and speaks to our greatness in the service of others. Soul sees this truth in us, sees us greater than we can possibly imagine ourselves, and calls us forth.

And what do we do? We run! We try to hide. Until we encounter someone who models this for us so unequivocally and so persistently, that we finally surrender to and accept the future our Soul holds for us (a shout out to you, Gerry). It’s at that moment, when we stop fighting the inevitable, that life truly begins. Your resistance fades away, joy emerges and passion reigns.

Yes, it’s been just such a journey for me but also for my clients, and nowhere is this more evident than in the evolution of their self-talk. Compare the following excerpts for the absence/presence of the deep self-love that comes from a strong connection with Soul:

Before

“You do what it takes to keep yourself overweight… There are certain trigger substances that you quit, then flirt with, and ultimately take back… You don’t let yourself get thin.”

After

“You are… already at your authentic weight inside… You are lovable and loved. You are an inspiration and a model to many… Losing weight is not an assignment or task… It is the result of growing into your true self… You are enough and you have enough today within you and all around you. You are wonderful and complete. I love you.”

Soul IS self-love. You ARE Soul. It’s that simple, yet it can take a lifetime to live and learn this. So let’s start with retiring that big stick, shall we?