What Gives Our Lives Meaning?

What Gives Our Lives Meaning?

….Do we derive meaning from our work, or from spending time with our families, or by building a sense of community? Do we find meaning by donating our time or money; or by fulfilling our personal dreams and goals? Is finding meaning about discovering our purpose and passion, or is it a combination of everything? Are we born with a sense of our purpose, or do we discover it along the way? How do we give our lives meaning?

We’ve asked our community of coaches how they find meaning in their lives, and what they do to keep it.

Lindsey Taylor-Vivier:

A while back and after losing my job and with too much time on my hands, I felt lost and alone. Someone said to me, “You need three things in life: 1. someone to love 2. something to hope for 3. a purpose.” I didn’t have a purpose for so long, and I can see now how essential having a sense of purpose is for my mental health. Now that I found my purpose in Coaching others, I don’t want to ever let it go. I know that over time my purpose will change, I always want to keep my eyes and heart open to what lights me up and fulfills me. As Marie Kondo says, “What if every decision you make, every goal you set and every aspect of your life was guided by what sparks joy?”

Carla Morton:

I find a lot of meaning in connecting with dear friends and sharing our deepest wishes, fears and inner worlds with one another. I also get a lot of meaning out of seeing my 23 year old daughter thrive in her life. I used to get a ton of meaning out of dreaming up and launching companies, but once I had my daughter, I realized, life is much more meaningful when I devote myself to the love, care and cultivation of another human being. I now get a lot of meaning out of coaching young women who don’t have the resources to work with a coach. I know through our continued relationship that I will support them in finding their voice and in creating the life that they dream of! I also get a ton of meaning when I hear from former clients who are now thriving in their lives and share that our coaching work together was a pivotal part of their process.

Michelle Hayden-Marsan:

This is such a good question; like, what’s the meaning of life? It’s profound and in order to distill it down for me, I came up with the following: doing, giving and receiving.

Doing what I love brings me joy and fulfillment. I don’t think it matters if you do what you love for business, for pleasure, or for both; the important thing is to know what brings you joy and to incorporate enough of that into your daily life. For me, doing what brings me joy means spending time with family and friends, having a creative outlet (making things, going to museums for inspiration), spending time in nature, cultivating a practice of living with integrity and practicing gratitude and compassion.

Giving something of ourselves to another satisfies a basic human need for the giver as well as the receiver. Whether we are giving a smile to someone on the street who looks like they have seen better days, or giving our time, money, or conversation to someone who could use it; being a “giver” brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives. I read somewhere that if you are feeling miserable and lost and can muster up the strength, give your time by volunteering at a soup kitchen, or somewhere that can use your help. Chances are, that you will walk out feeling better than when you walked in.

As humans, we need to love and to be loved. Receiving can be tough sometimes when we aren’t feeling deserving, but it is important to be able to receive graciously. I have to work on that skill from time to time. I receive love from my partner, my family, friends, my pets and from nature.

Sarah E. Spencer:

When I think about what gives me meaning, I could list a zillion things in different categories – wellness, professional, connecting with people, home, travel. As I thought about this question, two central and consistent intentions take focus.

The first intention is the practice of gratitude. An example of gratitude for me is taking ten seconds to thank the newspaper carrier when I see her early in the twilight, or thanking the concert employee working the door on a subzero evening. It can include customizing communication, for example a handwritten note for those who would love to receive one, or a text or DM for those who rarely check their post box or inbox. On the receiving side, I say thank you as it is offered, without previous responses of ‘it was nothing.’ Thank you.
“Yin” energy is the second area that brings meaning. For me, yin energy draws on creative energy, currently engaged with Quilting. I love the connection between my hands and making meaning, how quilts acknowledge the change of seasons, and how they unite evening sewing with female ancestors.

Michelle Ihrig:

As I grow, the answer to this question seems like it would change, but ultimately now when I reflect back, I find that the concept around meaning has not changed. What gives my life meaning is purpose. What defines my Purpose is an ever growing sense of Self Awareness.

When I graduated from college my purpose was to find work in an environment where I was happy and where I felt like I was adding value. It meant doing something professionally that used my strengths in communication, sales and people management. It also meant working at things I cared about, which, for me, is the environment and a sustainable planet. When I got married and had kids, my children moved to the front and center of my purpose. My purpose was to raise children who felt loved, had resilience to tackle life’s challenges, and would become caring and contributing members to our communities. Now that my sons are grown, I find that my purpose is to wrap around the entirety of these two things, my family and my professional contribution. This boils down to a strong sense of Self Awareness, knowing what is important to me, leveraging my strengths and understanding where I can add the most value in creating positive change in my circle of influence. This is what gives my life profound and deep meaning.

Brandi Richard Thompson:

My life has meaning because I can serve. It is important to use my talents and gifts in the service of others. Finding the coaching profession allowed me to see how my talents can be used to enrich the lives of others.

Watching my parents give to others through their church, work, and numerous nonprofit organizations, showed me so many ways that we can show up positively in the lives of others. Sometimes, just a kind word helped to brighten someone’s day or inspire them. I can’t count how many times people have stopped me throughout my life to let me know how my parents had individually or collectively been a blessing to them.

The first time I heard this quote from Marian Wright Edelman, I understood the service ethos of my family. “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” It is through service that I find meaning and joy. As a coach, I get to experience joy every day.

What is Self-Love, and How in the World do You Find it?

What is Self-Love, and How in the World do You Find it?

In this article, I am happy to share my very profound and personal journey of understanding of what Self-Love is. It’s also about how I came to discovering what self-love means, and how I practice it.

Confusion: What is Self-Love?

When I used to hear Oprah talking about Self-Love, I had no idea what she meant. The concept of Self-Love felt elusive and unattainable.

I would hear her say, “You truly can’t love another until you love yourself,”  and I was truly confused by what she meant.

I thought that I did love others, so maybe I could skip the self-love part and put all my energy into loving others and that would be ok. (It is true that I was loving others who didn’t love me back btw, and that dysfunctional kind of love is what I used as confirmation that I was indeed unlovable). 

I spent so much of my life hating myself, spending countless hours with that negative voice inside me telling me I wasn’t smart enough, thin enough, pretty enough, funny enough, rich enough, or interesting enough. Looking back, I see so much self-doubt, criticism, and judgment on every inch of my being. 

It was debilitating.  

When I got to my lowest of lows, I had dysmorphia – a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance.

When I would leave the house, I believed people were laughing at me because I was so monstrously ugly, disgusting and fat. That led to more isolation, which handed the negative voice a megaphone.

Later in life, my therapist helped me understand that dysmorphia isn’t as uncommon as you would think and is a common result of anxiety.

free, downloadable Coaching Guides & Tools

Therapy was the First Step to Self-Love

Putting all my energy loving and taking care of others worked as a pacifier for a long time, until I met someone who showed up and loved me. It was so uncomfortable, I sometimes hated it. I wondered what was wrong with the guy and was suspicious of what he really wanted from me.

It was so uncomfortable for me that it led me to making a commitment to therapy.

First thing I needed to do was heal from the past, accept myself, forgive myself, and start building myself up again.  

I am a rape survivor and this deep wound stayed with me every single day; always present as a reminder of how unlovable, dirty, stupid and reckless I was. I believed that I deserved what I got.  

I never thought I would get past this feeling of unworthines. But, talking about the wound during the course of my therapy sessions finally got me to the place of acceptance around this trauma. I began to understand that I didn’t deserve it; that I was and am lovable. That it was NOT MY FAULT. 

Yes, the deep wound was a PART of my story, BUT not all of it.

From Therapy to Coach Training: Continuing the Healing

Slowly, I got more comfortable in my own skin. The voices got quieter, and I felt ready to start something new. 

My therapist suggested I enroll in MMS Coach Training with Dr. Cherie Carter-Scott.  She shared that of all the training she had ever done, this one made the most impact on her life. I trusted her more than myself at the time, so off I went.   

I found myself in a room of strangers with an open and curious heart, ready to dive in and see what would happen. It was so much more than I ever would have expected.

I got to know myself better; started to feeling my feelings and then began understanding what truly I wanted in life. From there, I started making choices for myself! 

As part of the training, The MMS Institute offered the Inner Negotiation Workshop, which is where I faced my pain head on.

I continued healing my past with the help of the other participants who played different people or parts of myself so I could yell, scream, hit things and practice hard conversations. I this workshop setting, I learned how I could set better boundaries with my mother and family.  

I also read Dr. Chérie Carter-Scott’s book, 10 Rules for Being Human and Rule #1: “Love your body, It’s the Only One You’ve Got.” This rule and the entire book left a deep impression on me. This was the beginning of loving my body.

Coach Training Led to Discovering My Purpose

As I myself became a coach, I began to uncover my purpose. 

I started to listen and trust myself more than I had ever before. 

I allowed love and support into my life, which in turn gave me confidence. Of course, this didn’t happen all at once; the metamorphosis took several years, and it wasn’t always a bed of roses. 

I had a lot of anger boiling up inside me, which the people I loved most took the brunt of. There was way too much drinking, and hiccups where I reverted back to unhealthy behaviors…

But, clarity and self-love did make its way into my heart and mind. 

And, Oprah was right.

Now I can take on almost any circumstance in life and I don’t make it about me or beat myself up.

Healing into Self-Love

I now know what self-love is.  

Self-Love is a mindset, a true gift you give yourself, a freedom to be you, all parts of you, all the imperfections…they are, in fact, uniquely your beauty.  

Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier

My life is precious to me now.

I know there is not another human like me.

Everything in my life that I experienced, even the hard stuff is what makes me the one and only ME. 

I celebrate the life that I have, the person that I am.

Nobody can take it away and nobody can appreciate and honor myself as much as I can.

I found my power.

I found my passion.

Benefits of Self-Love: An Open and Curious Mindset

My mindset is open and curious, and I take the time to identify my feelings.

If I make a mistake in public, instead of feeling stupid and unworthy I look at the situation, examine my feelings, and try to understand the lesson.  

For example, recently I coached in public, and it didn’t go well. In fact, let’s say it was a real bomb…

I spent time reflecting on the experience and looking at the big picture of what had happened.

Here are some of the insights I uncovered during my reflections:

  • Will this 30-minute coaching session ruin me, the client, or the students? The answer was a resounding No.
  • I discovered I want to coach more. And, I needed to coach more than a few times a year in public.
  • And, perhaps, it was time to get a supervisor to watch my coaching sessions.
  • Amazingly, I did many things right in the session.

In conclusion, I realized that I am ok. I even noticed where I can grow as a coach. Now, I consider this experience to be a gift.

And, very importantly, I never once turned on myself!

Today, I am a Coach, Coach Trainer, and Managing Director for The MMS Institute of Northern California. I’m honored that I get to support people in finding their own way to healing and self-love!

Free Coaching Sessions

Do You Need a Therapist, Mentor, Consultant or Professional Coach?

Do You Need a Therapist, Mentor, Consultant or Professional Coach?

WIth the increasing complexity and pace of life, work, and relationships in the modern age, people—executives, professionals, academics, business owners, managers and moms—have become increasingly aware of their need for support and help. Of course, knowing one needs help does not always equal to knowing how one can be best supported or helped. Does one need a therapist, a coach or a mentor? Or, a consultant? It is all very confusing. And, of course,  there are informal options such as talking to your manager, a trusted family member, friends or a colleague. 

This blog post covers:

  • An overview of the formal types of support that are available–therapists, mentors, consultants and coaches
  • Sheds light on when you may need a particular type of support
  • The premise behind Coaching and what to expect from a Coach

The key to getting the right help is understanding what you need, and what type of help you can expect from the expert. 

The overview is followed by a deep dive into coaching, expectations, types of coaching, and what to expect from a professional coaching relationship. 

Overview of Consultants, Mentors, Therapists, and Coaches

A consultant provides professional or expert advice or services that you may need at work (tax advice or business expansion strategy) or for your home (establishing a new garden or college options for your high school senior). Consultants are experts in their fields and have a clear definition of the services and expertise they can provide.

A mentor has experience working in your field, is senior to you, and provides trustworthy advice on your career or job. Many of these relationships are at work where a more senior leader will share personal experiences on how he / she navigated a business problem, shed light on career paths, and connect the mentee to others who could be of further assistance. These can be authentic and meaningful relationships where role modeling by the mentor can be an important source of inspiration for the mentee.

A therapist is used when one needs a trained mental health professional to heal from mental or emotional problems, past or present trauma, anger, or illnesses that do not require medication or surgery. 

A professional coach helps an individual to unlock their own potential to improve performance, maximize potential, gain clarity, and achieve goals. For example, a tennis coach can help improve one’s game, a math coach can help coach a brilliant math student for a competition, a relationship coach can help improve relationships with one’s children, spouse, or parents and a business coach can help you advance your career and enhance your leadership skills.

It is important to keep in mind that professional coaching is not about dealing with trauma. It is not psychotherapy. It is not expert advice from a lawyer, doctor, or accountant. 

One way to think about it: Your life is good but you want it to be great, then you are ready for a Coach.

The Premise Behind Professional Coaching

The coaching assumption is that the client knows their own answer and simply needs support to discover it. They will ask the right questions so you can discover or uncover or realize the answer that is right for you. They will talk you through your fears and help you examine your fears. A coach will help you reframe the stories you tell yourself so that they no longer stop you or hold you back from your goals.

The best coaches are open, curious, and make you think about possibilities. Once you know, you can’t unknow. When you figure out the answer, it is not possible to go back. 

A coach will help you reflect on why you may have reacted a certain way and explore a new way of looking at problems and instead of reacting, make a conscious decision on how you choose to respond to them.

In summary, the right coach will …

  • Empower you to identify and confirm objectives and clarify outcomes
  • Enable you to examine assumptions, explore options, discover pathways and determine next steps
  • Enhance your awareness of choices and confidence in your decisions
  • Register accomplishments, record next steps, support steady progress
  • Be Present to help you find your answers, Not to Know. Not to be the Expert. Not to be the Therapist.

Is it important for a professional coach to be an expert in your field or have experienced what you are going through? The best coaches know nothing about your field of expertise and may not have experienced what you are dealing with, but they are trained in asking you open-ended questions so you get clarity about your problems, can consider your options and in the process, they help you find your answers. 

Executive Coaching

Even the most accomplished leaders and executives look for a coach because many times in the workplace, as a leader, there are very few people with whom you can openly or honestly share your challenges or concerns without being judged or without causing a loss of confidence in your ability to deliver. And, it may also be difficult to know who to trust in challenging work environments. 

A coach can serve as a person you can trust, is someone who has your back, is on your side, and will give you honest feedback. You can confide in your coach and through the process, make your own decisions on how to proceed. This is invaluable. 

A coach can also help you become a better leader by helping you gain clarity on your values and your vision. They can help you create a plan on how you will achieve your goals and keep you accountable. With clarity, comes confidence and the ability to inspire others and lead them on the journey together to accomplishing the mission.

A coach can help you understand how you can fix a dysfunctional leadership team by encouraging you to think through the team dynamics, explore ideas for shifting the dynamics, improve your relationships with individuals on the team, and help them improve their own relationships so that they can move forward together. 

For aspiring leaders, a coach can help you get that promotion, surpass your goals, manage office dynamics, and create a work-life balance. 

Coaching for Women, Coaching for People of Color & Coaching for Minority Professionals

Being a leader is hard enough – you may be under intense scrutiny from your teams, your bosses and others – but as a woman, person of color or minority, intersectionality (the mix of gender, race, color, class, immigration status, accent and more) creates additional pressures. You may be held to a different standard, judged more harshly, not given the benefit of doubt – you are an anomaly. People may be looking for reasons as to how you got to where you got. A coach can help you navigate unconscious bias, and make progress in spite of what may be a challenging environment.

A Coach (not a Therapist) for Personal Relationships

Working with a coach to improve or change personal relationships is all about taking action now, it is about improving your relationships for the future. These types of situations are best suited to working with a coach. Keep in mind that the coach, unlike a therapist, will not be about healing relationships, understanding what went wrong in the past, or letting go of the past. 

Getting Unstuck with a Professional Coach

Feeling stuck is about not feeling right with your work, your day, or personal life. You don’t feel not excited about the day or going to work but you don’t know what the right thing is. Coaches help you get unstuck by helping clarify what’s important, what makes you happy, what you enjoy doing. And, what’s stopping you from getting there and what’s stopping you from charting a path to your goal.

Coaching Modalities and Beyond Silos 

Coaching is moving beyond asking discerning questions. Many coaches use different modalities in working with their clients. 

For example, health and well being need more than conversations. A coach may be an experienced yoga teacher and practitioner and can help you design a grounding routine as a part of your coaching. This can help you reduce your stress and frustration levels, be present, silence your mind, and relax you so you can have a more impactful coaching session. A coach with a mindfulness practice can take you through a visioning process to help identify goals. 

Coaches who have been athletes and continue a practice of vigorous exercise can help you connect your mind and body through high-intensity or low-intensity moves. Using both mind and body, you can tap into feelings, into stress, release tension, uncover what’s holding you back in a completely different way. 

Sometimes, we may believe there is no problem, and doing yoga or other body techniques (for example, breathwork or qigong) can open the mind to a different reality. Some coaches even use horses to help clients face their fears and process emotions.

What would you like a professional coach to help you with?

  • Be less… stressed, frustrated.. More… balanced?
  • Have more… time, money, job?
  • Feel… loved, happy, confident, healthy?

The MMS NorCal Coaching Collective brings together professional coaches with many modalities, skills, and passions. You may find your coach in our collective.

Here are three articles on this blog that can also help you further understand the value and benefits of a coaching program: