The Inner Spa

"It's not what happens that matters, it's how you feel". 
Karen Skehel, in Time Out

Case Study

When a doctor or an alternative therapist doesn’t work, try a life coach.

Get well

Before she met life coach, Karen Skehel, Joanne a successful senior company executive in her 40’s, had lived with ongoing viral infections all her life.  She suffered one viral infection after another. Her infections occurred several times a year and became increasingly severe, interspersed with bacterial infections too.   In 1998 she experienced pneumonia, bronchitis, laryngitis, asthma and post viral syndrome -  one after another. Her health was really impacting on her quality of life.

Some people learn to live with their illness – and do little or nothing to make themselves well.  Joanne wasn’t like this.  She had a list of over 20 things that she had used to try to address her health problems.  Success levels varied.  Some of the things she tried were more successful than others – but the results were short term, if they helped at all.

When she started to work with Karen, Joanne decided to take the opportunity to address a number of key areas of her life, as well as her health.  Karen is a holistic coach, and identifies with her clients the top three areas of their life – the ones that are going to make the greatest impact on their lives across the board.  Goals are set in each of these three areas.  When they looked at the area of health, a goal was set for Joanne’s immune system to be “top-notch”.  Karen is a great believer in the power of goals alone.  A goal that is bang-on for a client has a lot of energy and forward momentum of its own. “Many times I have set goals with clients, and found that things start to shift even before we start to take action” says Karen.  Whilst setting goals starts the process, it is action that is needed to complete it.
A great starting point for actions is to look at what has been tried before, and to score it out of 10 for effectiveness.  Karen is open to all ways of healing – conventional and alternative.  Whilst all can be effective for different people with different circumstances, some were going to more effective for Joanne and others less so.  Amongst the lowest scoring methods for Joanne, were consulting with her GP, consulting with a nutritionist, consulting with a psychic medium and reiki healer, and (surprisingly) using self affirmations.  More successful for Joanne, at least in the short term were holidaying in warm dry climates, maintaining an exercise programme, building relaxation into her schedule and developing her personal assertiveness skills.

Karen also had Joanne identify what aggravated her immune system and what enhanced it.  Overwork, a “driven” personality, and worries made things worse, whereas good sleep patterns, a regular eating routine, a good relationship and work/life balance made things better for her.

Karen believes that whenever, we have a way of being in the world that appears to not be serving us, in this case illness, there are always some positive payoffs for having the illnesses.  Joanne identified her positive pay offs as positive attention, legitimate sick leave, and time out for thinking.

Our positive payoffs are our unmet needs.  So Karen had Joanne look for other ways that she could meet her needs for attention, and time out, without her illnesses.

“One of the most powerful tools available to a coach is a visioning tool” says Karen. “I asked Joanne to describe her future life using all her senses: how she will feel when her goal is achieved.  It is crucial that this is done in the present tense”.  Joanne went into quite a lot of detail, making it real, and wrote her story down so she could refer to it at the completion of the coaching.  She even wrote about someone coming up to her with a dreadful head cold.  She reported feeling relaxed, knowing that her immune system is “top notch” and that she will fend off invading viruses effortlessly.  This thought was quite inconceivable at the time.

One of the things that Joanne hadn’t really tapped into was her spiritual power. This is something that we all have – and some of us have greater access to it than others.

Deep down Joanne recognised her spiritual power was awesome, but it didn’t always serve her well at this stage.  There had been many occasions when she had spent time talking to friends or colleagues about their problems.  They went away feeling better and she was left feeling worse.  These feelings often turned into physical symptoms – the viruses that she very much wanted to avoid.
Fear of psychics and/or huge disbelief gets in the way of accessing spiritual power for many people.  Joanne wasn’t 100% comfortable working through spirituality.  Taking this on board, and instead of taking Joanne on a spiritual journey to meet her illness, Karen had Joanne do this process herself.

This simply involved Joanne meeting her “illness” in her imagination, and asking “it” what it came to teach her, what action she needs to take next and to seek clarification that it will leave if she takes the action. The final request is to ask for healing and feel that healing taking place.

The messages that Joanne received from this process came across loud and clear, and in a lot of detail.  She came up with the following list of what she needed to do:

         Let go of any feelings of grief and irritation – suppression causes bodily health problems
         Say what she means at all times – be true to herself; create a greater vocabulary for expressing all her emotions and develop the courage to use it
         Learn, use and employ psychic protections when caring for others
         Relax and chill out from stress as often as possible
         Balance chakras regularly and visualise being in great health; notice the benefits
         Seek and find a loving partner, open herself to love – avoid ‘bad’ partners from outset
         Accept disappointments as part of life’s learning, and move on
         Trust the universe and be part of it
         Deal with conflicts with others promptly
         Use techniques to cleanse away negative emotions regularly
         Use self protective and assertive language with all emotional manipulators
         Ask others for help when she needs help promptly and accept help when it’s offered more often

Even more importantly the benefits of coaching occurred when she  focussed on health rather than disease, thought  of herself as well at all times including stressful ones, concentrated on feelings of well being, good health and vitality and decided to get better and stay there.
The symptoms that Joanne had at the outset of the coaching started to shift.  An ongoing sinus problem and catarrh came to a quick ending.  This was even more gratifying as her immune system’s effectiveness was seriously tested by major work being carried out on her house which resulted in chemical treatment to furniture and where everything had to be turned upside down.  On top of all his, her rheumatoid arthritis cleared up.

Getting the answers is only part of the story.  Putting them into action is the second part – and the most crucial.  Again this is where a life coach comes in – keeping clients on track.

“Joanne is excellent at following through on her actions” says Karen “but other clients find that checking in with their coach gives them that extra impetus to do what they say they are going to do.”

As the coaching progressed, Joanne changed the way she used affirmations and made them around health, a key feature of her life.  She became more aware of the feedback from her body and acted upon it.  She used a “forgiveness” process that Karen offers her clients to clear away anger and resentment that she had been carrying around about some key people in her life.

The vast majority of people carry around some anger and resentment for someone who has “mistreated” them in some way.  The “forgiveness” process allows people to move to a place of genuine forgiveness with corresponding benefits in relationships overall, as well as to health.  Some people think that when they forgive someone it is for the benefit of this other person.  In reality, it is the forgiver who benefits most.

Processing emotions healthily is a challenge for many people.  Particularly expressing anger, sadness or fear.  This is a particular area of expertise for Karen, having spent a number of years training in the area of emotional intelligence.  Like anything it just takes practice and adopting a belief that it is not only OK to express your emotions, but that it enhances relationships, and is key to good health as Joanne found it.

With Karen’s input, Joanne adopted a simple formula for dealing with emotions in herself.   Feel the feelings, accept the feelings, express them when appropriate and let them go.  Learning from the experience also became an important part of the formula.

Key to Joanne’s immune system being top notch (and more importantly staying top notch) was adopting the belief that well-ness is a permanent state for her.  Given that this hadn’t been the case before, Karen invited Joanne to “act as if” this was true, as a prelude to it becoming true.

Joanne had her blue print for health in place – all she had to was keep doing everything. This is where Karen stepped in again – on a fortnightly basis to support Joanne with staying on track.  It was early days and Joanne was attacked by a virus which was triggered by a “pressure –cooker” zone.  This time things were different.  Instead of letting it take her over, Joanne now had the means to heal it – and quickly.

Often people do things that work, but are not particularly conscious of what they have done.  Working with Karen, Joanne took the opportunity to get clear about what she had done to ward of the virus.  “I used visualisation, allowed people in my life and in particular my new partner to give me lots of support, and I separated myself out from the negative people in my life” said Joanne.  Before long, processing emotions healthily was becoming a habit.

As time, went by, Joanne realised she had many tools in her new tool box to keep her on track with her health. She started to choose which methods felt right for her in each moment.

As with all achievements, both small and large ones, self acknowledgement completes the process.  Karen had Joanne, stop and say “well done” once a day to herself and to her “higher self”.

Joanne’s immune system continues on track and stays top notch.  There are always fine adjustments to be made.  For a naturally driven person such as Joanne, it’s beneficial for her to be OK with a slightly slower pace, something that she is adopting more and more..   

Life coaching has played a vital part in Joanne going from an “ill person” to a “well one” as a natural state of being.


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