When I was in coach training at The Coaches Training Institute (CTI), we learned a concept called “Process Coaching.” The idea is that life is not a smooth ride. As coaches, our charge is “being with” clients. This is especially important when a client is in a state of resistance rather than acceptance.
Some of the most productive coaching moments occur when a client is willing to “process” pain and loss. These moments can help a client move to resolution, calm, and acceptance. As a result, they are part of a client’s forward motion.
None of us like to experience loss, but loss is unavoidable.
Take a moment now and think of a time when something shocking, unexpected, scary, and/or very sad happened to you. You lost a piece of life “as it was” at that moment. The emotional pain may have been so great that you actually felt physical pain. Initially, you may have been flooded with thoughts: “This can’t be true. I can’t accept this.”
As you were processing the bad news, your emotions may have been so overwhelming that they felt almost unbearable. You realized that life wouldn’t be the same. You may have felt as if your dreams and hopes would be crushed forever.
As the hours, days, and weeks rolled by, you may have continued to be filled with a flood of emotions. If so, you probably found yourself wondering, “How can I ever get to acceptance?”
Getting to Acceptance
None of us are exempt from bad news. But how can you accept the sudden death of a friend or loved one, getting fired, failing a college course, or learning that you have a life-threatening condition or serious mental illness?
You can never be prepared for a big loss, but there are things you can do to move through the loss in a healthy way that leads to acceptance.
One of the things that helps us move through loss is to find words and concepts that give meaning to how we think and feel. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss psychiatrist who gave us some words for “the five stages of grief” in her 1969 book, On Death and Dying.
The acronym for Kübler-Ross’ model is DABDA – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. She observed these as five stages in the death and dying process. She also observed that most people go through at least two of the five stages.
Over the years, I have found that the DABDA formula helps me with almost any kind of “loss.” I’ve also discovered that loss is not a straight-forward process. It’s complex. Each of us experiences loss very differently because each person is unique in how he or she processes thoughts and emotions.
You may think you have worked through all five stages of a loss and have come to acceptance, only to become angry or depressed all over again. You may find yourself on an emotional roller coaster, only gradually getting to acceptance.
Things You May Think or Feel on the Way to Acceptance
- Denial – I don’t believe this happened. I don’t want to believe it happened. It can’t be true. There must be a mistake. Therefore, I’m going to keep living as if this didn’t happen.
- Anger – Why did this happen to me? I don’t deserve this!! I’m furious! This is so unfair! I don’t want my life to change! Why can’t things stay the same? It’s all YOUR fault!
- Bargaining – I can fix this. I’ll just try harder. I know I can control this. I’ll just move to another country where life is better. I’m sure the teacher will understand why I didn’t turn in the paper.
- Depression – I feel hopeless. There’s no way out of this. I don’t feel like trying any more. I’ll just give up. I just want to be left alone.
- Acceptance – I’m still here. In reality, life goes on. There are important things for me to do with my life. I want to enjoy life. I don’t want to feel sad and angry. Therefore, I want to move on. Other people have moved past this kind of loss; I can, too.
Just knowing the five stages of the grieving process can help you feel that you are not alone. Learning and understanding the DABDA model can help you move through loss in a healthy way.
What if I Get Stuck on the Way to Acceptance?
A friend who recently experienced a big loss wrote to me, “This is more than grief; there’s fear, too, and unutterable anxiety about the fate of my children and grandchildren.” In response to my reference to the Five Stages model, she asked, “Acceptance is NOT a desirable end-state, is it?”
Acceptance is usually a healthy and desirable outcome in the grief and loss process. But it may not be an absolute “end-state.” It often comes and goes. You may never fully accept a loss. Acceptance is a process.
Accepting a loss does not mean “liking” it. Or doing nothing about it. It doesn’t even mean that you rid yourself forever of all anger, fear, sadness, or other emotion about the loss.
Acceptance simply means coming to a sense of peace, resolution, or calm so that you can “move the action forward,” as we say in coaching. Acceptance is a state of mindfulness.
In summary, by getting to acceptance, you move into a healthier state of mind. If you get stuck in a Denial, Anger, Bargaining, or Depression state of mind, you will have a more difficult time moving forward. And it will be hard for you to be in a state of mindfulness – a state of “being in the moment.”
How Can Coaching Help Me Get to Acceptance?
Coaching can help you become more mindful and “move the action forward.” Through “process coaching,” a coach can help you become more aware of the thoughts and feelings that keep you stuck. By increasing your self-awareness, you also strengthen your Emotional Intelligence.
A basic principle in coaching is that each person is “Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole (NCRW).” Coaching can help you bring forth your NCRW self and move past a loss. It can help you discover new, exciting ways to achieve your goals, even while processing grief.
Do you need some help in getting to acceptance and moving forward? Just click on our contact form and let us know a good time to schedule a free 30-minute consultation. Coaching might be just what you need to help you “get to acceptance” and reach your goals.