Using questions to unblock

In the course of writing the ecourse, Coaching Skills for OTs,  I revisited a document I produced a few years ago.  It came from asking OTs what the commonly heard reasons patients give for not moving forward or not putting plans in place: namely what they struggled with.

Commonly given answers included:

“I don’t have the energy”
“There are too many risks”
“Its too painful”
and many more

I often take statements that I hear, be it in coaching, or “regular” conversations, and have a play with them in my head, to see what coach like questions I could generate which might help unlock some thoughts or ideas.

For example:

In response to….“I’ve not got the energy to do…” you could ask:

–       Tell me what having energy means to you.
–       How would you know if you have enough energy?
–       What are your energy gainers and your energy drainers?
–       What’s one way to get more energy into your life?
–       How could you prioritise things to save energy for this?
–       When your energy seems good, what sort of things are you doing?
–       What would your advice be to someone who said this to you?
–       What worked in the past with this?

I could go on for some time, but I encourage you to think about your client groups and remember some of the barriers to engagement or occupation, that they often give you. Then try the above exercise. See if you can come up with open, powerful, questions and also watch out for any leading questions  (for example my question which says about prioritising, presumes that prioritising would help and might lead the client to adapt that solution…not my aim if I am trying to be a non-directive coach!)

…and next time one of these blocking kinda questions pop into your head, have a play with it and find some questions which might help you or your clients see things differently.

Self Care

I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to take time off. Working for myself, you don’t get paid if you don’t work, but the risks of keeping working until you drop are significantly higher. I’ve done burnout before – its not nice and its not clever and last time (yes its happened more than once) I decided I was bored with burn out. I needed some new tactics and self care had to be higher up the agenda.

I find it really hard to notice what my body, mind and soul are trying to say. I think its hard to listen to my body as most of my time is spent in my head..thinking, writing etc. So it came as quite a shock last month when my back finally said “enough” and gave me a nice dose of lower back pain.  Having children is great but it also raised my tolerance levels for running on empty. I can run on empty for weeks now, but couldn’t in my twenties. I have learnt to ignore the whispers of exhaustion and respond only to the “keep going girl…you have to” voice which is much louder.

So why am I writing this? Well apart from my ridiculous need to share, which you know about, there is an increasing awareness that I really need to walk my talk!  I coach people who are often on the brink of burnout or just rising from the ashes. I work with lots of people who just “keep goin” and I am always encouraging my friends to take time for themselves….hmmm.  There is also an awareness that the stakes are actually too high now, to do burnout again.

Emergency care and ongoing maintenance

If I have overdone it I often end up cancelling things in my diary and heading to the local hotel to use their spa, have a massage and then lunch, hoping that fuels me a little longer. I don’t see a problem in doing this every now and then, but if I notice a feeling of dread creeping in when I look in my diary, I know I have to do more than just emergency care…  I have to return to daily self care routines.

It’s taken me a long time to embed a small self care routine into my day, but it is proving invaluable and as I get older, it pays back many dividends. Its not easy and sometimes I find that 3 or 4 days have passed and I have forgotten my promises to myself, but these days I know that’s OK and just re-start things.

So today I challenge you to book something meaty in your diary which will help refill your well and start a small daily self care routine – even just 10 mins of time to do some yoga stretches, use a relaxation app or do some drawing/knitting/walking which we know can greatly help our well-being.

Warm wishes Jen.

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