“I get that trauma informed coaching is better coaching in general, especially for people of color,” he said. “But I don’t get how trauma informed coaching is different. Just sounds like good solid coaching to me!”
He had a point. And as a coach and person of color himself, he would know.
My colleague understood that trauma informed coaching is better coaching – for everyone, but especially members of marginalized groups. He got that “trauma” isn’t just one horrible event in the past. While for some people it can be “too much, too fast,” or “too much, too soon,” it can also be “too much for too long” or “not enough for too long*.”” The body, not the brain, is where trauma lives. And the body doesn’t distinguish between acute (singular, intense) trauma and ongoing chronic stress – like too much, or not enough, for too long.
Ever notice how happiness levels don’t seem to change much in the long run? Taking effortful actions can help to change this.
Two years ago, I took the Coursera course The Science of Wellbeing with Laurie Santos from Yale University. My key takeaways were that the things that we think will make us happy like getting a promotion, getting married, or buying a luxury home, generally don’t increase long-term happiness.
This is due to the psychological principal of hedonic adaptation. Like how we adapt to smells and don’t notice them as much after a few minutes, we each have a baseline happiness level that we return to despite changes in circumstances. This has been show in a study of lottery winners and people who became paraplegics.
Using humor in coaching can be an important tool if used appropriately. It can help diffuse a tense situation and lighten the mood. However, if it isn’t done appropriately, humor can be destructive in a coaching setting as well. No client wants to feel made fun of or feel like their opinions aren’t important. During an especially intense session, humor can help provide a needed break or turn the conversation in a more positive direction.
Here’s the thing … I’ve started writing this piece three million times to no avail. I kicked myself. I meditated. I ate chocolate. I watched the news and checked the social. I cursed myself. I hugged myself. I invoked self-compassion (my word for the year). Aaaaannnnnd, nothing.
This year began with hope: new clients and new experiences, more kindness, COVID vaccine, and an end to the “uncivil war.” Then there was the Capital insurrection inflamed by government “leaders,” more people died of COVID, the vaccine was slow to release, fear of more riots. Turns out, the launch of 2021 was all of 2020 PLUS an insurgency, a run-off election and an impeachment. Don’t even get me started on the utterly blatant, inequivalent police response to white mob violence versus Black Lives Matter peaceful protests. I have been overwhelmed with rage, disbelief, disgust, fear, sadness, grief, confusion, and hopelessness. My head is full of images. My heart is full of pain, my own and so many fellow Americans.