As a health coach, you guide and support your clients as they work toward their goals. Harder and get results faster. You may have noticed that some people are getting angry. Common refrains include:
"I am so weak and have no self-discipline."
"I am just lazy and can not bring myself to start exercising."
"I do not deserve to feel good because I'll never loose this weight. "
For most people, this type of self-criticism is generally ineffective because it can provide feelings of inadequacy and erode self-confidence. Fortunately, there is plenty you can do to help your clients tame their inner critics.
You may intuitively wish to refute your clients' harsh talk, but this may actually only serve to reinforce their beliefs. If you try to convince your client that she is not a failure, she may respond by offering examples of all the ways in which she is. Instead, turn to coaching skills derived from motivational interviewing, a conversational technique used to help elicit behavior change. Acknowledge that your client is struggling in some way and then redirects the dialogue to encourage the client to talk about the many reasons why he or she wants to change.
The cognitive behavioral approach is a useful tool to use for a client's harsh self-talk. A key goal of this approach is to identify and challenge unhelpful assumptions. If a client declares himself to be weak or lazy, take a moment to examine the validity of his statement. Is it a fact or an opinion? You can show your client that just because he himself does a certain way, that's not true. Then, together, you can rewrite the script by creating more helpful responses to life's setbacks. Instead of saying I'm eating a cupcake, I'm not a bad person. I just made one unhelpful choice and now I can get back on track. "
3. Self-compassion is an antidote to self-criticism.
Self-criticism can become a reflexive habit, and many people do not engage in it. Ask your client "How helpful is it to harshly to yourself? Would you like to talk to someone else? For example, "I'm having a tough time with this, but it's normal for people to struggle this way. I may accept myself and be patient and strong. "
4. If self-criticism stubbornly persists, consider a referral.
If a client continues to struggle with self-criticism and wants to change his or her behavior, then a signal that this client would benefit from a counselor or psychotherapist.
Clients are often hard on themselves as they work on getting healthier. Unfortunately, a harsh internal critic can interfere with motivation and make the work of health behavior more difficult. As a health coach, you play in an important role in this demeaning voice. Using techniques from motivational interviewing and the cognitive behavioral model, you can help your clients relate to themselves with more kindness and acceptance.