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9 important lessons life coaching taught me

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Here are nine of the most important lessons I've learned on my journey to becoming a life coach that have literally changed my life! Hopefully they can do the same for you, too.

I can't quite put into words how much my life has changed for the better since I got into personal growth and development.

It took several years of absorbing knowledge and wisdom from renowned experts in the field. Deepak Chopra, Joe Dispenza, Tony Robbins, Byron Katie and Vishen Lakhiani to name a few, and putting their teachings into practice.

I had a lot of ‘ah ha’ moments where I knew I’d just experienced a profound shift in my thinking, and I was getting happier, more confident and more open minded by the day.

Eventually, I became my very own life coach and managed to coach myself on a daily basis, without even knowing that's what I was doing. And it completely changed my life.

So, I want to pass on my learnings to you in hopes you can save yourself some time, frustration and perhaps even some tears...

Here are nine of the most important lessons I've learned on my journey to becoming a life coach!

Lesson #1: Your thoughts are absolutely everything, and you get to choose them.

Change your thoughts, change your life. When I first heard this phrase I thought, 'what a load of sh*t. I can't change my thoughts, they're automatic.' But then after absorbing a lot of information from personal growth leaders backed by studies, I actually realised that I could in fact choose what I wanted to think and it completely changed my life.

My thoughts, probably much like your own, tend to lean towards the negative side naturally, which is a problem because your thoughts directly impact how you feel. I would get out of bed and look in the mirror every morning and call myself fat, immediately setting myself up for a not so great day.

The funny thing was that I didn't realise that I was actually my own worst bully. No one else would wake up every day and make an effort to call me fat. But I thought it was just the mean voice in my head doing its normal thing and it couldn't be controlled.

But then I started catching it in the act and arguing with it. I'd look in the mirror and the voice would say 'fat', and I'd say, 'I'm not fat, I'm a perfect size 10 thanks,' or, 'if we don't have anything nice to say we don't say anything at all,' and over time the mean voice shut up and the nice, empowering voice moved in, which would actually give me compliments each morning instead of saying mean things.

Of course the mean voice still comes up in all sorts of situations, but I simply call out its sh*tty behaviour just like I would call out a bully in real life, and put it in its place again.

Be aware of what the little voice inside your head is saying to you. Is it being nice and empowering, or is it being mean, making you feel like crap and holding you back?

Don't tolerate talking to yourself like that, because it does a lot more harm than good, and I'd hope you wouldn't tolerate other people speaking to you like that.

There's no room for bullies in this world, let alone in your own head. That little voice should be your own little cheerleader, not your worst enemy.

Lesson #2: Your comfort zone is a trap that stops you from reaching your potential.

The comfort zone is a trap and we all get stuck in it at some point. We as humans love doing what's comfortable, and we like taking the path of least resistance. We think we should just naturally be good at everything, and when we're not we give up because it's hard. I mean, can you blame us? Our brains are largely the reason why.

Our brains LOVE the familiar. They like to re-use the neural pathways that have already been formed and repeat the same patterns over and over because it's the path of least resistance and forming new ones takes effort. Even if those patterns aren't considered particularly 'good' for you, like overeating, smoking or drug or alcohol addiction.

But then there's other patterns like repeating the same unchallenging routine day in, day out until we die. I don't know about you, but I couldn't think of anything worse than doing the same old sh*t day in, day out simply because it's familiar and my brain doesn't want to do any extra work, and I'm too much of a scaredy cat to take the leap.

But at the same time, why should we choose to do things that are a bit hard over taking the easy route?

Because if we don't do things that challenge or scare us, we don't grow, and we sure as hell don't get the life we want. Do you think billionaires became billionaires because they stayed in their comfort zones and didn't take any risks or did things that scared the sh*t out of them? Absolutely not.

All you need to do is read a few origin stories for amazing people and businesses and often it'll have a similar narrative: 'I went all in, put my ass on the line, I felt the fear and did it anyway, I failed a few times... and guess what, eventually it paid off!'

Now I'm not saying that you should quit your job and sell your house to go all in on that side project you've been um-ing and ah-ing about tomorrow. What I'm saying is that if you feel yourself being pulled in a particular direction but you keep pushing it away because it scares you or it's 'too hard', I say be curious, give it a nudge and see what happens.

What's the worst case scenario? You end up where you already are, with some new knowledge, and perhaps out of pocket a little bit of money. You can always earn more.

I think the important thing to focus on is what happens when you succeed?

Lesson #3: We fear things that can't even harm us, and it keeps us small.

We are so bloody scared of failure that it stops us from even trying. The crazy part of it is that often what we're scared of isn't actually something that can hurt us.

It's not like we're scared of hungry tigers eating us while we hunt for food. No. We're scared of what people will think about us if we tell them we want to start our own business and they laugh at the idea. We're scared of speaking in front of an audience to introduce ourselves or pitch an amazing idea we have in case we mess up or we look stupid. We're scared of trying something that we've always wanted to do in case we fail because we'd be embarrassed and our poor ego would get hurt.

So instead we don't even try, and we simply think about what we want to do and never take action because we're sh*t scared of intangible things that can't actually hurt us!

We're more worried about what others think of us than anything else, and it keeps us small. Instead of concerning yourself with what others will think about you for doing something, I challenge you to instead concern yourself with what you'd think about yourself if you didn't do that thing.

At the end of the day you're the one who has to live with yourself, so your opinion is really the only one that matters.

Lesson #4: Everything in life is neutral until we apply meaning to it.

This one was a bit of a mind f*ck for me, in the most wonderful way. Our brains are meaning making machines. When something happens, the brain immediately tries to create an explanation of that thing using your past experiences, values and beliefs to decide how you think about that particular thing and what it means. That's why two people who seemingly experience the same thing can have very different views of it.

Since we're all different and we've had different life experiences and have our own belief systems, this impacts how we see the world in every way. While it's natural for people to share values and beliefs because they're part of the same society, it's important to realise that this doesn't necessarily mean those values and beliefs are right or true.

Still with me? Here's an example...

There are two rooms. They both have a Labrador dog in them. One person enters a room who had a Labrador as a pet who they loved very much. They immediately fill with joy after seeing the dog and run over to it for snuggles. To this person, dogs are good.

However, in the other room, a person enters who was bitten by a dog as a child. Being in the same room as a dog fills them with anxiety and fear. They cling to the opposite side of the room of the dog and are visibly shaken. To this person, dogs are bad.

Their reaction to the dogs depends on their own views, experiences and unique beliefs. In reality, dogs are neither good or bad, they are neutral until someone applies meaning to them. In both cases, the people are right to themselves, and wrong to each other. The fact is that no one gets to choose how others think or feel about something, only how they perceive it themselves.

While they can try to convince others of their views, in reality, everything is neutral. We only believe that things are good or bad because we've been told to believe it or we've decided for ourselves based on our own experiences and beliefs.

Lesson #5: Your beliefs form your reality.

Let's continue along the belief route because it's important. One of the most mind-blowing things I've learnt is that our beliefs play such an integral role in our lives. They shape the way we look at the world, how we react to situations, how we judge others, how we make decisions and essentially how we live our lives!

The scary part is that most of our beliefs are formed through the influence of others and have been passed down through generations. Often we believe things that we're told by people we look up to and trust without question.

The truth about beliefs is that they are simply that: beliefs. Whether they're true or false is irrelevant. A belief is considered to be true by you simply because you believe it, and it can be disproven with evidence, but we decide whether or not we want to get rid of a belief or keep it based on what we believe to be the truth, and all we need are few different pieces of 'evidence' to form a belief.

Still with me? Let me explain...

Religion is a key example of belief in action. In principle, religion is great. It gives people guidance in how to live their lives, what their values are and a sense of community with other people of the same religion. It gives them a sense of purpose in life, and provides something bigger than themselves to believe in.

For the person who believes in their religion, it's real and it's right. For those that don't believe in that religion, it's not real or right to them. The fact is that they're both right, and they're both wrong, because what you believe in is what's true and real to you, but it won't necessarily be true or right to others.

The real problem occurs when people think that their own beliefs are the only right ones, and try to force their own beliefs on other people. While people can choose to change their beliefs based on 'evidence' and a change of thinking, forcing them onto others is what causes conflict.

So, next time you disagree with someone else's' way of thinking or viewpoint, instead of trying to force your own on them, try to see their point of view and remember that everyone has different beliefs, you're both right and you're both wrong based on your own experiences, and that's just how the world works.

Lesson #6: It's impossible to be be happy all the time

You don't need to be happy all the time, in fact, all emotions are healthy. They're part of the human experience and it's impossible for us to feel happy 100% of the time. If we did, we wouldn't know what happiness really was because there would be nothing to compare it to. So, don't be afraid of emotions and don't try to suppress them.

No matter how you're feeling, your feelings are always valid. Why? Because you create them! No one can tell you how to feel about a particular situation, because your perception of that situation will be completely different to theirs. If a loved one dies and it takes you longer to get over it than it took someone else in a similar situation, who cares? Everyone processes emotions differently.

The key to processing emotions is to ensure we don't let ourselves become consumed by them. We feel, we process, we repair, we look to the future and we move on because what's happened has happened, it's in the past and there's nothing we can do to change it. It's best to let ourselves feel, then move on.

Lesson #7: We're all capable of so much more than we think we are.

We can do literally anything we set our minds to. It sounds incredibly cheesy, but it's true. So why aren't we all doing amazing things and living the lives of our dreams? Usually it's because of our innate fear of failure or being judged by others; perhaps it's because we’re genuinely happy with where we're at, or because we've formed limiting beliefs over the years that make us think that success is only for a select few and not for us.

In reality, we're all very capable of getting what we want in life. The hardest part is working out what we actually want or what we want to do, and making sure we don't set goals that are too small out of fear or lack of belief in ourselves. Once you know what you want and why you want it, it's simply a factor of creating an action plan for getting it, doing what's necessary to get there, and believing that it's possible for you.

Want to be a millionaire? Of course you can! There are plenty of people who have become millionaires from posting videos online, or starting a business that solves a simple problem for people. There's absolutely no reason why you can't, and just because you don't know how you'll do it right now, if you set the goal and actually believe you can achieve it, the pathway there will become clear eventually. You just need to start taking action towards your big juicy goals and be prepared to fail a few times on your road to achieving it.

Not interested in becoming a millionaire? That's fine too! You need to make sure that you actually want to achieve those goals and you have a clear 'why' behind them, because otherwise you won't feel motivated and persevere when things get tough (and trust me, they definitely will).

Lesson #8: Everything you desire in life is because you want to feel a particular way, that's it.

Everything you want in life, from material things to intangible life accomplishments, you only want because you desire the feeling that you think you'll experience when you obtain that thing, nothing else.

Now, you're probably thinking, 'but Janelle, I want a Ferrari because I want a Ferrari, not because I want a feeling,' and I'll respond by saying, 'no, it's definitely just the feeling you want, it's not really the Ferrari.' Let me explain.

You want a Ferrari because of what it represents. A Ferrari is just a car, albeit a really expensive and fast one, but what it represents in society is success, abundance, wealth and prosperity. It represents financial freedom and is symbolic of a "happy, well-lived life". When you drive a Ferrari in the streets you relish the thought of everyone admiring you and all your success, and the instant social status it gives you.

When you drive super fast along the back roads or motorway you feel carefree, invincible and like you've clocked life! Every time you see your Ferrari parked in the garage it reminds you of how far you've come, and how you turned your dream into reality.

Does that sound about right? If you agreed with any of that, then you have proven my point. It's not really the Ferrari you want, it's the feeling you think it'll give you by having it.

We want things because we think they'll make us feel a certain way. And when we do get those things they do make us feel like that, but often it's fleeting. Once we get what we want we're usually straight onto the next thing, and that's human nature.

We're always chasing a new, better feeling. That's why it's so important that we enjoy the journey to obtaining our goals, as often the anticipation and thought of achieving, or obtaining, something we've always wanted is just as good, if not better, than the real thing.

That's also why money can't buy happiness, because there are plenty of miserable bastards out there with Ferraris, which brings us nicely to my final lesson...

Lesson #9: Happiness is a choice, a mindset and a way of thinking.

Last but not least is my final lesson about happiness. The pursuit of happiness seems to be part of the human experience. We all want to feel good, and who can blame us? Feeling good feels so much better than feeling bad!

So, to help ourselves to feel good and happier, we buy nice things to make us happy, we pursue a career to make money to make us happy, we pursue romantic relationships to make us happy, we travel and participate in hobbies to make us happy, we eat food, drink, and sometimes even take drugs to make us feel happy.

But what I've learned is that while feeling happy can be triggered by these things, it's normally fleeting if we just rely on external triggers to make us feel happy. The happiness trap we need to prevent ourselves from falling into is the 'I'll be happy when' trap. Here are some examples:

I'll be happy when... I lose weight.

I'll be happy when... I get that raise.

I'll be happy when... I get married.

I'll be happy when... I buy a house.

I'll be happy when... I get a puppy.

I'll be happy when... I buy a Ferrari...

Sure, we'll feel a sense of happiness when we obtain these things, but it's not going to be a permanent state of happy, so we shouldn't rely on specific achievements or material things to provide us with our fill of happiness.

Do you want to know the best kind of happiness? It's the happiness you feel without any big external triggers required. It's the happiness you feel when you're in your own head, feeling grateful for the things you already have. If you close your eyes right now and think of a happy memory and relive that memory, you can make yourself feel happy.

It's the happiness you feel when you are present in the moment, enjoying a nice view, or simply being in good company. It's the happiness you feel when you're laughing with a friend. It's the happiness you feel when a stranger smiles at you on the street, when someone shows you a random act of kindness, or when you help someone else. It's the happiness you feel when you go for a dip in the ocean, or hearing the rain fall on the roof when you're tucked up safe and warm in bed.

It's the happiness you feel simply by enjoying the moment, or enjoying thoughts about what the future could be, not in the lack of having it but instead in the joyful anticipation of it becoming your reality with time. The best part is that these thoughts and experiences, which can trigger the feeling of happiness, are free.

Your happiness is no one else's responsibility other than your own. And you have the power to choose to be happy even when things aren't quite going to plan or aren't as perfect as you hoped. Happiness is a mindset, it can be cultivated on demand with practice, and the best place to start is with mindfulness and gratitude.

And there you have it! 9 important lessons that life coaching taught me.

I hope you found them either eye-opening or somewhat interesting. Are there any you don't agree with? Let me know in the comments or send me a message, I love to see other points of view.

If you'd like to find out more about life coaching or if you're interested in hiring a life coach yourself, you can contact me by filling out the form below with any questions, or book a free 1-hour consultation with me here - no obligations, just a one-on-one chat with a certified life coach about where you're at, where you want to be and how coaching can help you to get there! Who wouldn't take that opportunity?!

Thanks for reading, come back for more again soon!

About the author, Janelle Kee-Sue

Janelle Kee-Sue is a certified life coach, accredited cognitive behavioural therapy practitioner, writer, storyteller and marketing specialist based in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s been to 47 countries, is a former professional bikini bodybuilding athlete with a world title under her belt, and is passionate about helping people to unlock their potential and live their lives by design. In her spare time you’ll find her at the gym, working on her novel, or hanging with her Samoyed Yuki and her husband Ricky. Learn more.


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