Linda Knasel, M.A.
My clients have a lot of stress and anxiety, and I’m learning that their attitudes play a huge role in this. I believe their attitudes are dramatically impacted by America’s culture. We are a society driven to achieve, keep up with the Joneses, and acquire bigger and better things. Many kids today come from two-income households and have more material possessions than previous generations. People are overextending their personal resources and yet are still driven to achieve more. They think they want more for themselves and their children, but they aren’t exactly sure why.
History has proven that increased prosperity does not always equal increased satisfaction. As my clients are caught up in the cycle of materialism, they find themselves dealing with insurmountable relationship conflict, anguish, hurt and bitterness. Most of the time they don’t realize this is caused by their underlying mind-set or attitude.
Scripture has a term for this; it’s called “covetousness.”
If I suspect covetousness is the source of my clients’ stress and anxiety, I stop and ask myself the following questions: Why are they pursuing what they want? Are they headed in the right direction? What’s their attitude toward achieving their desired goal? Are their attitudes healthy and productive, or are they destructive?
If my clients are seeking to grow based on a selfish desire, greed, or materialism, then I don’t believe it’s in their best interest if I coach them to achieve more.
For instance, Adriana came to me and was upset because she wasn’t as popular as some of her friends. She had just spent more than $300 buying bathing suits to look cute on the beach and gain attention from the guys and be popular. She’d incurred major bills for highlights, makeup, lotions, clothes, and the latest shoes and bags.
As a coach and licensed counselor, when a deep seeded issue like covetousness is revealed, I have to decide whether I can move my client forward using coaching or counseling. Sometimes coaching is all that’s needed, while other times counseling practices are necessary to help a client resolve underlying difficulties.
When I decide to continue coaching the client who is dealing with materialism, I have found success in helping them focus on gratefulness and contentment. When clients become grateful and content with God and His provisions, they become more peaceful and less anxious. Clients who are able to replace stress with gratitude end up being less self-absorbed and prideful, and more thankful for those around them. Appreciative clients make better choices and enjoy more positive relationships.
In Adriana’s case, she began to learn to thank God for the things she had and how to recognize the giver of these gifts. We worked on how to show gratefulness and how the lifestyle she was living was robbing her of the true joy of fellowship with God and the friendships that God placed in her life. We worked on developing some time for her to rest and count her blessings and reduced the time-robbers that were holding her back from true joy. We discussed what her material choices were bringing her and what she really wanted. We then set goals that would really move her in a direction that would bring her success based on solid biblical principles.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
How do we coach to help our clients feel grateful to God? One technique I’ve used is a thirty-one-day gratitude journal. On the left-hand side of an open journal, I ask my clients to list the three big stresses that are impacting their day. Then I ask them to pray and give these situations to God, followed by reading a chapter from the book of Proverbs that matches the day of the month. While reading from Proverbs, clients look for God’s wisdom that addresses to one of the three stressful situations and then apply the principle(s) that come(s) to light. That evening, on the opposite, right-hand side of the open journal, they list the blessings they’ve noticed throughout the day. Depending on their circumstances, they normally do this for a total of thirty-one days.
The gratitude journal exercise helps my clients focus on the fine and good things God has to offer rather than the stresses in life. In addition, it allows the Spirit of God to move their mind-sets from worry, grumbling, murmuring and complaining to seeing blessings and being grateful.
Once my clients have a chance to focus on what they are grateful for, I can help them problem-solve the real issues that are nagging them. After seeing how much God loves and cares for them, they gain a proper perspective and focus.
The gratitude journal is one way coaches can help their clients reduce stress caused by misguided desires. As my clients seek God and trust Him for insights, they are driven more by God and less by the pressures of society. I’ve been amazed witnessing how God uses a simple journal to change the attitudes of my clients and bring contentment into their lives.
Linda Knasel–M.A., L.P.C., is a nationally board certified coach and counselor. She lives in the Midwest and is married with two children. Linda is CEO of Walking Towards Solutions and G.R.O.W., and an independent contractor for Desert Streams Christian Counseling. Linda has taught at several colleges and universities including: Cornerstone University, Western Michigan University, University of Phoenix and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. She is an active member of the American Christian Counseling Association and International Christian Coaching Association.
Georgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators. To find out more, visit www.GeorgiaShaffer.com.