Coaching For Hope
Updated: Jul 6, 2021
I have coached and coaxed my body and my mind to set the bar high. Let me be flat out honest. I have had 18 (I think) lower extremity orthopedic surgeries. My goal has always been to remain flexible, strong, and motivated. I have had to restate to myself that perfection should not be the goal. I have an internal voice that is pretty good about sitting on my shoulder as my life’s coach, but I have also taken advice from others including my surgeon and my PT. I have sought other’s opinions as well including fellow yogis and mindfulness mentors. I would also like to introduce David Fraser. David is a Life Coach and his company’s name is Terra Firma Life Coaching.
With that being said, I asked David many questions about how he sees his role in helping others.
Why did you come up with the name, Terra Firma?
Terra Firma is Latin for "firm ground". Renee, my partner and our CEO, came up with the name. When people feel lost in life it's not uncommon for them to feel like they are adrift on the waters. Much like the sailors of old finding land after a long voyage, we hope to help our clients find a place within themselves to feel safe again. A place of inner stability that lets you brave the storms, place down roots and grow.
As a life coach, how do you see a positive attitude impacting healing with whatever problem someone may have whether it is a hip problem or something else?
A positive attitude is incredibly important to healing from anything, be it a mental ailment or a physical one. Essentially a person with a positive attitude sees a situation and says, "In what ways can I use this to grow as a person?" It's not a mindset that is unrealistic, it sees problems and negatives, but it focuses on embracing possibility. How we choose to look upon a situation provides the meaning we can take away from it.
When dealing with things like chronic pain, for example, the pain may only go away temporarily or may not stop completely. The very thought of that can alarm us, but if we embrace a healthy mind-set, we can see that while something is uncomfortable for us, it is not us entirely. Pain can seem so overwhelming that we forget there are things outside of it. But in the same moment we are experiencing pain we can also look beyond it to see that the sun is shining, or the breeze is rolling through the treetops, or the sound of a song we love is playing on the radio. A positive attitude helps us focus from the negative to the positive; and seeing a problem as only a small part of the situation.
What is the importance of self-care and self-love? How do you connect the dots of both of these aspects of healing?
Self-care is absolutely fundamental to living a healthy life. All too often we hear our employers or other higher-ups spout off rhetoric about self-care, but they mean it as secondary to their work. To them it is as if they want you to care about yourself only enough to which you can continue to perform their tasks. I think that this is a real problem. Self-care is the only way to living a healthy and happy life.
Self-care begins with self-love. In truth self-care is simply a physical expression of that love. Self-love sounds to some like something akin to narcissism, but it couldn't be further from the truth. Self-love is the recognition that there is something beautiful and good inside of you, and if you nurture that part of you, you will quite literally make the world a better place in a small but significant way.
When we focus on healing we are acting in-line with that self-love. You are not some machine meant to simply drone through life until you fall apart, nor is your personal worth connected in any way through some idea of output. You are a being that deserves to be cared for, by yourself first of all.
Often, we look to the world around us and identify what needs our attention. We live to fix problems and solve crises, but when we ourselves have the problem we feel ashamed or guilty. That, in itself, is a large problem, and practicing self-love is the solution. You are deserving of your own concern and appreciation.
What are some strategies you may suggest to a person that worries a lot?
I like to use the metaphor of an avalanche when it comes to anxiety; a worry is like a snowball rolling down a hillside - if you keep letting it roll on and on it gets bigger and more destructive until you're bowled over.
Learning how to relax in the presence of an anxiety-provoking thought, or how to tolerate your own discomfort is incredibly empowering. Understanding how your nervous system can help keep you in an anxious state and how to use that to remove yourself from such a state is equally powerful. Learning how to pilot your own thoughts is even more important.
There is so much that a person's mind can do to distress them, yet if one practices, they can change the direction of their thoughts before they become uncontrollable. I hope to help clients master their immediate reactions so that they can choose better ways to respond.
What about a person who tends to see everything as a half empty glass?
When a person looks negatively at things, they will see them negatively. They will then act in a fashion that perpetuates that negativity and a person cycles through misery. But there is some truth in that if you ignore problems, they may meet you unexpectedly.
I like to think a client should see that the glass has water in it, and then to take a drink. What I mean is that a person should see the glass as it is rather than celebrate or mourn its quantity. They ought to look to how they would like to use the water. Meditation and mindfulness practices play a part in this, but more than that the best progress occurs when changing a person's goal from "what can I do out in the world?" to "what can I do with myself?".
How important is the growth mindset in healing?
To heal is to regrow, often quite literally. Muscles experience minor tears when someone lifts weights, but in doing so they builds the muscle and grow their strength. So too do the things we face grant us an opportunity to grow within ourselves. If you'd never faced hardship you might be blissful, but you'd be ignorant and incapable.
The growth mindset takes healing beyond its base towards maximizing what we go through for our own benefit. It is the unification of intent, mind, and action into a focus. For many this focus is recovering from an injury or surgery. Someone reading this right now may even be thinking "what does it matter? Even if I heal, I may have less mobility, or strength, etc." But we do not know what the future holds. Every single day, every moment, is an opportunity to improve yourself in some way and break our limitations. The meaning we find in life comes from within ourselves, and when you see that then there is no limit to where you can go.
-What is your favorite quote or music that you feel can inspire someone?
I'm a fan of "It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours." - Buddha
As far a music I'm a big fan of punk rock. That is a whole genre about embracing resistance against odds.
What does your typical visit look like?
Due to the presence of [Covid-19] we've had to adapt to primarily online video conferences or phone calls for the time being. A typical visit begins with the discussion of where a person is with their goals and current feelings. Then we begin processing things in their past or current environment or life situation that may be holding them back from making meaningful steps forward. We end by discussing and implementing strategies (meditation, relaxation, cognitive techniques, etc.) to help a person take what was covered in the visit and bring it into the world.
Our aim through our work is to help people recognize and change patterns which prevent their growth into happier and healthier people. Often these patterns are difficult to see without someone to help non-judgmentally. Introspection, interpretation, and a trusting relationship are all necessary to identify and overcome these patterns.
What is it that makes Terra Firma unique? We were created with the intent simply to try to help people. We are a practice of empathy and if we can help, we will.
As an aside, from this Hopeful Hippie, the term, “terra firma” to mean conveys dry land. A place where there is a foundation of strength and stability. A place where you can build off of a solid foundation. Through my journeys (hip or not), I have always relied on others to be part of a team of healers – of hope and optimism. Find your team and get going towards your version of the terra firma – where you will stand strong.
“Every single moment is an opportunity to grow. I want to help you discover the tools
you have to create a more meaningful and fulfilled life.”