Why I Will Never Hire A Life Coach—And Why I Think You Shouldn’t Too

Monday, January 30, 2017

I was in my early teens when I first heard the term, and it sounded downright  silly. A life coach? Someone who will teach you how to go through life? Yes, life is scary sometimes, if not all the time. Yes, I can be the most clueless person when it comes to what I should do next—in terms of whether I should go to grad school, take down that job offer, text a boy. Buy this or that. But does one really need a life coach?

That’s why I have friends, though. And a loving and intelligent mother. (Who’s more of an Emily Gilmore than a Lorelei Gilmore, but I think we can all agree Emily loves Lorelei and wishes the best for her.)

My friends or my mother might not be psychology majors (though, truth be told, some of them are). They might not be experts in human soul. But they know me. They’ve known me for a long, long time. They know how I react to things, what my good sides are, what my flaws are. Often they know what’s good for me. We don’t always agree, of course, but they are able to see things from another perspective when I might be blinded by something. An eternal example: my friend Tamara who had always known whether a guy is worth thinking about while I was too obsessed with how he smiled at me once to see that he hasn’t actually called for three weeks. 

A life coach cannot know you that well, even if you pour your heart at them within your three appointments. 

A life coach will know what you tell them. And while you are most probably the one person who knows yourself best, you will be telling them things from your own perspective. I don’t mean you will be lying: but what you feel like and how you perceive a certain situation does not necessarily mean that is how the situation is.

A life coach, no matter how insightful and caring of a person they are, is in most cases someone who has read a lot of self-help books and maybe attended a course on so-called neuro-linguistic programming. Don’t even get me started on this idiotic term. There’s nothing neuro, nothing linguistic and nothing programming about this bunch of shit. Neuro means it has to do with the brain—actual structures in the brain and their functions. I studied neurolinguistics, so I believe I’m entitled to say this. Linguistic means it has to do with language as a system and as a human ability, and talks from a scientific, linguistic perspective. I don’t think I should explain what programming is. What these guys mean, though… well, I just opened website of a major NLP place in Serbia to see for myself in case I misunderstood it earlier, but it just made me roll my eyes. “Programming is about habits.” What the f? What do programming and habits have in common? Well, maybe programmers would say they had to make it a habit to write codes every day, otherwise they wouldn’t end up being programmers. I don’t know. “Linguistic is related to words. NLP explains the effect of words on our way of thinking, change of mood, and our behavior.” What does that have to do with linguistics?! Let me tell you, in case you haven’t already guessed: nothing. 

Yeah, as I said: not neuro, not linguistic, not programming. You might then wonder why this misleading title. Because it sounds smart, you silly! Of course someone is more prone to buy (into) something that sounds smart(er than they are). 

A life coach, no matter how smart of a person they are, is in most cases someone who is either self-taught or taught by other similar people, taught by self-help books.

When I’m sick, I prefer taking advice from a medical doctor, as well as therapy, than from someone who has googled. I believe in science and I know how scientific studies are done. Medicine is not my field, but I can tell the difference between a repeated or a longitudinal study with 500 participants and “it helped my child so it must be working”. 

When I’m not feeling my best mentally and don’t think my friends or my family can help me, I’ll ask a therapist for help. I don’t see any shame in that—in fact, I think it’s great to have a therapist, though I’m not speaking from experience—but I won’t hire someone who will try to persuade me life can be whatever I choose it to be if I only decide to be happy.

Life is a mess. Life is most often not what you decide it to be. Life is being thrown at you with all the possible circumstances you have absolutely no effect on. What you need to do—what I need to do, as well as everyone else—is to swim the best we can and navigate its messy currents. Sometimes you’ll be working hard and it won’t be paying off for a while. Sometimes you won’t receive a promotion just because your boss dislikes you, either because you remind them of somebody they hated in their youth or just because you’re not likeable enough. It happens. Not everyone can be likeable, and special, and super smart and everything. Most of us are just average, and there’s nothing bad about that. In fact, that’s a given. Just because a life coach manages to persuade you you’re great, doesn’t mean you actually are. Maybe you’re a douchebag. Douchebags usually don’t think so of themselves.

I’ll never hire someone to tell me that I can get anything I want if I want it badly enough, because that’s not how life works. On the other hand, if they want to earn money teaching others stupid things, that’s what you enable them to do. Be smarter than that. Know that many things in life depend on you, but not all of them. Don’t feel bad because you’re not excelling in life. Life is ups and downs and it’s impossible to live the life life coaches advocate, all sunshines and rainbows and solving problems with the tip of your finger. Don’t feed those who sell a dream. Hire a therapist or buy your friend a cup of coffee and have a long talk. You’ll probably feel better afterwards anyway.

Love, Tihana

Photos: Unsplash


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