Basic Life Skills & Tools

One of the things I love about coaching is that it’s more about empowerment than it is about analysis. As much value as I think there is in having a coach who can walk you through things and support you when you need it most (and I do think it’s valuable – I have my own coach who does this for me), I also think there’s incredible value in having a set of personal tools and skills you can use in your daily life when you need them, so you can find relief and clarity in the moment, not just during a coaching session.

EFT is probably my favorite coaching tool, because it’s so simple, effective, and life changing. You can read about it in detail in the EFT section of this site. I also enjoy teaching Brain Gym and other energy balancing techniques, which you can also read about elsewhere on this site.

Having said that, I think there are some other very basic tools that are well worth learning. Most of us made it to adulthood without ever being taught basic communication skills, self-awareness, and how to express thoughts and feelings in healthy and productive ways. I have a set of ten basic tools I teach to anyone who will let me, and a whole toolbox full of others that I teach as needed.

I’ve been kidded for a long time about being the Worksheet Queen, but I’ve always appreciated a clear, step-by-step approach to learning new skills, and I like to offer that same clarity to the people I work with. Here are the ten tools I encourage everyone – adults, teens, couples, and families – to learn and practice:

1. “I” Statements:

Learn this simple tool and begin to express yourself more clearly, reduce arguing, blaming, and defensiveness, keep tempers from flaring, focus on solutions rather than problems, and save time and energy.

2. Daily Check-In:

Do this brief daily check-in on your own and/or with others to practice using “I” statements, identify and express your experiences, thoughts, and feelings, and form real connections with other people, and with yourself.

3. Defenses:

Learn how you usually defend yourself against stress, fear, and pain. Identify which specific defenses you use, and learn how they affect you and your relationships. Decide which defenses are no longer useful to you, and learn how to let them go and what to do instead.

4. What’s Under Anger:

Learn how anger, hurt, fear, and other feelings go together, and how to sort out all your feelings about a situation, identify your needs, take steps toward resolving the situation, and take care of yourself no matter what.

5. Supportive Feedback:

Learn to offer support to someone else without giving advice or trying to fix the situation. Practice your listening skills, use your “I” statements again, and learn to validate what the other person is feeling -- a far more useful and helpful skill than having all the answers.

6. The Rage Bomb:

Learn how anger and rage are different, and what all the components of rage are. Identify your own rage triggers and behaviors, and learn how to diffuse the bomb before it explodes.

7. Communication Styles:

Learn the difference between aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive and assertive behaviors and communication styles. Identify which styles you typically use, the pros and cons of each style, the benefits for you of becoming more assertive, and how to get there.

8. Boundaries:

Learn what healthy boundaries are, why we need them, and how to clearly set and maintain them. Use the step-by-step process to stand up for yourself and keep your power, even if the other person doesn’t cooperate.

9. The Drama Triangle:

Learn the unproductive roles people play in most conflicts, how to identify which roles you and others are playing, and how to get out of the triangle and stay balanced, no matter what anyone else is doing.

10. Healthy Outlets for Anger and Stress:

Learn what separates healthy venting from being destructive or harmful, and identify dozens of healthy outlets (in several different categories) that you can use when you’re angry or stressed.

These ten basic tools are like a foundational tool kit for self-awareness, communication skills, and personal growth. They don’t build and furnish the whole house, but they’re a great place to start. There are many other wonderful tools available to help, and some of my favorites to teach and practice with clients are:

Taking Responsibility: How to own your part in a conflict, and hold others accountable for their parts.

Choices & Prices: How to look ahead at potential positive and negative consequences when you have challenging choices to make.

The Five Freedoms: How to release “shoulds” and identify what’s true for you, what you really think, feel, and want, and who you choose to be in your life.

Problem Solving: How to brainstorm, choose the best options, and decide which step to take first to move forward.

Conflict Resolution: How to let go of your “right/wrong” position, focus on the underlying interests of all involved, and find a resolution that’s fair to everyone.

Making Amends: How apology and amends are different, and how to make amends.

Roles in the Family: How to identify the typical roles played in families under stress, and how to find the healthy and balanced middle ground.

Fear-Based vs. Acceptance-Based Thinking: How to recognize which is which, and how to let go of old thinking that no longer serves you.

Releasing Gossip and Drama: How to recognize these patterns for what they are, release them, and move beyond them to a happier life and better uses of your energy.

Healing From Grief & Loss: How to identify losses of all kinds, understand the stages of grief, and walk through the steps needed to heal from your losses.

Getting Unstuck: How to identify what’s blocking your progress, and release the blocks so you can move forward more easily.

How Can Coaching Help Me With This?

If you're new to these tools, I can teach you how to use them and integrate them effectively into your life and your relationships. If you already know the tools, but need some further practice or fine tuning, I'd be happy to help with that too. If you'd like to use these tools to improve communication with family members, co-workers, or a partner, I can work with you and with any others involved to help make that a reality and keep things on track.

I have many other tools available too, so let me know what you’d like to learn. If I know how to do it, but I don’t have a step-by-step process for it yet, I’ll create one!

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