Early Childhood experiences can affect the way in which change is viewed and experienced in our lives. As a child, for example, the structure of my close knit extended family changed quite rapidly within a period of 1-2 years.

Unfortunately the agent of change was several family members passing away in a short period of time.  I was between the age of three and four when I lost my grandfather, grandmother, aunty, 2 cousins and my younger sister aged 18 months.

I noticed the change because of the sudden shift that occurred in my family structure.  Anger, blame, isolation, depression and alcoholism quickly replaced the safe happy cocoon that I once knew.  That experience, over time has had a major influence in the way in which I understood and view the world.  I looked at the world through a lens of fear. This left me with a strong need to be in control at all times. It meant however, that any unexpected events, uncertain and unknown situations left me feeling fearful and out of control.

Recently I was reminded of my own childhood experiences while coaching a 15 year old client.  Both her parents went to prison.  After this event, her whole world got ‘shook up.’ The change meant loss of a secure home, rejection by peers, family and friends. In our session, she expressed a fear of growing up and a strong desire to regress to her 10 year old self, one that played with Polly Pockets.  

In both our accounts, the experiences of change shaped the way in which we viewed the world and told our story. Both narratives express a fear of change. Pearce (1999) suggested that the stories we tell pre-figures and/or constitute the lives we lead.  While this is true, I believe that too often in the coaching context, familiarity with our stories can impede change and stop you from taking risks.

As I reflect on my journey to adulthood, I am now able to embrace the changes with gratitude, courage and wonder. I have learnt that change can be useful. I have learnt to take risks, to trust in the process and expect that wonderful things can and will happen in life.  I have now learnt to tell a more rich and varied story about my life.  This enables me to connect with client’s stories and be empathetic. As I listen to my client, I feel hopeful that she too, has begun her journey into co-constructing, a more rich, expansive and unique story of her life.  As Therapist, Supervisor and Coach, I believe I’m in a unique and privileged position to facilitate this change. So the next time you are battling with change, consider these alternatives:

1. Embrace uncertainty and know that ‘not knowing, not having a plan,’ can be exciting and life changing. If you look back over your life, you will be surprised to discover that some of your greatest success occurred when you didn’t plan them.  At those moments you may have called these pot luck or ‘happy accidents’. 

2. Let go of the need to always know. This can restrict progress and close down possibilities. 

3. Identify and explore your resistance to change. Where/when did it start?  For one client her experience of numerous family re-locations, triggered high levels of anxiety when faced with change. By helping her to become aware of this, I was able to help her begin the process of embracing change.

4. Take risks! Start off small by doing something you never thought you would do. For example one client had never been or done anything by herself. For her, the first step was to go for a walk around the block by herself, then this progressed to a coffee in a café, etc.

5. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway!  My favourite quote from Susan Jeffrey. Think about it, what have you got to lose? And believe it or not this tip does work.

6. Accept that change is necessary. Think of the caterpillar transforming into a beautiful butterfly. The acorn into a magnificent oak tree and the baby who grows up and becomes a successful adult.  Just like you! 

Hazel Hyslop is a Performance & Wellness Coach and Systemic Psychotherapist who works with Individuals, Couples and Groups to help them maximise their full potential and live life according to their true purpose.  Her interest is in the connection between our Body/Mind/Spirit and our health and well-being. If you wish to connect to Hazel to discover more you can find her through The Coaching Academy linked in group. 

If you would like to see one of your articles feature here, send this to qualifications@the-coaching-academy.com for us to consider and potentially schedule. 



Change Coaching Wellness Peformance Mind spirit body family death resistance anxiety


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