The Father No Longer: a 10-minute self-coaching trick

Before my elderly father passed away I decided to examine some of my negative thoughts about him. He wasn’t an easy dad but he was my dad: did I still want to relate to him like I was 14?

On his visits I noticed that like many elderly, his cognitive abilities had waned: he retells his favorite stories (sometimes in the same day), he can’t recall where we parked the car, I have to speak slowly and loudly, and there’s no chance of him exploring the city on his own (he’d lose his way).

For most of my life I had only thought of him as the reactions I had to my not-so-easy childhood. My anger, sadness, and resentments like dogs on a racetrack chasing the rabbit they’d never catch – over and over, multiplied throughout adulthood until all I could feel was the loud dull roar of what he didn’t do, who he wasn’t, and what I wanted him to be.

I was being “merely human” and so was he. What a blessing, after so many years of the record (‘scratch, scratch, scratch’) repeating itself, for us to create a new ‘right relationship’ with each other: phone calls, a visit with him to his girlfriend, postcards, and gifts that I randomly mail to him … it’s not luck, it’s love (and it wasn’t easy!).

What’s a pattern you’d like to change?

What relationship (person, place, or thing) needs updating?

What one thing, in your life, are you routinely seeing needs upgrading?

Whose close to you that you could mend or build up the relationship with?

My point is to take some space (tonight with a journal?) in which to step back and examine your thoughts (they’re not in stone!). The right gentle self-questioning may stop you in your tracks as you examine your own thoughts and actions from a different perspective or envision a new solution to an old problem.

Try this journaling 10-minute trick (and consider it my Free Gift to you as you are being coached!) –

  1. Write down the problem (person, place or thing). Really let it out: does it stink? How much is their fault? Yours? What’s your current perspective on it? All I want is a name. Keep it short.
  2. Write down the “180.” What’s the total opposite perspective. It can be anything in the whole wide world, no limits, but keep it positive; it should feel exciting.
  3. Write down what would be a perspective be that’s not the first or the second. Ideally this one is interestingly neutral, sometimes balanced and realistic.
  4. Ask yourself:
    • What’s the (name the first perspective) feel like?
    • What’s the (name the second perspective) feel like?
    • And the third?
  5. Chose one of these 3 perspectives you’re willing to live in for the next 7 days.
  6. From this new perspective, what are 3 things you wouldn’t have done in the old one?
  7. Now, do one of those 3 things today.

Let me know how it goes! If we don’t look at what we’re thinking we’ll end up thinking the same stuff over and over again – creating new results (thank you Albert Einstein) requires different thoughts!



Ps. This is a coaching technique I use taught to me by the Master Certified Coach David Skibbins.


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