Worked with a coach and didn’t get what you expected? Learn how to find value in a bad coaching experience so you don’t have to feel crappy about this one forever!
Over the past year, I’ve noticed a growing trend in conversations that I have with other business owners: horror stories of terrible coaching experiences.
Coaching is a growing field within the online industry. With a low barrier for entry, it’s easy for anyone and everyone to say that they’re a coach. It’s unregulated. Certifications aren’t an indicator of a “good” coach. “Good” is so relative since the success of the experience depends on so many factors – the primary being the relationship between coach and client.
I’ve been on both sides of some truly excellent coaching relationships. I’ve also been on both sides of some not-so-great ones.
It’s hard to move on after a bad coaching experience because you feel like you’re left in the dust. You’re out time, energy, money, and STILL feeling stuck. Not to mention the emotional burden of feeling let down.
I recently ran a “past coach healing” workshop for my private clients. But wanted to bring these conversations more out in the open. Because having not-so-great coaching experiences is (unfortunately) quite common these days.
If you’ve worked with a coach and it didn’t turn out to be what you wanted, I see you, friend. I’ve totally been there. But as easy as it can be to stay in the suck and victimhood, I don’t want you to use this experience as a reason to
- not let yourself get the support you need in the future
- not trust your ability to invest in yourself
- or never forgive yourself for this “mistake”
(I mean, if you want to do all of those things, by all means, go for it. I don’t want to assume what you want for yourself. But if you don’t want to feel that way, keep reading.)
As a coach, coaching client, and fellow healing human, these are my top tips for processing after a bad coaching experience – and how to still find value in it.
One | Reflect and Take Stock on the Experience
We go into coaching relationships because we believe this person can help us. It’s a vulnerable act to ask for help, invest in yourself, and enter a relationship for your transformation.
Every action is met with an opposite and equal reaction. It’s Newton’s third law of physical physics (which I also apply to energy) and plain karma. Therefore, it’s physically impossible for you to not get a payoff from the actions (or inactions) that you took. But HOW those results show up might vary.
What did you get out of this experience? What did you learn about yourself and the support system that you need? Some of the most enriching lessons we learn only come from unpleasant experiences. But it’s our responsibility to receive those lessons and grow from them.
How can you redefine the return on investment for this experience in a way that serves you?
Your investment might not have paid off in the way that you anticipated, but you did receive something. Will you see the ROI from a growth perspective or shift into blame and victimhood? The choice is ultimately yours. But if you aren’t willing to grow, you can expect the same thing to keep happening to you.
Journal Prompt: What happened in this experience that I could have only gotten if it happened exactly this way?
Two | Recognize Your Inner Victim
That being said, I also want to recognize that there is another person involved in this situation. This coach may not have shown up for you in the way that you needed. And that really sucks.
If we don’t recognize our inner victim, we’ll constantly seek validation for them in other areas. It’s okay to want something more or different from the people in your life – especially if they’re part of your designated support system.
Do what you need to do to move through the emotions of disappointment, anger, frustration, and feeling let down. Journal it out, scream it out, dance it out.
Chances are, this isn’t the first time that you’ve felt this way around a person you’ve trusted and asked for help from. If this is a repeating pattern, explore what relationship this resembles from your childhood. That’s the healing work you need to do.
And if there’s a conscious conversation to have with this person, set that up. If you’re still working with the coach, ask if they’re open to talking about the relationship and redesigning the way you’re both showing up to be more supportive for you. If the experience is over, reach out and ask if they’re open to feedback on the experience. We can only change our relationships with people who are willing to change. So consent is an important tool to set the stage for that conversation.
Also, I know that it really sucks to have to be the one to bring this up. They’re your coach. Shouldn’t they be more in tune with this? But it’s important to remember that coaches are human too. They’re healing and growing just like you. At the end of the day, the purpose of a coaching relationship is to help you grow into the best version of yourself. Advocating for yourself in this relationship IS part of your responsibility as a client, business owner, and healing human.
Three | Take Ownership for Your Actions
Your ego will do everything in its power to prove you right. It’s constantly looking for evidence to prove your existing beliefs to be true – whether you’re aware of it or not.
If you believe that hiring a coach won’t pay off, isn’t worth it, or that coaches can’t be trusted, you will create experiences that prove these beliefs to be true. Whether that be hiring a coach even if it doesn’t feel like a 100% fit, hiding your true feelings, not asking for what you need, etc.
I don’t say this to blame or shame you. But every relationship that you have is a co-created experience. If we aren’t willing to be radically honest with ourselves and take ownership of the behavior that contributed to our situation, we will continue to repeat the same behavior.
Answer this honestly: were you truly the best client that you could be?
Did you follow through on the commitments that you made to yourself and the coach in your time together? Were you truly vulnerable and open in sharing where you’re at? Did you ask for what you needed if things weren’t working for you in an honest way? Did you enter the relationship from a place of power for yourself?
Ultimately, the answer to these questions isn’t about the coach – but about yourself. Coaching is very much a “done with you” relationship. If you don’t show up for the growth and the work, how can you expect any change? Did you fully commit to yourself and your transformation? Were you willing to move through your mental resistance when you had to go outside of your comfort zone? Or did you continue patterns of self abandonment?
Knowing the habits that you slip into when you choose to boldly show up for what you want will help you create the most supportive relationships for yourself in the future.
And, as always, forgive yourself. Choose ownership over guilt/shame. You were doing the best that you could at the time.
Journal Prompt: What makes an excellent coach and an excellent client for a successful, empowered coaching relationship?
Four | Identify What You Want Moving Forward
The human experience is about relationships. Whether it be business or personal, healing and personal growth are about you developing a strong enough relationship with yourself so you can create beautiful, rich relationships with other people.
As Bessel van der Kolk says in The Body Keeps the Score*, “traumatized human being recover in the context of relationships.”
You’re not meant to do it all alone. In fact, you don’t have to. Let this experience show you what you need, don’t need, like, and don’t like in your support system. It’s safe for you to be supported. Keep moving forward, keep healing, keep showing up for what you want.
And if you want to chat about untangling the emotional weeds of your past coaching relationships, I’m just a call away.
*This is an Amazon affiliate link. I get a small commission off of any purchase that you make clicking that link.