Put yourself in a different room, that’s what the mind is for
– Margaret Atwood

[Painting by Jan van Kessel] 

Imagine for a moment that all your life you have lived in the same room. You feel comfortable, safe and secure there, with familiar objects around you. One day, the doorway opens. Suddenly you have access to a whole new room – in effect a whole new reality. Your understanding of the world needs to change and adapt, and this can be disconcerting. However, it is also clear  that you cannot sit in the same room forever in stasis – the very nature of life itself is constant change.

This same idea can be applied to our whole life. The roles we take on, the way we react to new situations and our mental state came be defined as different rooms. When we are forced to step out of these rooms during transitional periods such as divorce, death of a loved one or change in career, it can create fear. More often, changing our roles in life is an action we consciously take – leaving home for the first time, becoming a parent or starting a college course. Changing rooms is a way of growing and moving towards goals, building your range of skills and understanding which you can call on through all stages of your life. In this way, although we might change rooms by moving into a different role, we can also step back into other rooms, any time that it is relevant. You may spend more time in particular rooms at certain times in our life, but as a whole you are not defined by one “room”, you are the house, and have many different rooms, many abilities to call upon and opportunities to learn from your experiences. Ultimately, we are in control of the rooms we choose to spend time in, and how they bring us closer to our aims in life. As we move towards a new room, it is up to us to consider what we need to put into the room to make it work, and who we should have around us when we are there.

Beverley had been married to Jim since she was 18, and although their marriage had been happy at first, after fifteen years, they both had changed and needed to move on. A divorce was on the cards, and for Beverley, this would mean so much more than separating from her husband, she would also have to learn to adapt to the single life and become more responsible for her own finances. For Beverley, just the thought of change was overwhelming – she had relied on her husband for so long that moving forward and adapting seemed like a nightmare. Beverly could use her different rooms to gain confidence in this situation, stepping out of the room where she was a wife and home-maker, and into a new room where she could embrace her new role. Working with different rooms, Beverley could gain a positive perspective of her divorce and clarify her goals for the future.

As a coach, you can help your client by  :

  • Affirming the clients ability to adapt to the changes that a new room will bring
  • Helping the client to analyse fears and insecurities relating to moving into a different stage of life.
  • Encouraging the client to identify how roles and skills from one room may be transferable in a new situation.
  • Identify what preparations the client should make in order to be ready to start using a different room.
  • Reassuring the client that moving into a new room doesn’t mean moving out of the old room altogether, simply that they use it less.

[Coaching Questions]

  • Are you ready to step into a new room?
  • How will changing rooms bring you closer to your goals?
  • What does your new room look like?
  • As the designer of your new room, what objects or people will you choose to have around you? How will they effect your experience?
  • What uncertainties do you have?
  • What can you learn by using different rooms?
  • Will using a different room change who you are? How?
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