“One of my closest friends – honestly, the most intelligent guy I’ve ever met – is a guy who’d struggled with “relationship issues” his entire dating life. Being a fellow entrepreneur and “smart guy” he figured he could think his way through these issues with that big brain of his. Never worked.

However, after getting some relationship coaching/counseling, he became a different guy. He ended up meeting the type of woman he’d always dreamed about being with. And he’s happily married to her today.

As a cool bonus, that coaching spilled out into other areas of his life, and other relationships too. Nowadays, he’s more calm, centered, and has a keen perspective that he never had in the past.

We’ve often discussed how important that coaching and direction really was for him. And, with 100% confidence, he tells me that the counseling didn’t just speed up his development. Rather, it took him to a place he’d never have gotten without guidance. His logical, “left-brained”, intelligence was killing this kind of progress.

In essence, being smart was the problem. ”

Dr. John Berardi is the author of the above quote in an article about the importance of coaching.

In working with stepfamilies and single parents, I often see really amazing, wonderful and accomplished men and women who are trying to work things out with the family life they have.

Part of the reason it is so hard for them is because they are used to being able to figure things out, control their own destiny, make good decisions, and use their intelligence to guide them correctly in other areas of their life.

Unfortunately, many things in families don’t work that way. You can’t control your children, your spouse or the situations you may find yourself in as a single parent, stepparent or any kind of parent.

Relationships are not just about how smart we are and what we know but it is what we do with what we know, and how we use the tools and skills we learn.

It is also about using some basic tools that many people forget about in the heat of anger, frustration and hurt- where relationships hit us the hardest.  Would you be surprised to know that many stepfamily and single parents that contact me are counselors or therapists themselves?  Even people considered to be trained in relationship issues struggle when it comes to their own family and relationship life. 

Basic tools like empathy- understanding “why someone needs something from you” or “why what you do hurts their feelings” are key to changing your behavior. When you understand the “why” and ask the right questions to find it, then it is much easier to put down your own defensiveness or hurt feelings, and hear what the other person is saying rather than just reacting.  But it is a skill that has to be learned. 

It is why a third party who is unemotionally involved can be more helpful to you than your best friends who’ve known you for years. They are too close to give you the very advice you may need. The world is full of well-meaning friends (and very smart people) who give awful relationship advice.

And last, one size does not fit all in relationships. What works for one person in one kind of family doesn’t mean it is the best decision for you in yours.

One of the reasons why stepfamily couples struggle so much is because they keep trying to be like a nuclear couple with biological children. It can’t and won’t work but many stepfamilies will spend years trying to force this.  And when they do get help, if they are not working with someone who understands the specifics of stepfamily life, it won’t get any better.  Good coaching will get you results quickly and effectively.

And one single parent with a generally cooperative ex can do things like send emails, make suggestions, request schedule changes and discuss money issues with great success. Another single parent with a high conflict ex may wish to do this, and try over and over again, but no amount of cooperative emailing, suggestions or desire for discussions can create the environment needed in dealing with this person.

A whole different kind of communication and expectation has to be adjusted and designed correctly to deal with an ex-spouse that sends you long and argumentative emails, blaming text messages, sues you in family court repeatedly or picks friends that make it a point of being rude to you.

So if you keep saying to yourself:

I know I can figure this out if I just, you just, we just…

or

This ought to be working, I dont’ know why it isn’t….

or

So and so -at the office or in my lunch group or at the park- said this would work….

or any other statement where you keep trying to make something happen that isn’t happening the way you want…

Then you may want to consider the real truth- even if you are really smart.  You have some new things to learn and you need someone else to teach them to you.

The great thing about learning new skills, strategies and tools is that not only do they help you in that situation, your new understanding and confidence helps you in other areas of your life too.

At the heart of my work and what I’ve been through in my family life is the overwhelming and grateful understanding — that all the things I didn’t know I needed to learned– and were, yes, forced to learn or I was going to go crazy- have added so much to my life in terms of the quality of my relationships, my happiness, and my ability to maneuver through ongoing and difficult circumstances.  I appreciate and love my husband so much more, and the intentional and abundant life we have created for ourselves that brings us such joy.  I have watched as my own children have taken in my hard fought life skills (and been the up close, front row seat observers to all my many struggles to change and overcome and learn), and applied them to their own life.  Watching them navigate relationship terrain so early and successfully in their own lives makes it all worth it.

So stop waiting, working so hard, struggling and beating yourself up. You can’t solve your problem because you are not smart. You can’t solve your problem by yourself because you ARE smart.  It is because  you do care, and you are trying so hard.

Instead, use all that good energy to find a like-minded coach or counselor. If you find one that doesn’t help you with what you need pretty quickly, don’t stop.  Look for a coach- a guide- that can help you navigate through your issues, and cut a wide path of understanding for you down the deep middle of it.

Like the blind man who can suddenly see, be the smart person who knows… you’ve probably got some things you need to learn… and then, go learn them… because you are really smart.

For the rest of the article by Dr. John Berardi, click here… http://www.earlytorise.com/the-importance-of-coaching.

All the best,

Jayna