Photo Credit: Cris Trung, Unsplash.com

Written by Arlene Schneider
August 16, 2019

Hi! My name’s Arlene and I’m a recovering Negative Nelly.

I was enjoying a Sunday afternoon excursion with an old friend. We were enjoying our coffee as she began talking about her sister, whom she described as “negative” and difficult to be around. My friend proceeded to outline her sister’s behavior and their conversations to which I responded, “You know it’s possible your sister has no idea that she has a negative attitude. Sometimes it’s just part of who we are, and we don’t realize it until it’s brought to our attention.”

I continued, “I was exactly like your sister until I went into coach training.” My friend looked down, and responded, “Yeah, you were very negative, but you were still a good friend.” I was floored. 

Don’t get me wrong—this was great feedback from a true friend—but that did hurt.

Later that day and into the next week, I was able to process who I was and who I am now. Yes, in the past I was a negative person. I engaged in what iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching) refers to as catabolic energy*.

Looking back, I understand how I came to think and behave in a manner that wasn’t serving me to be the person I wanted to be. The truth is I knew that something was off back then, but I honestly had no idea what it was.

I recall past social interactions, and I now have clarity as to why I might not have been included or accepted. It all makes perfect sense now, and although there’s sadness when I think of those times, I’m overjoyed that I’ve made strides to change my attitude and perspective on life.

Anabolic vs. Catabolic

In coach training, we’re introduced to concepts which describe attitudes or perspectives as “energy levels.” The catabolic (draining/depleting) energy levels include judgment, guilt, feeling like a victim, anger, and aggression–among others. On the other hand, the anabolic (building, expanding, regenerative) energy levels are about passion, love for others, non-judgment, working together, and acceptance. 

Having this knowledge doesn’t mean I don’t struggle every day to maintain a positive attitude. Yes, the traffic light to exit my neighborhood which is green for about three seconds and red for three minutes provides an opportunity for me to make a choice about how I want to respond to that light. And yes, football season will present a particular challenge for me as a huge Saints fan (Those of you who follow the NFL know all too well how our season ended last year). 

It’s important for me to look at these challenges as opportunities to resonate at a higher level. I have the power to make a choice of how I want to respond. It’s true that I can choose to continue to have resentment toward the NFL officials, but it’s a conscious choice and I own that.

Making the Choice

I choose how I want to feel and think at any given moment.

That’s the important takeaway here; and I love teaching this to my clients. Every thought you have is a choice, and that choice will dictate your feelings and behavior.

It’s exciting to think about how lives change when a person lives this truth. I love sharing how the coaching experience has given me an opportunity to make significant changes in my life.

To be able to share the amazing results that can be enjoyed through the coaching process** is a gift I can give to others. To maintain the changes and perspective that I’ve worked for is a gift to myself. 

Arlene Schneider, MSW, CPC, ACC, ELI-MP is a Certified Professional Coach in Houston Texas. You can contact Arlene through her website: www.schneidercoachinggroup.com 

*The concepts inherent in this article are the author’s interpretation of materials issued by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). ​
** Please ensure that the coach you choose is a Certified Professional Coach.

Photo Credit: Cris Trung, Unsplash.com