Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

Which is more important - Good Self-esteem or greater self-compassion?




We live in a world where the idea of having good self-esteem has been the focus of many self-development books and indeed a prime component of therapeutic work.  But how important is it really?  And are we perhaps missing some other concept that could be more important?

We do know that poor self-esteem is closely associated with many problems in life – poor mental health, under achievement, failure to reach goals – and as coaches we worry that our clients need more advanced professional help if they present with such low self-esteem that we feel their progress would be impeded.  However, research is also showing that trying to raise self-esteem by artificial means, brings its own set of problems!  A person can develop narcissistic tendencies, antisocial behaviour and be even more reluctant to try activities that may challenge their self-concept further.  (Mueller and Dweck, 1998.)

Perhaps we are barking up the wrong tree?  Perhaps increasing self-compassion is a better approach?

Why focusing on building self-esteem alone may not be the best contributor to a happier, healthier life

One of the most common ways of addressing low self-esteem is to help a client become aware of the language they use, their negative self-talk, and help them replace these ideas with more positive (or realistic) language.

Or we may attempt to help them distract themselves from these thoughts.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) put forward other ideas.

By fighting the thought, it gives weight to its reality. There must be something wrong with the individual who is having it?  The more they fight it, the more power they give it.  (Hayes, 2014).  

We will all feel inadequate and insecure at times.  Events will threaten our self-esteem.  Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to hold ourselves in high esteem – unrealistically at all times – maybe we should be learning to respond to those situations and feelings with self-compassion instead.

What is self-compassion?

Dr. Kirstin Neff defines self-compassion has having three components during the tough times.

  • Treating oneself kindly
  • Recognising ones struggles as part of the shared human experience
  • Holding one’s painful thoughts as feelings in mindful awareness
So, with this view in mind, whether your thoughts are negative or positive isn’t really the issue. It’s how you respond to those thoughts that matters.  

  • First, we notice the thought, without getting attached to it.  (We can do this by being mindful.) 
  • Second, we understand that these thoughts are commons to all people and part of what we share as humans, and
  • Thirdly, treat ourselves with kindness and stop beating ourselves up!
Does it work?  Research suggests it does.  When children with low self-esteem were taught self-compassion, their mental health was less affected than those who were supported in improving self-esteem.  (Marshall 2015.)

ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) puts focus on increasing self-compassion by improving psychological flexibility.  By detaching from our thoughts, while being aware of their existence, and using skills that include self-kindness, we can protect and build our mental health.

As coaches, we don’t have to throw out all the techniques we have learnt about thought stopping and disputing negativity, but perhaps it would be more important to help clients learn the art of self-compassion as a very first step.  Food for thought!

References:

Hayes (2014). Is Self-Compassion more important than Self-Esteem?  www.huffingtonpost.com/id306621789?mt+8

Mueller, C.M., and Dweck, C.S.(1998) Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  75(1): 33-52

Marshall, S. et al (2015). Self-compassion protects against the negative effects of low self-esteem:  A longitudinal study in a large adolescent sample.  Personality and Individual Differences.  74:116-121

Working with the National Disability Insurance Scheme framework


Are you a certified Health and Wellness Coach who:

  • Has experience with, OR wants to work with, disabled people?
  • Is willing to network with local allied health professionals?
  • Is happy to work for a set hourly rate?
  • Is fairly good at working in a structured and organised way?
If so, there's a good chance that you can be paid to work as a coach within the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) framework.
This blog explains how it works, what the fee pre-requisites are, and how to apply.

Overview of NDIS process

Very simply, the NDIS supports people by way of funding if they have a permanent and significant disability that affects their ability to take part in everyday activities.

They may access NDIS funding if they:
  • have a permanent disability that limits participation in everyday activities 
  • are aged less than 65 when they first access the scheme 
  • Are an Australian citizen, live in Australia and hold a permanent visa or hold a Protected Special Category Visa.
Once an application for funding has been lodged, the NDIS: 
  • considers their existing support and how well it’s working (could include family, friend support);
  • looks at the person’s needs and goals, then identifies any gaps in existing services; 
  • works out if existing support networks (family, friends, other) can fill those gaps; and
  • fund reasonable and necessary supports to help the disabled person achieve their goals.
These ‘supports’ (services) being funded by the NDIS can be broad or specific and may include therapies, equipment, home modifications, mobility equipment, taking part in community activities or assistance with employment. 
Once appropriate services are identified, a tailored plan is created for the individual, considering their needs and goals.

Creating a Plan for Funding

Here is an overview of how it works.

The tailored plan is developed by either:
  • the NDIS governing body (either Uniting, St Vincent De Paul) or 
  • a contracted NDIS planner (an individual contractor or an Agency like the Disability Trust). 

  • The services and service providers are approved and allocated by the planner. 
  • Once funding is allocated, the service providers are formally approached by either the disabled individual or their planning coordinator/consultant; 
  • The plan (delivery of services) is implemented by the person, their family and sometimes a support coordinator, and is reviewed and revised annually.

The overarching aim of these plans is that the disabled individual becomes more capable and competent over time and their needs for services change and/or diminish.
Service providers can be registered with NDIS, or not (more on that later).

NDIS Service Categories

Professional services that are covered by the NDIS fall into one of three broad areas:
  • CORE SUPPORTS – which enable the individual to complete activities of daily living and work towards their goals and objectives. 
  • CAPITAL SUPPORTS – an investment such as technology, equipment and home or vehicle modifications, capital costs (e.g. Specialist Disability Accommodation). 
  • CAPACITY BUILDING – includes support that enables a participant to build their independence and skills. 
Health and Wellness Coaches may be eligible to provide services under the specific categories within the Core and Capacity Building areas:
  • Core Supports: 1.04 Assistance with Social and Community Participation
This could include paying for after school care, vacation care or a training course or camp.
  • Capacity Building: 3.07. Coordination of support
This is more of an administrative role, where the service provider helps to coordinate the booking of and interaction with various service providers outlined in the individual’s plan.  
  • Capacity Building: 3.09 Increased Social and Community Participation
This item covers tuition fees, art classes, sports coaching, camps or groups that build a person’s relationship and other skills and independence.
  • Capacity Building: 3.11 Improved relationships 
This item is more for experienced degree-qualified professionals (e.g. psychologists) who work to reduce or eliminate behaviours of concern. There may be an opportunity for Health and Wellness Coaches to help build individual social skills. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.12 Improved health and wellbeing
This includes all activities to support and maintain wellbeing such as personal training, exercise physiology, exercise, health diets and dietetic. Service providers in this category are typically qualified as a personal trainer, exercise physiologist or dietician. 
  • Capacity Building: 3.14 Improved life choices
There are several areas within this category that may be relevant for Health and Wellness Coaches, within Planning and Plan Management (that is, their own NDIS plan), or Therapy Services.
There are many ‘line items’ within each category and the full list is available on the NDIS website.

As you can see, there is no necessity to have a Health-related qualification for some of these items. For example, if you're not a personal trainer or a nutritionist, you can still work with NDIS clients in areas such as community participation, relationships, planning or plan management support and coordinating support.
 

Fund Management and Service Providers

The NDIS funding for a disabled person is managed in one of three ways. It is either:
  • NDIS managed – the NDIS pays service providers, and they must be approved, NDIS-registered providers
  • Agency managed – An NDIS agency like Workability or the Disability Trust pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers
  • Self-managed – the individual, their carer or their family pays service providers, and funding is available to either registered NDIS OR unregistered providers.
In any of these situations, the person who manages and distributes NDIS funding for a disabled person takes responsibility for the individuals choice of provider, according to which services have been approved in the plan. 

The criteria for choosing a service and service provider are that they must be:
  • Safe
  • Allowed within the NDIS framework
  • A competent person and provider
  • They can't be a member of the individual’s family
They may only want to use NDIS-registered providers, or may only want to use providers with specific qualifications or experience.

Pay rates

The pay rate you receive as a NDIS service provider (registered or unregistered) depends on: 
  • whether the client has low, standard or high intensity needs
  • the service category chosen, and 
  • your qualifications.
Pay rates start at $42.79 per hour, and may range up to $92.53 per hour for different services categories and/or working on weekends or public holidays.
Degree-qualified coaches (e.g. exercise physiologists) may earn up to $143 per hour depending on the service.

How Providers Get Work

While you don’t have to register as a provider, it certainly gives you a better chance of being chosen to provide services, because you: 
  • can advertise yourself as a registered provider
  • are eligible for all levels of funding management (from NDIS-managed to personally managed plans).
  • will be listed on the NDIS website as a registered provider. 
Whether approved or not, service providers may be approached by disabled individuals, the NDIS, or a support coordinator or agency to provide services. 

But at the end of the day, the more people in the industry that you know, the more likely you will be chosen to support someone. 

That means your best chance is to get out there and network! 

Find out who your local disability service providers and agencies are, meet them and introduce yourself. Let them know what you can do and how you could provide support in a positive and empowering way.

Considerations

As you can tell, the NDIS is fairly complicated and there is an application process to go through.
There is another consideration, too.

Mental health issues are often a comorbidity with disability. 
It means you may be dealing with individuals in complex situations and with complex needs. You may need to coordinate with other providers and be available at odd hours. 
You would probably need to be fairly clear on the boundaries of your role, and to communicate those boundaries clearly from the beginning.

Application Process

Are you interested in becoming a registered provider?
Click here to learn more and start the application process!

The Purpose and Pleasure Principle


Are you driven by Purpose or Pleasure?

We constantly refer to “wellness” or “wellbeing” as being something more holistic to strive towards than simply “happiness”

If we ask people what “wellness” means to them we will often hear terms such as “physical health”, “mental health” or “balance” in their response.  Let’s assume that optimal mental and physical health is a desirable state to work towards.  So how do we achieve that? 

If we look at physical health, it somehow seems easier to identify the changes we need to make.  After all, we can all tell when we are “unwell”.  Improvements in strength, fitness, flexibility and body fat levels are all frequently cited as being good areas for focus if we are to become more physically “well”

But what about mental wellness - closely aligned or some might say interchangeable with “emotional wellness”?  Now that’s more difficult to define. Apart from the more serious and debilitating mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety that so many people struggle with these days, there are less severe levels of “disquiet” or “discontent” that we might experience that are often hard to put a cause to, other than the fact that our lifestyle seems to be out of “balance”. 

So what needs to be balanced better?  A few places to look might be:

  • Time we spend at work and at home
  • Time we give to others and time for ourselves

A closer look at these two might reveal some discrepancies between what we value and what we do.  There are many ways of categorizing where our issues arrive and a common one is Work/Life balance. (Interesting that the phrase implies that Work is the opposite to Life!) So here’s another slant - Does our orientation lie closer to seeking purpose or pleasure?  In his book “When Happiness is not Enough”, Chris Skillett puts forward the idea that very often, our lack of satisfaction with life is our inability to achieve a balance between the drive for pleasure and the drive for satisfaction. Let’s look at this more closely.

The purpose versus pleasure driver

We would all agree that experiencing pleasure on one hand and then experiencing satisfaction of achievement both contribute to feelings of wellbeing.   However, an excess of one over the other can lead to problems. Striking a balance between the two is the way to achieving a fulfilling life.  Think about it.  If we lean towards seeking pleasure continually we may well be drawn to a life of excess and lifestyle problems.   However, an excessive focus on achievement will create a different type of problem typified by the over achieving individuals who burn themselves out with huge working hours and a constant feeling of pressure to go after the next goal. 

But this potential imbalance can be experienced in other areas of life. 

What will dictate which side we lean towards is our value system.  When we can identify which our biggest driver is, we will soon understand what shapes our behavior.

Ask  yourself –

  1. When considering your overall life, do you tend to value the drive to achieve or the experience of pleasure?
  2. What does “personal growth” mean to you?  Is it about “knowing yourself better” or striving to be a better person.

We are often obliged to make decisions based on this balance between pleasure and achievement and we will find that we have a preferred style.

Consider these four lifestyles:

  1. The driven lifestyle – high achievement, low pleasure
  2. The stagnant lifestyle – low achievement, low pleasure
  3. The indulgent lifestyle – low achievement, high pleasure
  4. The fulfilled lifestyle – high achievement, high pleasure

Various stages of our life may steer us more towards one of the quadrants listed above more than the other. When we are younger the need to achieve may be more important - to set ourselves up and create a place in society.  As we age, our focus may shift towards enjoying the moment and the simple daily pleasures of life.

Ideally we will have balance of both of these in our leisure, our work and our relationships.  It is also easy to see how incompatibility issues may arise if we choose to share our lives with someone who has a very different driver from us.  The weekends may involve a constant battle between the desire of one, to “get things done” and the other “to relax and chill out”.  Sound familiar?

A workplace can also be geared more towards one than the other.  Does your organisation focus purely on KPI’s and achieving goals, or does the happiness and enjoyment factor of its employees figure into the equation?  Different industries may require different focus and different leaders may create different environments to suit their drive.

The important thing is to recognize how the two drivers influence our life at any time and to attempt to find a balance that works for us at any given point in time.   If we feel that our “wellness” is not at its best, perhaps a quick review of whether we are experiencing enough pleasure and satisfaction in all areas of our life would be a good place to start fixing things.  

What is really important to you?


I often read articles that express ideas in a unique and impactful way, even though the subject matter might not be novel or original. I particularly enjoy work by a (self-professed) dude who goes by the name of Mark Manson and has a best selling book – the title of which I will refrain from naming due to some readers possible sensitivity around the use of profane language. The title of a recent piece by MM might also prevent some people from reading further but, I am going to pass on some of his ideas as I feel this guy knows a fair bit about life!

The article is subtitled, “The Ultimate Guide to Personal Values” and that’s what drew my attention as it seems right now this topic is very top of mind.  In our coaching model, the need to determine a client’s values is essential. In my current research it keeps popping up in interviews and this blog is going to summarise some key points around discovering and living our values!


Key point Number 1: Who do you want to be?

If you want to be a “better person” you must first define what that is. In which direction do you wish to grow?  Many people think they want to be “happier” yet if their values are, let’s say, questionable, feeling better may not be the way to improve their life.

Key point Number 2:  Every minute of the day we choose a value

Every moment of every day we choose what we do, what we focus on, where we spend our energy according to our values.  At the moment we do anything at all, we are placing a value on something.  Whether you read this article, take a cigarette break, go for a run or have sleep, that action is value driven! 

TIME OUT:
I am going to suggest an exercise (which I have personally dream't up) and ask you to spend a whole day reflecting on what you do when, and whether that is living a value that is important to you.  Right down to the detail of the conversations you are having, the comments you make, the way you are spending your time.  This is an interesting stock take of how aligned our life is with the things we deem important.  Because…

Key point Number 3: Our values are constantly reflected in the way we choose to behave.

Often we think and say what we value but never back it up with action.  In other words, our values are ones we wish we had, but actually don’t.  At times our beliefs and ideas get disconnected from our actions and choices.  And to bridge that gap, we have to become delusional about ourselves and the world at large.

Key point Number 4: Values define us.  

When people go off to “find themselves” they are really trying to work out what their values are, or how they might have changed

Key point Number 5:  We need to value something bigger than ourselves 

to give life meaning.  (But on that note, I personally do not life it when someone tries to push their value around something bigger on to me.  I would prefer to define my own “bigger”.)

Key point Number 6: Values are based on experience

We can only create our values based on what we experience.  No one else can tell us what is important.

Key point Number 7: Values can be good or bad – healthy or harmful

As coaches it is not our place to judge whether a client’s values are good or bad, but it heps to understand that health values have three elements:

Healthy values are:
  • Evidenced-based
  • Constructive
  • Controllable

Unhealthy values are:
  • Emotion-based
  • Destructive
  • Uncontrollable

Let’s give an example of the last element. A value that is outside our total control is money.  To a certain extent we can control how much we earn and how we spend it, but there are many events that may occur that may take that money away.  If you lose money and everything you value is about money, you may lose your perceived purpose for living!  And money can have its dark side.  Paying taxes, not knowing who to trust, losing the drive to work can all reveal this value as one that does not bring happiness.

Key point Number 8:  Values can be replaced with new ones

Let’s take money.  Instead of money, perhaps consider the things that money can buy, but that can also be achieved by other means.  Money can buy freedom, but money can lock us into a prison.  What other value could do a better job?  Working at something we find meaningful, helping others, honesty are all things that you can control. They are “abstract” but can be lived.

So let’s all do that exercise I described.   It can be very revealing as to who we are, what we value and how we are living.  

Reference: www. markmanson.net



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