Laurel Roberts-Meese, LMFT, and Catharine Pritchard, Coach, discuss how to cultivate feelings of abundance in your life, even during coronavirus.
LRM: Today I have the pleasure of talking to my first non-therapist guest, Catharine Pritchard, who is a therapist-turned-coach who loves working with women around abundance, which is such a fascinating topic right now during coronavirus. People have been laid off, there are shortages of food and supplies, and there’s a real feeling of scarcity, so I thought this would be interesting. Catharine, can you share a bit about yourself and what you do?
CP: Definitely, and thank you for having me on. As you said, I a therapist-turned-coach. I used to practice therapy in San Francisco, and I focused on women’s mental health, working with a lot of anxiety, depression, and sexual trauma. My work as a coach is different, but there are some overlaps. Right now I work with highly driven women to increase their income, impact, and intimacy.
LRM: I love that alliteration. Income, impact, and intimacy are such pillars of our existence. Can you tell us about the differences between therapy and coaching?
CP: Yes, well there are definitely some overlaps, and I think that all therapy includes some coaching, but coaching doesn’t include any therapy. Coaching is a little more solution-focused and action-oriented. It’s often goal or result-driven, and while there are some types of therapy that encompass that, I think coaching embodies that forward-movement a little more.
LRM: Yes, and I love that. I have felt over the years that I have a coaching edge as a therapist, because I’m also driven by goals and to make measurable progress. I want to make sure we’re actually accomplishing whatever a client is interested in, and it sounds like you’re really able to do that as a coach, rather than sitting in a process around deep feeling.
CP: Yes, I would agree. The access point around change in coaching is a little different.
LRM: So what is abundance?
CP: I think I was doing a lot of work around abundance before I even labeled it as that. It can be elusive. Abundance to me is a life philosophy around cultivating a deep knowing that unlimited possibility and potential is available to you. A lot of the work is a perspective shift. Often our environments cultivate the opposite, which is a deeply felt sense of scarcity, which brings a deep sense of fear. It can be subconscious. Stepping out of that into abundance allows you to locate more joy in the present moment.
LRM: And we all want that. Present joyfulness.
CP: It’s truly special when we can drop into the present.
LRM: Obviously right now there’s a massive, worldwide experience trending toward feelings of scarcity, and very real scarcity, and I’m wondering what you’re seeing coming up right now around abundance during COVID-19.
CP: Yes, there’s a global consciousness percolating toward scarcity, and as you said it’s very real. What I’m noticing in my coaching work during COVID-19 is themes that were there before, but now it’s heightened. I imagine you’re seeing that in your therapy practice as well.
CP: Part of the abundance mindset is turning your mind toward the opportunity. When we encounter struggles, there’s often a silver lining. It can be hard to focus on that, but we’re looking at what opportunities are becoming available. Perhaps you can accelerate in a way you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
LRM: It reminds me of when I was working in a clinic and in the waiting room was a sign that said “Crisis = Danger + Opportunity” and it sounds like your work is really highlighting the Opportunity. But we are also not going to dismiss the Danger, we’re not going to deny that there is very real suffering. People have lost income, they’ve lost employment, they’ve lost loved ones. We don’t want to downplay the Danger and loss process, it really is just about elevating the Opportunity.
CP: Absolutely. It doesn’t have to be just one or the other. Opportunity isn’t dismissing suffering and loss, and that’s incredibly important. It’s a very real experience. And if possible, to tune into the Opportunity, as hard as it may seem. When I think of abundance and think back on history, I often think of some of the biggest trials and tribulations have spawned amazing things.
LRM: Out of the Depression came the New Deal, which put in place funding for arts and public works, that created an incredible fabric of society. That was the opportunity out of that crisis. Now, the Great Depression was terrible, and I don’t mean to dismiss that, but then we look at the opportunity that came from that crisis.
CP: Yes. Diamonds are formed under pressure. It’s not to dismiss the struggle, but beautiful things can be born.
LRM: I want to just name here the concept of toxic positivity, which is where you only focus on the positive and dismiss the negative, to a point where it’s really bad for you. The worst example is when you lose a loved one and someone says “they’re in a better place now” and you’re like, “yeah, that’s true, but I feel terrible.” It’s dismissive of the grief process.
CP: And it’s also a form of resisting the grief process and the discomfort that comes with it. When we confront resistance, things become more challenging.
LRM: Barriers to abundance include fear, grief, stress, and trauma, which we can both speak to. You previously worked with trauma, and I continue to as one of my specialties. Being EMDR trained, I see that there’s such tremendous capacity for growth and ability to go on to that abundance mindset eventually. You and I are on the same continuum of the work, just in different part of it. When people have experienced a trauma, it’s almost impossible to connect to feelings of abundance, and that’s normal and okay, and you shouldn’t force yourself to try to get there. After a trauma, what you really need is a stabilizing force. First get to a place of safety and normalcy, which can take months or years. Whether you’re working with a therapist or developing your own care routine, really allow yourself some time. There have been a lot of great think pieces in recent months about the pandemic is not a productivity content, and you shouldn’t make it one. Unless you are someone who has always coped with stress with productivity, don’t try to make that your coping mechanism now. Ultimately, when you do the bulk of your trauma work and develop your own solid, physically felt sense of safety, normalcy, and power, that sets a fantastic stage to go on and do the abundance work.
CP: I completely agree, and a lot of it is about timing and honoring your own unique journey. There doesn’t have to be judgment attached to that. We heal on our own timelines. I could be detrimental to try to adopt an abundance mindset if you’re in the midst of trauma. That’s completely okay and normal. It can be a second layer at some point.
LRM: You can’t be in abundance if you have to be in survival.
LRM: I’m so glad you get that. I know there are some amazing coaches out there, but because coaching is not a regulated profession, there are coaches out there that don’t have the perspective you do. Anyone really wanting to work on that abundance mindset, increasing their income, impact, and intimacy, definitely get in touch with Catharine. So finally, how do you know when you’re in an abundance mindset?
CP: I think it’s really a felt sense of joy and ease, where some things are effortless. It’s unique to each person. Some of the women I work with have identified it as a feeling of being enough, and self-trust, and deep knowing that they are enough and that things will flow for them in their life.
LRM: I was just thinking joy as well. It’s kind of like knowing that there isn’t toilet paper in the stores right now, but there will be toilet paper again, and having a sense of calm about it.
CP: For people who may feel abundance is elusive. I often find it in nature of wildlife or sunshine. There are a lot of ways to find it and have it trickling into your life.
LRM: And it doesn’t have to be material. We all have financial concerns no matter what our income is. It’s a felt sense, not a dollar amount. You can have an abundance mindset at many different income levels.
CP: Yes. Increasing income as a goal of coaching is really a product of coaching being more action-orientated, but if you can cultivate a sense of unattachment to results in some way, it allows that end goal to be more within your reach, however counterintuitive that may seem.
LRM: What I’m hearing in that is that it’s so subjective. Even if we’re talking concretely, making $60k a year may feel abundant to someone, while $600k a year may feel abundant to someone else. Both of those experiences may be experienced internally the same way.
LRM: So if people want to get in touch, how do they do that?
CP: My website isn’t quite launched, but my email is firstname.lastname@example.org , and I’m also on Instagram with that handle.
LRM: And you love working with highly driven women around abundance.
CP: Yes. It’s often career-oriented, but it has ripples.
LRM: Yes, and I’m relationship-oriented, but work comes up a lot in therapy because that’s where we spend so much of our lives. Catharine, thanks so much for being here.