Creating Agency: The power to create the story of your own life

May 25, 2016

Having a sense of Agency is about having the awareness that you are creating choices, acting on those choices and have a sense of control and can create opportunities in your world.

In one of the richest cities on earth there are people for whom life is an increasingly desperate struggle. People who are a few steps away from being engulfed by a combination of forces at play in their lives: housing insecurity, poverty, past traumas, ill health, extreme loneliness and isolation to name but a few. People clinging on and just about coping. Yet until a specific crisis happens – homelessness, a mental breakdown, hospital admission – there is precious little help at hand. And for those who have been in crisis, the support they need can fall away once the fix has been applied. Many people with multiple disadvantages find they just don’t fit with the requirements of single issue support systems.

The more strain people are under, the more they are assessed and processed by ‘experts’, the more their sense of personal agency wanes and their resilience weakens.

This is where coaching and mindfulness can be of help when applied with the person at the centre – you – are creating the choices, making the decisions, experiencing the consequences.

This kind of coaching starts with the premise that no matter who you are or what the circumstances, you are the expert.  

You have the unique ability to make choices and changes that have an impact.

This is the ethos and work of Rising Minds – a social enterprise which I am honoured to support as an advisor.

Rising minds is committed to making this quality of coaching and mindfulness available to people who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

Enabling this quality of coaching and mindfulness intervention is not free, but neither is it expensive, in comparison to the financial cost of the multiple agencies that are involved in many people’s lives and the personal cost of having no sense of agency.

The cost is approximately £500 per person. The impact? Read some of the client stories below

 

Some client stories

Sue had been the victim of a violent crime two years previously, leaving her disabled and traumatised. She wanted to learn how to handle her fears and the stress of her chronic pain. She had been finding day to day activities difficult, and had become increasingly isolated. Sue worked on noticing what triggered her fears so she could create a space in which to ‘resettle’ herself. She learnt she could be the master of her thoughts rather than vice versa: “I am feeling more relaxed and able to manage my fears better.” These shifts made her feel ready to socialise again and make connections with others in the mindfulness group. Summing up, Sue says: “I’m more positive. It feels like a new start. I am alive and I have my life to live. I can be confident and happy.”

 

Robert began his coaching sessions while still serving a community service order, and was in very low spirits. Rob knew that his life could be very different if he could find more control and discipline, and a more positive self-view. In his life coaching, he found – to his great surprise – that all this was possible. He discovered that: “I understand myself, I know myself in a different way, and I accept myself.” He also found that he could be “patient, control myself and understand myself and my surroundings”. These insights led to many practical steps: getting more exercise; spending more time with his son; and pursuing his passion for making music. He also reconnected with his talent in graphic design and audio-visual arts, and had plans to set up his own small business in this field.

 

Alice

Alice had been suffering from stress, health problems, and low self-esteem. She was also in recovery from an alcohol dependency and wanted to find ways to relax her mind and body. As a result of the coaching and mindfulness training, within 6 weeks she felt “positive and present, clear-headed and focused, able to control moods when they lower…much more confident in my future”. Her family relationships improved, along with her ability to make new friends. During the programme she successfully appealed against an ATOS judgment forcing her back to work, which gave her time to work on herself and her work choices. This led her to feeling much clearer about her next steps into employment – and six months down the line Alice secured full time employment in an administration role at Salvation Army’s Head Office.

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