In the newest edition of MysticMag interviews, Barbara Hatfield, a certified life coach, shares her insights into coaching, parenting, and navigating life’s challenges with a focus on empowering moms and teens alike. As a seasoned coach, Barbara delves into the power of mindset work, the unique dynamics of supporting mothers of teenagers, and invaluable advice for anyone facing anxiety or striving to help a teen through such struggles.
Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m Barbara Hatfield. I’m a certified life coach and a mom of two mid-20s children. I was a weight loss coach for several years, and then I decided to take my skills and deepen them to become a certified Life Coach in 2020. I really enjoy working with moms and teens in all coaching aspects. I really wish I had these skills back when my kids were much younger. It would have given me a different perspective on parenting stress.
What is your approach to life coaching?
I love life coaching because it’s all about mindset work, and it helps put the individual in charge of their life. 95% of what we do is done at the subconscious level, so awareness of the way we’re thinking and viewing things can really help us see what those automatic programs that are running our lives are so that we can decide if we still want things done that way or not.
When we’re babies and young children, we observe life and we create deep beliefs as to how we view life based on what we’ve seen so far. We accept these observations as just the way life is (our “truths”) and these beliefs can run our lives into adulthood. We don’t even really realize that we have some of them. So, after becoming more aware of the way we’re viewing things, we can consciously decide how we want to think. Awareness comes first, then change can happen,
How is supporting mothers of teenagers unique and different from working with other people?
I love coaching moms, as well as teens if they’re willing. What’s important to note is that moms want the best for their children, which is why it can sometimes feel hard for moms to focus on their own day if their child is struggling. Coaching with moms helps them learn how to guide their teen and how not to let their emotional day be dependent on how their child is feeling. We talk about the necessity of letting our children learn valuable life lessons and how some lessons can’t be taught by parents and must be learned by the child directly. This can be a hard process to watch so our coaching is a space where moms can speak freely without fear of judgment. Friends can be helpful to vent to but often that doesn’t solve problems.
I know that for today’s parents, social media creates a lot of stress. We just go into that compare-and-disappear mode, so we look at what other people are doing and then we make a lot of judgments on our life as to how things “should” be.
What are some of the main benefits that moms of teens can have from this kind of coaching and can you share a memorable success story?
I love the power of coaching and how it changes lives, so there are plenty of success stories I could list. I know from my own standpoint that I’m asking much better questions now and not feeling like I have to just solve their problems. This can also empower teens that they are capable of managing any problem and also teaches them the key skill of resiliency. Life always has ups and downs and the sooner they can learn how to sit with some discomfort to solve problems, the better.
Coaching has the value to bring anyone at any age to their next best life. I had a client who struggled for years with her weight and coaching brought her the weight loss she desired and also addressed the source of that weight gain, which was work stress. She began to trust in her value as an employee and became empowered enough to send out job applications and land her dream job.
And like I said earlier, I do work with teens too if they’re open to coaching. I find that a coach can ask the harder questions without the teen being put on the defensive, so it’s just nice to have an objective person who isn’t in their daily life.
In that light, coaching can help moms feel more in charge of their day and what they actually can control. Having in mind that we all talk to our friends and family, it’s important to note that complaining can feel good at the moment and has its role, but it doesn’t solve the problem, so that’s the biggest thing that coaching can help in just as little as 6 or 12 weeks. It helps moms learn different ways to deal with the problems that they’re facing.
What would be your main advice to anyone struggling with anxiety or trying to help a teen going through that struggle?
Open communication with teens is essential to be able to influence them. We feel we have control over teens but it is really influence when you really think about it. When teens feel put into a corner, they will resist (hard sometimes) and then we lose the power to influence them if they stop telling us things. We can create consequences for them but that is less effective if it just leads to yelling at each other, as yelling just creates more disconnection. As parents, we get a lot more answers when we can be curious as to why they are doing certain things (although this can be hard) and with less judgment. Less judgment allows the teen to open up about what’s causing them anxious feelings and you will be more successful to get your ideas across to your teen. A parent can try to create situations where their teen is likely to open up, such as in the car or on a walk outside; just be aware as to when they are done with talking about their problem.
I also love the story versus facts approach. The facts of the situation are what everybody could agree upon, but then we have a natural tendency to create a story of what we’re making the situation to mean. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that could happen?” A lot of times our brains go to thinking in the direction of the worst possible scenario. For example, we want our child to go to college and then that doesn’t happen. We create this worst-case scenario where their life is not going to be as good as we wanted it to be.
Another key concept is reaction versus response. Reaction is a habit, but response is chosen. Learning this skill, along with the power of the pause, helps you decide on purpose how you’re going to respond to a situation. We’re all human, we all react and maybe yell or raise our voices, but the more you can be aware of how you want to show up to your child, the better results you’ll get. That power of the pause allows you to choose your response.
One more key skill is to set boundaries from love and not try to control another person. Gratitude can be super helpful, as well. Worry and struggles can consume our thinking, so we have to balance that off with focusing on what’s going right.
Another benefit of coaching is that it can help you learn how to allow your feelings. In coaching, there’s a saying – “what we resist, persists.” And often that feeling seems to get stronger. If you’re not so afraid to face a feeling such as sadness or disappointment, it can help you process where that feeling is coming from. Even when it comes to anxiety, the more we fear something, and the more we push against that feeling, it just becomes a lens that we see our life through and often becomes a bigger problem.
As I said earlier, I also like the concept of curiosity over judgment, which implies seeking to understand what your teen is doing and trying to figure out why they are doing it. That requires you to take a step backward and get into that curiosity mode instead of being judgmental of what they should and shouldn’t be doing. That also leads us to expectations of how things “should” be, which only causes internal pain for us.
Lastly, another key concept that I learned in coaching school is that life is always 50/50. We often make decisions expecting life to be better when… when we move to a different location, have a different job, or get into a relationship. The key thing to understand is that life is always 50/50 and since “we take us to that next thing” we must do the internal work first before making any change since life won’t just be better when you move, get into a relationship, or live somewhere different. Life is always going to be on the spectrum of good and not-so-good. It’s helpful to remember that difficult times don’t last forever.
Is there anything else about your work that you’d like to share that we haven’t covered?
On my website, BarbHatfield.com, I have a link to request your “Anxiety Relief Toolkit.” It’s simple things that people can do immediately and just start practicing and creating that awareness for themselves.
To learn more about Barb and her work, you can visit barbhatfield.com