How to help someone see that they’re not taking responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and actions?


Hi Brooke,

First, I want to say that I’m eternally grateful for all that I’ve learned from you. My life has forever been changed (in so many ways) as a result of your coaching via the podcast and here in Self Coaching Scholars.

My question relates to a client that I’m working with. I’m her marketing coach. In addition to working on the strategy side of her business, I also support her with mindset coaching.

I’m doing my best to “hold the space” for how she’s thinking, feeling, and taking action (and not taking action), but I’m stumped as to how to help her see that she’s not taking full responsibility for her thoughts, feelings, and actions/inactions.

When she writes to me via email it sounds as if she hasn’t really “heard” what I’ve said to her. She doesn’t seem to have an accurate portrayal of what I’ve recommended for her because she tells me I’ve said “this or that” in a misconstrued kind of way.

For example, she said, “Telling me ‘mindset’ is not helping me and instead shutting me down. It frustrates me and I decide to just do nothing.”

I haven’t ever just “told her to work on her mindset.” I gave her a mini course on how to coach herself through any of her negative thoughts, feelings, or actions that are holding her back. I’ve also shown her specific instances of how she’s holding herself back via CTFAR models so that she can begin to choose better thought patterns to get the results she wants (which I also demonstrated in the mini course). And I’ve suggested numerous podcast episodes from the Life Coach School as well as a few others to help with specific challenges I see her having internally and in her business.

She told me she was having “mindset issues” before I ever even offered any help with mindset-related challenges.

But now (as quoted above), she’s saying that whatever I’m “telling” her about “mindset” is “shutting her down.”

When she says things like this, I see her skipping over the T-line of the model like this:

C – Kelli is telling her “mindset” things

T – ??? (Maybe something like – “I don’t like what Kelli’s suggesting I should do!”) – Just conjecturing here.

F – shutting down

A – not doing anything

R – not getting the results she wants

This is just one instance of where I see her not taking responsibility for her feelings and actions. I see her saying similar things consistently… and pointing out negatives very frequently. She very rarely expresses positive emotions through her verbal or written words.

I also see her “indulging in confusion” more than taking action. And more than once she’s said that she’s confused about her priorities, even though I’ve spelled out step-by-step priorities for her more than once over the course of a few weeks.

I sincerely want to help her, but I feel like she’s either ignoring or resisting my suggestions because she keeps twisting the reality of what my communications have been with her.

I keep reiterating the facts of what I’ve shared with her, but it’s as if she’s choosing what she wants to remember or pay attention to.

If she doesn’t want me to share any more suggestions or coaching on her mindset because she says it’s “shutting her down,” should I NOT attempt to show her how she’s not taking responsibility for her thoughts, feelings, and actions?

Should I just focus on the marketing strategies with her?

Or is there a way to gently show her that she’s not taking responsibility and only continuing to sabotage her results and success by continuing to indulge in confusion?

I really want to support her as best I can, but I feel like she and I are in our own “Spin Cycle” together. I offer suggestions or coaching, she appears not to like what I’ve offered, she stays in confusion and gets frustrated, then I try again. Rinse and Repeat.

I’ve never experienced this with another client. From dozens of 1-on-1 clients, I’ve had all positive experiences of my clients appreciating and taking action on my suggestions.

I offered to this client that perhaps we weren’t a good fit for each other several weeks ago when she expressed that she didn’t like various aspects of the small group program that she’s taking with me. I offered to refund her money, but she insisted on staying.

Any insights you can offer are enormously appreciated!

Kelli