Indo-Caribbean Life Coach Shanita Liu Transforms Fears Into Courage

life coach

I stared at the positive pregnancy test. I was thrilled but petrified. How was I going to support a baby without employment and no guarantee of having a roof over my head in the next few months?

Just a few weeks prior, I resigned from a demanding job. I took the risk because life wasn’t all about working like a dog to achieve the American dream. At the same time, I anxiously waited for an offer on a house to come through because my lease was about to end. I didn’t expect to conceive amidst these life changes.

The “stabilities” that I dreamt of having in place for the arrival of my child were absent. After ugly-crying for weeks and asking “Why me? I decided to put on my big girl panties.

I sought a life coach.

Before leaving my job, I enrolled in a nine-month coaching certification program. Most people thought it was a kooky idea to pursue, and even when I used to hear the term “life coach” I imagined Tony Robbins yelling in my face. I didn’t know what a life coach did until I spoke with different women of color who were also alumni from my program.

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They both told me that getting coached and coaching others offered transformation across all facets of their lives. Transformation sounded crazy, sexy and cool.

Since I didn’t have anything to lose, I volunteered to divulge my hot ass mess in the next demo session with my course instructor. And, those 20 minutes changed my life.

The instructor welcomed my tears, held open a judgment-free space for me and asked powerful questions. He helped me become aware of the limiting beliefs that I inherited from Indo-Guyanese matriarchs, I became clear on my values.

He encouraged me to use those values as a compass for navigating my new chapter as a mom, homeowner and entrepreneur. He reminded me that asking for support was not a sign of weakness as I had been taught—there was absolutely nothing wrong with revealing my vulnerabilities and advocating for my needs to family and friends.

Lastly, he showed me how to stand in my fearless Maa Durga energy without guilt or shame so that I could voice my concerns the next time a boss or family member disrespected me.

I felt courageous. I felt powerful. I felt joy. I felt relief and I didn’t have to be yelled at! I was blown away at how I got to my truth so quickly. Coaching was a gift, so why weren’t any of my friends getting coaches? It occurred to me—no one in my immediate circles even knew what coaching was.

What is coaching?

Coaching is a way for people to get the tools needed to unlock their personal potential and fulfill their goals.

Historically, coaching was only accessible by white, upper-class men and women. It was not used among women of color and persons of color in general. Yet, coaching is now at the forefront of today’s wellness movement, even though most people appear to dismiss it. This could be a side effect of how our community deals with mental health, furthering stigmas instead of understanding the benefits of this type of coaching.

Most people associate coaching with therapy, and while I think therapy is amazing and super valuable, there are major differences. Therapists focus on past experiences and healing emotional traumas. Therapy also differs because therapists do not aim to co-create relationships with their clients in the same way coaches do. Coaches build trusting partnerships with their clients, so the relationship you have with a coach is a two-way street.

You don’t have to be “broken” or suffering from a crisis to get coached (although it’s okay if you are).

Clients typically design their solutions because as most coaching programs believe, people are whole and resourceful enough to come up with the answers on their own. A coach will not dish out advice because as renown life coach Iyanla Vanzant said, “You’ve got to do your work.”

A coach will have your back and check you when needed.

In other words, someone is there to support you from breakdown to breakthrough, as well as hold you accountable. My coaches have witnessed me go from weeping about pregnancy discomforts to planning on how to stay positive in motherhood. When doing so left me afraid to move forward, they called me out and followed up to make sure that I didn’t cop out again.

[Read Related: Your Eating Habits won’t Define You—You’re so much More than that]

You control the length of your coaching relationship.

Choose to work with a coach via a one-time session or sessions spanning one to six months. I would highly recommend coaching for at least one month because personal transformation doesn’t happen overnight. I worked with one coach for as long as five months because I needed her encouragement over time to shift from “Who the heck do I think I am to start a business?” to “I was born to thrive in this business.”

The coach-client setup offers flexibility for the woman who does it all.

You can choose to work with a coach in person or by phone and/or video conferencing. If you’re working with a good coach, the impact is the same. You can even “try on a coach” the way you try on a lengha before you buy it. Most coaches offer a complimentary session so that you can experience their approach before any commitments or fees.

The best part is that no one has to know.

Almost every coach will ask you to sign an agreement that explains the terms of confidentiality in your coach-client relationship.

Brown women can undoubtedly benefit from coaching.

Whether you want to stop “playing small” in your relationships or create community-wide change during this shaky political climate, coaching will move the needle. You can engage in one-on-one coaching or have a coach come in to facilitate content for your organization. Even professionals like myself continue with coaching because it helps me tune out the discouraging voices of my childhood aunties so that I can live my life the way I want to.

So, if you’re feeling fearful and stuck in making a change in your life, give coaching a try. You don’t have to be a hot ass mess to connect with a coach, but if you are, that’s okay too.

By Shanita Liu

Shanita Liu, MPA, CPC teaches women to beat to burnout. As a certified transformational life coach, workshop facilitator, speaker, and … Read more ›