Longing for Home: Navigating this emotional landscape in coaching

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issue 06 / Pervin Vermeer Kalay

In a fast-paced world where we deal with diverse cultures, migration and even war. A lot of us may feel like home is not something that is guaranteed. Whether that comes from having to physically move places or coming from different ethnicities and not knowing what your true home feels like. It is safe to say that a sense of longing and feeling out of place is a theme that many clients can relate to. But it is important that we, as coaches, reflect on our own inner homes as well. So, we can create a safe space for our clients to navigate this topic.

Coaching, at its core, is about guiding individuals through transformative processes. It involves navigating the complexities of emotions, aspirations, and self-perception. The theme of longing for home emerges when clients grapple with the need to reconnect with their true selves or seek a profound sense of purpose and belonging.

But what does one consider as home? Home is a layered, complex concept that can mean many different things. It is worth exploring these layers, so we can grasp the emotional and psychological importance of this theme. So, you as a coach, can guide your client in their personal development journey.

The multiple layers of “home”

A first layer of home is home as a place you grew up in, your neighbourhood, the house you lived in, the school you attended, the friends you had, etc. But it is more than a place, it is where you first experienced belonging, nurture, and security. Or first experienced restriction and unsafety. These early experiences are critical, they determine how someone connects and interacts with others.

In addition to this, there is a sense of home within yourself. One aspect of this longing involves yearning for authenticity. Another facet of longing for home relates to the pursuit of purpose. Clients may feel a drift in their careers or personal lives, searching for a sense of direction that resonates with their core values. The more someone is connected with themselves, the more authentic someone feels. And if the things we do align with who we are as people, we feel inner peace and even happiness.

The third layer of feeling at home relates to external factors. For example, feeling at home with certain people, a special place, or a specific time. These factors make you feel connected. Sometimes you are not even aware of this until it is gone, you feel like something is off, or missing. You feel incomplete and unwhole.

Then there is this contrasting dynamic of yearning to come home when you are away (home sweet home) or wanting to leave and explore the world. Longing for freedom and space, when you are at home too long. Home then becomes heavy and suffocating or maybe even isolating and depressing.

The fifth element of home can be explained by connecting home to your general environment like the city you live in or the company you work for.

Handling these layers within coaching

Addressing a theme such as longing for home in coaching requires a nuanced approach. Coaches must create a safe and open space where clients feel comfortable exploring their emotions and vulnerabilities. This is where we, as coaches, have a crucial role. The coach is responsible for creating this safe environment, a holding space, where the client feels comfortable and, there it is: at home. I believe that the more we as coaches feel at home within ourselves, the more the client ends up feeling at home with us.

To explore the topic of belonging and feeling at home with your client, Brenninkmeijer (2023) has created these questions to ask:

The different layers of homeFocuses onCoaching questions
Your first homeThe place and house where you lived when you were young·     Where do you come from (where are your roots)? ·     How has your first home defined you
Connecting with your inner selfFeeling safe and at ease with yourself and everything you do·     Is that what you do and with whom you are aligned? When?
External factorsfeeling at home with others·     When, where, with whom do you feel at home?
Arriving, staying, and leavingThe dynamic between arriving and leaving home·     Which dynamic do you feel more comfortable with? Arriving, staying, or leaving?
Home as a general contextHome in a broader context, such as the city, country, the world we live in·     How do you relate to big and intangible matters? ·     How do you deal with it?

The landscape of coaching often involves navigating through the turbulence of change. As individuals strive for personal or professional growth, they may encounter uncertainty, fear, and doubt. Longing for home in such instances can be explained by the desire for stability amid the storms of transformation.

In conclusion, the theme “longing for home”, within coaching, is a complex and layered concept. That speaks on the desire for authenticity, purpose, safety, and stability. Coaches play a crucial role guiding clients through this journey of self-discovery and reflection. Helping them rediscover their authentic selves and creating a sense of home within. In order to do this, coaches need to address their own inner homes as well. Not only to feel at home with themselves, but also to create a safe space, needed for the client to flourish.

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