I had two thought provoking conversations recently; one with a therapist and one with a friend. The therapist was asking me what coaching is to me. The friend was talking about therapy.

The first conversation raised the search for truth as a central issue. The second; freedom. Which made me reflect on the relationship between truth and freedom.

Ultimately in coaching we know the client has the answer. The coach’s role is to help clients verbalise it and acknowledge it. The answer is the truth. We know our own truth but we do much to avoid it. We may not want to acknowledge what we know because a state of willful ignorance is easier. Once we face the truth we often have to act. We are responsible for our self and our own life and how we live it. The choices we make can liberate us.

One of our truths that we may be choosing to ignore is that we are free to chose.

When I asked my friend what freedom meant to them they said it was freedom from responsibility, from ‘having to’; the ability to make choices based on what we want to do – an absence of constraints. Implicit within their description was the sense of adventure, space and spontaneity. Within their aspiration was also a freedom from anxiety.

In existentialist philosophy, freedom is not the absence of responsibility. Freedom is making choices, being true to our self, taking up that responsibility. We can only be free if we know our self and chose to express and be who we are. That allows us to be spontaneous and unconstrained; space is freedom from our self-imposed, often internal, constraints.

To see and remove the constraints we have created is to face the truth about our self; who we are and what we want. Clients usually come to coaching at the point where they are willing to take responsibility – make choices – often because they feel stuck without doing so, or because they have recognised that the life they are living feels uncomfortable. They want to feel more free.

We are free to create ourselves, make something worthwhile of ourselves and give our life meaning and purpose. The truth it that we often prevent ourselves from living our potential.