Pete Farlam recently chatted to ex-Bishops parent and life coach Bev Willcocks about her coaching and parenting philosophy.

Q: Bev, you did life coaching training with best-selling author Michael Neill in California. How would you summarize Michael’s approach to counselling / coaching?

About 10 years ago, Michael stumbled upon a universal understanding that transformed the way he coached and the results he was having with his clients. This approach focuses on how the ‘human operating system’ actually works rather than following any specific tools or techniques. This ‘inside-out understanding’ shows us that our experience in life is created from inside the mind and not as we are taught to believe from external circumstances, people, places or things.

We struggle when we get caught up in the content of our personal thinking and lose our bearings. Yet, we all have a space within us that is perfect, whole and unbroken. When we rest in this space we find peace.

Q: Can you explain what you mean by a space that is “perfect, whole and unbroken”?

As babies, we are all born with everything we need to grow and thrive. There is an innate wisdom to all of nature. The only thing that changes is that we get caught up in our intellectual thinking and start to believe that we know a better way. When we learn to access and trust the same deeper intelligence behind life that makes our hearts pump, guides birds to migrate and causes roses to bloom, we might be surprised at how much more wisdom is available to us.

When we learn to work from this place of wholeness, we uncover what is already present and available to each and every one of us. This is where transformation and miracles lie.

Q: I’m interested in the idea of “low state of mind”. What do you mean by that?

A ‘low state of mind’ basically refers to a state of thinking / feeling that is preoccupied, negative and reactive. Let’s take bullying as an example. When someone is feeling good about life and themselves, what I would call in a ‘high state of mind’, they are not likely to give other people a hard time. They are also less likely to take things so personally. They naturally have more resilience. Contrast this to when life isn’t feeling so rosy and they are in a low state of mind. They tend to look outside themselves to try and make the ‘negative’ feelings go away. They pick on other people and if the other person is also in a low state of mind, the interaction can get really ugly.

So we don’t look to the behaviour as “bad” but rather the nature of the thinking/feeling relationship and the impact this has on how we show up in the world.

Q: Would you say that parents should avoid engaging with their kids when they are in a ‘low state of mind’?

When life is busy and our minds are preoccupied, we are not present to what is actually going on in any moment. When we are caught up in work, or something else, we are less likely to engage from a good space. The same goes for our kids. Taking time out to ‘clear the decks’ and then having a discussion is a far better option than trying to fix the problem when you have a lot of cluttered thinking. How often do we find that ‘sleeping on it’ actually gives the issue time to resolve itself? If not, at least we are in a better space to handle it, which is the type of leadership our children are ultimately looking for.

Every parent loves their child and wants the best for them. When we come from this place we are able to listen deeply, connect with our kid(s) and most importantly, be present. In this state of mind, we don’t need to recreate the past, or entertain our habitual thinking that is most likely keeping us stuck in the problem. When we’re both willing to see the other person’s point of view, both parties can find a peaceful place to engage, allowing the possibility for transformation.

Q: What advice would you give parents when all else fails?

We all know what happens when we ‘sleep on’ a problem. Somehow, we often get a new perspective.

It’s often wise to take a step back, let things settle and see what occurs to you to do or say. We all love our children and want the best for them. Constant worry and mental grind is not helpful when you’re feeling helpless. Connect with your heart. ‘Listen’ with all your senses to what comes. The answer might come immediately, in a few hours or over a few weeks. But as you learn to trust and rely on your inner intelligence, you will get a sense of what is most appropriate in each situation, both for you and your child. Allow your common sense to guide you and trust in that.

Believe in your child’s wholeness and potential. This alone will help them find their own path in the world.

Bev Willcocks can be contacted on

Michael Neill, “Why aren’t we Awesomer?” (TEDx Talk)

Michael Neill, The Space Within, Hay House (2013)

Jack Pransky, Parenting from the Heart, (CCB Publishing, 2012)