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Transforming Toxic Relationships – John Kenny

Coaching as a passion and a career – how and why did you become a coach?


7 years ago, I worked with a coach during a time where I was counselling clients and helping them-but my own life was still a mess.

Coaching showed me that I could change my life if I changed my story and what I was allowing in my life.

I had grown up in an environment that led me to believe I was would never amount to anything; that relationships were unreliable and unsustainable and I was better off on my own.

Understanding myself better has enabled me to leave these old beliefs behind, choose new ones and make a different life for myself.

Over the years, it has become my passion to help others through coaching.


What is Transformational Relationship Coaching?

A fusion of Coaching, Counselling and Hypnotherapy.

It means looking at the journey you’ve had, the story you tell yourself about relationships and life and most importantly about yourself – what perceptions you hold, what beliefs you carry and the meanings that you give to these in your situations.

These can be transformed into more positive thoughts and beliefs and my main focus is in helping people to confidently manage toxic/unhealthy relationships and overcome their personal blocks.


What is a toxic/unhealthy relationship?

As we grow up, we learn about relationships, how we fit into them and what parts of us we can and cannot show to feel loved, cared for and accepted.

If we have an unhealthy example, we may believe that we need to please in order to gain acceptance or to avoid loss/pain and, as a result, we will continue to (unwittingly) attract relationships where we fulfil this belief.

We develop a ‘window of comfort’ and anything outside of this leaves us trying to do anything we can to get us back into it. If this means a need to please, then you will fulfil that unhealthy ‘need’ in order to feel ‘comfortable’ again.

An extreme of this behaviour is a term that is banded around a lot, narcissism.

Not everyone who manipulates, needs to always be right, won’t accept responsibility for their actions or becomes emotionally or physically abusive is a narcissist, but they have certainly developed a maladaptive way of relating, better described as narcissistic tendencies.

People like this have an extremely narrow ‘window of comfort’ and will do whatever it takes to get them back into the space where they feel safest. If that means they need to manipulate, lie, scream and shout and make demands (a need to be heard) that is exactly what they will do. They often use emotional blackmail to look for proof that others care enough about them.

When these elements present, this is a toxic or unhealthy relationship.


What is the biggest block to people getting help?

People are unaware of the problem or they make excuses. They get stuck in their patterns, going from day to day, fulfilling the needs from the past, oblivious to the impact it’s having.

Then there is change itself which can be difficult due to the tendency to want to be ‘safe’ – our brain likes what it knows.

I work with the resistance that presents when people want to make change and do something better for themselves. They find it incredibly hard to break away from their old beliefs and perceptions of self and life.

Also, some people want the people around them to change. (I cover this in my book about how hard or near impossible this task is)

But if you haven’t changed yourself then you won’t feel comfortable even if they do change, as they then stop meeting your ‘needs’


What is the biggest lesson you have learned about your work and yourself?

Professionally, I have learned that it is all about the people around you. There’s lots I can do myself in my business and, ultimately, it’s only me that can make it happen, but having good, honest, reliable and supportive people around you is crucial.

On a personal level, it’s keeping on top of my old self-sabotaging behaviours; when I know there are times I am procrastinating and trying to fulfil my old negative beliefs.


Do you have a favourite quote or words of wisdom?

One of my favourite quotes is by Homer Simpson! In one episode he says, ‘just because I understand, it doesn’t mean I care!’.

We want people to do what we expect them to do. If they understand what we are going through or what causes our problems, we expect them to care about it but if doesn’t mean enough to them, they understand but won’t care enough to do anything.

Once we accept this then our life is so much easier and we can look to ourselves and others who do care enough.

Transformational Relationship Coach, Founder of Interpersonal Relationship Coaching (IRC), Author of The P.E.O.P.L.E. Programme, Hypnotherapist, Author and Public Speaker.