by Brandon Twine, CPCC, ACC, MA
Many coaches are challenged with being open and vulnerable to their client’s emotional experiences. Strong Co-Active coaches are able to be with their clients no matter what emotions they are experiencing. They are able to self-manage their own discomfort in the service of helping their clients relate to their in-the-moment experience, and to gain insights from their bodies and emotions.
Skillfully working with emotional and somatic experiences of clients is one of the hallmarks of co-active coaching, and what sets it apart. Here are six key personal practices that will enable you be this type of coach, helping a client be present to their experience and gain insights from it.
It all starts with you:
- Be Warm and Fuzzy With Yourself. Be open and generous with your heart. Start by learning more about your own vast heart. Where does it begin, where does it end? What do you most want for yourself? For your world? Practice giving compassion to yourself, in addition to providing it to others.
- Become Embodied. What are you feeling right now? Where is that in your body? Become an expert at your own somatic experience. Tune in regularly to the state of your body’s affairs, in that very moment.
- Having become finely attuned to what you feel in your body, practice allowing it all to be as it is, no need to change anything. Practice accepting what you sense and feel. What is it like to do that? Practice letting go of judgments, of “good” and “bad” and just have the direct experience that you are having, and accepting that.
- Body Wisdom. What meaning do you make from your felt sensations? Your body is often an indicator of emotions or feelings that your mind is not fully aware of. It is also a repository of intelligence and wisdom that your brain cannot always provide. Notice when you have a recurring pain in your back, which may prefigure an important decision. Or when your stomach starts to tremble, which may be telling you that something is going awry in a relationship. Or a twitch in your eye, which shows up when you are in a stressful situation. What does this felt experience tell you? What can you learn from your body’s message?
- Embrace Your Own Emotions. Always check in with your emotional state. Sometimes the most painful emotions can offer the most information and guidance. Practice “staying” with your sadness, pain, grieving, longing, anger. Befriend your emotions. Don’t flee your own experience. You may find that they lose their sharpness and power the longer you get acquainted, and you may then welcome them as trusted allies.
- Practice Mindfulness Meditation. A terrific way to cultivate your ability to become skilled at all of these things is to practice meditation. In particular, unguided vipashyana meditation working with breath and thoughts alone can provide fewer distractions as you seek to connect with your own direct experience.
More than just a tool, Process coaching is fundamental to powerful Co-Active coaching. By developing a regular practice in all of these ways of relating to your thoughts, emotions, body, and experience, you will be fully able to help your clients with theirs, transformationally.