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15 Self-Care Must-Do's If You're a Highly Sensitive Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitve coach

There is an inherited trait known as Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or Empath, that is common amongst coaches, especially master coaches.

According to research, 15-20% of all humans are born HSPs, as are 15-20% of all "higher" animals, such as monkeys. This suggests a survival value for the overall population. In other words, HSPs are needed by others. What's different about HSPs? We notice more and sense subtleties that others miss, process information deeply, are more empathic and emotional, and all of this can cause over-stimulation, overwhelm, and exhaustion. It's a blessing and a curse! However, if you're an HSP coach, it is a gift for you and your clients as long as you're aware of it and take especially great care of yourself and your sensitivity. To find out if you're a highly sensitive coach and how to optimize your sensitivity, read on...

Highly Sensitive Persons are impacted more intensely by both positive and negative environmental stimuli.

 

This means your self care, and who and what you surround yourself with, will have a more dramatic impact on you than on someone who is not an HSP. So to be a great coach, you need to take your well-being seriously. No wonder coaches love positive psychology!

Many of the qualities the ICF requires in their Master Certified Coaches (MCC), come naturally to HSPs.  These include conscientiousness, deep connection and awareness, vulnerability, presence, curiosity, empathy, ability to notice more, intuition, deep listening, quick learning, ability to stay in the background while eliciting the client's greatness, allowing the client to lead, and regarding the client with Love 2.0.

 

BUT. Even if you are an HSP, these qualities are unlikely to show up if you don't practice wonderful self care and personal growth, because over-stimulation causes you to shut down and become irritable. Not conducive to great coaching!

 

Here are Self-Care Musts for the Highly Sensitive Coach:

  1. Rest and quiet are your biggest self-care priorities if you're a highly sensitive coach. This includes eight or more hours of sleep every night. Seriously.
  2. Get significant alone time. Especially if you're also an introvert, you need at least an hour per day to yourself to be your best.
  3. Learn to set boundaries. If you haven't mastered this yet, put it at the top of your to-do list.
  4. Keep your client load relatively small. Don't coach more than 10 - 20 hours per week. Less is more!
  5. Work with a functional medicine physician to optimize your health because the affects of illness, fatigue, and pain will negatively impact you more than others.
  6. Work with your own coach, especially an HSP coach, to be your very best.
  7. Develop a meaningful spiritual practice that helps you stay centered and open.
  8. Consider working with a psychotherapist if you had a difficult childhood. HSPs who grow up in negative environments are often prone to depression and anxiety which can harm your coaching and your quality of life.
  9. Screen potential coaching clients to avoid working with difficult people who will drain your energy.
  10. Do consider working with clients who are HSPs and need coaches who understand them.
  11. Avoid "energy vampires", especially narcissists. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, Empaths (HSPs) do particularly badly with narcissists because they don't understand how someone can thoroughly lack empathy. If you can't avoid them, at least learn how to handle them.
  12. Consider working from home. You'll avoid difficult commutes, large crowds, and noxious environments.
  13. Set up your office so it is ideal for you and your sensitivities. The more you put up with, the harder it is to coach brilliantly. And your clients deserve nothing less!
  14. Find a sales and marketing process that leverages your sensitivity rather than forcing you to be who you are not. HSP marketing and sales is an advantage in coaching, but only if you rely on your strengths. Don't let anyone tell you differently!
  15. Embrace your sensitivity along with its downsides and rejoice that you've found the perfect profession for you. Self-compassion for your extra-care needs helps you love and appreciate your self and your clients.

 

Want to take a quick test to confirm whether you're an HSP? Go here.

 

References for this post include research scientist and psychotherapist, Dr. Elaine N. Aron's updated book, The Highly Sensitive Person, and psychiatrist, Dr. Judith Orloff's book, The Empath's Survival Guide, The former will appeal to you if you want to know the research into HSP. The latter is more spiritual in nature and offers many practices to protect your energy.

 

Are you an HSP coach who wants to benefit from the power of positive psychology so you can flourish?

 

Get the Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: ICF, master coach, MCC, Positive Psychology, personal growth, highly sensitive, self care

The Secret Super Power You Get From Evidence-Based Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

Confident coach

Why is evidence-based coaching, such as positive psychology and neuroscience coaching, growing so fast?

Why, for instance, are positive psychology and neuroscience coaches finding it easy to build their businesses?

Several reasons come to mind...

  • They use tools that really work.
  • They are experts in helping people change.
  • They sound credible even to people who think coaching is too "woo woo".
  • They are life-long learners who constantly upgrade their skills and knowledge.
  • They usually have the training and credentials they need that most clients clearly prefer.
  • They appeal to potential markets that have previously been closed to coaching.
  • They are more likely to use evidence-based tools in their sales and marketing.
  • And people are fascinated by positive psychology and neuroscience.
  • But there is one more huge reason: They are confident.

Here's a story to illustrate what I mean.

Long before I became a coach, I went back to school to become a physical therapist and started a part-time side business of personal training to pay my bills while going to school. I already had two degrees in dance and was previously a college dance teacher, but had a back injury and needed a career change. Back then, if you taught dance, the college also required you to teach aerobics, which meant I had to learn the research on exercise. The data blew me away. I knew how powerful exercise was and that gave me confidence and even certainty that I could help people with it. I knew almost nothing about sales and marketing but had a 95% success rate selling personal training. I was soon making double what physical therapists made, quit school, and added coaching to my services for even more success. And then, positive psychology and neuroscience transformed my coaching all over again. Now I'm celebrating twelve years of success with School of Coaching Mastery. And it all started with the confidence I got from knowing what really works and having a background that sounded credible to my clients.

Let confidence be your super power.

If you want more success and you're lacking any of the benefits of evidence-based coaching, get the training you need to be credible to your potential clients. Start with just one module, or take an entire program. Download more information below.

 

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Topics: Positive Psychology, coaching with neuroscience, become a positive psychology coach

Can Evidence-Based Coaching Include Spirituality?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology - Neuroscience - Spirituality Model

At School of Coaching Mastery, we specialize in evidence-based positive-psychology and neuroscience coaching.

But what about spirituality? It's the backbone of early coaching technology. Can we still include it?

One of the strengths of early coaching was that it wasn't constrained by western scientific notions of reality. It embraced, among other things, the notion that what we think about tends to show up in our lives, an idea that is confirmed by Barbara Fredrickson's Broaden and Build Theory, as well as some neuroscience findings. That freedom was a strength for coaching that allowed coaches to creatively try new techniques that appeared to be quite effective.

Later on, researchers began studying some of these new techniques and found that many were indeed effective.

But that doesn't mean anything goes in coaching. Nor does it mean we can only use tools that have already been sanctioned by science.

As neuro-psychologist and pioneer of interpersonal neurobiology, Dan Siegel has said,

"We must be informed by science but not constrained by it."

By this he means non-science sources of wisdom can be useful in assisting growth in clients. So yes, spirituality, which I define as any perspective that takes us beyond our small ego-based thinking for greater functioning, does inform effective coaching. In fact, some would argue, the ability to accommodate rational evidence-based thinking while remaining open to transformative experiences that science cannot yet explain, is an advancement of consciousness. Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

In fact, spiritual wisdom can move us upwards beyond what Abraham Maslow identified as self-actualization toward self-transcendence (this last concept is often attributed to Viktor Frankl).

This doesn't mean you should impose your own spiritual beliefs on your clients. Rather, step into their beliefs and leverage them to move the client forward. Where their previous beliefs hold them back, offer reframes that may be useful and leave it to the client to embrace these new ways of thinking, or not.

Again, this requires an openness that most don't posses, which is why personal development and spiritual practice are often a must to develop great coaching.

Curious how new ways of thinking can help you grow and reach your goals? Learn non-science concepts taught by the Father of Professional Coaching, Thomas Leonard...

 

Explore Thomas Leonard's 28 Principles of Attraction in this free eCourse:

 

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Topics: Thomas Leonard, Barbara L Fredrickson, Attraction Principles, personal development, Positive Psychology, coaching with neuroscience, spirituality

Your Recipe for a Happy 2019

Posted by Julia Stewart

Happy 2019

Each new year invites dreams for the future, goals to achieve, and evokes our desires for happiness.

Here's a secret about all that...

There is only one goal.

Every goal you have is a stand in for the one universal goal of happiness...

As the Buddha said, 2500 years ago, all beings just want to be happy and avoid suffering.

We have dreams and goals because we believe they will help us be happy and avoid suffering. Sometimes we have dreams and goals for others because we love them and want them to be happy and avoid suffering. But if we're honest, seeing our loved ones happy makes us happy, too.

Here's the thing...

Reaching goals doesn't make us happy. Sometimes we suffer to get things that leave us feeling disappointed. Other times we're happy when we reach our dreams but only for a short while. Psychologists tell us we over-estimate how happy we'll be when we reach our goals. One researcher, Sonja Lyubomirsky, has even averaged out how long we're likely to feel happier upon reaching various goals. Buy a new car? You may feel happier for three months. Marry your sweetheart? Two years. Most other goals offer happiness for much shorter time periods. After that, we go back to our "happiness set point" aka "resting dissatisfaction level".

Fortunately, we now know better ways to raise happiness levels sustainably and here they are...

As a positive psychology and neuroscience coach, I help people become happier, reach goals, and flourish. The ingredients I use may surprise you. To create a personalized recipe for your own happiness in 2019, choose three of the ingredients listed below and commit to trying it out. See what happens. Keep practicing. Some ingredients are designed to be used daily, some weekly, some only occasionally. You get to customize your happiness recipe for 2019...

1. Gratitude. Are you an appreciator or a complainer? It's okay to grouse a little; it can help blow off some negative steam, but overdo it and it can pull down your happiness level and the happiness of those around you. Try appreciating more, even the stuff that's not so great. Difficulties, for instance, can be re-framed into opportunities, learning experiences, and endings that make room for new beginnings. Develop gratitude into a habit and it may become an enduring strength. I used to be a chronic complainer and I was pretty unhappy. Now gratitude is one of my greatest strengths and I'm happy most of the time. Try these...

  • Daily practice: Three Good Things. According to researcher Robert Emmons, practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for raising happiness. At the end of each day reflect on three good things that happened. Did you help them come about? Thank yourself for that. Did someone else contribute? Thank them tomorrow. Many people find writing down three good things is especially helpful, but even just thinking about them works. I like meditating at night and I start by spending a few minutes appreciating at least three good things. If you pray, you may want to thank God for the good you've received. Why does this work? It primes your brain to notice the good. Most brains naturally notice what's wrong more than what's right, but we can train ourselves to think more positively. We seem to get more of what we notice, so this can set us up for future happiness, as well.
  • Weekly practice: Gratitude Journal. Choose one day per week when you sit down and write a paragraph about each thing you most appreciate in your life. Put your heart into it. If you treat this as just another to-do it will have little benefit, but if you take a deep dive into what really matters and how grateful you are to have it, allowing yourself to really feel it, this practice will enrich your life immensely. I recommend getting a beautiful journal and hand writing in it. Whenever you need a happiness boost, read through your journal entries and you will naturally re-experience the positive feelings you had when you wrote about them.
  • Occasional practice: Gratitude Visit. This practice, designed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, is perhaps the most profound. Think of someone who has made a real difference in your life, but whom you never fully thanked. It could be a teacher, parent, friend. They may have no idea what a difference they've made. Write a letter to them about it. Tell them in detail how they made a positive difference in your life and what the results have been. Now, if you possibly can, deliver your letter in person and read it aloud to them, making frequent eye contact. Research shows this practice boosts happiness levels even six months afterward for both the writer and the receiver.

2. Be Kind. Kindness to others also raises happiness in ourselves and others. We feel good about helping others especially if we can let go of the desire to be thanked or recognized for it. That said, learning to recognize kindness in ourselves and others and acknowledging it goes a long way toward hard-wiring this positive habit.

  • Daily Practice: Do one unexpected kindness each day and try not to get caught at it. Make it a fun game. You'll start noticing many opportunities to be more kind. Consider using your personal strengths for this. One person may be great at doing favors, another might be a wonderful listener. Still another may know when to give someone more privacy. Be careful about imposing acts of kindness on others. It's only kind if they truly benefit from it. The only aspect of kindness that's about you is the good feeling you get to have as a result. Never attain that good feeling at someone else's expense. Keep score in your gratitude journal. Note how you feel about what you did.
  • Weekly Practice: Track acts of kindness in your journal. Read your journal entries about your acts of kindness for a boost any time you're not feeling good about yourself. Also make note of acts of kindness you observe in others, whether you are the beneficiary or someone else is. When my mother had to be admitted to a nursing home, my first reaction to the place was how depressing it was. But when I began noticing the constant acts of kindness performed by the nurses and aids toward my mother, myself, and other members of my family, my experience transformed. I began to feel honored and grateful to be surrounded by so much kindness and I made a point of acknowledging the staff for it, which made their days happier, too.
  • Occasional Practice: Experience Awe. According to researcher, Dacher Keltner, when people experience awe, which can come about via witnessing natural beauty, human achievements, or spiritual wonder, people spontaneously engage in acts of kindness right afterward. I've experienced this at spiritual retreats, walks in the woods, especially when wild animals appear, going to the top of extremely tall buildings, flying over the Grand Canyon, watching a total eclipse of the sun, experiencing great art, and watching hot-air balloon races. Prime your brain for the extraordinary and let the extraordinary in you spontaneously blossom. You and those around you are likely to receive a happiness boost.

3. Practice Mindfulness. Being mindful is about learning to be present. Like gratitude and kindness, this can be strengthened into a habit and even become one of your greatest strengths. The benefits include actually experiencing your life while it's happening. The cost to not being present is you miss out on everything or feel empty even when life is good. That's a pity.

  • Daily Practice: Use mindless activities to be mind-full. Choose between one and three activities that you do daily but may not really be present for. I often use walking my dog, doing dishes by hand, or eating alone for this because none of these require difficulty or much thought. If you're accustomed to distracting yourself with your phone, tablet, computer, or TV, turn it off during these times. Keep yourself present by noticing information coming to you from all your five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. Once you've done that, ask yourself what about this moment you are grateful for. Then look for the opportunity to be kind. Consider following through on that and acknowledge yourself for being present, grateful, and kind.
  • Weekly Practice: Make at least one conversation per week all about the other person. Listen without formulating a response. If the person is going through something difficult, resist the urge to fix it or give advice. Be curious instead. Ask deeper questions. Notice what feelings come up for you. Notice the other person's feelings. Acknowledge their feelings. Notice how this impacts the conversation and even your relationship with this person.
  • Occasional Practice: When difficult situations or conflicts occur, instead of reacting with your usual feelings, count ten breaths first and imagine yourself calm and centered. Let the urge to feel victimized or guilty, or to blame others and resist, fall away, if possible. Then from this relaxed and centered place, choose the best response for all. You'll likely create better outcomes and less suffering.

These are three of the most powerful ingredients for happiness, but you can design many more, yourself.

Savor good experiences for up to 30 seconds, for instance, and you're more likely to develop a happier brain over time. And what about goals and dreams? It's good to have them and to reach them, because they offer meaning and purpose, which are additional ingredients of happiness. Just put them in perspective because they often fail to increase your happiness and reduce your suffering for very long.

Put together three or more ingredients for a happy 2019, notice how they "taste" to you and adjust the mixture as needed. And practice. That's the other secret. Keep practicing and you can raise your happiness over the long term.

To boost your happiness even more, share these ingredients and your journey toward greater happiness with a friend, colleague or client because sharing happiness makes it even sweeter. Be the one who lifts spirits just by being you and have a "happy new year" every year.

Want to learn more?

Our Certified Positive Psychology Coach® and Certified Neuroscience Coach programs go far deeper into the science of happiness, success, and flourishing. Use the tools in your own life and help others have greater lives. It's fun and well-paid. Or just add an important new skill set to your resume.

Learn more, download a free eBook, take just one module, or jump into a fabulous new career.

Click below to get started:

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Topics: gratitude, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, mindfulness, happiness,, certified neuroscience coach

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positivity_by_.imelda.jpg

If you are a positive psychology coach, then you need to keep up with the latest in positive psychology. Books, seminars, and research papers are wonderful for in-depth learning, but sometimes you want to understand a new concept quickly. That's when positive psychology blogs come in handy. Here are 10 awesome blogs for you to check out...

The best positive psychology blogs are updated frequently with useful information, often written by positive psychology researchers, themselves, on their latest findings. And there are also terrific blogs written by academics, positive psychology coaches, and other thought leaders. They can be wonderfully inspirational, or focus on practical applications of positive psychology findings.

This blog you're reading is written for coaches and often focuses on positive psychology coaching. Subscribe for free in the upper right corner of this page and check out the free eBook on becoming a positive psychology coach, below.

The following are the top ten positive psychology coaching blogs that we like best.

 

Top Ten Best Positive Psychology Blogs

1. The Greater Good in Action: The Science of a Meaningful Life.

This is my favorite go-to blog for positive psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. It includes engaging article written by positive psychology researchers on topics like awe, gratitude, and self compassion.

2.Positive Psychology Program: Your One-Stop Positive Psychology Resource.

Here's another information-packed resource on all things related to positive psychology such as life satisfaction, self worth, and the positive effects of spending time in nature.

3. Just One Minute: One simple practice a week can produce powerful results.

By author and beloved teacher, Rick Hanson, these positive neuroscience exercises are easy to incorporate into your life.

4. What Matters Most? Using your strengths to impact well-being.

Written for Psychology Today by Ryan Niemiec, Education Director at the VIA Institute for Character.

5. Positive Psychology News

Written by several graduates of Masters in Applied Positive Psychology programs.

6. Authentic Happiness

Site for the Masters in Applied Positive Psychology program at UPenn, directed by the Father of Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman.

7. The Happiness Project: My experiments in pursuit of happiness and good habits.

Written by author, Gretchen Rubin.

8. The Psychology of Wellbeing: Musings on the science of holistic wellness.

Written by Jeremy McCarthy with a focus on using positive psychology in spa settings.

9. The Happiness Institute Blog

Written by professor, Tim Sharp, a.k.a., "Dr. Happy".

10. Dr. John Blog: Guide to self.

The latest positive psychology tools by John Shinnerer.

 

There you have the top ten best positive psychology blogs. Have fun reading, learning, and applying the latest info on how to live a flourishing life!

 

Curious about becoming a positive psychology professional? Get the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

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Topics: Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology blogs

Coaching Tip: Why Your Clients Don't Change and How You Can Help

Posted by Julia Stewart

Stages of Change Image

Last week, I posted an image similar to the one above, with a physician telling a patient to make too many changes in too short a time, on our Facebook Page.

I commented on that post that effective coaches would know why the patient pictured was unlikely to do any of it. A page member asked for details, so here you go.

Virtually everything a coach does during a coaching session is designed to help the client gain awareness and then take action toward a goal the client wants to reach.

Everything. We don't always talk about it that way, but that's what it all boils down to. So if you want to help someone make changes, learn to use the tools below. They are effective in coaching and can be effective in other situations, as well.

A short list of tools coaches use to get clients into action...

  1. Acknowledge where they are, right now. In positive psychology coaching, this falls under the banner of Active and Constructive Responding. This strengthens relationships, reduces resistance, and causes people to feel more receptive to ideas and suggestions.
  2. Raise the positivity level sufficiently. People are more open, creative, and resourceful when there is sufficient, but not excessive, positivity in the conversation. They tend to feel more confident about trying new things and making changes.
  3. Ask instead of tell. Find out more about where the client is, right now, and what they want to change. People are always more likely to act on their ideas than on yours.
  4. Focus on assets. No need to ignore problems; just don't make the problems bigger or more important that the client and their  assets. These include the client's strengths, their support system, having enough time and money, etc.
  5. Let the client lead. This is big. We sometimes think we know what the client needs to change, but that's less helpful than you might imagine. The client is always the expert when it comes to their own life, so let them take the lead.
  6. Create a brand new habitat. The client's old world supports their old way of being. To really change, they need their world to change with them. Create a habitat that evolves them in the direction they want to go.
  7. Don't expect action right away. Sometimes a client isn't even close to being ready. According to James Prochaska, people go through "stages of change" and there are three stages before they even get to action. Those stages include Precontemplation, which is probably where the patient above is, when they haven't even been thinking about changing, or they may feel resistant because somebody is pushing them to change (Their doctor? Spouse? Friends?), or they feel discouraged because they've tried to change and weren't successful. Then there's Contemplation, where they're thinking about changes, maybe even researching them, but aren't ready to act, yet. You may hear a lot of "shoulds" at this stage. Finally there's Preparation, when they're making necessary plans to set themselves up for success, such as changing their schedule, notifying other stake holders of the change, learning new techniques, or gathering equipment. Only after all that is someone able to actively change and, even then, they probably can't change everything at once. Getting a client ready to change is part of coaching them to change.

So jumping in with "good" advice, and expecting that to do the trick, could do more harm than good.

If you're curious about coaching or contemplating becoming one, download the free Become a Coach eBook. If you want to learn more, or are ready to take action, consider joining the Certified Competent Coach Course:

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Topics: become a coach, Coaching Tip, acknowledgment, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, certified competent coach

5 Great Ways to Show Love This Mother's Day That Don't Cost a Thing

Posted by Julia Stewart

Gratitude Asknowledgment Relationship friendship mother daughter dog walking

Here's what NOT to do on Mother's Day:

  • Spend hours waiting for a restaurant table so you can buy Mom an over-priced brunch. I used to live in a neighborhood full of restaurants that were extremely popular on Mother's Day. I remember the carloads of families stuck in traffic with everyone staring straight forward, furious. Nobody wants that.
  • Call her up and talk about trivial stuff like, "How's your water aerobics class going?" Seriously.
  • Send a card. Or flowers. Or an expensive gift. Unless that's what she really wants, you can do better. And you'll feel much better about it when you apply some of the ideas below...

What's the best way to entertain Mom on Mother's Day? 

  1. Ask her. She may not tell you, at first, so keep asking. Or maybe she's been telling you all along and you haven't been listening. When you ask what she wants, does she say, "I just want you." or "I want to spend time with you and the kids?" My son-in-law takes his mother fishing every Mother's Day. That's  something they both like to do and they look forward to it. What's something your mom enjoys doing that you could spend a few hours doing with her? 
  2. Put arguments aside. Every family has its designated disagreements. Mother's Day could be a day of truce. That means frowns, sighs, grumbles and other grumpy habits can be left at home, if you choose. Show up with kindness, instead. Researchers say kindness is one of the most direct pathways to happiness, anyway.
  3. Shift your thinking. What if Mother's Day wasn't an obligation? What if it's something you GET to do? My mother had Alzheimers for years before she passed. I used to take her for drives in the country to get icecream at an antique shop. She would thank me for doing it and I would spend time appreciating that I could do something meaningful for her that was easy and pleasant and that she wouldn't be around forever. Eventually, she couldn't go for rides, anymore, but I could wheel her out to the garden and she would say things like, "Oh, the sun feels so good on my face." Was I bored sometimes? Yes. Do I enjoy reflecting on those moments now, years later? You bet. Older people's lives are often simpler and they tend to appreciate small gestures. As Mother Teresa said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
  4. Practice a little gratitude. As another pathway to happiness, gratitude can shift everything. Literally, people find their lives go better when they spend time appreciating what they already have. As Tal Ben Shahar says, "What you appreciate, appreciates." Your Mom's probably not perfect. (Mine wasn't.) But I'm pretty sure she did a lot for you and saying thanks doesn't have to be awkward. While you're spending some time with her, reminisce about something that happened and how she helped you. End it with, "That made all the difference." She'll know what you mean.
  5. Practice Love 2.0. Western society burdens the word, "love", with too many meanings. And we destroy our relationships by hanging on to disappointments and trying to get people to be different. Love 2.0 is just shared moments of positivity. It can heal broken relationships and enhance good ones. Regard your mom with a little lovingkindness on Mother's Day and anyday, because we change according to what we do regularly and often other people show up differently because we are different. Even if you can only sustain lovingkindness for a couple of seconds, at first, if you practice it regularly, you'll eventually be able to do it for hours and with anyone you choose. Then life will be filled with meaning, instead of empty gestures, because you've filled it with warmth.

Most people who read this blog are interested in positive psychology or in becoming coaches. That's where many of the ideas for this post came from. If you're maybe interested in becoming a positive psychology coach, I invite you to download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook, below. Or just subscribe to this blog in the upper right corner.

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Topics: gratitude, Positive Psychology, love 2.0, become a positive psychology coach

Life Coaching and Post-Healing Society

Posted by Julia Stewart

earth_nasa.jpg 

There is a broad assumption in our society that many, if not most people need to heal, as in restore health or be made whole. And while healing is a phenomenal process that can restore life to millions of people, and for which I am most grateful, I believe we are increasingly moving into a "post-healing society" and I'm not alone.

Post-healing is itself an extraordinary milestone in human evolution, which deserves to be talked about and clarified, so we all know when we are experiencing it and so we can have more of it.

I'm sometimes surprised by people who are unaware of even the possibility of a post-healing society.

So what am I talking about when I say, "post-healing society?" I'm calling it "post-healing", because at the start of something that is this complex and revolutionary, it's helpful to make a distinction between newly emerging conditions and that which went before, gave rise to the new, and is now distinct from it. Over time, I believe a different name will emerge that describes more fully what "post-healing" really is, but for now, let's look at how it is different from healing society.

Post-healing society and healing society currently overlap and will do so for the foreseeable future.

I'm talking largely about psychological healing here, but body, mind, heart, and spirit are so entwined that that distinction may not be altogether important. In fact, appreciating the inherent wholeness and interconnectedness of body, mind, heart, and spirit is a feature of post-healing.

From a psychological perspective, healing society arose and reached its zenith in the second half of the 20th Century when defining mental illnesses, cataloging their symptoms, and finding effective treatments for them became the primary focus of the fields of psychology, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry. As treatments became more effective, the impact on society was seismic. People started to understand their own differences and difficulties, as well as those of others, learned to ask for what they needed, began to experience wellness, spoke up for their rights to be treated equally and with respect, and for many, to a large degree, suffering was diminished.

When there is less suffering, new possibilities emerge.

But by the end of the 20th Century, many professionals seemed to believe there was something psychologically wrong with us all. I heard one psychologist say that everyone had something, either a neurosis, personality disorder, or psychosis; or else they had addictions, brain damage, or other neurological disorders. Another told me that in therapy, neurotic is what you want to be, because everything else is worse.

So what is healthy if everyone is ill, including apparently (since everyone has something), the therapists, themselves?

I wasn't the only one wondering about this, because positive psychology officially emerged in the 1990's as a sub-specialty of psychological research. Positive psychology is specifically concerned with studying people who are doing well, who enjoy well-being and are flourishing, so that others can learn from them and enjoy greater well-being, also.

The pioneers of positive psychology, notably Martin Seligman, went so far as to declare that the goal of positive psychology was to render itself obsolete. In other words, that the larger field of psychology would return to its original intent and cover the entire range of human behavior, rather than just focusing on what was wrong.

Here's a real-world example of post-healing. Seligman was asked by the United States Armed Services to help returning servicemen and women who have developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a debilitating illness that is particularly difficult to heal. After surveying a large number of soldiers, Seligman's team found that a small percentage, who had been exposed to many of the same horrors of war as those who developed PTSD, actually seemed to grow through the experience.

The key to growth rather than illness? It was the story they told themselves about it, in other words, the meaning they attached to the event. If a soldier told him or herself that they were at fault for the deaths of their buddies, or that they should have been able to save a friend, they were more likely to develop PTSD. If on the other hand, they told themselves that they must have been spared for a reason and that now they had an important purpose to serve with their lives, they were more likely to experience what Seligman calls, Post Traumatic Growth.

Now there is training for soldiers that can help them grow through trauma, instead of being damaged by it.

We could call this pre-healing, since it precedes the need for healing. I call it a post-healing intervention, because it comes from a mindset that sees the limitations of healing and, instead of allowing a problem to continue and then waiting to heal people from it, it has found a solution that eliminates the need for healing (An even more advanced post-healing society would eliminate the need for war.)

As an aside, I want to mention that 20th Century psychology has focused, from a scientific and medical standpoint, on many of the same issues that were once thought to belong to the realm of spirit, spirituality, and religion. Afterall, its name is derived from the Greek, "psykhe", meaning soul, spirit, or mind.

Today's "spiritual-but-not-religious" movement focuses on healing almost as much as the psychological field.

But modern spirituality also focuses on the transcendent, trans-personal, upon enlightenment, and other lofty states. Like the field of psychology that is envisioned by Seligman, spirituality focuses on the full range of human behaviors and experiences.

An example of post-healing spirituality is Zen Master, Genpo Roshi's, brilliant integration of voice dialogue therapy with modern Zen, called Big Mind. The goal of Big Mind isn't healing, but Buddhist enlightenment. It begins with the assumption that the student is already whole, complete, and perfect; including the parts s/he would like to eliminate!

An example is what Roshi calls a "disowned voice", a part of us that we judge negatively and may want to eliminate and that can become a problematic shadow. One such voice is what he calls, "The Damage". Most of us who seek out healing would love to eliminate what we consider damaged in ourselves. Some of us go from therapist to therapist, spiritual healer to spiritual healer, for years hoping to finally be healed.

Don't go to Roshi for healing, though. Instead, he completely reframes the role of The Damage. He will tell you that you are already whole, complete, and perfect, including The Damage, which is perfectly damaged. It's perfect, because it has accepted all the slings and arrows of your life, so the rest of you can remain undamaged. No more, no less.

What would you call someone who took a bullet for you? Your hero?

The Damage is a hero who accepts all the damage we would otherwise endure, allowing the rest of our selves to remain whole, complete, and perfect. It deserves to be honored and embraced. Instead, we cause suffering for ourselves by framing it as imperfect, not good enough, broken, or sick. When we go through life believing we need to heal, we sometimes keep old wounds open, we feel less than, we sometimes give away our power to healers, or we may use our condition to be less than fully responsible for ourselves.

Once you embrace that you're whole, complete, and perfect, there are no more excuses.

I'm not suggesting that these two examples of what I call, post-healing, are what everyone needs. Remember, both the healing society and post-healing society will exist side-by-side for quite a while, if not forever. I am suggesting that healing has opened the door to post-healing.

I'll use myself as another example. As someone who grew up in the proverbial dysfunctional family, I worked with a number of therapists over the years, believing there was something wrong with me. They made a big difference. But one of the most dramatic shifts that I made with any therapist was with the last, who at one point said, "Read my lips, you're healthy." Accepting that there was nothing seriously wrong with me was like waking from a dream. Suddenly, so much more was possible. I felt confident and believed in myself.

Of course, I wouldn't have gotten there without the help of some wonderful healers. And that's my point. Therapy got me ready for post-healing. And it got me ready for coaching, too.

Life coaching is, as far as I know, the first and perhaps only profession that is completely post-healing.

Life coaching and its siblings, including business coaching, executive coaching, and more, don't focus on healing clients, but rather assist clients to shift into more resourceful, and some would say, transformative mind-states that help them see solutions to problems and pathways to goals, while inspiring them to take action and create the outcomes that are best for themselves and others.

We see our clients as whole, complete, and perfect. We believe in them from the very start. We help them reframe limiting beliefs, integrate disowned voices, and experience their interconnectedness with others. As a result, they become more confident, believe in themselves, evolve into who they want to be, and create valuable changes for themselves and others. It's both an honor and an interdevelopmental experience to work with people who are discovering their true selves for the very first time.

They step into their greatness and go on to change the world for the better.

Imagine a world where all people not only heal, but reach their full potential and are inspired to transform the world. It's not a dream. Because of the good work done by healers, clients are becoming ready for post-healing and coaches go on to make transformative possibilities real everyday.

Would you like to join the post-healing society?

Find a coach here. Or become a coach. Your first step toward professional coaching might be to download the  FREE Become a Coach eBook.

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

Topics: business coach, executive coach, become a coach, Genpo Roshi, Big Mind Big Heart, Life Coaching, Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman, free ebook, post-healing

Coaching Tip: Enlightenment Can Be Bad For You

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching TipHow do coaching, personal development and spirituality cause dysfunction?

If you think coaching, personal development programs and spirituality are always good, think again. The tools that coaches use and that personal development gurus and spiritual teachers also may employ are usually great when used in the right situations by people who are ready for them. Try using most of those tools in every situation, though, and you can get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.

Which tools am I talking about? Well, many. But here are a couple of examples that are closely related to each other:

  • Seeing the perfection in every situation
  • Eliminating the ego 

I've coached a lot of people who were 'highly evolved'. They were very spiritual and always saw the beauty, opportunity, learning, etc. in everything and rarely let their egos get in the way.

Their lives were a mess. And they were tough to coach, because they felt good and they thought they were supposed to think that way. People who feel good aren't motivated to change. People who feel good when their lives are a mess are in some ways a little bit crazy (not a diagnosis, just an observation).

Come to think of it, I passed through this stage years ago when I first started meditating. Suddenly, things that used to bother, hurt, or anger me, didn't anymore. It was very freeing. It felt good. I loved it.

And my life started falling apart. Why? I'd lost my boundaries. I got into dysfunctional relationships, because my former warning system, pain, had shut down. I was very forgiving, had but lost the ability to say, 'Hey, this is not okay with me.' Fortunately, I learned to grow past my 'enlightenment'.

Coaches who have drunk too much of the Coaching Cool-aid, sometimes fall for this. They will quickly reframe every challenge as an opportunity. Or they will coach everybody they meet, as if their own needs never even matter. They lose critical skills when they try to show up 'like a coach' in every situation (and they're less effective as coaches).

Skills like:

  • Discernment
  • Engagement
  • Commitment

Procrastination, complacency, and cluelessness may set in. Because after all, everything's great, right? So there's no need to make changes. People may start to avoid them. Relationships, careers, health, and finances begin to fall apart. But all the while, they feel GOOD, because they're stoned on their own endorphins. And like all opiate addicts, they've lost the ability to notice and respond to their environments. Not pretty.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, says too much positivity gets us in trouble. People tend to do best when they experience positive thoughts and feelings about 75-90% of the time. Anymore than that and they stop  heeding warning signs, miss important details, become over-confident, and lose credibility with others. They may spiral into failure and despair, as a result. That's not what you want for yourself or your clients.

In addition, by choosing in advance to respond to everything in the same way, they are limiting possibilities, rather than expanding them.

Worse yet, they may create shadow behaviors that are acted out out unconsciously. 'No ego' becomes arrogance ('I'm more enlightened than you!'). 'Seeing the perfection' becomes passive aggression (Got a problem? 'Just see the perfection in it, or else you're not 'woke'.)

One of the many things I value about Zen Master Genpo Roshi's teachings is that he takes this problem head on. He calls this level of enlightenment dysfunctional and says a zen  master's job is to push you through this stage as quickly as possible. Because otherwise you can get profoundly stuck. Feeling good all the time is very, very seductive.

Not many teachers even recognize this problem. In fact, some of them are actually stuck here, themselves. Many teach that this stage is desirable. Don't get sucked in by that.

Remember the saying, 'When you're going through Hell, keep going'? Well the great thing about Hell is that it feels so awful you want to keep going.

The awful thing about Enlightenment is that it feels so good, you want to stay there. And as soon as you try to hold on to it , you're not enlightened anymore. Delusion is enlightenment's shadow. Keep going.

When you fully engage with life, experiencing pain, resistance and yes, even your ego, you are fully alive, highly functional and - you're enlightened in a mature way. Then you've got the makings of a great coach. Yes, get your ego out of the way and see the perfection when you're coaching your clients. That's your job and it's a huge value to the people you coach. But when you're not coaching, be fully human.

And keep going.

Fully Alive Personal Development with Positive Psychology is a free extra program that's included with the Certified Positive Psychology Coach® Program. Learn more about it here:

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: Coaching, Barbara L Fredrickson, ENVIRONMENT, Coaching Tip, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Genpo Roshi, personal development, Positive Psychology, spirituality, Fully Alive, positive psychology coach, enlightenment

Positive Psychology Coaching: Emotions Are Data [Video]

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive psychology and positive psychology coaching are associated with positive thinking, but that's erroneous. Positive psychology is about resilience, or the ability to "bounce back" from adversity. You cannot have resilience without adversity and the emotions that go with it: the so-called negative emotions like grief, anger, frustration, etc. Resilience requires flexibility. Rigid positive thinking is a trap that can lead to failure and despair.

This morning, one of the founders of the Institute of Coaching, Susan David, announced that her TED Talk, The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage, just went live. The Institute of Coaching has done perhaps more than any other organization to promote research and education about positive psychology, coaching, and emotional intelligence. The latter goes hand-in-hand with positive psychology coaching, because it teaches that flexibility part: how to identify one's own feelings and those of others and navigate the emotional landscape within ourselves and with others. Coaches, like most leaders, must have emotional intelligence to be fully effective. We teach about that in Emotional Intelligence and Leadership Coaching.

Coaches need emotional intelligence to coach with positive psychology, which is why I became a Founding Fellow of the Institute of Coaching and why School of Coaching Mastery sponsors the organization. As a result, members of our school get a discount on membership at IOC.

So I'm pleased to share with you the wisdom of Emotional Agility via Susan David and TED:

 

 

If you'd like to learn more about positive psychology, coaching, and emotional intelligence, please download the free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

Topics: Institute of Coaching, video, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, free ebook, emotional intelligence, become a positive psychology coach

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