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How to Eliminate Your Imposter Syndrome In 3 Easy Steps

Posted by Julia Stewart

Fraud Factor - Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome, sometimes dubbed the Fraud Factor, is on the rise.

I think the pandemic may be contributing. Because nothing says "fraud", to your brain, like sitting in Zoom meetings all day wearing business attire up top, and pajama bottoms down below. Admit it, you've fudged a little. We all have.

Now that the world is opening up again, let's reclaim our authenticity, our confidence, AND our expertise.

Here's how...

The first thing to realize is that everybody feels like a fraud sometime including your boss, your professor, your psychotherapist, etc. I know it's disconcerting to think the person to whom you shared your reoccurring dream of showing up naked at your high school reunion might actually be preoccupied with their own insecurities, but it can happen.

Imposter Syndrome is normal and you're not alone.

Second, you probably already know a handful of aphorisms that could help you with this (because so many people before you have struggled with feeling fake.) But you you may benefit from some assistance in applying these messages successfully, so read on.

Here are three aphorisms that might help:

  1. 90% of success is just showing up.
  2. We learn by doing.
  3. Act as if.

I learned that first one from a graduate-school classmate whose success I envied. I pondered it for years and I think she's right, because the second is based on research I learned from legendary Harvard professor, Tal Ben Shahar, in a course on positive psychology that I took. He said people develop their identities via their actions, not the other way around. We learn who we are by acting, so by just showing up consistently, we successfully develop new identities about who we are and what we do.

Finally, "act as if" is an old 12-Step approach to changing our behaviors and identities. If you are an alcoholic who wants to be sober, act like a sober person. If you need help doing this, choose someone who has succeeded in that transition and pretend you are them for a while. It sounds shallow, fake, and like it could never work, but as they say in 12-Step, "It' works if you work it."

Here's a short example story...

Decades ago, right after I got my MFA in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College in New York, I was hired to teach dance at Westchester Community College. It was a dream come true that I had worked toward for years, so I was ecstatic, then nervous, then a little bit petrified. What if I screwed it up? What if my students realized how green I was?

So what did I do? I showed up and, for each course, Ballet, Modern Dance, Jazz Dance, I pretended I was my favorite teacher in that subject. That got me through the first week. By the second week, I was 100% myself, the Professor of Dance that I clearly showed up as, every single day.

I continued to teach dance for years, until I discovered my true calling: Coaching.

In this new profession, I felt Imposter Syndrome all over again, especially whenever I had to tell someone what I did for a living. Then I recalled the easy confidence my coach exuded when I first met her. It was one of the reasons I decided to hire her to be my coach. So for a while, I stepped into her persona each time I told someone what I did. Before long, I was fully immersed in my new profession and felt like the coach I really was.

 

I had made it, no more faking it.

 

As the world of work opens up again, we all could use a little assistance getting back to our best. And a coach is the perfect partner to help you through the rocky places and get you back into flow. Plus, a trained positive psychology coach is skilled in helping you identify your Ideal Self and making that your true reality.

 

Stepping into your brilliance is the ultimate approach to eliminating Imposter Syndrome.

 

Find your positive psychology coach at the Find a Coach Here directory, below. (Oh, and put on some pants!)

 

Find a Coach Here Directory

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, FIND A COACH, positive psychology coach, imposter syndrome, ideal self

Join These 3 Free Webinars with Pioneers of Positive Psychology Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

.Webinar banner

I want you to be among the first to know about the new Pioneers of Positive Psychology Coaching Series. Graduating members of the Part 2, Master Level, Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program will be leading one-hour webinars on how they are coaching their niche/specialties with positive psychology.

This year there is a special focus on coaching through the pandemic.These webinars are open to the public. We have three coaches presenting this year.

Register for these fre*e webinars today...

Pioneer Series: Coaching Entrepreneurs Through Uncertain Times

Are you an entrepreneur who has been impacted by the pandemic? Or are you a coach who coaches entrepreneurs? Or are you interested in positive psychology coaching? You won't want to miss this fascinating webinar with positive psychology coaching pioneer, Shatay Trigère, CPPC.

This is the first webinar in SCM's 2021 Pioneer Series. Open to everyone for fre*e. Seating is limited. Register separately for each webinar in the series.

Fri, Apr 30, 2021 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

Register for Coaching Entrepreneurs Through Uncertain Times

 

Pioneer Series: Nutrition Coaching Through an Intuitive Eating Lens

Have you been eating to soothe your anxieties through the pandemic? That is extremely normal, but leads to added stress around weight gain, body image, feelings of being out of control and negative self-talk. If you're curious how a positive psychology coach and dietician assists her clients through these issues, you won't want to miss this informative webinar with Dr. Leigh Wagner, CPPC.

This webinar is part of SCM's 2021 Pioneer Series. Open to everyone for fre*e. Seating is limited. Register for separately each webinar in the series.

Fri, May 7, 2021 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT

Register for Nutrition Coaching Through an Intuitive Eating Lens

 

Pioneer Series: Becoming Positively YOU

During this presentation you will be introduced to a coaching framework and personal development workbook called Positively YOU. Positively YOU describes someone who understands and appreciates what makes them unique, and empowers them to live into their perfect and whole self. The goal of Positively YOU is to provide insights that will move individuals from living by default to living with intent. Don't miss this exciting webinar with Positively YOU creator, Stephanie Scott, CPPC.

This webinar is part of SCM's 2021 Pioneer Series. Open to everyone for free. Seating is limited. Register separately for each webinar in the series.

Wed, May 12, 2021 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM EDT

Register for Becoming Positively YOU

 

I know you will want to attend and learn from these exciting webinars.  And they are fre*e! Register right away to reserve your seat.

Want to become a positive psychology coach? Here's what our graduates have to say about our programs. Join Part 1 of the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, become a great coach with a thriving business with 125 ICF hours and move up to Part 2, the master level, for an additional 85 ICF hours, when you are ready, and become a leader in positive psychology coaching. Visit our site for more info or make an appointment here to find out how you can join.

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

Topics: webinar, Free, ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, become a positive psychology coach

Join a Virtuous Cycle of Joy and Success this December

Posted by Julia Stewart

upward cycle

How do you define success? More money? Joy? Time? Love?

Whatever success means to you, would you like more of it? Most of us would and there is an inspiring approach that will help you, help others around you, and creates a virtuous cycle for everyone concerned.

As this difficult year comes to a close and as most cultures celebrate important holidays, now is the perfect time to co-create this virtuous cycle. Read on for how you can join in for free...

What if virtually all forms of success were related to smarter giving? They may be according to research by Adam Grant and others. Here are a few ways smarter giving benefits you:

  • Givers are more successful negotiators.
  • Givers strengthen their relationships.
  • Givers experience fulfillment.
  • Givers spark creativity and innovation.
  • Givers' clients express more satisfaction.
  • Givers inspire others to give.
  • Givers receive more in return.
  • Givers experience more joy.
  • Givers inspire joy in others.

Of course, givers can be taken advantage of, but there are smart ways to reduce or eliminate being taken.

Come learn how to be a smart giver this holiday season and help us establish a virtuous cycle of giving. It is free to join and could be the inspiration that makes 2020 one of your very best years.

Fully Alive with Positive Psychology (Giving Edition) starts this Wednesday, December 2nd, for four weeks, 7-8 PM EST. It's a live webinar with me, Julia Stewart that is free to join, but seating is limited so please only join if you will attend. No recordings will be sent out, because all of the value is in the attendance of this live reciprocity circle.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to share an amazing experience. Sign up today and mark your calendar!

Attend Free Fully Alive for Joy and Success

Topics: Free, coaching success, successful business, personal development, Positive Psychology, Boundaries, setting boundaries, Fully Alive, personal growth, self care

Create Your Ideal New Year With This Letter From the Future

Posted by Julia Stewart

Letter from the future

Here's an easy strategy tool that is a variation on the Ideal Self exercises popularized by positive psychology.

It's called the Letter from Your Ideal Future and I love sharing it with clients and using it, myself. Use the Letter whenever you or a coaching client has a big complex goal that will take some time, strategy, and focus to achieve.

Once the Letter is written, it can be returned to again and again for guidance and to see if you're on track, falling behind, or ahead of schedule. Having it down on paper helps make it seem real and doable and knowing which steps to take and when brings clarity and confidence. Seeing in black and white that your steps lead to success can stop you from second guessing yourself or believing naysayers who don't support your goals. (Pro tip: Identify any naysayers in your life and stop sharing your goals with them. ;-)

Ready? Grab some paper and a pen...

There is evidence that our brains change more when we write by hand rather than type so a handwritten Letter from Your Ideal Future may be more effective. But I've also typed Letters that were helpful so if you feel strongly resistant to writing longhand, go ahead and type.

Start with a strongly desired, heart-felt goal.

Your goal needs to be something you intrinsically value, not something you should want or that someone else wants. No one has to see or approve of your letter but you so choose a goal that makes your heart sing.

How to find a great goal? Take one deep delicious breath and close your eyes. Think about all the projects you could do and notice which one lights you up the most. That's the one. Trust it.

Now think realistically how long it may take for you to reach your goal. Literally pick a date. That's how you start your letter. Put that future date at the top of the page.

On the next line, write, "Dear Me..."

Paragraph 1: After Dear Me, write to yourself about your success. Write in detail as if it is already the date at the top of your page and you have fully achieved your heartfelt goal. Tell yourself what it is like now that you have achieved success and everything has gone as well as it possibly could. Focus especially on how good it feels now that you've reached this goal. This should be an enjoyable process. Really feel it. Feeling it will help you achieve it. Some questions to ask yourself might include: How I am different now that I've achieved this? What I have learned along the way? Who did I have to become? What's possible now? How will I celebrate my success? What do other people have to say and how do they treat me now? (Only include positives in this paragraph. If anything negative comes up, that's to be handled proactively in the months preceding the date you've achieved your goal, to help you succeed. More on that below. This way, your strategy writes itself.)

Paragraph 2: Tell yourself how you did it. Let's say your achievement date is one year from now. In this next paragraph, tell yourself what you did in the first six months. (If your achievement date is sooner or later, the amount of time will differ but I'll write these instructions based on a one-year goal.) List ten things you did in the first six months of working toward this goal. You can add details later. Include anything negative that came up in Paragraph 1. Decide how you will proactively handle those potential problems. Sometimes your steps will include getting training, or more information, or assistance from others. Sometimes it will include setting up systems and structures to make the rest of the project easier. Sometimes it will include better self care since no one can achieve their best goals when they aren't at their best. Sometimes it'll be about improving, repairing, or eliminating what could hold you back. Design your environment to support your success.

Paragraph 3: Now tell yourself what you did in the first three months. This is a slightly shorter list, maybe eight items long. Choose steps that will help set you up for the steps in Paragraph 2.

Paragraph 4: Next tell yourself what you did in the first month. This might be just six items. Again, choose steps that set you up for success with latter steps.

Paragraph 5: Tell yourself what you did in the first week. This will only be two or three steps. You're just getting started on your journey to success.

Paragraph 6: Now tell yourself the one step you need to take TODAY. Often, this will be clear after you've written all the other steps and sometimes it's surprising and surprisingly easy to start. Take that step. You're on your way now!

Paragraph 7: Finally, tell yourself how proud you are that you followed through, that you didn't anticipate everything that needed doing, but that was okay because you had a clear strategy that provided a framework for success. Add some details about your celebration here as well.

There you have it! Your roadmap to success!

This is a powerful tool that you can customize as needed. For instance, you can use it at the start of a new year to list a few high-value goals and track your progress throughout the year. I love going back to my letters and discovering I've already completed so many steps!

 

If you want more great tools, join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program and/or find a coach here who will help you be your very best!

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 

 

 

 

Topics: Positive Psychology, FIND A COACH, become a positive psychology coach

Coaching Accountability Isn't What You Think It is

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching accountability with a bullhorn cropped

Managing Progress and Accountability is an ICF Core Coaching Competency that is frequently missed when coaches apply for certification, according to ICF certifiers.

I could be wrong, but I think the name, itself, confuses coaches. It sounds like the coach literally manages the client and holds them accountable to achieve their goals the way an employer might, but that's not what helps clients progress, and it's really not what ICF certifiers are looking for.

[UPDATE, October 10, 2019: The ICF just announced major changes in the Core Coaching Competencies to owners of ICF accredited coach training programs. As an owner of the ICF accredited Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, I received a copy of the new Competency model but was asked to keep it confidential until they release the new model to all members. Accountability is still mentioned but is no longer as prominent. I'll write more when the full release occurs in November.]

It's time somebody told you the secret of motivation and it has nothing to do with holding your clients accountable...

Here's why: Have you ever caught yourself being stubborn with someone (your friend, sibling, spouse, perhaps) about something you really wanted to do but you were only willing to do it your way or not at all? Or has someone ever told you that you need to change something about yourself, and even if you agreed with them, you didn't do it? Or do you ever ask for advice and then don't follow it?

If yes to any of these, you're normal. People naturally resist doing what others tell them to do and unless that other has something important to hang over their head, like their job, they often won't do it even if they want to.

 

We all get a little negative in these situations and that negativity has power over us that most people underestimate.

 

Here's an example: An SCM graduate just posted a meme on Facebook that said she never shares memes that say, "I bet I won't get even one share," even if she otherwise likes the meme. I don't share them, either. In fact, I did an impromptu poll once on my Facebook feed to see if others shared them. Nobody did. They're annoying.

Subtle levels of negativity, defensiveness, resistance, anxiety, or irritation of any type trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response unconsciously, which in turn delivers a cocktail of stress hormones, like cortisol, which can stay in the blood stream for quite a while and hold the client back from taking action. Essentially, they freeze.

 

So if a coach presumes to manage a client in any way, especially by checking up on them, or requiring the client to check in with the coach, or in any way holding them accountable, there's a good chance that will backfire. Don't do it.

 

What does work? A recent article by researcher, Richard Boyatzis and colleagues, at TrainingIndustry.com, offered five possibilities that have been found to help people change. Boyatzis is well-known for his research and teachings on coaching, emotional intelligence, and leadership. His change theory of positive emotional attractors (PEAs) v negative emotional attractors (NEAs), which roughly translate to positivity v negativity in positive psychology terms, helps explain why some approaches to change don't work while others do.

 

In a nutshell, change is stressful and that releases stress hormones that trigger the fight, flight or freeze response.

 

Something or someone needs to continually bring the client back to positivity so negativity doesn't prevent them from proceeding. That someone is often the coach.

 

Forcing or requiring people to do things increase stress so pushy coaches often fail.

 

Goals, alone, aren't motivating unless they are aligned with what matters most to the client, such as their personal values, vision, mission, calling, dream, passion, or life purpose. Any goals, especially challenging goals, that aren't aligned with the client's bigger picture, are unlikely to provide sufficient positivity to carry the client forward.

 

Growth and Transformation aren't just a byproduct of great coaching. They are necessary ingredients that help our clients reach their goals. So, we need to help link their goals to what really inspires in order for them to succeed.

 

To learn more about the science of coaching and prepare yourself to become a Certified Positive Psychology Coach®, join the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches and attend our series on the nine NEW  Positive Psychology Coaching Skills, from Optimum Positivity, to Goals & Achievement, and Growth & Transformation.

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, Science of Coaching, personal values, IAPPC

Making the Case for Positivity in Coaching

Posted by Julia Stewart

positivity in coaching

Positivity is so accepted in coaching that most coaches don't even think about it. But what would they discover if they did?

I'm asking because, after observing thousands of coaching sessions, I'm convinced many coaches aren't using positivity as effectively as they might. We've known positivity, which is often defined as positive affect or positive emotions, has a powerful effect on us, both in the moment and later on. It doesn't just feel good, it's correlated with greater emotional and physical health, more success, better relationships, and even longer life.

Plus, according to recent research, positivity is a powerful tool, by itself, for getting results in coaching and it can enhance other powerful coaching tools for even more effective results.*

There are several theories often cited that help make the case for positivity in coaching.

Barbara Fredrickson's "Broaden and Build" theory of positivity, or positive affect, which dates back over twenty years, is often cited as a pathway to flexible thinking, noticing possibilities, more creative thinking, action planning, building resources, and goal striving, all of which can positively influence coaching session outcomes.

Marciel Losada's research on working teams found that team conversations that were significantly more positive, which was defined as focusing on others vs focusing on oneself, asking questions vs defending points of view, and making positive vs negative statements, enjoyed significantly more success than those that did not, which suggests these approaches may support improved outcomes in coaching.

John Gottman's research on what makes successful marriages work, identifies specific responses from one partner to another when the second partner shares something positive, as a key to promoting strong relationships. Gottman sometimes calls this "turning toward" vs "turning away" and says this can be even more powerful in building strong relationships than showing empathy and compassion in times of trouble.

Four categories have emerged to describe levels of turning toward and only one, which is called, Active and Constructive Responding, helps build relationships. Coaching tends to be less effective when the relationship between coach and client is weak and although I have never heard a competent coach engage in the most destructive type of response, Active and Destructive Responding, which a coach might express in a coaching conversation as something like, "You'll never be able to do that because you aren't smart enough," I have heard even "good" coaches sink to the level of Passive and Destructive Responding and Passive and Constructive Responding, which despite its name, doesn't help improve relationships.

Mastering Active and Constructive Responding, without letting it get in the way of other important coaching tools, is a key to masterful coaching because it raises positivity and strengthens the relationship.

But is positivity enough by itself to improve coaching?

According to a recent article by coaching psychology researchers, Anthony Grant and Sean O'Connor, using questions designed to raise positive affect or positivity (an example of such a question might be, "What's  something great that happened this week?') improves coaching outcomes, by itself, but when combined with another important coaching tool, solution-focused questions, outcomes are even more improved.

Previous coaching psychology research has shown that problem-focused questions are less effective in coaching than solution-focused questions. To simplify, problem-focused questions are referred to as "Why" questions, such as, "Why do you have this problem?" They have been found to lower negative affect and raise confidence in the client's ability to solve (self-efficacy). While solution-focused questions, referred to as, "How?" questions, or, "How could you solve this?" have been shown to lower negative affect, raise self-efficacy, and raise positive affect, as well.

But research that studied three types of coaching questions, problem-focused, solution-focused, and positivity-focused, found that combining solution-focused questions with positivity-focused questions had the most positive outcomes, of all, suggesting this powerful combo may need to be adopted by coaches who want to be most effective.

Interestingly, the ICF Core Coaching Competencies don't mention positive-focused questions or positivity even in some of their most detailed descriptions, such as their Core Competencies Comparison Table.

That's not to suggest the ICF discourages positivity and positive-focused questions. The outcomes of positivity that one might expect in effective coaching are described, but the tools of positivity are not. The Competencies are among the most influential coaching technologies. What if the ICF encouraged these tools that have been found so effective?

[UPDATE, 10-10-2019: The ICF just announced to owners of ICF-accredited programs, such as the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program, a new coaching competency model which they want to keep confidential until they announce it to their entire membership. There some mention of positivity tools now but limited.]

That's why the new International Association of Positive Psychology Coaching (IAPPC) is developing its own coaching technology and positivity, which we define broadly as including positive affect, positive-focused questions, positive conversations, turning toward and more, as important tools in effective coaching, making it  critical to great coaching.

In fact, "Optimum Positivity" is our first coaching skill.

The word, "optimum" is important because maximum positivity can damage. We're placing optimum positivity as a top-line coaching skill set which can enhance almost every other coaching skill.

I'll be introducing the Positive Psychology Coaching Skills in next month's meeting of the IAPPC and will highlight fascinating research, coaching "how-tos", and examples on leading with positivity during our 75-minute interactive webinar.

 

If you are already a member, watch for your invitation to this important meeting that may instantly upgrade your coaching.

 

If you aren't already a member, join while it is still free, below:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

 

* Shout out and thanks to the Institute of Coaching for sharing this research with its members.

Topics: ICF, coaching questions, Barbara L Fredrickson, coaching skills, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaches, positivity, IAPPC

We're Building a New Home for Positive Psychology Coaches

Posted by Julia Stewart

IAPPC logo 1 8-18

A small community of positive psychology coaches has recently incorporated as the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

The original community was launched by David McQuarrie, CPPC, and me in 2016. We began meetings by identifying who were are by exploring our shared strengths, values, and needs. It soon became clear that we are an organization of peers who are passionate about learning and mastering the new field of positive psychology coaching and sharing what we learn to help create a better world for all.

At this point, we have over 400 members and haven't even launched our website, yet!

[UPDATE 8-27-19: We officially have over1000 members now and are 4 months ahead of schedule. Thanks so much for your support!]

We're not here to compete with other coaching and positive psychology organizations, but to fill the gaps that other organizations haven't met.

How can you learn more about the new IAPPC and get a limited-time free membership?

  • Attend the exciting upcoming meeting. This is where stuff really happens. Learn what's coming from IAPPC and share your thoughts on what will help you most. You need to be a member to get an invitation.
  • Join IAPPC now and enjoy free benefits for Founding Members. It won't all be free forever, but we intend to delight you so much that continuing membership will be a no-brainer. Join now and get your Founding Member badge.
  • Join us on Facebook here. Discover other members and share exciting news.
  • Invite your friends to join us. The more members, the more benefits we can provide for less cost. We'd love to attract 1,000 members by 2020! Use the social sharing buttons at the top of this post to share with others. Thanks so much!

What's the relationship between SCM and IAPPC?

Previous coaching organizations, such as the ICF and IAC, were launched by the owners of coaching schools. That makes sense because we have mailing lists of coaches, connections and know-how, and infrastructure that can support a fledgling organization until it's ready to fly. SCM has been there for this organization through its infancy and will continue to support it as it matures.

That said, IAPPC is for all positive psychology coaches, regardless where you trained. You can get involved now and you can qualify to apply for IAPPC's upcoming certifications when they are available. Our goal is to launch the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches as a fully independent not-for-profit professional association with its own certification. Please join us!

 

Join now while it's still free and get your Founding Member badge:

 

Become a Member of IAPPC for Free

Topics: ICF, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, IAC, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, positive psychology coaches, IAPPC

The Role of Positive Psychology in Planetary Consciousness

Posted by Julia Stewart

Planetary Consciousness

At the International Positive Psychology Association's 6th World Congress this year, positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi*, gave a talk called, Towards a Planetary Consciousness.

He asked, "What is the contribution Positive Psychology can make to the global society evolving on this planet--which could result either in an unprecedented flowering of life, or in its total extinction?

That's a heavy question for what is often referred to as, "the science of happiness", but it's similar to questions being asked worldwide by thought leaders as the Climate Crisis heats up and critical resources run out. Currently, large percentages of the world's populations are without reliable food and water, while natural disasters are on the rise, and the resulting conflicts, migrations, political turmoil, economic instability, and wars have left many feeling anxious about the future while also mourning what's already been lost.

By the way, this is a massive coaching opportunity: helping people develop the resilience they need so they can flourish in an increasingly difficult future.

Csikszentmihalyi is neither a marketer nor politician. Nor is he a spiritual teacher who promises to help you evolve your consciousness, so there was no soaring rhetoric nor sweeping promises in his talk. He's a scientist who is opening up a conversation on where positive psychology might help help in developing universal values that may help people thrive, without forcing one culture's values upon others. It's unusual even to hear a scientist use the word, "consciousness" because it is so difficult to define.

"Unless we find good solutions, the future will be a pretty bad place to live for our children and grandchildren."

Positive psychology deviates from previous psychological study by looking at what constitutes "the good life", a question usually asked by philosophers. Csikszentmihalyi said scientists need to explore the teachings of spiritual leaders such as Zoroaster and the Buddha to find what works best in today's world and share their findings with the leaders of the future.

Clearly this is an important issue for leadership coaches, who will want to pay close attention to the research that results from this focus. We all will.

 

Thinking about becoming a positive psychology coach? Download the FREE eBook:

 

Free Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

* If you're not quite sure how to pronounce "Csikszentmihalyi", here's a useful mnemonic: "Chick sent me high."

Topics: future of coaching, Positive Psychology, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Values, Climate Change, become a positive psychology coach, IPPA

How to Distinguish Healthy Positivity From Toxic Positivity

Posted by Julia Stewart

Toxic Positivity

Most coaches are highly positive and that is a wonderful thing.

Positivity helps our clients believe in themselves and their goals. And that's a key to helping them reach those goals. So positivity is one of the keys to masterful coaching. But sometimes coaches, and their clients, misunderstand what positivity really is, when it is most powerful, how to cultivate it, and how to use it well. Like all powerful tools, positivity, when used incorrectly, can cause problems. Big problems!

This is one of the many reasons professional coaches need to be well trained, so they understand the nuances of the powerful tools they use. Otherwise they may backfire.

Positive psychology researcher, Barbara Fredrickson, calls positivity the experience of positive emotions such as gratitude, serenity, love, and more. Experiencing enough of these on a regular basis can be transformative and leads to flourishing by broadening awareness, building our strengths, and helping us become the best versions of ourselves. She makes distinctions about the most useful forms of positivity, such as positivity that is natural vs. artificial, spontaneous vs. insincere, and positivity that's harmonious vs. obsessive. The latter are less useful, but according to Fredrickson, most people can benefit from experiencing more the the former.

Barbara Fredrickson's definition of positivity is what I call Healthy Positivity.

Healthy Positivity may sometimes include intense positive emotions, but more often includes subtle feelings such as open-mindedness, curiosity, empathy, contentment, optimism, generosity, harmony, kindness, compassion, wisdom, perseverance, flexibility, and belief in others (notice that most of these are Character Strengths). Healthy Positivity isn't 100% positive. It's more like 75-90% positive, over time. You can be positive and still have some difficult moments and even some bad days. The point is that you can respond to life instead of trying to control it. And you use your wisdom to help build positive habits that feel good, but ultimately, help you and the people around you enjoy more health, greater success, stronger relationships, and even longer life (according to some researchers).

In contrast, Toxic Positivity tends to be intense, even relentless. The person has an agenda to be 100% positive and wants people around them to be positive too. Toxic Positivity is self-centered, artificial, rigid, can drive others away, is sometimes desperate, and tends to lead to failure.

What is Toxic Positivity like?

  • Toxic Positivity has a manic quality to it. It fails to notice genuine concerns or to respond to what is going on. It feels fake to other people and they are less likely to trust it (Imagine an overly friendly or excited salesman who makes you want to run away.) Toxic positivity isn't curious or responsive because the person has already decided how they will be - POSITIVE!!! - no matter the cost. Instead of being open to learning from what's happening, or to notice how others are responding, Toxic Positivity claims everything is GREAT!!!. Example: I had a friend I'll call, Bob*, who was studying the Law of Attraction hoping it would help him build his coaching business. He tried a new marketing campaign and I texted him later to see if he got a good response. He replied, "Nope! Not a one! LOL!" I was glad he wasn't discouraged, but curiosity about what wasn't working and a plan to make it better might have led him to success faster.
  • Toxic positivity is judgmental or lacks compassion. It tells others to stop being so negative. It avoids people who are sick or depressed (If being around suffering is harming your mood, do give yourself a break, but you don't have to avoid every friend who is down. Compassion is positive.) Toxic positivity is self-absorbed and others often respond negatively to it. Example: When Bob's city was engulfed in a dangerous weather disaster that knocked out power and internet for thousands, made roads impassible for days, and put countless humans and animals in life threatening situations, I reached out to see if he was okay. His response? "I thought it was fun! LOL!" Wow, Bob, you used to be such a caring person.
  • Toxic positivity is selfish and can't see past its own agenda. This is a disservice to others and people feel drained by it. Example: I took a break from Bob's relentless laugh track and explained why to him. Not surprisingly, he didn't understand, possibly because his agenda was in the way. I know he'll come back to himself overtime. Most people do recover from Toxic Positivity. But if you're being positive and it's annoying or offending people, or friends are just drifting away, maybe it's not them. It could be you.

By now, you have a pretty good idea of the difference between Healthy Positivity, which is transformative, and Toxic Positivity, which can be harmful to you and others. Knowing when to apply Fredrickson's positivity is a key. Continuing to be yourself is another. And don't forget, emotions are just information about how life is going for you. Most people, most of the time, don't need to override negative feelings. They need to pay attention to the information they're receiving from those feelings and respond to it. That's a positive approach. But there are times when negativity really doesn't help and even harms. That's when added positivity can make the biggest impact.

Here are three times when increasing your positivity matters most, depending on your current habits:

  1. THE PAST, if you're a habitual ruminator: someone who mulls over every mistake you've made, every embarrassment, or every perceived slight or criticism from others, every hurt feeling or moment of anger you've experienced, every frustration, etc., you're in danger of making yourself depressed. Shifting your thoughts - toward more positive reframes, such as accepting mistakes or criticisms as opportunities to learn and make better choices, or to design your life so you get to do more of what you're good at and surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you. Caveat: If you're already moderately to severely depressed, positive thinking may not be enough. Do get assistance from a therapist. But cultivating honest positivity is a healthy habit.
  2. THE PRESENT, if you're a chronic complainer: someone who is never quite satisfied, who is disappointed by less than excellence in every area, who does battle with every moment and maybe even with every other human, you're wearing yourself out and everyone around you. Complainers are drainers. They also can be toxic and literally harm their own health and that of those around them. We all have a negativity bias that makes it easier to notice the bad than the good, and when we are stressed, this tendency gets even stronger. Problem is, the more we focus on what we don't want, the more we get what we don't want. Moreover, people start to avoid us. Don't be a drainer. It takes discipline to start noticing what's going well and appreciate it, but it is well worth the effort. Even if the only positive in your life is that you're breathing, that's kind of awesome considering the alternative!
  3. THE FUTURE, if you're a constant worrier: you're trying to control the future, which rarely works, and you're using a costly and ineffective tool, to boot. As they say, worry is not a plan. Worse, worry tends to make us anxious and anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses there is. Again, if you're chronically anxious, let a professional help you, but if you just need an upgrade, try imagining what you want instead of what you don't want. Then ask yourself how you could create it. If you need more resources to get there, start building them. If you're worried something will go wrong, plan how you'll handle it in advance. These tools can help you develop your confidence so fear doesn't get the better of you. Over time, you'll feel better and have better outcomes, too.

 

I hope these distinctions are useful. If you'd like to work with a coach on Healthy Positivity, find a positive psychology coach here.

 

If you'd like to get training to become an effective positive psychology coach, explore our program here.

 

If you just want to learn more about positive psychology coaching, download the FREE eBook here:

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* A few details about "Bob" have been changed for this article.

 

 

Topics: Barbara L Fredrickson, Law of Attraction, coach training program, Positive Psychology, free ebook, positive psychology coach, positive psychology coach training, positivity, become a positive psychology coach, Toxic Positivity

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?

 

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

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