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Coaching with Neuroplasticity Exercises: 9 Fascinating Facts

Posted by Julia Stewart

neuroplasticity exercises

The Certified Neuroscience Coach Program includes the upcoming Coaching with Neuroscience, Science of Goals and Achievement, and Neuroscience Tools and Practices courses, among others, which together will prepare you to be an effective and successful neuroscience coach.

Because coaches are not scientists, but rather personal change agents, we focus less on complex anatomy and chemistry and more on how human systems communicate within, without, and between our clients and ourselves. So we can influence our clients to grow, transform,  transcend, and reach amazing goals. We're not just science-based, we're science-integrated.

When we talk about coaching and neuroscience, we're really talking about the applied science of positive neuroplasticity and how to use neuroplasticity exercises to create lasting transformation for coaching clients.

Neuroplasticity is perhaps the most ground-breaking and revolutionary finding in modern neuroscience. It helps explain why and how people can make real changes in their lives and it makes sense of the many surprising findings coming to us from positive psychology researchers. As such, it's virtually a required topic of understanding for every professional coach.

 

Here are nine fascinating facts about coaching with neuroplasticity exercises:

 

  1. Your brain is constantly rewiring itself. Not only does it change from one day to the next, it changes from one moment to the next. The brain you go to sleep with tonight will literally be different from the brain you woke up with this morning. This creates opportunities to rewire the brain for greater resilience and resourcefulness, which is the top focus for brain-based coaching.
  2. Coaching changes the brain positively. The brain-states and physical being-states, experienced by your clients during coaching, make temporary changes in the clients' neural nets. A neural net is a group of neurons that are wired together. These changes, when experienced repeatedly within and without coaching, become sustainable and relatively permanent. Coaches have an opportunity to, with their clients' permission and participation, shift clients to the states most conducive to well-being and resourcefulness, leading to greater success in virtually every realm: interpersonal, emotional, cognitive, and physiological. Clients literally become happier, more successful, and even healthier, as a result. 
  3. The "mind-body split" is simply wrong. The philosopher, Descartes, theorized some 300 years ago that mind and body were made of different stuff. Traditionally, science and medicine have embraced this notion and, although they've made many incredible discoveries since, it turns out the mind and body are intimately connected via chemicals, physical structures and electricity. Ultimately they are one and coaching with neuroscience acknowledges and integrates that.
  4. Insights, also known as "Aha" moments, are moments of sudden change in the brain. When new information is integrated, or old information is finally bridged, neural chemicals are released that feel good and often cause the client to light up or giggle. Some insights are peak experiences that help create lasting change for our clients. Others are less powerful, but can be strengthened for greater sustainability. It's extremely important for coaches to understand how to handle these moments so full integration occurs. Otherwise, insights evaporate like forgotten dreams and offer little benefit to our clients.
  5. Stuck clients are caught in neural loops. The old saying in neuroplasticity, that "neurons that fire together, wire together" offers both the good and bad news of brain science. When a coaching client is stuck, he thinks over and over about a problem without finding a solution. Each time he does so, he strengthens the neural connections around the problem, making it seem increasingly impossible to solve. It's like riding a bicycle on a muddy path each day. Eventually a rut will form that is so deep it's almost impossible to ride the bike anywhere but in the ever-deepening rut. Skillful coaches can instantly pull clients out of their ruts and refocus them on solution-producing thoughts.
  6. The human brain is naturally negative. This probably had survival value in the past, but causes toxic stress and other problems in the modern world. The good news is that the brain can be trained to think more positively and that can become a positive habit over time. Indulging in negative thinking is a form of brain abuse that scientists call "rumination", because it's rather like a cow chewing its cud. Rumination is highly correlated with depression and anxiety, but even in emotionally healthy clients, learning more resourceful ways to think can be life-changing.
  7. The brain communicates with structures and organs in the face, neck, and torso via the vagus nerve. The vagus is probably what you're feeling when you experience strong emotions in your body. Interestingly, the gut and heart both contain so many neurons of their own that they are sometimes referred to as the 2nd and 3rd brains and they "talk" as much or more to the brain than it talks to them. When you know something in your heart or feel it in your gut, you're experiencing something real.
  8. Oxytocin, a.k.a. the "love hormone", works with the vagus nerve to create a sense of bonding between parents and children, partners, and others. Oxytocin does have it's down side, but increasing it during coaching, via specific behaviors, creates trust and regard that are fundamental to successful coaching sessions.
  9. The mind isn't created by the brain, but rather appears to be the outcome of a variety of internal, and interpersonal, systems. In fact, given the power of neuroplasticity, it may be more accurate to say the mind creates the brain. Through neuroplasticity exercises, we can assist clients to use their minds to change their brains, and other systems, such as the heart and gut, in ways that help them integrate, grow, and transform their lives and themselves.
Try this positive neuroplasticity exercise right now to shift into a more positive and resourceful mind state. This is especially powerful if you're not feeling as happy, or as optimistic as you might.
 
  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath for a minute or two. It's ideal if you inhale for about 5 seconds and exhale for the same length, but don't worry about this or time yourself. Allow it to happen with a relatively relaxed, unthinking mind.
  • Now find something good, no matter how small, that happened today or yesterday. Allow yourself to feel good about this thing or event. Let it sink in. Savor it.
  • Now associate your five senses with this good thing. How does it look? How does it sound? How does it taste, smell, and most of all, feel? These questions may not seem logical, but play with them a bit.
  • Next, ask yourself what this event or thing means to you and why does it matter? Do you associate it with any of your values or strengths?
  • Last, what part did you play in the occurrence? Take a moment to be grateful to and acknowledge yourself and everyone connected.
  • Now imagine this wonderfully layered experience of your positive event sinking into every cell in your body. Enjoy it. You may even want to revisit it again several times and/or do this exercise with other experiences. Over time, they will help you experience greater joy, pleasure and gratitude.

 

If you'd like to learn a lot more about coaching with neuroscience in general and positive neuroplasticity exercises specifically, neuroscience coaching courses start soon and you can get in by joining the Certified Neuroscience Coach Program. Or take them as stand-alone modules and qualify for Coaching with Neuroscience Certificates.

 

Download the free Fact Sheet here:

 

Download Certified Neuroscience Coach Fact Sheet

Topics: Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Values, Neuroplasticity

Learn Strengths-Based Positive Psychology Coaching for Free

Posted by Julia Stewart

positive psychology coaching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Elan Sun Star 

One of the free services that School of Coaching Mastery offers to coaches is our free study groups, which are hosted by SCM coach members. Our newest study group, the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group is about to launch with Strengths-Based Business Coach, Nancy McCabe, CCC. Nancy is an awesome model of positivity and she happens to be a member of our Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program. Learn more about Nancy here.

Why would you want to join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group?

How can you join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group?

  • Go here to join the free Positive Psychology Coach Study Group

  • You'll be sent directions on how to register for the specific study-group webinar sessions you want to attend 

  • If you need to miss a session that you've registered for, please UN-register in advance, using a link provided in your confirmation email

  • REGISTER ASAP, BECAUSE SEATING IS LIMITED

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group below:

 

Join the Positive Psychology Coach Study Group

Topics: business coach, becoming a certified coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths, Science of Coaching

Positive Psychology Coaching: When Is a Strength Really a Weakness?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Positive Psychology Strength

 

Positive psychology turns the traditional psychology of illness on its head by redefining mental health. Instead of cataloging symptoms of mental illness (which apparently we all have), health is instead defined as: flourishing despite the presence of some symptoms. Assets matter more than deficits, so the focus is off healing and onto increasing well-being. That makes positive psychology an excellent fit for coaching.

 

For instance, strengths-based psychology is a subset of positive psychology and is used by many coaches to help their clients succeed and enjoy life more. The client takes an assessment to identify core strengths and then works with a coach to cross-train their strengths and master them. It's simple, straight forward and can work brilliantly.

 

But do weaknesses never matter? Is strengthening your strengths really all you need? And is it possible for a strength to also be a weakness and visa versa? 

 

Here's an example: I have a relative who is highly productive, organized and fast. I have another relative, who is a mental-health professional, who says this is obsessive compulsive behavior. Really? She is flourishing, so I'd say what she has is showing up as a strength, not a weakness. According to the Clifton Strengths Finder, she's a strong Activator, someone who, once she's decided what to do, gets it done fast. According to Clifton, I'm a strong Strategizer and should work with Activators. When I collaborate with my Activator relative, I suggest things we should consider and we decide what to do about them. Then, while I'm thinking about adding them to my to-do list, she gets them done. For me, this is a little like having a magic genie. 

 

I haven't done exhaustive research on strengths vs. weaknesses, but I've deep dived into it more than most coaches. Here's what I've observed:

 

  • A strength can get you into trouble and still be a strength, but if it causes more trouble than it solves, it's mostly a weakness.
  • If you have a rigid need to use a strength, even in inappropriate situations, it has become a weakness.
  • If you can negotiate and modulate a strength as needed, it's not a weakness.
  • As your life changes, you may develop new strengths you didn't know you had.
  • If you over-rely on your strengths, you may never develop some and that could be a weakness.
  • If you work alone and expect your strengths to pull you through every situation, you'll likely fail in areas where you're weak. Outsource to someone else's strengths.
  • Your idea of strength may be someone else's idea of illness. Focus on flourishing and ignore the the judgers.

 

The key is who's in charge. Are you using your strength, or is it using you?

 

If you'd like to add positive psychology to your coaching, plus get a certificate and 8 ICF CCEs...

 

Learn About Positive Psychology for Coaches

 


Photo by US Navy Images

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, ICF, Coach Certification, Coaching Certificate, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Strengths

6 Ways Life Coaching is Like Hostage Negotiation

Posted by Julia Stewart

hostages freed by Mohammed Ghafari resized 600
Hostages being freed, Egypt, 2008. Photo by Mohammed Ghafari, Flickr, Creative Commons.

 

 

Life coaching is confused with a number of other professions. Hostage negotiation isn't one of them. So it might shock you to know that effective hostage negotiation shares quite a lot with effective life coaching.

 

Why? Both coaching and negotiation are basically conversations between human beings. The same 'magic' communication skills work well, whether between coach and client, salesman and shopper, parent and teenager, or negotiator and terrorist. In fact, these conversations are really not all that different from each other.

 

I discovered this yesterday while reading Wired magazine collumnist, Eric Barker's interview with former top FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, who now teaches business negotiation at places like Harvard. In it, Chris shares tips and secrets on how to negotiate successfully, stop thinking like a schizophrenic, and why you should never settle for a one-boob breast augmentation.

 

Here are six ways Hostage Negotiation is like Life Coaching:

 

  1. You can't ignore emotions. Chris says one of the biggest mistakes many negotiators make is that they try to ignore emotion and just be rational. The problem with that, as he says is, "There’s a lot of scientific evidence now that demonstrates that without emotions you actually can’t make a decision, because you make your decisions based on what you care about." In coaching, what you care about is called your 'Values'. Great coaches always clarify their client's values, otherwise their clients can't make good choices. I tell my coaching students that emotions always have an underlying logic. Once you understand the meaning behind the emotion, it always makes sense and moving forward gets easier.
  2. You have to really listen. Most people don't really listen to each other; they just formulate their responses while the other person is talking. The result is that they don't really hear everything the other person is saying. Worse, it means most of us go through life without anyone ever really hearing us. That's a soul-slaughtering experience. No wonder some people go postal. Chris says negotiating with a schizophrenic is especially challenging, because a schizophrenic is often distracted by voices in their head. He says when you listen to your own voice in your head instead of to the other person, you're behaving like a schizophrenic who can't really hear what's going on. I couldn't say it better.
  3. Feed back what you're hearing. Chris says, "The idea is to really listen to what the other side is saying and feed it back to them. It’s kind of a discovery process for both sides. First of all, you’re trying to discover what’s important to them, and secondly, you’re trying to help them hear what they’re saying to find out if what they are saying makes sense to them." In coaching, this is called mirroring, or you can double-duty it and also acknowledge them as you mirror. Both of you will get more clarity. The other person will know you're really listening, which helps make a stronger connection. The result is greater openness and willingness to work with you.
  4. Keep clarifying. Chris suggests, "You can say, 'What are we trying to accomplish here?'  Then, 'How is what you are asking for going to get you that?' Great coaching questions! Most people, terrorists and schizophrenics included, need help clarifying what they really want and how they're going to get it. That's what coaching's about. Apparently, that's an important part of hostage negotiation too.
  5. Never compromize. According to Chris, compromize is a terrible thing. The metaphor he uses is the husband who wants his wife to get a boob job. She doesn't want to do it, so they compromize and she just gets one. In other words, nobody gets what they really want. Coaches exist to help people get what they really want. Most people are so used to compromizing that what they tell you they want is usually just what they think they should want or what they think they can get instead of what they actually want. Trust me, your clients can get what they don't want on their own. They don't need to pay you thousands of dollars to help them compromize.
  6. Don't argue. If each side is presenting its arguments, neither is really listening (See #2). Instead of resolution, you get more conflict. If you want the other side to hear you, let them get their whole story out. Otherwise, that story will get in the way of their ability to hear you. It'll get in the way of getting what they want, too. 

 

Obviously, there are key distinctions between life coaching and hostage negotiation. For starters, a negotiator has an agenda to resolve a horrible situation without anyone getting hurt or killed. In coaching, our only agenda is to help the client think and act more resourcefully so they can get what they really want. The negotiator may only be trying to buy time until the SWAT team can either rescue the hostages or arrest the terrorist. Big difference.

 

But people are people. They want you to hear what matters to them, even if they can't articulate that, yet. Maybe if more people were coached, fewer people would go ballistic.

 

Learn how to coach people on what really matters to them (and get a coaching certificate):

Register: Coaching Values, Needs & Strengths 

Topics: Coaching, coach training, coach, coaching classes, clients, Life Coaching, life coach training, Coaching Certificate, Strengths, Needs, Values

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