Reframing Disempowering Language

One aspect of calling out our clients’ power is bringing awareness to their disempowering language. This language is often habitual and unconscious. Bringing it to the light offers opportunities for clients to see it clearly and choose to change it—moving them to a place of greater personal power.

How do we support our clients to find some comfortable ground and own their language? The beauty of coaching is that we can ask empowering questions that support awareness without making our clients wrong. Over time, they catch themselves and shift their language on their own without prompting from the coach.

REFRAMING DISEMPOWERING LANGUAGE
Disempowering LanguageExamples from the ClientEmpowering Questions from the Coach
No ChoiceI have to, must, can’t…What if you knew you had a choice?
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Separate Opinions from Observations

Opinions and observations can easily become entangled, resulting in thoughts based on interpretation and understanding instead of pure facts. When we separate observations from opinions, we distinguish between what actually happened and our opinion of what happened.

Example of an observation: We did not get the grant.

Example of an opinion: I really screwed up the grant proposal.

To help clients separate their opinions from what actually happened, we can ask them for the observations. What did you see or hear that led you to this viewpoint? Sometimes they hold a belief based on something that happened in early childhood and sometimes the belief emerges from whatever occurred just before the session.… Read more

Self Compassion for the Coach

Self-compassion means we approach our feelings and needs in a new way, including those we want to get over and those we seek to avoid. As we recognize that what is inside of us is not the enemy, we enter the space of unconditional acceptance, which then permits integration of all our parts into the whole. This softens us and generates an authentic vulnerability that connects us deeper inside ourselves as well as in the outside world.

Our feelings serve as a barometer to our inner world. When we embrace the full range of our emotions as a coach, we can expand our capacity for self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-management.… Read more

Transforming Judgment of Others

The same process we use to transform self-judgment can be used to transform judgment of others, except we ask clients to look at what was actually done or said that didn’t meet their needs. Instead of projecting judgments on others, our clients can learn to own their judgment and their needs.

The steps for transforming judgment of others include:

Identify the judgment: The judgment could be a story, a label, a thought or a belief. It could be something your client thinks is absolutely true about that person. What judgment do you have of the other person?

Clarify the observation: What did the person actually do that led to this judgment?… Read more

Personal Values

At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent pulse of rhythm, a complex of wave forms and resonances, which is absolutely individual and unique, and yet which connects us to everything in the universe. —George Leonard

Our values are our deeply-held desires that guide us in creating a fulfilling life. When we honor our values, our hearts sing. When values are confused with judgment, including ethical or moral judgment, thoughts of right/wrong or good/bad—we lose our ability to connect with our common humanity. That also reduces our capacity to contribute to making the world a better place.… Read more

Transforming Distress into Light

A practice that deepens awareness is transforming distress into light, a way to harness the energy of distress in life-serving ways. This process is adapted from the work of many practitioners, including: Marshall Rosenberg, Susan Skye, Robert Gonzales and Meganwind Eoyang.

The transformation of internal distress into light is the psychological alchemy of turning base metal into gold. Holding the light of awareness intently on an internal emotional state alters the frequency of the energy and completely transforms the initial emotion. As we mourn, we touch the sadness of the unmet need, but if we stay with it, we touch the beauty of the need as it lives in us.… Read more

Ways to Use Values

The following are some ways to explore values:

Create a blueprint for making decisions. Ask, “If you say yes to this project, which of your values will you honor? Which will you ignore?” “How does saying yes honor more values?” “How might honoring your values by engaging in this project impact your life?”

Remind them what is important. Their values list can serve as a powerful reminder to pull them back to their center. Connecting with the value as a felt sense or associating a value with a metaphor activates the right or creative side of the brain. Remembering the value impacts their body, emotions and soul, as well as their thoughts.… Read more

Values Clarification: Values List

Clarifying values is one of the primary ways of awakening inherent resourcefulness and wisdom that activates deep levels of creativity. We are fully capable of much more than we can imagine at any moment. When we pay attention to the still small voice within, to the experiences that have shaped us, and to what we love, our values become clearer.

Asking clarifying questions

Look at snapshots of when your life was really sweet—times when you were fully honoring what was most important to you. What made it sweet?

Recall the challenging times in your life. What were the lessons learned?

Tell me a song that you love, or a movie.… Read more

Prioritizing Values

As an exercise, we ask clients to prioritize their top seven values and how much they are honoring them on a scale of 1 to 10. Then we ask some of the following questions:

What is a time when you honored the value fully?

What is the barrier or obstacle that keeps you from honoring the value now?On a scale of 1 to 10, how strong is the barrier?

What are you learning from identifying the barrier, and how might those lessons help you fulfill the values you want to honor?

What needs to happen for each value to become a “10”?… Read more

Process Work

Process work is very closely aligned with Experiencing the Moment. This branch of psychology originated in the 1970’s with the work of Arthur Mindell, a Jungian analyst. “Mindell discovered that the dreaming process went far beyond our nighttime dreams and could be seen in physical symptoms, relationship difficulties, addictions, extreme states of consciousness and social tensions. All of these dreamlike processes—when approached with curiosity and respect, can lead to new insight and an energetic shift that is vital for our personal development and the evolution of our collective bodies.”1

Process work involves holding immense curiosity about everything the client is saying.… Read more