Research Paper By Johanne Allaire
(Life coach, CANADA)
Underlying beliefs can play a big role on how people see the world and how they behave. Research has shown that many of these beliefs are developed during childhood. The coaching process can help the client uncover those beliefs that may sometime be preventing them from living an authentic life – a life that is true to their values and beliefs. This paper will present two techniques that a coach can utilize to uncover and shift an individual’s underlying beliefs if they are not honouring them.
How Can Coaching Help Clients Uncover Underlying Beliefs?
Many clients hire a coach because they want a change in their life. These changes can vary from finding a new job, getting healthier, seeking a more balanced lifestyle, reduce stress, etc. In her book, Life Makeover, Cheryl Richardson states,
Each client’s story was unique and yet they all had one common goal to live a more authentic life, one that reflected their values and most treasured priorities (Richardson, 2000, p. 1).
The client may be prevented from living their authentic life or making the change that they want because of underlying beliefs. These underlying beliefs can be defined as
fundamental, deep-rooted beliefs about who you are and your place in the world. (Reivich & Shatté, 2002, p 124).
Gregg Baden, in his book The Spontaneous Healing of Belief suggests that these beliefs are often developed during childhood and are hidden in our subconscious.
Underlying beliefs can be generally classified into three main categories – achievement, acceptance and control (Reivich & Shatté, 2002, p. 125-128).
The coaching process can help the client become more self-aware and clarify their values, beliefs and what is truly important to them. It can help the client better understand their emotions and behaviours that may be holding them back.
Uncovering Underlying Beliefs
Many methods can be used by the coach to help the client uncover underlying beliefs. Below are two techniques to support the client in uncovering their underlying beliefs.
In using these or any other techniques it is important for a coach to understand that some clients may find the process of discovering their underlying beliefs to be uncomfortable. It is important for the coach to create a safe space, not to judge and to proceed according to the client’s agenda. It should also be noted that because the client uncovers their underlying beliefs it does not mean that they will automatically start living more authentically. It will be up to the client to decide how to use this new awareness and how they want the coach to support them.
The first technique presented in this paper was developed by Gregg Braden author of the book The Spontaneous Healing of Belief. By answering a series of questions honestly, it can shed some light on the experiences and the people that the client draws into their lives. The author designed the questions in a manner that helps clarify patterns of subconscious beliefs that may be holding the client back from joy, success or achieving what they truly want (Braden 2008, p. 91–96).
When completing Figures 1 to 3, it is recommended that the client use single words, concise adjectives or short sentences.
Identifying the positive and negative characteristics of the childhood caretaker.
By completing Figure 1 below the client identifies the positive and negative characteristics of their childhood caregivers – the people that took care of them before they turned 15. This can include parents, brothers, sisters, other relatives, friends, etc. The lists should be prepared as the client would have seen their caregiver as a child.
Figure 1. Identifying the positive and negative characteristics of the childhood caretaker.
Identifying what was important during childhood.
In Figure 2 the client lists the things that were most important to them during childhood. The client should answer the question from the perspective as the adult that they are now.
Figure 2: Identifying what was important during childhood
Identifying and dealing with childhood frustrations.
The client describes what frustrated them as a child and how they dealt with their frustrations.
Figure 3: Identifying and dealing with childhood frustrations.
Step 4: The client completes following statements.
Statement 1: I sometimes attract people into my life who are… [Finish this sentence using the answers from Figure 1(A)]
This statement can help the client recognize that they sometimes subconsciously attract people into their life (currently and/or in the past) that often display the characteristics that they least liked in their childhood caretaker.
Statement 2: I want them to be… [Finish this sentence using the answers from Figure 1 (B)]
This statement demonstrates to the client what they expect from others are often the qualities that they admired in their caregiver as a child. Those characteristics were beneficial to the respondent as a child and are still perceived that way as an adult.
Statement 3: So that I can have… [Finish this sentence with the words from Figure 2 (C)]
From the perspective of a child, this statement can illustrate what the client wants or needs. Even though the client is now an adult, they may be searching for the same things they did when they were young, but they try to get it in a more adult way.