A Coaching Power Tool created by Ana Davičo
(Life Coaching, SERBIA)
From manipulating reality for support to relying on own support: This process is called maturation.
The greatest value of power tools and reframing is not so much in the confrontation of two opposing perspectives – one seen as disempowering and other empowering – as it is in enriching our mental repertoire with the idea that there is another perspective, that there is a choice.
The awareness of choice is galvanizing: It’s kerosene for change.
There is no perspective which is absolutely good or absolutely bad: Each and every one can be used and abused. We’re working with the premise that the client is willing, ready and able to develop the awareness of the “dual nature” of his learned perspective, and to be able to know when it is working for him – and stick to it, and when it is hurting his wellbeing – and let go.
This power tool does this by interpolating a second perspective, after introducing the idea of a bad and a good side of each perspective. So, you could say that my dichotomy is really a trichotomy: (Unhealthy) Dependence versus Maturity and (Healthy) Dependence.
Definition of terms
Dependence here means occasional and situational reliance on others to “make us happy”[i]. This is a tendency to hang on others the responsibility for our personal happiness, peace of mind, responsibilities, core values, crucial choices, understanding and agreement of who you are – instead of embracing it ourselves. By contrast, maturity is understood as relying on own support for things that are important to us in life. It is a quality associated with adulthood and independence. It is the ability to relate to one’s self, others and the world – from an adult perspective.
Dependence can also be defined as lack of self-confidence. People who have dependence issues often struggle with self-confidence and their self-image is largely affected by others. Being mature also means having more self-confidence.
Maturity is the state of psychological health in which the client sees the world as it is in the here and now. He is not reacting to people and situations as he used to as a child (in an old fashion), but in a way that best serves him now as a grown person. It is associated with adulthood.
Maturity is the desired position here. However, this is not the maturity which turns the client into someone who is “wedded to his independence” and struggling to ask for support or refusing to ask for help when he really needs it. Rather, it’s the ability to know where the boundaries between self-reliance and healthy dependence on others are. We are all seeking the approval of others, closeness and intimacy, and they are important element of our health and wellbeing.
Setting the boundaries helps us to understand our limits, live within them and teach others to accept them. They also help us to understand that neither of these two positions exclude one another and that they can peacefully coexist.
Of course, this is not about converting the client to maturity in a few weeks or months of coaching. But certain things can be brought to awareness and certain skills for building independence and self-confidence learned. With practice, they will remain fixed in the client’s behavior.[ii]
This power tool is designed to give the client more access to the adult in him. It is addressing the client’s cooperative, healthy, mature parts, and his capability to change.
Adult is independent, child is dependent. The client is letting his Child take over in certain situations. The goal of the coaching process therefore is to strengthen the client’s Adult and help him take over the client’s Child who is pushing him back to dependence.
The coach is working with the premise that the client’s dependence is:
- Learned, most probably a long time ago, in childhood;
- It is a coping strategy enabling the client to deal with certain situations, an old problem-solving style, most often not effective and lacking long-term solutions;
- There’s a gain involved: the client is benefiting from his occasional dependence;
- It can be unlearned and replaced by a more functional behavior;
Awareness is the main facilitator in this process. We are looking to identify the underlying beliefs and thinking distortions. Once they are discovered, the client can think about them and use certain strategies to make them an integral part of his behavior.
The phases of this process may be as follows:
- Identify and describe situations in which the client typically resorts to dependent behaviors
- Identify the underlying beliefs behind such behavior
- Introduce the concept of gaining from being dependent
- Introduce the Child/Adult dychotomy and apply it to client’s experience
- Explore the gains from being mature and independent
- Introduce the concept of boundaries and apply it to client’s experience
- Work on the client’s self-confidence
The client is encouraged to list situations in which he tends to resort to dependent behaviors. Together, you look for what’s common for all of them. Then, he is invited to identify situations in which he behaves in adult way, i.e. takes responsibility, and makes decisions autonomously. Again, the common denominators are identified.