A Coaching Power Tool Created by Angelica Palli
(Creativity Coach, GERMANY)
The power tool paralysis versus exploration was inspired by a session with a client. It can be a source of inspiration whenever we find ourselves blocked, unsure about how to proceed on the path to pursue our dreams, unable to take the smallest step in the direction we wish to go.
There is a strong inner critic within each of us. This voice can be so powerful as to block any attempt to move forward. It can be so judgmental and so strong to cause anxiety and lead us to complete paralysis. Sometimes, we know precisely in which direction we would like to move. However, this inner critic can put very clear limits to our expansion and growth. It is only by changing perspective and adopting a different mindset that the paralysis can be overcome. The change requires us to focus on exploration. But first, let’s dig deeper into the perspective of paralysis.
When we feel paralyzed, we let our inner critic take control. We allow our entire system (mental and body), to be flooded with fear, critiques, limiting beliefs. Although we have a wish to proceed, our entire system is working against us, therefore we start procrastinating, we get anxious, we lose confidence in ourselves. We try to force ourselves into action. We tell ourselves that we have to proceed and commit to doing one single easy step. Nonetheless, we cannot. The result is a vicious circle that is difficult to break: the more we want to proceed, the stronger gets the voice in our head, and the louder it shouts, until we get crippled by anxiety and negative thoughts, thus getting completely blocked. The system is paralyzed.
Paralysis can be associated with:
- Lack of energy: you’re waging a war inside your head
- Lack of confidence
- Feeling weak and vulnerable
- Self-deprecation: the inner critic gets stronger as you fail to proceed more and more Feeling sad and worthless
- Moving backward or in circles
- Getting stuck at the smallest obstacle
How do you break the vicious circle of paralysis? By allowing yourself to adopt a new perspective: exploration.
When we give ourselves the right to explore, we enter a different space: from judgment to lightness. Exploration implies being able to try, experiment, and play with whatever crosses our path. When we explore, we leave our inner critic aside, as if to say: “Relax! We are just playing around, this is not serious business!”.
When we explore, we give ourselves time, we are flexible, we allow curiosity and playfulness to lead us: judgment, critique, perfectionism, and fear have no place. There is no pressure to reach a goal and no shame in failure, as we are free. Our system is in perfect balance, we feel confident and relaxed. When we explore, we can move freely and in different directions, choosing spontaneously where we want to go and trusting our senses and our instinct: they will lead us where we most want to go.
Exploration can be associated with:
- High energy: I’m in a playful state
- Feeling strong and relaxed
- Feeling cheerful and adventurous
- Moving forward in complete freedom
- Feeling in control
- Trusting our senses and our instinct
- Obstacles are part of the way
Case study: Lia and her inner explorer
Lia has a degree in engineering, however, she has never worked within her field. She works in bars and cafés because she has always been too scared to send applications for engineering positions. Every time she tries, she gets paralyzed by the voices in her head. She procrastinates, beats herself up for not being able to move forward, and gets extremely anxious. Being a perfectionist, she cannot leave behind the feeling of “being late”: she should have sent the applications ages ago, by now, she should be a long time engineer. She feels she is wasting her time, she is useless and too lazy to get anything done.
During a session, we tried to get a different perspective. Lia started imagining a small explorer within her. A small, sparkling young boy, dressed in the classical khaki outfit, with a large hat on his head. Lias’s explorer is extremely curious, he enjoys exploring around and taking his time to do it. He has time, he is organized and sees obstacles as natural parts of the way. Lia realized that her explorer is still “hidden” within herself: he needs to grow and become more powerful. He needs to take more control of the situation for her strong inner critic to let the way free. She has decided to train the explorer with small steps and to imagine him sitting on her desk. She has chosen to give more space to play and less to obligations.
- What would the explorer do?
- How would he see this situation?
- What would he say/feel/do?
- How would he react?
- What first step would he take?
- How would he overcome this obstacle?
Whenever we get crippled by self-imposed HAVE TOs, we can try to change our perspective and ask ourselves how it would be if, instead of imposing things on ourselves, we could let our natural curiosity and playfulness guide us on a path to exploration.
- What could be an alternative perspective?
- What would happen if you were free to explore?
- What if this was a game? How would you proceed?
- What ignites your curiosity and desire to explore?
- What would you take with you on an adventure?
- Who would support you?
- What first action would you take if you were free to wander?