A Coaching Power Tool created by Bianca Vlad
(Life Coach, ROMANIA)
Two of the disciplines that coaching draws from are Positive Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
From a Positive Psychology standpoint, coaches shift attention from what drives pain to what energizes and moves people into action. The positive psychology framework suggests that a language of strength and vision rather than weakness and pain is the foundation of the coaching conversation. Thus, coaches pay attention to how clients can use their existing strengths to identify their vision of what they want and turn it into reality. Also, the coach will balance the client’s agenda with a larger view of fulfillment that keeps an awareness of the alignment of the client’s vision and values. Positive psychology doesn’t pretend all people are examples of happiness and equilibrium; too much “positivity” can hurt as well, if it leads to overly optimistic expectations. Positive and negative emotions have different purposes in our lives. Negative ones tend to ensure survival by moving people into action when faced with life-and-death situations. In such a scenario, the individual needs to focus on the problem that must be dealt with quickly. Hence, while negative emotions serve to quickly negotiate critical challenges, positive emotions are interconnected with the competences that are required most of the time in our lives. Positive emotions boost other psychological functions, like empowering individuals to open up their focus of attention and see the bigger picture. So, the positive emotions are at the core of psychological flourishing and research shows that they have a significant impact on increasing intuition and creativity and widening scope of attention. They increase our capacity to use different (social, cognitive, and affective) resources. People also assume that happiness is a response to what happens in life, such as getting a great job or finding a life partner. While obviously big events do have an impact, over time, people tend to return to their preexisting level of happiness (or unhappiness), leveling off after joy and rising up after sorrow. So external factors are not the key to understanding variation in a person’s happiness, but the internal ones are. In other words, it isn’t what happens to people; it’s how they construct and interpret external events, in other words – their thoughts around it. It is clear by now the impact of positive feelings on people’s behavior – but what is the role of the thoughts behind them?
This is where Cognitive Behavioral Therapy comes into the picture, as CBT’s essential principle states that the way we act is a result of the way we feel, which is in turn, a result of the way we think / interpret a particular situation. Some of the coaching concepts like underlying beliefs, reframing perspective, visualization come from the same school of thought as CBT. It is important to remember that our beliefs are thoughts and ideas that are no longer questioned. Our thoughts influence our feelings and moods, which impact the way we react to different situations. Our thoughts, actions or expectations are a result of our beliefs. So, if our beliefs (and thereby our thoughts) are limiting and negative, particularly about ourselves, we need to be able to challenge these. As difficult as it may seem, we absolutely have control over what we believe and therefore what we think and how we behave or react.
These beliefs are constructed over time, as a result of numerous interactions with parents, teachers, colleagues and friends, society as a whole. They are so profound and old, that the person is not even aware of them most of the time. Hence, the person doesn’t necessarily consider them as beliefs, but they become reality. Example of such beliefs: “life is a fight”, “I’m not good enough”, “I need to behave in a good manner with people around me, no matter what I feel”. These beliefs will reflect in a person’s behavior and will impact the way others will treat and respond to that person. And that’s because these beliefs tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies (“self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a false definition of the situation evoking a new behavior which makes the original false conception come ‘true’. This specious validity of the self-fulfilling prophecy perpetuates a reign of error. For the prophet will cite the actual course of events as proof that he was right from the very beginning” – Wikipedia). These underlying beliefs are also connected with the self-esteem, because many of them are founded on the idea that a person’s value depends on external facts (social status, wealth, success, appreciation from people, results, etc). The clients experience lightness (vs significance) in the moment they become aware of the intrinsic value of a human being, value given by the simple fact that the person exists.