A Coaching Power Tool Created by Dmitry Kondratyev
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
It has been said that Love and Fear are two very powerful emotions. It has also been said that Love and Fear are the underlying motives that explain out thoughts and actions. Though it may not seem obvious to you, please be patient with me as I take you on a journey to further explore each emotion. Each has its place and limitations. Versus, used in the name of Power Tool here means “as compared to”, not “against”. Love vs. Fear = Love as compared to Fear.
I need you to be fully present while you are reading this. This is not an exercise in logic found in a research paper. The goal is not exhibit a linear thinking where I am going to argue a certain point, and based on that, argue another, and come up with a logical conclusion. The content, on the very basic, intuitive level, will either resonate with you, or it won’t. Either way, I thank you for reading this “cover to cover” in one setting.
You just woke up. As you run through the list of activities for today, slow down; try to check your emotions with each activity. How do they make you feel? Are you looking forward to that meeting, phone call, or running that chore? Don’t rationalize yet, just stay in an observation mode and tell me how do the activities make you feel?
Perhaps there were some activities that brought about more positive emotions than the others. Now, sort the activities out in two basic categories: “looking forward to” and “not looking forward to”. As you sorting, I really need you to turn your rationalizations of “why” and “how”, and the like. Don’t weight them out by time they take or their significance. Done? Now count items in each category. Which one is larger?
Run an emotional scan before falling asleep. In what kind of mood are you? How does your mood tie with the activities you have planned for this morning? Are you running tapes of conversations from earlier in the day wishing you have said something different? Why? In your answer, check for one that aligns with a loss or potential loss of money, power, significance, self-esteem. Now check with activities that brought about joy, laughter, happiness and made you wish that time would just stop so you can stay in that moment forever. Was it today, yesterday, a week ago?
The two exercises above have asked you to intuitively draw out positive and negative emotions as you go about your business during your day and to see which one is a predominate one. As you further examine each activity that brought about positive emotions, once you get all the way to the bottom, they can be explained by a simple expression that looks like this: “I love noun or gerund” (i.e. “I love pizza” or “I love biking”), or “I love verb noun” (i.e. “I love to take pictures”). For the negative emotions, if you look harder and dig deeper, you will find an underlying fear in what motivates you to take on the action. For example, you may be looking forward to visiting your dentist because “I love my beautiful smile”, or not, because “I am afraid it is going to hurt”. On the way to work you may think “I love my job” or “I am afraid to lose my job because I won’t be able to pay my bills”. Next, let’s talk about background of Fear and Love and their motivational roles in our lives.
Fear gets a bad rep. Oxford Dictionary defines Fear as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
The synonyms of the word are nothing but bad news: angst, anxiety, concern, despair, dismay, doubt, dread, horror, jitters, panic, scare, suspicion, terror, unease, worry.
However, Fear is important to understand.
Let’s look at the evolution of a mankind. When you look at the picture below, try to imagine day to day life of our ancestors. Try to imagine what they had to do to survive. What drove these actions?
To put the life of cavemen in perspective of the pyramid, I am going to ask a few questions. Didn’t the cavemen spend most of their days running around looking for food, water and fire, as well as guarding the entrance to the cave around the clock to protect women and children from wild animals? What was the emotional experience of women and children back then during bad weather, when they had to face destructive forces of nature with very little means for warm shelter? Therefore, I believe that Fear’s place is in the bottom two “floors” of the pyramid. As negative of emotion the fear may be, it forced advancement for survival, for safety. Fear was needed to preserve Life. However, Fear has one big limitation, it does not create Life.
Fast forwarding to 21st century we can see how our lives have changed. Accessibility to food, shelter, and employment are now in abundance. While the wealth is not divided equally, it is safe to assume that the basic necessities are provided for given the socioeconomic class within which the coaches and the clients will cross their paths. Let’s take a moment to reflect on that fact with some gratitude…
Some of what we fear in the 21st century has higher degree or probability of actually materializing than some other fears. Those other fears may be our interpretations, biases, and other negative beliefs we hold true, regardless of how real or likely to happen they may be. For example, fear of losing one’s job as result of giving honest feedback to one’s boss, based on my personal experience and reading specific literature has a very low degree of probability. Therefore, any fears that are rationalized as opposed to a product of psychological conditions, such as phobias, could present as great coaching opportunity.
Merriam-Webster dictionary has at least ten definitions of Love. Not all of them will serve the purpose of this Power Tool. Therefore, the following list will bring into focus certain aspects of Love that will be compared to Fear.
- Self-Love, as evidenced by self-management and confidence. Not to be confused with “Ego” – based nouns like Egoist and “Ego” – type adjectives.
- Strong attraction to certain objects, ideas, and activities.
- Thinking about something that brings about higher level of happiness, satisfaction, and significance.
- Doing something that brings about higher level of happiness, satisfaction, and significance.
The last two aspects of Love, Thinking and Doing, often times involve a creative process and manifest in actions like meditation (creative thinking). Expressing ideas through arts or music (or learning how to) are the examples of creative doing. Now, take a look at the top of the Maslow Pyramid. Any similarities with the aspect of Love above?
Exercise: imagine yourself doing something you are good at and where you need to use your imagination. For example, drawing, or coming up with activities to entertain your guests. It may be helping a child to color in a book, or helping your best friend with music selection or a flower arrangement for an upcoming wedding. See yourself in that moment. How does it make you feel? When you hear a child laughing, or see your best friend smiling, right in that moment is there any traces of Fear present?
What you just felt could be described by happy feelings. If so, Love also brings about happiness. Happiness is the point at which Creative Thinking or Doing and Love are connected. Happiness serves a Client well, doesn’t it?
Another importance of Creative Thinking or Doing is that it often leads to Improvement or Learning. This leads to improved Confidence and Self-Management. The more we know and have, the more we can share with others. This simple wisdom is true to many aspects of every day love.
- Would you seek and advice from someone who is not an expert?
- Would you be successful in borrowing money from someone who simply does not have them, no matter how attractive are the terms?
- Will you be happy standing, no matter for how long, next to an unhappy person?
- Will the think a person, without any evidence of self- love, regard and respect, will have enough love, regard and respect to share with you, even if intent is there?
The first three questions above are to demonstrate the logical connection with the last question. We cannot share what we don’t have. The last question shows the importance of certain aspects of Love. They service both our Clients and people around our Clients.
Most likely our Clients will not have to worry about their basic needs being met. Most of them will have gainful employment, and, therefore, will have places to live and means to put the food on the table. However, they will have either a first-hand experience or will know someone close that has experienced a loss employment, health, or even life. These losses, especially when experienced during development years of Client’s lives, tend to leave emotional scars that later may manifest in fears that might have nothing to do with their everyday realities. These Clients might be successful professionals with impressive resumes working in corner offices with views overlooking downtowns of the largest cities worldwide. Yet, the Clients may feel unhappy, unsatisfied with their lives, or that there is something that stops them to get to the next level of their carrier. Therefore, Love vs Fear could be used in both, Life – and Carrier Coaching.
- Through Active Listening and Powerful Questioning Coach helps the Client formulate not just an issue at hand, but the roots of the problem.
- Most Clients may come to conclusion that their actions, or inactions, or perspectives, or wisdoms are rooted in avoidance of mistakes. Avoidance of mistakes closely relates to Fear of failure, Fear of loss of status, loss of employment, and everything else that might go along with that. The actual threat could be far from reality, but for the Client’s conviction that there is no room for error will make the Fear real.
- Coach asks the Client to create a place (by using Visualization or Imagination) that will induce the happy feeling, warmth, Love. Let the Client verbalize the attributes of that place in great details. This place becomes a Vision.
- Coach then holds that Vision for the Client as the ultimate goal.
- There must be a way to build the bridge between Client’s fearful day to day reality and the desired future reality where fear still exist, but in far less quantities (remember, fear has its place) and the creative thinking process, fueled by Love for the desired outcome, starts taking place.
- At first, the measurement of the Love vs Fear balance will be sudden changes in Clients overall emotional well-being. The next step will be to move these intangible changes into reality through specific, agreed upon actions. The important aspects of these actions will be the motives. These motives will no longer just Fear-related.
- Given time and under Coach’s close supervision, the Client develops self-awareness of his or her motives for actions and starts developing a more positive thought process and actions that lead to fulfilling the Vision that was once created with the help of and held by Coach.
Both Fear and Love are important and have their places. It is a correct balance, unique for each individual that we, as Coaches, are after. Happiness also has its limits within a healthy psyche. Therefore, though Clients’ feedback we can monitor the level of happiness and coach accordingly.
- Can you think of the situation in your personal or professional life where you successfully overcame a major obstacle? Can you describe what changes you have made that have helped you along the way? Were certain attributes of Love and / or Fear involved?
- In your day to day life, be consciously aware of you activities and think what drives them. Love or Fear?
- Pay attention to the way people speak, their word choice, the way information is presented in mass media, the way a product is sold via TV commercial. Is that a sale by Fear or Love or by “from Fear to Love” message?
- Think about your favorite movies. What is the underlying story in terms of Fear vs. Love?
- How can you have both expressions like “For the Love of God” and “Fear of God”?
- Why creative, filled with Love-for-the-mankind processes that have led to great discoveries were later turned into weaponry of various kinds? Was there a Fear involved?
- When you read latest articles on different styles of leadership (i.e. leading by fear vs by creating leaders) or personal and career changes and developments (i.e. Love what you do, do what you
Additional food for thought/ Coach’s Playground
It might be fun to “flip” to motive from Fearful to Loving. For example: “I am going to work because I’ve got to pay my mortgage / rent” While it is true, the expression contains a causality that most will interpret as “ the absenteeism will result in a loss of job, and, therefore, a reduced ability to pay rent.” This threat to lose a place to live goes back to “floor two” of Maslow’s Pyramid. A “flip” may sound like “I Love my job!” While it may be insincere, if said enough times, may leave one with a laughter, a subconscious realization that she or he is the one who is ultimately responsible with job / career development. Below are some Love vs Fear bits from Tiny Buddha blog.
LOVE IS UNCONDITIONAL. FEAR IS CONDITIONAL.
LOVE RELEASES. FEAR OBLIGATES.
LOVE SURRENDERS. FEAR BINDS
LOVE IS HONEST. FEAR IS DECEITFUL
LOVE TRUSTS. FEAR SUSPECTS
LOVE ALLOWS. FEAR DICTAES
LOVE GIVES. FEAR RESISTS
LOVE CHOOSES. FEAR AVOIDS
LOVE IS KIND. FEAR IS ANGRY
LOVE HEALS. FEAR HURTS
LOVE INSPIRES. FEAR WORRIES
LOVE IS PATIENT. FEAR IS NERVOUS
How Love vs Fear may resonate with other power tools studied at ICA
Oxford Dictionary (online)
Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online)
Tiny Buddha Blog