A Coaching Power Tool Created by Donna Jackman Wilson
(Life Coach for Women, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO)
Empowerment maybe that sense of accomplishment you feel after having completed a task you set yourself; the satisfaction of having gotten through your daily workout or the sheer joy of achievement you feel when you have allowed yourself to think more positively about a situation because you have changed your way of thinking about the possible outcome.
Stagnation, on the other hand, is that sense of defeat that overpowers you because your expectation of a particular outcome was not met, or things did not turn out quite as you had hoped. With stagnation, there is a sense of cessation not being able to move forwards or backwards come to that, and this could be physically, emotionally or intellectually. My focus in this essay is on the emotional. How the mind and body go into a state of euphoria with empowerment or hysteria (def. extreme fear) with stagnation.
When we feel empowered, great things happen – our world is pleasant, people are supportive and the atmosphere is charged. Nothing is unattainable. We plan, our day, our week and our month and see it through to completion despite hiccups and setbacks. We are in charge of our life and who and how we are in the world. This, in turn, influences our relationships with others. If we are living in (our) integrity then we bring that to our relationships with others and the reaction of friends and family to the truth you bring is positive. With empowerment, we bring clarity and friendship and warmth and a judgment-free atmosphere. We have the power to bring joy and abundance into a room, an office, a party or our home. People enjoy our presence.
By the same token stagnation brings with its gloom, demotivation, inactivity and depression. I know of someone who felt it was not worth the effort to get out of bed many mornings after her shop was burgled twice in one week. The burglar entered through the roof of the shop and she just imagined him returning to the shop whilst she was there and doing her harm. She felt safer in bed and it took a lot of coaxing to get her to out, even after the roof was repaired and the burglar arrested before she felt safe again. Her fear paralyzed her and this is a clear example of how your power to live your everyday life can be taken away from you and leave you disempowered. One question she constantly asked herself was “why me?”.
In Dr Wayne Dyer’s book “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace” Dr Dyer references David Hawkins’ book entitled “Power vs Force” which speaks of your thoughts as either weakening or strengthening you and that you can use your mind to empower you (p.107). Dr Dyer notes that apathy thoughts make your weakest. He writes “They produce the emotions of blame and despair… (T)hey, are the thoughts that keep you from engaging in life… (A)pathy weakens you physically, emotionally and spiritually.” (p.110). Through the coaching process of reframing from negative thought processes to positive, the woman was able to empower herself through “what ifs” and choose to let go of her negative experience and take control of her life again.
When we choose empowerment over stagnation we give ourselves permission to live fully in each moment. We become self-aware and are able to savour our uniqueness in each experience as we interact with our family friends and the immediate environment. So if our train runs late or we become inconvenienced by the urgent needs of a stranger we are able to still be functional even if these circumstances put a huge dent in our plans for the day, they do not shut us down completely.
To be in a state of stagnation means that we are unable to see a way out of a present predicament, and to the unaware person, it is a safe place to be after any kind of trauma. It means no more exposure to bad or traumatic experiences. An unhealthy but safe place where they would not have to make an effort, or try anything new and therefore won’t experience success or failure. It is the easy option to take no action and therefore have no intentions and just cocoon oneself away from the world of thoughtless and/or thoughtful people and be accountable to no one, not even oneself.
Like any other passionless position, this can only serve us for a short period of time Stagnation can lead us to a point of lack of care about goals and values and to the loss of the very essence of being and therefore disempowerment. So how does one move from a point of apathy to one of interest and feeling? From a place of passivity to one of energy and fulfilment? From a place of hopelessness to one full of hope? We can do this by taking account of our feelings. It’s that simple. If we pay attention to the emotion that we are feeling at any moment then we can take steps to control the emotion. One way of doing this is by writing down the emotion. Additionally, it takes a belief and the courage to exercise that belief that you have the power to change a negative emotion to a less negative or a more positive one. We all have inner resources like our imagination for instance. We can use our imagination to remind us of a time in the past when we felt empowered and we can tap into the memory of that feeling of exhilaration or we can use our imagination to visualize a future free from whatever emotion is overpowering or stagnating us at the moment.
According to “The Work”, a dialogue technique developed by Byron Katie, we can ask ourselves four simple but liberating questions which can relieve us of the disempowerment that we feel. The trick is, to be honest with ourselves. I believe the most poignant of those four questions is “Who are you without this thought?” We are left to ask ourselves again and again – “how is this thought serving us?” The answer brings us back to the core of our being, our unique self, who we abandoned when we adopted the fearful thought that we no longer exist outside of the incident that affected us so intensely. As Byron Katie explains in her book – “Who Would You Be Without Your Story?” we are that unique being before we wake up in the morning and start to think our thoughts. We have the power to choose to be that “fearfully and wonderfully made” person or we can be that person our thoughts tell us we are. The wonderful thing is that we can change our automatic negative thoughts to positive empowering thoughts based on who our Creator says we are. The question remains – how do we shift our perspectives to a more dynamic and empowering element?
We each have the power to decide to change our way of thinking from limiting to empowering. We can do this by deciding from that point on to think differently perhaps laterally about where we are in our lives and we would like to be It begins with our thought patterns, our belief system, what would have got us to a point of stagnation and what prevents us from moving forward.
As we stay in that mode of enquiry thought follows thoughts and question follow the question. Is it true what we believe and who are we without those thoughts (“The Work”)?
Slowly and honestly, as we become more mindful ie at the moment we adopt a different outlook; a better outlook because our true self emerges – the empowered self.
- Explore with the client their new and expanded way of thinking about themselves;
- Explore with the client their new and expanded way of thinking of their situation;
- Engage with client’s own language, learning style and frame of reference.
Byron Katie – Book: “Who Would You Be Without Your Story”
Tara Brach – Video: “Why Mindfulness Works”
Dr Wayne Dyer – Book: “10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace”