A Coaching Power Tool Created by Moraima Ferradas Reyes
(Life Coach, PERU)
It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power. Alan Cohen
According to the Oxford Dictionariesto accept is to believe or come to recognize (an opinion, explanation, etc.) as valid or correct or even to tolerate or submit to (something unpleasant or undesired). On the other hand, to embrace is to accept (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.
To accept and to embrace are like two ends of the same continuum. They are alike but very different at the same time. One side disempowering and the other one very empowering.They differ in the eagerness with which one receives or takes things. We can choose in which side we want to live.
Life is change. Every single day is different from the one before. In every area of our life there is always change. Some changes are small, sometimes we may not even notice them; some others are quite big and maybe very scary. Some may come by surprise and some others may be expected. Some of them are actively generated by us, some just happen. The only sure thing is that there is always something changing, for better or for worse.
When faced with change we have several options. We can fight it, tolerate it, accept it or embrace it. Change is always hard, as human beings; we tend not to like it, to resist it. It takes us out of our comfort zone, and obliges us to adapt. But what if we reframe our perspective and instead of seeing change as something to be afraid of we started seeing it as a whole world of opportunities? What if instead of just accepting change, we embraced it?
Let´s look at these case studies:
- We have Erika, born in Colombia, who recently married a German man and is currently living in Prague because of her husband´s job. She spends most of her time at home, connecting via internet with her friends and family in Colombia, especially during winter time when she feels it is too cold to go out. On warmer days she goes out for walks, she has made a point of going out every day at least for half an hour. She knows only one person in Prague, the wife of one of her husband´s colleagues. She enjoys spending time with her husband and getting to know the city with him during weekends, when he is not working. Her husband´s work requires him to travel quite often so she gets to spend a lot of time by herself. During these days alone, she goes out even less than usual and has no clear routine given that her daily schedule is pretty much tied up with her husband’s. Erika feels lonely. She feels no connection with her host country or the people living there.
- There is also the case of Angela. Angela has a degree in economics and works in a transnational company in the collections department. She hates her job. She is overqualified for her position but gets a nice paycheck at the end of the month. She knows that she doesn´t like what she is doing and that she would be happier quitting and doing something else. She really does not need the monthly paycheck and can afford to live without working for a year. Despite of these, she is afraid of taking action Her dream is to have a small business of her own, probably something related with food.
What do Erika and Angela have in common? Are they embracing life? Are they living their life to its fullest?
Both cases are different but in both cases we can see some similarities as well. In Erika´s case, change has already happened, she is already living a new situation where she needs to adapt. On the other hand, Angela is pretty much in her comfort zone, afraid of taking action and generate change, scared of the consequences of making a decision that would bring her closer to her truth. Both of them would love to be happier, they would love to enjoy their lives, they want to embrace it. Erika would love to take advantage of her new city and of all the opportunities that being an expatriate in a wonderful city brings. Angela would love to have the courage to quit and take the first steps that would take her closer to her dream life, she wants to generate change in her life, and she wants to do this enthusiastically.
How can we as coaches, help Erika and Angela reframe their perspective and move from acceptance to embracement?
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch
How many times have we faced change and panicked? Actually, how many time have we panicked only by thinking of change, of just the possibility of change happening? Maybe an unexpected (and good) job offer for ourselves or our partner? Maybe an idea that comes to our mind and that we know we love but would imply to reorganize our lives? Or a (wanted) pregnancy? Even a promotion or an invitation to a social event with people we have never met before? Even if we don´t really panic, how many times we just tolerate change instead of welcoming it or even creating it gladly and with lots of excitement?
A good way to start reflecting on change and life and the possibility to embrace it is to think about previous times when stepping out of our comfort zone has brought good things to our lives, to realize that the most amazing, challenging things, those that made us happier in the long (or short) run have usually happened when we stepped away from what the status quo was, when we even felt afraid.
Even bad changes can be observed under a different light. Those times when we feel fear or are shocked are usually a catalyst for challenge, for change. They push us and keep life interesting.
Some questions we can ask ourselves are:
- Visualize how our life will look several years after this change has happened. What are the opportunities that this change brought? How did this change make US as persons change?
- How can we take advantage of the current situation?
- How would we react to our story/situation if it was a friend who is telling us about it?
We can’t be afraid of change. You may feel very secure in the pond that you are in, but if you never venture out of it, you will never know that there is such a thing as an ocean, a sea. Holding onto something that is good for you now, may be the very reason why you don’t have something better.― C. JoyBell C.
The coaching process is the perfect place to support our clients in analyzing their life, their current situation, the underlying beliefs that are stopping them from embracing life, from living the life they want to live. From creating action and change, from enjoying and actually feel thankful of thechange that is always happening.
It is also the most suitable place to analyse what purpose does acceptance serve for our clients –if it serves any. This analysis may bring them to realize that accepting is the most empowering they can have for certain situations (for example for those they can not change because they are beyond their control), as it is already more empowering than just tolerating. Gaining awareness of this is also a step forward in our clients’ journey to their personal truth, is also empowering in itself.
Some questions we can ask our clients facing a situation of change or those clients who are afraid to move forward and takeaction or to support a change of perspective are:
- What can you learn from the new situation?
- What opportunities lie before you?
- How do you see your personal growth after this experience? If a similar situation happened in the future, how would you deal with it then?
- How is your self-confidence muscle feeling these days?
- What’s next?
- What are you better at after/because of this situation?
- If you were a turist in this country (host country), what are the things you would appreciate the most? What would your attitude towards the country be? What would you be enjoying themost? What would you tell your friends about if you were asked about it?
- How would you talk about this experience/situation 5/10 years from now?
These questions aim to show the client that change is always an opportunity for growth, that accepting it and reframing their perspective allows them to take ownership of the situation, of the actions they take and decisions theymake.
Also, there are some excercises that could be helpful, like making a list of the advantages and opportunities the change or new situation is bringing or even making an action plan on how to take better advantage of the new circumstance/posible change, etc.
Coming back to our case studies, these are two sample approaches with potential desirable outcomes:
- With Erika, we focused on the reasons why she felt lonely. We asked her about what she thought she could do to make her situation better, on what are the things that -now that she has plenty of time in her hands- she could do to fill up her day and build a new life for herself. After some reflection, she decided to do a list of Associations and/or organizations that brought expatriates together; she also found a group of Latin-American women in the city. She made a list of things that she had always wanted to do and had not done. After some weeks, she had gone to the monthly/weekly get together organized but two of these organizations and had even volunteered to be organize some events for one of these clubs. She started taking classes of Czech and joined a Health Club. She now has a circle of friends she enjoys spending time with and has built a nice support network. The event organization is keeping her busy and has allowed her to discover many new things about the city and do some networking. She is feeling happy, starting to see Prague as her new home. She still wants to meet more locals but knows it may take some time.
- In Angela´s case, we focused on building her confidence and exploring what she would really like to do. We used visualizations techniques to let her imagine her dream job, her dream life or just her dream day. We did some Life Purpose and Values exercise to support her in connecting with herself to find what she really wanted. She also did a list of her strengths and weakness and of all her achievements in order to see for herself that she is capable of great things. Today Angela is no longer working in the positions she hated, she quit to look for a job she did like. She now knows that in some years, she wants to own and run a coffee shop and she has already signed up for a barista Meanwhile, she is looking for a job in a non-profit organization and travelling.
Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.― Eckhart Tolle
- Make a list of those things that you have always wanted to do and never did for whatever reason. Is any of them more achievable after this change has happened (or after you make it happen)?
- Make a list of people than can support you in dealing with this new/potentially new situation.
- Make a list of things that you could do to feel better about the change.
- Make a list of previous experience when change has had a positive impact on your life and write down how you delat with it and how you felt after it.
- What structures could you put in place to make the adaptation process smoother?
- How can you better support your client in its journey toward embracing life?