A Coaching Power Tool Created by Neil Goodall
(Transformational Coach, AUSTRALIA)
Down through the ages human beings were, and still are, designed to have relationship with each other. Whether we like it or not it is an unavoidable reality that we need to be in relationship.
As we know this can be on many levels, from the superficial, to deep intimate oneness.
Depending on who we are and our life experience, we can form relationships with other people from one end of the spectrum to the other. Some people it seems are just easier to get to know and we may feel a connection straight away, yet others grow over time and are tested and strengthened through shared experience.
As human beings we are always seeking the ideal environment and yearning to build an atmosphere where our connections with others are nurtured and strengthened. In a work environment employers look for this ideal because it increases and generates shared vision and productivity.
In families there is the same desire for harmony and connection.
What is the main reason that inhibits the ability to form relationships that grow in depth and deeper connectedness?
It is the ability for people to feel safe and accepted in the interactions they have with others.
Over time walls can be erected in our thinking, in our emotions, and in our hearts, that stop us from allowing ourselves to be hurt any longer from wounds that others may intentionally or unintentionally inflict on us.
We may not even notice that in our interactions with others, that we become closed to letting people into areas of our hearts that have been hurt.
Dictionary.com defines closed as :
- having or forming a boundary or barrier
- brought to a close, concluded
- not public, restricted, exclusive
- not open to new ideas or arguments
- self-contained, independent, or self-sufficient
As we can see from the definitions of the word ‘closed’, we set up barriers that won’t let people into our world. We won’t expose areas of who we are for fear of being hurt or damaged again.
Independent or self-sufficient thinking takes over.
The opposite to this is vulnerability.
Depending on how long we have lived with closed types of thinking, it can be very difficult to allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others again. It can be a huge risk.
Dictionary.com defines vulnerable as :
- capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon
- open to moral attack, criticism, temptation, etc
- open to assault, difficult to defend
Why would we want to make ourselves vulnerable with others?
Well the only reason is that when we can be authentic and real with those around us, that we can build relationships that are truly vibrant and alive, that are enriching and life giving, not only for ourselves, but for those around us.
Author and speaker, Brene Brown, gives some wonderful insights into her journey of learning to be vulnerable. She also shares about the excruciating pain of being a person who is worthy of letting everyone see the real you.
Her life of controlling and measuring in every area of her life was torn down as she realised the only way for deep connection with others to occur was through vulnerability.
Being vulnerable is taking a huge risk and a risk that many are unwilling to take. It is saying to the person you are sharing with (depending on the level of sharing), “You have the potential ability to destroy me with what I have revealed to you”.
Recognising where we have closed ourselves off.
When we really take the time to look at specific areas of our lives, we can see where we may have closed off our ability to let people into certain areas of our lives.
In doing so we have created coping mechanisms in order to function in our lives.
Underlying beliefs about life and relationships do not allow us to reap the full benefits of deep intimate relationship.
Ultimately, what are we missing out on by living our lives in this way?
What does this mean for each one of us?
We have to pose some questions to ourselves, such as :
What we are doing in actual fact is short-changing ourselves from a fulfilling and rewarding life.
In order to reach our full potential we must take risks or we will remain in the same old holding patterns in our lives. When we can identify ways that we have closed ourselves off, we can then address them, reframe how we think, and move on.
Why is vulnerability so important?
In order to be able to move forward in a coaching context, it is essential that both the client and the coach achieve the ability to develop a relationship that allows vulnerability to grow. It may need to be more so on the client’s side, however either way both need to let each other be known, and into each other’s worlds.
The main aim of a coaching relationship is to facilitate the client’s ability to achieve the goals they desire and to grow into the life they are aspiring to live.
If areas of the client’s life remain closed to the coach, it may inhibit the coach’s ability to aid the client in progressing.
In the coaching relationship we can help the client identify specific instances where they have closed down, and by providing a safe place, allow them to address these areas.
Places where clients have lost the ability to connect with others and have diminished themselves, can be seen in the following examples:
In these few examples, we can see that these modes of behaviour and thinking have been put in place in order to cope and avoid getting hurt. But by working together with a coach, the joy and rewards of taking a risk again, can dispel these fears and their less-than-ideal modes of living, to create a life that is truly rewarding and rich with fulfillment.
- What does being vulnerable mean to you?
- Think about a time when you took the risk to be vulnerable with a safe person? How was your relationship after this?
- What ways can you develop relationships that allow people to feel safe?
- How would the world look if we could all be more authentic (vulnerable) with each other?
Brene Brown, (2012) Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Gotham Books, USA