A Coaching Power Tool By Beth Ostrander, Life Coach, CANADA
When confronted with a big decision, you generally take time to evaluate it. If a sense of doubt creeps in, you may ask yourself some tough questions. “Do I want this? Am I lowering my standards? Am I doing this out of obligation? Will this make me happy?”
After the “pros and cons” list is done, conversations with trusted friends are complete, and all decision-making analysis is finished, you are left only to make the decision. Will you Settle or will you Select? What is the difference?
There is a subtle difference between Settling vs. Selecting. Oxford Dictionary distinguishes between the two as follows. Settling means “making a decision”1 while Selecting means“making a careful decision”.2Albeit slight, this difference has a profound impact on how you experience life once your decision is made. The impact may not be felt right away, but over time, your decisions, big and small, add up. If most of your choices are made from a state of Settling, you will experience a sense of dissatisfaction. As a Life Pleasure Coach, I see the impact of Settling regularly, as clients show up wanting more satisfaction and genuine fulfillment in their life.
Settling energy stems from unexamined beliefs about authentic pleasure.
The word “pleasure” conjures up varied responses. As a taboo topic, pleasure is often a blind spot for people. Even though pleasure is used extensively in marketing campaigns, it is often left unexamined in our individual lives. When pleasure does come up in conversation, people often talk about it at a surface level. You have likely heard someone share how they enjoyed a favorite dessert or binged on Netflix with both a sense of pleasure and a sense of guilt.
Philosophers and religious leaders have pondered pleasure over the years. Without diving deeply into the various ideologies, let’s look at a few for context. Hedonism and Stoicismare two prominent philosophies that address pleasure. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the basic premise of Hedonism is that “pleasure is the most important thing in life”.3Stoicism, teaches that “the wise [person] should be free from passion, unmoved by joy or grief”.4
Religious doctrines have grappled with pleasure and in some cases, religious dogma has instilled a sense of shame around the topic. In modern psychology, pleasure has been explored within the science of Happiness, Subjective Well Being and Positivity. Martin Seligman, a pioneer in Positive Psychology, lists pleasure as one of the scientifically proven ways that individuals can increase their happiness.5
When you are in a state of Settling, your unexamined beliefs around pleasure limit you from choosing your heart’s desire. The power tool of Settling vs. Selecting will help you recognize the Settling mindset, show you how to shift into the Selecting mindset, and provide practical ways to examine authentic pleasure so you can align your choices and actions to your authentic self.
Settling vs. Selecting Explanation
State of Settling
A settling mindset shows up when you have not determined what you truly desire. Given the taboo nature of desire and pleasure, you may not be at ease considering what you truly want. Children start tuned into their inner wisdom about delight, creativity, and pleasure.
Pleasure provides the motivation and energy for the creative process which in turn increases the pleasure and joy of living. Alexander Lowen, MD6
Over time, with conditioning and trauma children grow into adults who begin to second guess their pleasure. An inner dialogue develops that goes something like this: “I can’t have that. I shouldn’t want that. I won’t get that.” As a result of losing touch with authentic pleasure, you may not notice when you are in a state of Settling. Here are a few perspectives that can cultivate a state of Settling without noticing.
- The perspective of Risk Management: When you evaluate things through the lens of risk management, you can fall into a Settling mindset to avoid risk. For example, if you work in a highly competitive work environment, succeeding might risk resentment from a colleague and cause a damaged relationship. You may Settle to avoid this risk.
- The perspective of Managing Expectations: Another way of seeing things that encourages a Settling mindset is a focus to manage perceived or real expectations of others. For example, you are visiting a family friend, and you are handed a hot tea with extra sugar. You don’t eat sugar because of your health, yet you Settle so as not to offend a family friend.
- The perspective of Moral Obligation: There is a perspective that can have you fall into Settling out a sense of obligation to moral beliefs. Like all children, you have been conditioned with a set of moral beliefs, either overtly or subconsciously. Any morals that have not yet been examined and aligned to your authentic self can have you fall into the state of Settling. For example, a client was furnishing an apartment because he recently separated from his wife. As he was choosing what to buy, he was grappling with “making do”, a moral principle that was deeply ingrained from childhood. Since he chose to make do with as little as he could without aligning his environment to his authentic self, he did not enjoy returning to his new home at the end of the day.
Recognizing the State of Settling
The above examples may help you recognize when you have fallen into a state of Settling without noticing. Another way you can recognize the Settling mindset is to notice your sensations. The following are indicators that exist when in a state of Settling:
- Empty Sensation – enjoyment not as expected; not fulfilling or nourishing
- Fleeting Sensation – the enjoyment of something that isn’t lasting/sustainable
- Numb/Depressed – lack of sensations; limited hope
- Obsessive/ Addictive Sensation: chasing sensations; discomfort with a void/silence
- Exhaustion – sudden drop in energy level; prolonged tiredness
State of Selecting
Once you can recognize when you are in a state of Selecting, you will be happy to know that sometimes you can experience the state of Selecting without any effort. As you did when you were a child, in certain circumstances you can still tap into your inner wisdom and naturally align to your authentic self.
Recognize the State of Selecting
When you discover you are naturally in a Selecting mindset, you can use this to discover more about your authentic self. These sensations indicate you may be in a state of Selecting:
- A sense of deep satisfaction and nourishment on all levels – mind, body, soul
- A sense of being fully aligned to your authentic self
- A sense of both passion and being grounded at the same time
- A sense of energy and creativity from within
- A sense of curiosity, compassion, and wonderment
Shifting From Settling to Selecting:
For the times you cannot easily tune into your heart’s desire, the following will help you build your capacity for a Selecting mindset:
Making it a practice to notice which indicators show up regularly inform you about yourself. You can give yourself a reality check about how aligned and pleasurable each area of your life truly is. Due to the taboo nature of pleasure, we often allow the absence of authentic pleasure to go unnoticed.
Aligning to Your Authentic Pleasure:
By aligning each moment of your life to these following three elements you can tune back into your inner wisdom about joy, delight, creativity, and pleasure.
Be your authentic self. Your authentic self is who you are when you have no fear of judgment, or before the world starts pushing you around and telling you who you’re supposed to be. Your fictional self is who you are when you have a social mask on to please everyone else. Permit yourself to be your authentic self. Phil McGraw
- Core Values – what you live for and would fight for
Different from Core Beliefs, Core Values do not change. You start with your Core Values right from the start. You can see that children have their own set of Core Values and if you assist them, they can gain clarity as they grow up. Getting clear on what is important to you at your core helps you to make decisions from a state of Selecting.
- Core Way of Being – how you are “being” when at ease and most true with to yourself
Your Core Way of being is not how people perceive you. The easiest way to understand the Core Way of Being is to imagine the following. Imagine you were born into the world fully mature and grown. You had no impact from life, no trauma, no conditioning. You are untainted, unscathed, and simply being you. This would be your Core Way of Being. When you are being this way, you might refer to it as your “sweet spot” or “zone of genius”. When you are being this way, you enjoy how you are being, and you are being the most beautiful version of yourself in the world.
- Pleasure Type – your core way of expressing and receiving love, joy, pleasure.
This element is least examined and may even cause triggers. This can create an opportunity to explore any unexamined beliefs that come to the surface.
2016 research coming out of Positive Psychology aimed to replicate the findings of the 2011 study by Giannopoulos and Vella-Brodrick. Both studies showed
that interventions based on pleasure, engagement, and meaning are effective in increasing well-being and ameliorating depressive symptoms across different cultural settings and for longer periods than expected4
By intentionally discovering what brings you authentic pleasure in every area of life, you will make choices that align with your authentic self.
As you begin shifting from the state of Settling to the state of Selecting, be compassionate with yourself as you find your footing. As we gain new self-awareness and shift how we operate in the world, we shift the dynamics in our relationships. This makes it very important to also practice compassion with those you are in a relationship with as they also find their footing in this new dynamic.
The power tool of Settling vs. Selecting illuminates the need to align your choices and actions to your authentic pleasure. By examining your heart’s desire and releasing any limiting pleasure beliefs you can connect with ease to your inner wisdom and your authentic self.
As you start to apply this power tool, you may discover you are in a state of Settling more often than you are in a state of Selecting. In my practice, I have noticed this to be the trend. Sadly, when you are in a Settling mindset, your full expression in the world is limited. The world is missing out on having your full expression and you are missing out on the enjoyment of being fully expressed. Whenever you wish, you can start to be more fully expressed. Enjoy beginning with the following practices to apply the power tool of Settling vs. Selecting.
Begin to practice noticing what indicators are present for you. One way to build this practice is to pause every time you brush your teeth or have a drink of water. Simply scan yourself for what sensations you are experiencing. This will build your awareness of when you are Settling and empower you to shift to a Selecting mindset.
Practice Aligning to Your Authentic Pleasure
Begin by clarifying the three key elements that allow you to cultivate authentic pleasure.
- Core Values – what you live for and would fight for
There are numerous core values exercises available on the internet. A great first step is to print off a list of core values and circle the top 20 words that stand out to you. A second step is to list 10 people in the world that you would love to spend an afternoon with. Write down three words to describe what you most enjoy and admire about each person. Combine all 50 words and pick your top ten. This is a starting point. From here you will continue the clarifying process to determine what you live for and would fight for.
- Core Way of Being – how you are “being” when feeling most at ease and true to yourself
Maria Nemeth created an exercise called Life’s Intentions that helps illuminate your Core Way of Being.
Your Life’s Intentions are the reflections of your inner self, and they offer you a clear map to the kinds of actions …that will bring you the most joy. Maria Nemeth7
The Life’s Intentions exercise outlined in Chapter Two of Maria Nemeth’s book: “Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment” is an excellent tool to begin uncovering your Core Way of Being – if you were to remove all the dust and debris of life that built up over time from conditioning, trauma or simply unexamined moments.
- Pleasure Type – your authentically enjoyable way of expressing and receiving pleasure
You can start exploring how you authentically enjoy expressing and receiving pleasure by using existing type systems such as Enneagram, Love languages, and Erotic BlueprintsTM. You may also enjoy doing pleasure audits on various aspects of your life. For example, doing a sleep audit could reveal when you most enjoy various activities. (Note: Love Languages and Erotic Blueprints zoom into specific realms, and this insight helps in all areas of life.)
Practice mindfulness and breathwork to cultivate compassion for yourself and others.
Assess Your Practice
You can begin by assessing your business core values as they may differ from your core values. As you operate the business side of your practice, notice what indicators show up for the Settling mindset and explore how you can shift into Selecting mindset by aligning to the three elements of authentic pleasure – core values, way of being, please type.
Assess Your Coaching
You can begin by noticing when indicators of the Settling mindset show up in your clients. When they do, curiously explore underlying beliefs around pleasure that might be limiting them. Watch for signs that indicate your client is in the state of Selecting and explore what is contributing to their pleasure at that moment. Reflect what you are witnessing to your client and assist your client to gain a deeper awareness of the three elements of authentic pleasure – core beliefs, core way of being, authentic pleasure type.
- What does the word “pleasure” conjure up for you?
- Recall a decision that you made in a state of Settling. What indicators were present?
- What decisions have you made from a state of Selecting? What indicators were present that let you know you were Selecting? What made it possible to be in this state?
- What area of your life might you be Settling in? What could change if you were to look at this area alongside the three elements of Authentic Pleasure – Core Values, Core Way of Being, Authentic Pleasure Type?
- What will become available if you align your Practice to the three elements of Authentic Pleasure – Core Values, Core Way of Being, Authentic Pleasure Type?
- How could your clients benefit if they felt safe to discuss pleasure and their heart’s desires as they work through whatever issue they bring to coaching?
Seligman, Martin E. P. “Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment”
Lowen, Alexander, “Pleasure: A Creative Approach to Life”
Fabian Gander, René T. Proyer and Willibald Ruch, “Addressing Pleasure, Engagement, Meaning, Positive Relationships, and Accomplishment Increase Well-Being and Ameliorate Depressive Symptoms: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Online Study” https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00686/full
Nemeth, Maria “Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial and Personal Fulfillment.”