Research Paper By Hala Fayed
(Family and Life Coach, KUWAIT)
Introduction: The Story Behind the Name, Lighthouse (1):
On October 10, 1995, the U.S. Chief of Naval Operations released this transcript of a radio conversation between a U.S. Navy ship and a Canadian source off the coast of Newfoundland.
Navy: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collison.
Civilian: Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.
Navy: This is the Captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert your course.
Civilian: No. I say again, you divert your course.
Navy: This is the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise. We are a large warship of the U.S. Navy. Divert your course now!
Civilian: This is a lighthouse. Your call.
This is a fiction story. Some websites refer to it as a legend and some refer to it as a joke!
The moral of the story can be summarized in Glenn van Eckeren’s quotation:
when you know what your values are, making decisions becomes easier.
The lighthouse resembles a person who knows his values clearly and is not affected by the surroundings no matter how dangerous they might sound.
When I first heard it, a flow of questions came up to my mind: What is a value? What are “my” values? Am I living a value-based life, or, am I listening to the navy ship and constantly trying to change myself based on circumstances? What do I want in my life? And since my life passion is helping others, I simultaneously thought of how I can help others find answers to the same questions. That’s when I started the journey to explore how I can help myself and others to raise our self awareness in order to find balance and start enjoying our lives. When I learnt this, I decided to set a self-coaching plan to do so. That was the birth of Lighthouse Program.
Self Exploration Journey
This self exploration journey consists of a starting point then two exploration stations: Self, and the world around me.
The Starting Point:
Through coaching, I learnt and decided to teach others how to go on a self exploration journey in order to enjoy a self-fulfilling life: To start a successful journey, there are three conditions: first, willingness to change; second setting a clear intention on why change? Third, commitment to stay on track till the end. Also, we have to continuously test our beliefs to see if they serve us in this journey or they are our own obstacles towards living a self fulfilling life.
To answer the question ‘Why Change?’, Joseph Folkman said: “The problem is not that people can’t change. The problem is that they do not want to change badly enough” (2)
The First Station: Thoughts (what am I thinking?)
In my, T.E.A coaching Model (Figure 1), I stated that the status of our life is based on our thoughts, emotions, and actions (T.E.A), and I elaborated the link between the three aspects. Through my first 70+ sessions coaching others using the basics of this model, I came up with a conclusion that T.E.A. is not just a model, it’s is a comprehensive program that can transform lives into a better and more joyous ones.
Exploring one’s thoughts includes knowing who they are, their life values, passion and vision. Then exploring their goals, achievements, and potentials (G.A.P lists). Also, thoughts include ground knowledge about the human basic needs and awareness about perception and beliefs.
The first few coaching sessions were exploring self. “Who am I?” Am I aware of all my traits, strengths, weaknesses, etc.? I do that in a Self Awareness exercise where I told the clients to write down at least 50 of their personal qualities and traits (both negative and positive). I helped them with a sample list to choose from. If they have qualities that are opposite to the ones in the list I gave, they can write those opposites down. The purpose of that exercise was to let them know as much as they can about themselves, before we dig deeper. Next, they cross out 30% of those traits and qualities. Explaining that in a journey, you need to have as much light luggage as possible. Logically, the client would tend to cross the negative ones first. The next step was to cross 30 more per cent (of the original number), then cross out the last 30%. This will leave the client with only 10% of who they think they are.
Then, The client answers a lot of self-exploration questions such as:
- Consider the qualities you got rid of FIRST. What percent of your time do you spend on these
- What about the qualities you’re left with? What percent of time do you spend on these?
At the end of every exercise/session, I always ask my client my golden question: “What do you want to do with what you have learnt right now?”, and tell them to write their intentions/plans down.
Next, is exploring life values and balance, where I ask the clients to identify their values, then rate their satisfaction on each value. To help them, I ask: What makes your life valuable? What makes you happy in your life? What are the things that you cannot live your life without?
I ask them to choose the most important 8 values, to put it down on the Wheel of Life Exercise to identify life values and pinpoint where the imbalance is coming from.
The next step of the same exercise is to identify the client’s perception on each value. Are they positive or negative? For example: if my top value is family, and my perception of family is negative such as: I am divorced or am still single, or I don’t have a husband or don’t have children. Then this perception does not serve me. On the other hand, if my top value is family and my perception of family is positive, i.e. I am blessed to have a family, whether with kids or without, whether I am single or not. I would enjoy my relationships with my parents and siblings and their children. The reader can imagine the impact of perception on their life.
Life Passion is a very important milestone in this journey, because it is a tool that helps us enjoy life, be experts in what we do, and helps us in making decisions. Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop said: “to succeed, you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality.” (3)
From experience, questions are one of the basic tools to know your life passion. For example:
- Visit your childhood: What did you love to do? What were you praised for?
- At present: What do you love to do? i.e. something that when you do, you will not feel how time passes, What are you good at doing? (you can ask people for feedback)
- List the people who are/were where you want to be?
- List all your roles in life:which role do you enjoy the most?
More questions are given to the client in the coaching session.
Once life passion is known, the next step is to set a life vision. A vision is where you see your self in future? What do you want to see yourself doing? What are your goals and what’s your strategy to achieve them?.
The G.A.P. Lists
A very important exercise in this journey is setting the G.A.P. lists: your goals, achievements, and potentials, which I learnt from Dr. Basheer Al-Rasheedi. A lot of my clients found it really difficult to come up with at least 10 points in each list. I explained to them that Goals should include long term and short term goals. Because living without goals causes a lot of frustration and depression. People who don’t have goals to work on often feel that life is boring and there is nothing exciting to do.
The next list is achievements, which is what the client sees as achievement. It does not have to be something huge.
Last is the list of potentials, internal: such as your strengths, positive traits, job, etc, and external: such as your family, friends, money, the country you are living in, etc..
Having these three lists always with you and referring to them all the time makes a big difference in your life and helps you in gaining focus when you are overwhelmed.
Then I explain to the client my favorite Human Basic Needs theory, Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs (figure 2) because it explains a lot of our behaviors:
Dr Basheer Al-Rasheedi said in his book: Choice Theory and its Applications in Psychology that every behavior that humans do fulfills one of the basic needs (4). Even negative behavior, it is a self defense technique.
In addition, I personally believe that every human being has his own perception and mental image about each of these needs.
What plays a big role in our level of happiness and contentedness is our perceptions and self-talk. What do we say about life, about each of these needs, about all aspects of our lives? It’s a perfect system (figure 3):
The Second Station: Emotions
So, what is the relation between what my thoughts are and how I feel? Why do I feel like that?
Our thoughts are the drive of all our emotions. So, when we feel down, it is essential to understand that it is the thought behind my feeling that is causing me to feel that way. In some exceptional cases, there are medical conditions that need certain medications to solve this problem.
Let’s take a very crucial example that affects almost everybody: Self Esteem. Why do some people have high self esteem whereas some others don’t?
Self Esteem is basically the way we look at ourselves physically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. The level of self esteem depends mainly on the personal self-talk. What am I saying to myself about these aspects? Is it true? And with low self esteem, how can my self talk boost up my self esteem?
A quick exercise I give to my clients is to rate (out of ten) how happy they are about the way they see themselves physically, socially, emotionally (the self acceptance), and intellectually (their thinking skills and learning capabilities). Then this is followed by many deeply exploring questions to reach the root cause of the low level of self esteem.
There are different ways to find out the thought behind our feeling, one of which is Cognitive Therapy. In his book, Love is Never Enough, Dr. Aron T. Beck explained how automatic thoughts drive all our reactions and that reaching those thoughts will explain a lot about our behaviors (5)
Helen is a housewife who was suffering in her marriage but was scared of divorce because her parents were divorced when she was 5 years old. After being introduced to Cognitive Therapy through marriage counseling, she dug deep below that fear and found out that her fearwas based on a false assumption that divorce means that she and her kids cannot have a happy life. The mental image she had for a happy family was a husband and wife going out with their kids to a restaurant or a park. Once she realized that this is not the only option for a happy family, and once she realized that divorce is no longer a monster that will turn her and her kids’ lives into a misery, she was less stressed, accepted her situation, and started reasonably thinking of all the possibilities ahead of her in her marriage. She also managed to work on re-building her marriage relationship.
Also, on the effect of thought, Louise Hay has a marvelous collection of books teaching people how their thoughts affect their health. She believes that every disease (she calls it dis-ease) comes from a state of discomfort. (6)
The Third Station: Actions
Now, we understand what our thoughts are, where they come from, and how they affect our emotions. Let’s put all of that together in an equation that helps us obtain balance in life.
Event + Behavior = Reality
Events are what happen in our lives that we don’t have control on.
Behavior consists of four elements (according to the Choice Theory): our thoughts, emotions, actions, and physiology. And we have control on all of these elements.
Reality is the result we get in our life after reacting to life events. This is changeable once we change our behavior.
With this we come to the end of Self Exploration Journey. If all exercises are done properly, the client is ready to start dealing with the outside world and start working on improving all kinds of relationships in their life.
Exploring the World Around me
In one of the training courses, my training instructor designed a Wheels of Relationships model (figure 4) which made a huge difference in my life. The main idea of the model is that we are in constant relationships with ourselves and all the people around us. Below is my instructor’s model:
From experience, this is the perfect order of relationships in terms of priorities. When our spiritual relationship is at peace, we focus on our relationship with our selves. If those two very important relationships are balanced (spirituality and self), they affect the rest of our life relationships.
Furthermore, our family relationships are also sub-categorized into spouse, children, parents, siblings, and the rest of the family. A very strong evidence is that when a person is not in good terms with their spouse, they won’t be able to be 100% present with their kids or friends.
Last important piece of information is being aware of your triggers. In the midst of your busy day, sometimes you come across a person, an expression, or an event, which changes your mood. Keep an eye on what affects your mood and be proactive in dealing with each situation or person.
The joy in life starts from within. Once we explore that magnificent self and know it inside out, then go to the outer world and use what we learnt, we will enjoy every aspect of our life.
This is what I personally learnt and I enjoyed sharing with my clients, who were willing to change, obtained a lot of self knowledge from all the exercises, and were committed to use this knowledge to build the skills that help them enjoy a self fulfilling life despite what life throws at them.
Life value is measured by the level of inner serenity (spirituality), how much we learn, high self esteem, how much we serve others, and how committed we are to your goals.
(2) Folkman, J. (2006), The Power of Feedback, p. 47-48
(3) Roddick, A. (1992), Body and Soul
(4) Al-Rasheedi, B. (2002), Choice Theory and its Applications in Psychology.(Arabic Book)
(5) Beck, A. (1988), Love is Never Enough
(6) Hay, L (2004), You Can Heal Your Life