Research Paper By Jeslin Sara John
(Life Coach, INDIA)
We are complex creatures. One model for explaining this is the iceberg model. We know that an iceberg has only 10 percent of its total mass above the water while 90 percent of it is underwater. But that 90 percent is what the ocean currents act on and what creates the iceberg’s behaviour at its tip.
Prakash, sat in the lounge waiting for his turn at the Relationship counsellor’s office, staring into space, wondering what could have possibly gone wrong with his life. He felt like his world was crumbling before his eyes and he felt helpless. Everything had started off well but he was confused at where in life he was standing now, questioning and blaming himself.
One fine evening, he decided to put an end to his inability to understand the reasons that caused this emotional trauma over many months. As his friend asked if he could consult on this with a coach, Prakash nodded a yes, which maybe, he thought as his last ray of hope to save his relationship with his wife. Prakash’s thoughts were interrupted, as his name was called out.
As he sat in front of his coach, Prakash started sharing his frustrations one by one.
Though the problem seemed easy as it was said, it wasn’t. Exploring deeper into his problems – understanding his emotions, thoughts and the actions that followed, helped understand the depth of the iceberg – Prakash seemed to have had an unpleasant childhood, which better explained, his relationship with his father wasn’t healthy.
His dad was a workaholic who had no time for family. Prakash had no one to share his success with. This in turn created a wound in his heart which later developed into a grudge. Over-time he forgot the incidents but the wound remained. When he experienced a similar behaviour from his wife, the unmet need projected, unknown to him, and this took over him and his emotions, which resulted in an imbalance in his marriage life.
Once he became aware of the real situation, he approached his dad and solved things between them and saw his marriage improve.
Self-awareness is the first step to understanding what lays below the surface. It is the conscious observation of the way we think and act. It opens an opportunity to see what the core beliefs are that drive your actions. These beliefs are called underlying beliefs. We hold on to these beliefs, often without even realizing we are doing it.
We can read our body language to some extent through self-awareness. It’s the first stage of change.
Direct your focus to whatever emotion or state of mind is strongest and probe it in every way you can think. Like manipulating clay in your hands, try to manipulate any feeling (happiness, peace, amusement, boredom, even pain) to get a better understanding of how it affects your experience of reality
To be self-aware is to recognize your feelings as they occur, to understand the impact they have, and put them to an effective use. When dreaming, this improvement of your self-awareness will help you to recognize unusual or extreme feelings and thereby trigger lucidity. For instance, the feeling of intense fear from being chased or attacked (or whatever your nightmare is) can provoke the realization: “I must be dreaming!
Ways to Develop Self awareness
- Write in a journal everyday so you can see patterns that emerge in your life.
- List your strengths and think about how you would like to develop them further.
- Employ a coach who will support you on your journey of self-awareness and tell them this is the goal of your coaching.
Ask your friends and family to support you as you learn more about yourself. Ask them to share what they see are your strengths, your qualities, etc.
- Attend a workshop or read books on self-awareness to find the approach you want to support you on your journey.
- List your goals for self-awareness, and how what you need to achieve them.
Coaching is a different type of conversation than those we have on a day to day basis. When coaching, the coach is listening intently to what the client is saying and feeling.
One of the most valuable contributions that you’ll make to your clients is to help them become aware of their behaviour. For a client to change unhelpful behaviours, they might need some support to see these behaviours in action.
As per the ICF core competencies, active listening is defined as the “Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’ desires and to support client self-expression. “
A coach is just as interested in what the client is not saying as what they are saying. The client does not always tell you everything that is happening. Listen to the pitch, tone and Rhythm of the client’s speech. A faster than usual pace and higher pitch may indicate excitement, a slow monotonous tone may indicate a lack of enthusiasm, a higher pitch and lack of ability to match breathing to speech may indicate anxiety.
Identify any changes you notice about a client in a conversation. If talking over the phone be aware of the energy in their voice, the tone and language they are using. If sitting opposite a client observe their body language and their posture.
Using Powerful Questions
Powerful questions help clients to stop the way they usually think and to look at a situation from another perspective. This allows the client to see the situation from a different angle and come up with a solution thereby creating opportunities for growth and creativity. Asking questions will support your client in knowing more about themselves and what they need to do.
An effective way coaches can create awareness is by giving a feedback to the client on the shift in their energy levels. Feedback is an information that we have noticed or picked up when they speak. The difference between feedback and advice is that feedback is non-judgmental. It is not based on our opinion or beliefs but rather on the moment of observation.
Effective feedback creates a kind of awareness that makes a difference in how one sees things. It is neither positive nor negative. It is simply feedback. By stating what is or what is not from another perspective, may just help your client get insight they can use. We are often unaware of the language we use. When we notice, and share the particular language used by the client, it can help them gain greater understanding of themselves. For example, a client may make the same statement about themselves repeatedly but may be unaware that they are doing this. As the coach, you can share what you heard and what he or she has been saying about themselves and repeat back to them their words. This is a very awareness-creating exercise.
To give feedback is to simply mirror back to the client the way we see it. For example, a coach may say to a client, “I hear you are furious about that, do you want to talk more about it?” There is no judgment here about the emotion being conveyed by the client. It is simply being noticed for the client to evaluate the feeling and move forward.
Let the client know what you are really hearing and ask if there’s something more they want to say. Role-play and Feed Forward Role-play is a very effective technique to create awareness with your clients. It is particularly helpful when a client is unsure how to have a conversation with someone; or has some fear around what to say and how to proceed. In this case, role play becomes essentially a practice conversation. This is done so the client can find some powerful and clear ways to communicate to resolve the situation. As a coach, you can provide them with effective feedback on what you observed.