Research Paper By Lynn Ann Barcant
(Executive Coach, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO)
A process that I have used in Coaching to discover Underlying Beliefs/Core Issues
We are here to heal the splintered parts of ourselves so we therefore bring into our lives the people and situations that best help us to know and better understand ourselves. We can then begin to determine why we act or react in a particular way. This process of discovery is called Mirroring.
We are the creators of our world even the unpleasant experiences however most of us do not realise that we are creating these conditions. Could it be that because we are not conscious of what we are creating we therefore need to learn how to consciously create in order to have what we wish in our lives?
From my personal experiences I have learnt that the premise of how we create is first the THOUGHT then the EMOTION then an ACTION. This is the foundation of creating. To therefore create consciously we must first learn to monitor our thoughts. If we can understand or recognise the correlation between our thoughts, both conscious and subconscious, and our experiences then we can take the first step in understanding our Mirrors.
An understanding of how we can recognise the link- up between our experiences and our deep seated issues or Shadow Side will allow us to find the ways to heal ourselves.
The first step however is recognising our Shadow side.
What Is The Shadow?
The Shadow side of our nature is that which is hidden from our consciousness, but nevertheless contributes in great part to what we create in our lives. Our Core Issues and Underlying Beliefs reside in The Shadow.
The Shadow is most often created in our early formative years when reason and logic were not a part of our repertoire and we deduced and responded mainly from emotions which overwhelmed us. The Shadow was in a way, our saviour. At that time the decisions or responses that occurred were not rational and in fact unknown as a choice. It is important to understand that any programming set up in this way in the formative years usually works as a default programme and supersedes conscious intent.
The programming may also have been created by beliefs taught to us by our parents as accepted or preferred ways to respond to experiences e.g. they may have taught us to walk away from a fight or the opposite, to fight back. What we were taught may no longer serve us in our present life however the particular response may have become our default response of which we are not consciously aware.
For example, a child experiencing insecurity through a lack of emotional support or abuse may opt to be controlling, obsessive or may go to the other extreme and choose to be elusive and unavailable emotionally. How we respond to any extreme stimuli is individual and therefore this makes The Shadow unknown and mainly something that is regarded as a negative.
However our Shadow Side is neither positive nor negative but is a part of us that is out of balance that we can work to bring into balance. An example of this could be the child who becomes controlling, as mentioned above, may learn to balance this Shadow side by becoming a great organizer.
How To Identify The Shadow?
The shadow is a representation of the personal unconscious as a whole and usually embodies the compensating values to those held by the conscious personality. Thus, the shadow often represents one’s dark side, those aspects of oneself that exist, but which one does not acknowledge or with which one does not identify. wiki: Jungian_archetypes
The Shadow has many faces which some refer to as archetypes. There are many different representations of archetypes besides those created by Carl Jung one of note being a much more extensive list of archetypes created by Carolyn Myss.
The use of archetypes may assist the Client in identifying where and how they might be out of balance.
The main way to identify The Shadow is by becoming alert to our responses and reactions in any given situation, which either makes us feel badly or surprises us. It is essential that we realise that we do have a choice in how we respond or react and decide if we like where we are or not. It is only at this time that we will be able to make decisions to change any Shadow programming and to begin the process of identification and balancing.
What Mirrors Do?
Mirrors can show us the unconscious parts of ourselves that are out of balance, or to put it in another way, lack Love. By understanding Mirroring we can recognise what we are bringing into our lives and then have the choice of changing what is disharmonious with the way we would like to experience Life. In other words, we can learn to create consciously.
One of the keys is to notice when we react in any extreme way to a person or situation as this will give us an indication that we have been presented with one of our Mirrors. It is then too that we may start recognising the default programming that may be creating our manifestations instead of what we intend.
An example of this in my personal life occurred some years ago which helped me to understand how this all works:
Being late for any meet up, whether business or pleasure caused me extreme anxiety, anger, helplessness and impatience, some very unbalanced and extreme feelings which logic said was not necessary. When I came to a conscious recognition of these extreme feelings I decided to find the root cause of this condition and needless to say my Mirrors appeared. First it was my own daughter who drove me crazy with her tardiness and almost every one of my friends were chronically late. My mind reasoned that I was ‘right’, how could I not be ‘right’ as being late was ‘wrong’, but my wisdom said very clearly that my emotions were unbalanced and therefore in need of being addressed.
To note, Mirrors do not necessarily do what we do, what they do is reflect something back to us which brings up some sort of reaction, most times extreme ones, and in this case I needed to see the aspect of myself that they were mirroring. I took note of my reactions and tried to figure out what they were saying to me. I did this by using the Mind Map process.
A Mind Map is started by drawing a circle and within the circle writing the issue or thought that we are trying to clarify or understand. It is recommended that we first get our self into as calm or meditative a state as possible. In this state we open ourselves to whatever thoughts come and we write down the thoughts which become the spokes of the original circle. Usually one or more of the thoughts will resonate emotionally in which case that can be the answer or the first step to the answer. If it is necessary that thought may be used as the new circle and we may continue the process ‘down the rabbit-hole’ so to speak until there is a measure of clarification or realisation. (See e.g. on page 6 of this article).
What came up with my particular issue was that I felt out of control and anxious. The question I then asked myself was (1) Why was it that I needed to feel in control and (2) of what. (These are questions that may be asked by the Coach). This particular issue took me back to my childhood, where I felt that in order to survive I needed to be in control of as much of my outer life as possible so I became extremely efficient, always on time and had some very inflexible ideas. Eventually I balanced the extreme emotions through an understanding of this particular Core Issue and discovery of a deeper issue of control showed its head. I was able to recognise how this issue showed itself in other aspects of my life and with intent to heal and oftentimes using the same methods mentioned above as well as others like Meditation and Journaling I was able to learn to relax and let go of control a bit more.
Others may react under the same or similar circumstances quite differently, maybe even in an exact opposite manner. For example they may choose to let go of all responsibilities and may even become addicts or ‘failures’, trying to escape from Life.
The process often reflects fear, grief or traumas and quite often takes us back to our childhood or past experiences that have created unconscious issues, which can be seen through our Mirrors. Coaches working with this process may assist the Client to better understand their Underlying Beliefs and Core Issues and come to recognise the unseen programming at work in their life. Anything that affects us emotionally, either positively or negatively mirrors something in ourselves.
An example of this is if we are dealing with a teller at the bank who is short and abrupt and maybe uncivil, it only will be an issue if that person can move us from our centre or calm space. What therefore are our choices of response in this situation? We can choose to be angry, impatient, intolerant, self-righteous or we can choose to respond with calmness, patience and tolerance. When something affects in an extreme way we know that we are being presented with a Mirror. If we have issues of impatience, intolerance and anger for example, we may keep on having experiences that bring up these issues, like bad drivers, rude people, etc. Using the Mirroring principles a Coach can help the client to try to determine if they have such issues or maybe they may need to establish firmer boundaries or instead to become more assertive at times in dealing with others. As mentioned before everyone has different aspects within them which can be discovered through similar types of Mirrors.
Our immediate family are often our best Mirrors with our children and mate very often acting out beliefs, feelings and desires that we hold deep within us. Sometimes our behaviour is mirrored more directly as in the things they may say that seem to be coming out of our own mouths.
There are many aspects of our lives that can be clarified and cleared with this wonderful tool. Once the Coach assists the Client in understanding that we are like an iceberg, most of us are beneath the surface and until we can understand and accept this we will stay blind to the parts of us that are hidden from sight and we will be destined to repeat the same dramas in different ways in our life.
Using this mirroring process Coaches can assist their Clients in unearthing their Underlying Beliefs or Core Issues. Some questions the Coach may ask the Client throughout the process are:
- How do this experience and/or person’s behaviour/actions make you feel?
- What can you learn about yourself from this experience?
- How else can you view this person/experience?
- If it is possible for you to change your perspective now that you understand a bit more of how you feel,
- In what other way can you view this person/experience?
- How do you feel when you look at this person/experience with this new perspective?
- How can you support yourself in making the necessary changes in perspective and thereby change the response?
Coaches can introduce the mirroring process as described above or even tailor the process to suit theirs and their Client’s needs by adding to or subtraction from the methods suggested. For instance some Coaches may find it a bit cumbersome using archetypes and may discard that suggestion or there are many more intricate mind-maps that they may wish to use.
The idea is to be able to excavate the Core Issue or Underlying Belief in order that the Client may then with the help of their Coach decide if and how they wish to change this default programming that does not serve their well-being. Change which results in well-being, after all is one of the main reasons why Clients seek Coaches.