There are many reasons why someone would initially come to a coach whether it is for life, career, wellness, or any other reason. Whatever motivated the client to come to a coach is nothing compared to what happens once this magnificent journey begins. As the coaching process evolves, a deep level of awareness unfolds within the client, and the effects are remarkable. This awareness has the ability to influence and change how we think, feel, and act as we go about our daily lives. This paper is going to explore the impact awareness has on one’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
One of the main objectives of a coach is to create awareness within one’s clients. Creating awareness is one of the ICF Core Competencies and a mainstay for an effective coach. First and foremost, what is meant by creating awareness?
Creating Awareness [is the] ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed- upon results. (ICF website, Core Competencies)
Creating awareness is analogous to recycling. When we recycle we take our old, used items and transform their former use into something new and different. The same is for coaching. A coach takes the original item, here being the information that the client relates and then gives it back in an innovative and fresh way.
Why should coaches create awareness?
The awareness- raising function of the expert coach is indispensible. (Whitmore, page 35, 2009)
The reason for this is such; most people do not possess a great level of self awareness. Trying to develop this on their own, could take a longer time than necessary and only be somewhat effective (Whitmore, 2009).
Some of the intended outcomes of creating awareness that the ICF lists are:
1) “[It] helps clients to discover for themselves the new thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, emotions, moods, etc. that strengthen their ability to take action and achieve what is important to them.
2) [It] helps clients to see the different, interrelated factors that affect them and their behaviors (e.g., thoughts, emotions, body, background).” (ICF website, Core Competencies)
By creating awareness there is an awakening of many components that a client already possesses. The more someone is made aware of all they have, the more successful they will be.
The aforementioned competencies indicate that there are three topics where awareness can effect who we are. These are our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We will now discuss the effect that awareness has in each of these areas.
What is the Relationship of Awareness to our Thoughts?
Our thoughts dictate, to a large degree, our success. As John Whitmore states (2009, pg. 40),
The mind is the key.
There are times that we are slaves to our thoughts and we do things without knowing why. Creating awareness allow us to have choices (Wilson, 2011). When the mind is made aware of what we truly want and desire, we are propelled to move forward. The power of awareness clarifies our intentions and helps to direct us towards them.
Developing awareness of our thoughts
can result in hard wiring, or the shift of conscious intention to automatic processing. (Rock and Page, 2009, pg. 178)
So we see having awareness of our thoughts can empower us to really be awake and alive in all that we do. This newfound clarity of thought enables us to meet future prospects and opportunities.
How do we develop awareness of our thoughts? Increasing awareness means taking notice how we think. Being in touch with how we think permits ourselves to perceive new opportunities through new lenses (Wahl, Scriber, and Bloomfield, 2008). With this awareness, we can live in the moment and be conscious throughout. This process helps us find our true selves. Awareness spurs us on to ask ourselves questions. Why do we think that? Are there values and beliefs that are encouraging these thoughts? Do we want to continue to think this? This will let you know yourself and be in control of your thoughts. This is the power of awareness:
to know yourself better than anyone else. (Adamchik, 2011; self)
What is the Relationship of Awareness to our Emotions?
Our emotions are the inner mechanisms that dictate how we react to life’s circumstances. They are the power source that allows us to understand ourselves and to relate to other people (Segal, Smith, & Robinson, 2011). Our emotions at times influence our choices in life. The more we are aware of our emotions and what triggers them, the better we can control them and use them to propel us further to improve. Real self- awareness is becoming aware of our feelings and how they affect us. Emotional awareness enables self-control (Wall, 2006). By identifying and reigning in our emotions, we can be our own master over how to deal with difficulties, relationships, and communications with others (Segal et al, 2011).
As we become more self-aware, we can focus this internal energy more productively, much like a camera lens focuses diffuse light to make it useful when it reaches the film. (Wall, 2006, pg. 20)
Emotional awareness is understanding what you feel at that moment and why. Furthermore, it is a recognition of the emotion that is being felt at that particular time that gives one the option of how to handle it.
Segal et al (2011) says that emotional awareness enables us to see the connection between feelings and actions. Without this awareness, we cannot possibly understand why we behaved or reacted in a certain way. Expanding emotional awareness grants us the ability to reach our potential. When we have emotional awareness, we perform qualitatively better. Allowing ourselves to understand our feelings is fundamental to being all that we can be (Hughes and Terrel, 2011). So we see that emotional awareness is crucial to our success.
What is the Relationship of Awareness to our Behavior?
Our behavior, to a certain degree, projects what’s going on inside of us. How we conduct ourselves is not random; we choose how we want to act. Our behaviors are conscious decisions; however, there are times they are on cruise control. Ting and Scisco (2006) explain that we choose certain behaviors because they have become habits with little thought given as to the effects of these actions. Understanding the relationship between behaviors and desired results enables us to change them. Consciously choosing our actions allows us to become aware of whom we are (Brown, Hansen, Chopra, & Mikiah, 2008). Furthermore, our self-awareness is crucial in determining the success of changing our behaviors (Nowack, 1999).
What is behavioral awareness? Behavioral awareness is developing within ourselves the trait of recognizing the need to change our behavior when it is not in line with what we desire. Rock and Page (2009) explain that behavioral awareness is recognizing repeated patters of behavior and our responses to them in relation to ourselves and others.