Holistic approach to life changes - methods that complement coaching
Are you tired of the same problems coming back in your life? Obstacles you though you’d dealt with haunting you again? Do you find yourself making the same resolutions over and over again but being unable to change your old habits? Perhaps you’re stuck because even though you want to change something, you lack clarity about your new direction?
It’s often because our minds are really great at fooling us and hiding from us the real reasons behind our struggles. We don’t want to face them, or look deeper, and because some of the mechanisms which are stopping us now have actually been very useful in our past and are deeply rooted in our evolutionary history. So once our body and mind have learned that something works, it finds it really hard to adapt to any changes. Another evolutionary mechanism - we crave stability and instinctively we always choose familiar over new, even though it may not be good for us. So what can we do about it?
The good news is that you have a choice! The first step is becoming aware that something is not working and making a decision to move forward. The next step is looking for solutions instead of complaining about the difficulties on the path. There is so much choice nowadays that everybody can find an approach tailored to them.
Coaching is definitely one way to start introducing those changes and become more aware, but sometimes it’s easy to stay on the surface and just talk around the problem. However, some of our patterns are stuck in our bodies and require a little shake-up in the muscles, getting rid of old tensions to release old emotions and stories. Luckily, there are so many tools and techniques which can be employed in an useful way to complement the coaching process and get to the root of the problem.
Here I talk about a few approaches that can be really powerful tools. When they’re combined together with coaching, they can bring faster and more profound results.
There are a wealth of psychological theories that can enrich coaching and make it more effective through deeper understanding of mechanisms of human behaviour. Tools such as cognitive-behavioural theory can be used effectively to support behavioural change and move forward, by identifying thought patterns and emotions linked to them and learning to create alternative scenarios. This way, you’re becoming aware that you’re not doomed to repeat the same patterns. I also really like narrative approach, which helps to identify the way we construct our identity and what kind of stories we’re telling ourselves. These stories determine what we think is possible, however, we are the narrators of our lives and we have the power to change them.
This leads me to art therapy. It can be used to work with the stories, through creative writing and journaling. Other forms of creative expression are also welcome, whether it’s visual art, phototherapy, drama, music or dance. Any of those modalities, whether through creation or contact with the works of art, can unlock our imagination and bring up the parts of us that are usually hidden, put us in touch with what we really want, and start some emotional processing too.
This is really at the very basis of coaching, and I consider it an essential part of the whole process. It’s only in the mindful presence that both the coach and the client can fully benefit from the interaction and use what is happening in this situation, as well as what comes up in the moment, to further the coaching process.
Mindfulness goes beyond the coaching session too and it’s best to practise it everyday, because awareness is the first step to changing any behaviour or thought pattern; we have to first know what the current state is. Seated mindfulness meditation is also very useful to get in touch with our emotions and become more aware of what is happening in our body.
This brings me to yoga. It’s not only great to get fitter, healthier and feel better in your body; yoga goes way beyond that. Physical transformation that can be obtained in practice can support the path to greater emotional freedom and also sometimes realise hidden limiting beliefs. It is also an exploration ground for what is possible and how to introduce changes in our lives. It helps to integrate body and mind, and bring them into harmony. Finally, specific yoga practices can then be used as a self-management tool, to increase our energy, motivation etc. This is very brief and simplified account of the whole wealth of yoga, which can perhaps encourage you to explore it further.
Some of them are based in yoga and similar to it; they support working through emotional blockages and revealing old patterns stuck in your body, releasing emotional tension and letting go of things that no longer serve us in order to move forward.
Another great tool, this helps us to move forward and see what is possible, as well as unearth messages from our subconscious which may need to be heard and brought into awareness in order to transform them. It can also be used to get yourself into a desired emotional state when you need to prepare for a stressful situation, get motivated and inspired.
This holistic mind-body-spirit approach is especially suitable for people who are ready to transform on a deeper level, and are not just looking for a band-aid to their current problems. Quick fixes can be great in certain situations, but many problems will start coming back unless the underlying causes have been addressed. We are not separate parts, but all aspects of our being are interconnected and we need to acknowledge that.