‘Do you love yourself?’
A question that comes out of the blue for the coachee. I see her blinking her eyes for a moment. She is a woman with quite a bit of experience in personal development and spiritual development. She is a yoga teacher. And she is in a workshop exercise that I happen to observe.
She quickly regains her balance, and says: ‘there are many layers to the answer to that question’. This woman is kind. What she doesn’t say is: ‘That question has nothing much to do with what I am sharing right now.’ Or even ‘What?? How dare you make this about self-love? That is your projection, not my experience in this moment.’.
Of course, I can’t see inside of her and what she is actually thinking. It might well be that an old story was triggered and now, she has started wondering whether there is a relationship with loving herself. And who doesn’t have some hick-ups when it comes to loving yourself? It is a very human experience for people that are healthy and enjoy quality relationships. This in itself doesn’t make it a problem though.
The annoying thing – or the really powerful thing – is that when someone asks us a question, we HAVE TO let it in, to arrive at our response. It’s just the way we are wired. So we have to consider the question, really hear it, before we can decide what to do with it. And in letting it in, it has the power to trigger us in many ways.
The big question in coaching is: are the things that are triggered in service of our coachee’s process?
Are we as coaches – unwillingly – triggering things that are opening the doors to habitual responses of our client’s system, inviting in drama pieces that are not related to what you are working on together?
(A little side note: these drama pieces are not necessarily part of reaching the desired outcome your client has, and triggering a drama piece is not a sign of quality coaching in itself. Besides that, triggering drama pieces is not the most effective way of including them in coaching. If they are relevant for their question and need to be included in the work, they will show themselves through our client’s words. We do not have to actively bring them in, and taking a very big risk of skewing the process:)
And are we – in doing so – taking away their sovereignty? Their ‘freedom from external control’ as Webster defines it?
It is really easy to ‘help’ someone into thinking or feeling they have a problem, even when you don’t mean to. – The question ‘do you love yourself?’ was asked with the best intentions by someone who does have experience in supporting others to heal.
It is really easy to make people second guess themselves, so that they start to step away from their innate power, their intuition and their soul’s truth.
Especially when you are in a coach – coachee relationship.
Because, in our world, we operate easily from the paradigm where the expert has all the solutions and power. People often think that a coach is there to tell them what to do. Even when they know this is not helpful, they may still look for that external validation in their coach.
So they enter the coach ~ coachee relationship from this place where they have already started to give their power away.
And it makes it super important to become aware of the questions you ask.
For the example I started with, I have at least a hundred other examples from other coaching conversations.
- Conversations I have had with high level coaches.
- Conversations my clients have told me about with well-trained coaches they worked with before working with me.
- Conversations friends tell me about.
- Conversations that were part of our trainings and workshops.
It happens very often, that coaches unwillingly take away their client’s sovereignty, and it’s certainly not limited to ‘bad’ or starting coaches.
Why does that matter?
Well, I am probably preaching to the choir here, but first of all, someone’s sovereignty is their most valuable asset. It is where their authentic power lies. And it requires respect and honouring, on principle. As a guiding light throughout our days and our societies, this is what we should be aiming for. Because how can we expect people to shine, and build strong communities, if we don’t invite this power in?
And then there is a very practical reason for our work as a coach:
There is no way that you can help your (future) clients make sustainable, integrated soul-based changes, if you – unwillingly – get in the way of this power base. Here lies the start of everything your client can be:
How they will be able to make the changes that they come to you from.
And how they will be able to continue to make changes like that.
When you help people access their soul-knowing (which can only happen from their state of sovereignty), you help them strengthen their ability to tap into it, and that defines how they will be able to walk through life on their own terms.
Now the big question: what can you do instead?
The first thing to do, is start exploring the questions you ask:
- Are they reflecting the fact that the other person is someone who is powerful and holds all the resources that they need inside of them – even if they don’t know yet?
- Are they honouring the person’s experience, exactly as it is?
- Are you celebrating them in their uniqueness (even if their uniqueness is at the moment creating some experiences that they no longer want)?
- Are they questions that you already (think you) have the answer to? (And be honest, because this is hard to see sometimes, but happens all the time)
And some more questions:
- Do you feel you have to fix their problem? And what kind of fixing is it, that you feel responsible for?
- Do you have access to the trust that they will be able to make the changes happen that they are seeking?
This will start opening up your awareness.
And then the journey truly begins … !
Start Holding Space.
And start to learn questions that serve your client’s process.
And let us know what you find in your explorations, and ask your questions. There is a lot of gold to be found!