I use a range of tools across all of Wish Tree’s work.
To be able to fully visualize what it is that we want, we sometimes need to “download” it from our hearts and minds and actually see an image in front of us in order to make it seem tangible. In this way we are openly “coming out” with our wishes. When we do this, it is like our goals are mirrored back to us. It is easier to see what we are saying no and yes to, when it’s there, right in front of us. Creative visualisation techniques include, for example, making a collage made from magazine cuttings or photographs, or using objects, colours, music, creating plasticine models or mind-maps. These techniques can also be used to help describe your current situation and what you want to change about it.
The importance of visualisation in goal setting and goal getting.
A multi-sensory image of our current state and our desired outcomes helps the Reticular Activating System (RAS) in our subconscious mind to kick into action. The RAS works as a sort of “goal getter” because it helps us focus on the things that will help us reach our goals. It means that we will start noticing things and information in our environment that we need in order to achieve what we want to achieve. The RAS filters out irrelevant information and shines a spotlight on the relevant. For you, this could be as simple as suddenly paying attention to the things around you that were already there and available to you, but which you previously ignored. For example, a newspaper advert for a professional development course, or a friend’s colleague who as a business contact in a country where you want to work. Making the RAS work for us in this way, will inject new energy and fresh ideas into our coaching sessions.
Guided journeys are short, imaginary stories where you play the leading role. You will be asked to breathe deeply to relax, to close your eyes (if you feel comfortable closing your eyes), and imagine yourself in a certain situation. The coach will ask you questions about what you notice as your explore the situation you are in, in the story. Guided journeys are used to connect you with your core self, beyond all the different roles and pressures of your current life situation, and the images and ideas that surface will help you to gain confidence and a greater understanding of who you are.
It is always helpful to approach guided journeys with an open mind and a sense of playfulness.
Coaching is essentially a learning process about ourselves – our wants and needs, and the skills, creativity and resources that will help us take action, and design and live a life from the inside –out.
Journaling is a great way to keep a track on learnings that surface during sessions and in-between sessions. Journaling does not necessarily mean using a neat paper-based notebook. It can involve taking pictures with your phone, doodles, water colours, mind maps, collages, poetry, one-word bullet points… There are no right or wrong ways of journaling – find a way that works for you. Your journal is for you, no one else, and is there to help you map your journey and to remind you of what you have learnt about yourself. Manifesting our ideas, dreams, wishes and learnings in words or images make them somehow seem more real than when they live buried deep inside our hearts and minds. Your journal reminds you both of how far you have come and to keep going.
Mindfulness and Emotions
Mindfulness is an approach to life, which helps us to be more aware and present in the now, non-judgmentally and with more compassion. Neuroscience research shows that practicing mindfulness regularly will reduce stress and anxiety, and help us be more focused, creative and have better relationships – with ourselves, others and life in general.
Most of us have minds that are occupied in the past or the future. And for many of us, our past experiences keep influencing our decisions and actions, consciously or subconsciously. Mindfulness allows us to not miss life –right here, right now.
Part of practicing mindfulness is meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a bit like an exercise programme for the mind that allows it to become more still, over time. We can train our mind to become calmer through focusing on our breath. In mindfulness meditation, we acknowledge the thoughts that ping through our heads, but ignore their invitations to get caught up with them. Eventually, we let our mind-chatter fade away. This requires both curiosity and patience.
When we are still for long enough, emotions that we try to squash down because we are afraid of them, tend to rise to the surface. That is why many busy people are being busy just because they don’t want to allow this stillness, and those emotions, to emerge. Busyness is a form of numbing – a way to take the edge off.
In coaching we believe that the more able we are to be with whatever is and not shy away from emotions, the more able we are to live fulfilled and balanced lives. This requires us to have the courage to lean into the sharp edges and feel the range of emotions that life has to offer. The good, the bad and the ugly. As a coach, I will lean in with you and stay with you in those gloomy corners. I have experienced a vast range of emotions in my own life and have learned that the reward for being willing to be with what is difficult, is the capacity for more joy. Research shows that we are not able to selectively numb out emotions. If we numb out what we judge as “bad” – we will also make it hard for ourselves to feel happy for no apparent reason.
Mindfulness is particularly helpful in coaching when it comes to exploring the process of our lives, by working through feelings that blocks our flow, hinder us from being more of who we really are.
Using mindfulness in process coaching we will breathe deeply, step into the emotions (whatever they are) and be curious about them. From here, we will allow new awareness and new possibilities to emerge.
To find out more about mindfulness and mindfulness meditation go to Headspace www.headspace.com and watch Andy Pudicombe’s famous TED talk.
Movement is often used in coaching in order to embody how we feel, and in the process of changing perspectives and making commitments. This can be as simple as standing up, sitting down, turning around, describing how your arms feel. Or it can be a lot more organic, if that is what you prefer.
I often find that clients find it liberating to shake out old negative emotions and to try on new postures for their confident selves.
NLP is an approach to personal and organisational development that was developed over 40 years ago and is widely used in coaching. NLP is about how people manage their lives rather than why. NLP stands for Neuro (our neurological pathways – how we think), Linguistic (our inner language- how we perceive the world and what we tell ourselves) and Programming (how our neurological wiring and inner communication manifests in our behaviour). NLP provides as set of tools and techniques to help you be aware of your “inner filter” and deal with unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour that hinder you from getting what you want out of life or for your organisation. NLP is based on the principle that if something is possible in the world, then it is possible also for you. A person or organisation that is realizing their potential has their thinking, communication and behaviour aligned to achieve their goals.
Emily trained with NLP co-founder Richard Bandler to become a Licensed Practitioner of NLP (October 2013).