Building Your Own Inner Coach

Excerpt from: Who’s REALLY Driving Your Bus?
By James O. Henman, Ph.D., Psychological Associates Press, 2003, p. 75.

You can learn to bring healthy power to the “content” in your life, the situations you want to handle differently. You can bring more accurate perceptions and a deeper understanding of the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change to difficult situations. This may seem like a strange and confusing notion for you as we are starting our coaching journey together. By the time you have experienced the entire Bus Book several times, this statement will make perfect sense.

You can learn to freely bring healthy perceptions into difficult areas of your life; imperfectly applying the tools you are learning in New Program, and embracing a No-Fault attitude in the learning process. You can learn to recognize who has been driving your perceptual bus in any problem area. You can build your own inner coach to help guide you into healthiness.

Therapeutic Coaching actively brings the following resources into your change process:

  1. Brings judgmental, defensive, flashlight perspectives into consciousness and turns them into lantern perspectives that look nonjudgmentally from all directions.
  2. Encourages an attitude of curiosity, openness and accuracy.
  3. Provides New Program tools and resources from the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change.
  4. Brings a desire to learn and grow into the situation.
  5. Brings absolute faith in your ability to apply New Program in your life today.

Building your inner coach involves learning to approach yourself in a way that reflects these five healthy steps. I often tell my coaching clients that there is an automatic difference of 40 I.Q. points depending on which chair one sits in while in a coaching session. When sitting in the coach chair you automatically gain an additional 20 I.Q points from where you are starting, as you look at the client’s blind spots; sitting in the client chair causes you an automatic 20 I.Q. point loss as you look at your own blind spots. A difference of 40 points is very significant. You can begin to gain these points as you learn to bring truth and accuracy into difficult situations in your life, without judging or defending, feeling good about noticing. You gain healthy power as you learn to listen to your own inner coach.

The goal of Therapeutic Coaching is to help you experience your life as an adventure of recognizing these Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change in daily life, and taking action on what you notice. The difference between experiencing "believing-in-action” and “intellectually holding on” to concepts you learn, has a direct impact on the possibility of successful change! Holding on to beliefs, whether true or not cannot produce healthy change. Only the process of putting your believing into action produces meaningful change in your life. This is what I call recovery – developing your inner coach.

Recovery is putting your healthy believing into action, one day at a time, imperfectly. Really reflect on this distinction in your own life. Share with me in your journal what comes up as you make this important distinction. List the areas in your life where there is intellectual knowing of important facts, but you have not been able to put your knowing into action. Also list areas where you know something is untrue and unhealthy, and yet your actions are as if you believed it to be true. Remember to feel good about noticing the things on your list as a beginning of the change process.

My clients usually describe me as very intense, passionate in the belief that change is possible. Don’t be surprised that some of that intensity comes across in this book. It is not easy sitting across from me in a coaching session, and it won’t be easy to sit across from me as you experience this book. My clients are ready for a nap after a 45 - minute coaching session. We often make an audiotape recording of our sessions so the clients can listen back several times to what has been shared in our session.

Clients often come to coaching wanting an A, B, C, set of rules to fix things, what they leave with is an appreciation of a different way of approaching life. Perception has a profound effect on us all. The truth is that you actually do have the ability to achieve transforming personal changes. The secret is how to approach your abilities in a way that makes them come alive. When you embrace the “Nuggets” in this book as healthy perception, you can practice believing them consciously as you go through difficult situations. The truth is that there are Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change that can affect the chances of success in your recovery.

Please don’t expect yourself to pick up these resources immediately, like a set of rules to follow, with white-knuckled demands of perfection. Let yourself have fun with me as we approach your life differently. You can use this book as a resource that can bring a healthy perspective and New Program tools to whatever situation you may need added help. The more you use it, the more helpful it will become as you build your own personal coach inside. Are you willing to invest in your recovery? Share your reactions to having a coach at your disposal in your journal.

There are two motivational strategies for approaching healthy change in your life that have very different effects on the resulting process. In one motivational approach you are motivated by the desire to avoid negative/painful consequences; in the other strategy you are drawn toward a desired goal. Which one feels most familiar in your life up until now? Fear and pain can motivate a person to abstain from drinking or using drugs; it cannot draw a person into sobriety. Trying to avoid a negative tends to create the dynamic I call “Don’t Think Of Purple!” The harder you try to not think about the color purple, the more the color floods your mind.

New Program and Therapeutic Coaching focus on learning to motivate yourself by the positive desires to continue becoming and growing. It is not fear-generated; it is motivated by grateful humility. You are drawn toward a positive goal. This key “Nugget” makes all the difference in your recovery process. Take several deep breaths and look deeply into how you have approached motivating yourself up until now. What do you notice? Share what comes up in your journal, sharing with me how you are feeling about what you are noticing as you develop your inner coach.

Continuing the Journey...