Are you dealing with areas of your life you have tried to change – and somehow it hasn’t worked? Are there people in your life struggling with such problems. These problem areas may be causing you considerable pain. The harder you have tried to make healthy changes in these areas, the more hopeless and trapped you may have felt. I call that NORMAL! How you approach change makes all the difference. Coaching shows you a different way to approach problems that makes healthy change the path of least resistance - both for yourself and others.
Therapeutic Coaching approaches change at the level of perception. We explore deeply the underlying assumptions and beliefs that support the toxic patterns that bring client's into coaching. Coaching shows you “How To Build Your Own Inner Coach". Examples of core perceptions explored in Coaching include:
You may be drowning in some addictive patterns, dying in a toxic marriage or work situation, or fighting off the “nothingness” of depression. Each new day may loom for you as a minefield to travel through, anxiety and self-doubt beating you down each step of the way. You want to go north but a part of you grabs the steering wheel of your life’s bus and you head south, hating yourself the entire time.
Are you doing what you don’t want to do and not doing the things you really want to do? Do you find yourself surviving from day to day? Is your life feeling out of control? Do you need/want a coach to help you learn to drive differently, so you can enjoy your life? Would you like to gain skills and tools to handle difficult stretches of road differently? Would you like to have life become an adventure, a journey into health rather than an ordeal to survive? Coaching helps you change the process from an ordeal to an adventure.
How would you like to find out who has REALLY been driving your emotional bus on these treacherous roads? Coaching will show you how to recognize who is really driving and how to become a healthy driver today. Perception is the key to healthy driving. Recognizing filters that distort your perceptions and replacing them with more accurate filters, makes healthy driving much easier.
Imagine driving into the sun in the late afternoon, your windshield streaked and dirty. The sun’s light reflects off the grime and makes it almost impossible for you to see what is ahead of you. You can continue driving; feeling anxious about the poor visibility or you can pull over, clean the windshield and continue driving, able to see much more clearly and accurately.
Most of the distortions seen through the windshield of your perceptual bus come from learning to survive the pains of life up until now. I will show you how to shift from surviving to living, and help you understand the differences between these two perspectives.
We live in a society that prizes freedom. At the same time we live in a society that is obsessed with finding out whose “fault” things are, who should be blamed for any given event. This emphasis on blame has lead to a defensive reflex of needing to justify why you couldn’t help what you did, or that what you did was really the fault of someone or something else. This fear of being blamed, and needing to avoid and defend has created a significant paradox that leads to anxiety and prevents learning and growth.
The paradox is that as long as you are defending against the consequences of your choices, you are not free to learn from them and make healthy changes in the present. The moment you accept the consequences of your choices, you are free to choose whatever you want. You cannot choose not to have done and experienced what you have up to this moment! You can choose what you will learn from this, what meaning and conclusions you will make about yourself and others. Notice your reactions to this truth.
The truth is that the more you use energy hating yourself and others for what has happened up until now, the less energy you have for starting where you are starting at this moment. In the same way, if you are consumed by fears of future consequences you are robbing yourself of making healthy changes in the present. You can’t do both at the same time. This is a difficult one for most of my clients to accept and embrace. It seems counterintuitive to most people; what are your reactions? Appreciate your resistances, learning deeply what they are saying.
Have you ever had the experience of accepting your consequences freely, with grateful humility and the desire to learn and grow from an unwanted experience? What did you notice? Powerful Vulnerability is the result of caring more about learning and growing than being right. When you shift your focus and goal toward growing, without judging, you greatly increase your ability to choose health in the present. Powerful vulnerability greatly increases your healthy power in your personal relationships.
Progress includes steps backwards with grace. Most clients start out the coaching process judging and hating themselves for the unwanted patterns that bring them to coaching. The first dozen times I suggest they “feel good about noticing” some dysfunctional pattern, they look at me like I’m crazy: “How can I possibly feel good about the fact that I have destroyed any chance of getting my wife back and some other guy will be raising my kids, in my house?”
I respond, “I’m not asking you to feel good about your starting point. I’m asking you to feel good about noticing what you can learn in your starting point, and seeing this noticing as an important step in beginning the change process.” Don’t expect yourself to get this truth immediately or perfectly, feel good about each step forward in your believing of this “Nugget” and learning from each step backward. Share this learning process with me in your journal. This is what makes core change possible. I believe God’s Plan of Grace captures this truth perfectly and allows us real freedom to grow. Can you give yourself the freedom to grow?
As we say in the Introduction that is read at the beginning of each CAIRing Grace Group meeting: “We are not defined by our story, and our story affects where we are starting today. We can remember that our true identity is not determined by how we are doing or what we are feeling at a given moment." How do you define who you are, and how do you determine your identity? Is it based on your “rear view mirror” of all the things that have happened up until now in your life, or is it based on your “windshield” of becoming in the present? Which direction are you looking as you drive your bus today – rear view mirror or windshield?
This is a common trap that robs people of the ability to make changes in their lives. The truth is that your past does effect where you are starting in the present, but it does not need to define who you are, or who you can be becoming today. Therapeutic Coaching is about learning to see yourself through your windshield.
If you were to consider your life a movie, what words would you use to give a brief summary of the movie? As you take the long view of your life, do you begin to see patterns where the story is the same, and the content/players are different? The same things seem to keep happening again and again, even though you hate the patterns? Begin to allow yourself to feel good about noticing any unwanted patterns. Are these patterns happening in the present? How do you feel about yourself as the star of your movie? Who are the primary supporting actors and what are the key pivotal scenes in your movie?
As the scenes unfold, make a list of any dysfunctional patterns that you notice and add to the list as you progress through the book. Remember that you are not your patterns, and your patterns affect your ability to exercise choice in the present. It can be such a relief to share what you are noticing with me in your journal.
Clients look forward to sharing in our sessions. As you learn more about how I would respond, add this dimension to your journaling, building a dialogue that helps to develop your inner coach to support your recovery. Clients often feel they have no hope because of terrible experiences growing up. They feel shame or deep resentment for their pain. They tend to live their pain over and over in their Time Machines. Their past draws them away from the present, and makes them afraid about the future. They continue to keep repeating the same patterns in the present that they are experiencing internally in their Time Machines. Or they block off all their feelings in order to avoid the pain.
The problem is that blocking off your feelings creates its own pain. Blocking creates a sense of “nothingness” that feeds anxiety and depression. Imagine a structure with ten foot walls all the way around, to keep the pain out. Imagine yourself inside those walls, safe and alone, completely alone. What do you notice? The truth is that you can learn to accept past pain and experience it differently in the present - no matter what kinds of wounds you may have experienced in the past. You can learn to have choices about your feelings as a result of living consciously, relaxing into New Program perceptions and perspectives. Practice, Practice, Practice!
There are many who feel that they don’t have a right to have any problems at all because they come from a “normal” family. They feel ashamed that they don’t have the justification of physical or sexual abuse, neglect, or some other dramatic reason for having problems. They often feel that to acknowledge these problems would be to blame their parents for their current circumstances.
Recovery is not about blame; it is about change in the present. In Therapeutic Coaching I help people appreciate and respect the wounds that are filtering their choices in the present. The content related to my own wounded kids is not dramatic, but the effects have had a profound impact on my life. It is important for you to respect wounds that you find on your journey whatever they may be, bringing loving nurturing to the wounded parts of yourself, whether you understand the reason for the wounds or not. It is not a contest; each individual’s experience is real for them, deserving respect and valuing.
Accepting your history as previous learning, gives you the ability to use that history to practice approaching past experiences differently. When you realize that your true identity is actually a process of becoming, it changes everything. It allows Powerful Vulnerability. You are free to begin making healthy changes in your life today. You don’t have to defend your past history, you can learn and grow from it, giving meaning to past pain. You can take healthy responsibility for pain you have caused others, apply the Serenity Prayer to the situation, and learn from it for the present/future.
You need to consider how active you are willing to be in the process of your growth and change. Most people do not even consider this question, and do not see this as a choice. Allow yourself to stop for a moment and really reflect on the question of how active you truly believe yourself to be in making changes in areas of your life that you choose. Without judging what you notice, accept that this is where you are starting, and not “how you are.”
Remember that healthy change is only possible in the present, and only when you are an active participant in the process. The first printed words in the CAIR Handbook are: “Recovery is a Participation Sport” and those words are there for a reason. I have spent many hours (at significant cost to the client!) sharing the same “Nuggets” I am sharing with you in this book.
The truth is that the only way change is going to take place in your life is for you to believe that you are an active participant in the change process and to take action congruent with that belief. No amount of money spent in therapy or coaching will change this truth. This means you need to be “Walking your talk,” imperfectly, as you grow. I can promise that you will often feel clumsy and awkward practicing what you learn in this book. So what? It is normal and healthy to feel clumsy and awkward as you are learning to perceive differently, consciously choosing to notice the filters in your perceptions with an attitude of “No-Fault Learning.”
You can learn how to begin making changes in the setting of your Self-Image Thermostat, to help in your growing process. Take a moment now to consider your perceptions of how active you are willing to be in order to succeed in making healthy changes in your life. Your sense of identity, the person you believe yourself to be, needs to accept that you are the ultimate chooser in your life. This is true whether you believe it or not. The question is how much influence would you like to have on your life?
If you don’t care about having significant impact on your life, I would suggest you exit this web site, because you are wasting your time. If you want to have as much impact on your life as you can, choose to believe that you are an active part of your recovery. This truth is believed as all truths are believed – a layer at a time. Notice the resistance you feel to this truth. Allow yourself to take the time to listen respectfully to the messages coming from your resistance. Allow your resistance to help you connect with wounded parts of yourself that need your loving supervision.
You live in a very fractured, compartmentalized world with more demands on your time and energy than you could possible give. Many of my clients get so caught up in the business of their lives that they have difficulty “finding” time to do their homework. Does this sound familiar to you? The truth is that there is no extra time to “find.” I’m telling you what I tell all my clients, if you want to make healthy changes in your life you need to make the difficult decisions regarding making time to reflect and focus on learning New Program and applying it imperfectly in your daily life. Experiencing this material takes time and thought. Practicing what you are learning does not have to take more time, and can actually help you gain more time. What it does require is living consciously, intentionally looking for opportunities to practice experiencing yourself as “becoming” in difficult situations. Instead of looking for time to practice your homework, allow whatever you are doing at the moment to be practice. Those who approach change in this way have a very high success rate at reaching their goals because they choose to live their learning in the present. What do you choose?
Those people in Therapeutic Coaching who seemed to blossom allowed themselves to imperfectly believe in New Program attitudes and perceptions, believing and applying healthy tools and concepts to themselves personally in their daily lives. They were very clumsy and awkward at first, but they would let it be an adventure of “becoming.”
Those who seemed to struggle so hard, and suffer such pain in the change process, would acknowledge that New Program is a powerful set of tools for change. They would often share it with their friends, helping their friends make changes in their lives, but having difficulty applying it in their own lives. They would hold on to the truth of New Program, believing it intellectually, but refusing to allow themselves the grace, the No-Fault learning that makes New Program come alive at a level of personal experience.
Most people, living in automatic pilot, do not see themselves as choosing their attitudes. They assume that whatever comes “naturally” is how they are. They fail to decide to decide. Do you fall for this trap? How does it feel to realize you can actually choose to foster attitudes toward yourself and others? Take several slow, deep breaths and experience acknowledging what you are deciding in your life at this moment. Notice what feelings come up as you become conscious of noticing what you are deciding. Remember Second-Order Feelings.
You can decide to be valuing and respectful toward yourself, or you can decide to be demeaning, negative, and judgmental toward yourself. You can also decide to be valuing and respectful toward others, or you can decide to be negative, defensive, demanding, and judgmental toward others. Not deciding is also a decision. Each of these decisions is really a dynamic continuum. The first step in becoming chooser in your life is learning to live consciously in the present. Share with me in your journal the different reactions you are experiencing as you embrace this “Nugget.”
In Therapeutic Coaching I help my clients learn to recognize what is happening around them, and also what is happening within them. They learn to carry a respectful, accurate, nonjudgmental lantern of Powerful Vulnerability. They learn to care more about learning than being right in an interaction. New Program provides the tools and attitudes that make healthy change the path of least resistance.
The “Nuggets of Wisdom” regarding the Fundamental Principles of Healthy Change that saturate this material, allow you to experience new ways of perceiving and reflecting on your process of change. These “Nuggets” and perceptions are a central part of Cognitive/Perceptual Reconstruction. Words have powerful perspectives attached to them that function at a subliminal level with most people. Take the word aware.
Most of my clients learned survival programs that translate being aware into being a boxer. Tension becomes an integral part of awareness. Picture a boxer in action. He keeps his muscles tight so the blows of his opponent won’t hurt as much. He looks for the best opportunity to hurt the other boxer and defend himself at the same time. He needs a break after a few minutes because it is exhausting to keep the isometric tension necessary for boxing.
In Therapeutic Coaching I show the client how to shift to the martial art of Aikido, away from being a boxer. In Aikido the person relaxes into feeling fully in the present, noticing everything and holding on to nothing, allowing the present to be fully experienced. There is no desire to harm anyone or anything. If someone attacks, then you will use their energy to protect them from hurting you. You add nothing to the energy, but rather direct the energy away from harming you.
The more energy someone attacks you with, the more discomfort they are likely to experience as you deflect their attack. Rather than coming from fear “trying to protect yourself from harm,” you can come from the healthy desire to “protect the other person from harming you.” There is a significant difference between the two approaches. Which feels more natural for you where you are starting – being a boxer or using Aikido? You can learn to shift your perspective to increase your healthy power.
One important area of choosing is teaching your environment how to treat you as you are changing in your recovery. Your environment will often resist your changes because it is not used to them. A helpful tool in teaching others how to respond to you is called the Four-Step Assertion Technique: Share with the other person what you are wanting from them in a respectful way; next, share with them with a firm tone what you are wanting and why you are wanting it; next, let them know with a firm voice that if they are not willing to respect your request, what your response will be. For example, “If you continue to yell at me, I will end this conversation.” Finally, take the action that was stated in Step 3.
People often keep saying the same thing over and over, feeling a growing resentment that the other person is ignoring them. They wait until they are very hurt and/or angry before they blow up; exploding toward the other person in a way that either drives the person away or makes them feel guilty for getting so upset. People unconsciously know when someone really means what they are saying; for example, children will often ignore the first five or six times their parent says something to them, waiting until that certain tone appears before responding to the parent’s request.
It is your responsibility to choose who you truly believe yourself to be, your core identity. You can choose to believe that you are defined by your mistakes and rebellions, or you can choose to see yourself as a new creation even when you are messing up and slipping into Old Program patterns. I choose to believe my identity in Him does not depend on how well I’m doing at any given time. I choose to believe that I will always have His loving relationship, no matter what happens in my life, no matter how far I may fall away at any given time.
I often hear clients trying to convince me they don’t have time to do their homework. They see homework as something to be done in a set place and time. Often a major part of Therapeutic Coaching is helping clients make the paradigm shift that allows them to see homework as living consciously in the present, owning the truth that you are responsible at any given moment to be chooser in your life. You can either choose to be becoming in a healthy direction, or not choose to choose to be becoming in a healthy way.
Bob came for coaching when his wife became very upset with his Internet use of pornography, and tensions were getting to a crisis point in the marriage. Bob was in his early 40’s and was a very successful professional. He had been married for 15 years to Helen, and was an active participant in the life of his ten-year-old daughter. He worked very hard at whatever he did – work or play. Bob felt driven most of his waking day. He admitted that he had tried to quit going to the pornographic web sites many times, but the tension would build and he would “find himself on one of the sites.” Sometimes he would masturbate while watching the site, and at other times he would feel intense sexual arousal, but would release the sexual tension with Helen later.
They both reported an enjoyable, active sex life together. Helen felt that Bob was cheating on her when he went to the web sites. She would feel hurt, that there must be something wrong with her, something lacking, for Bob to want to go to the sites. Bob swore it had nothing to do with Helen, and he felt she was beautiful and desirable. All he could say was that he couldn’t stop going to the sites on his own, and needed help with this problem.
I had Bob use the Time Machine to activate the feelings in the pattern by going back to a recent time he “found himself on a site.” As Bob began to experience the entire process again in the present, step by step, starting before he actually made the decision to go to a site, feeling good about noticing consciously what was going on inside and out as he went into his “addiction trance.” We would notice how different parts of Bob seemed to be in conflict, without Bob being consciously aware of this battle going on inside.
Respecting the feelings, applying the principles of New Program in the process, and allowing himself to start where he was starting, made it possible for Bob to connect with a very driven seven-year-old Bobby who desperately needed relief. It was difficult at first. Bob would judge and feel shame about what he was noticing, and then a Second-Order feeling would kick in – defensiveness. The more accurately Bob began to see the pattern, the more choices he began to have in the present. What we discovered in Bob is a common pattern in the addiction to pornography.
A strong drive of conditional acceptance (see Power Of Mind “Conditional Acceptance” filter) leads to a lot of “self-sacrifice,” which in turn leads to feelings of entitlement/resentment and finally acting out the addiction. Bob worked long hours. When he really began to experience the feelings surrounding the addiction he realized that the pornography was one of the few things he really did just for himself. It also acted like a drug on his anxiety and depression. The truth is that pornography does tend to create a physiological reaction that does help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. I believe that in Bob’s case he would begin to need the “fix” of physiological reactions to the pornography when he began to feel resentful about the many things he was doing in his life.
When he began imagining life without his addiction, he began to feel empty and resentful. These feelings would scare him and increase his anxiety, which would cause him to push the entire thing out of his mind, making it impossible to proactively work on change. All of this leads to even more urgency to act out with the pornography to relieve the growing anxiety caused by judging what was being noticed. Although he intellectually knew that it wasn’t true that his sexual addiction was the only thing he did for himself, the feeling perception was very strong in the addictive trance.
He learned over time to comfort his little Bobby inside, and remove him from behind the wheel of his perceptual bus. He began to live more consciously, becoming aware of choosing to experience his life as an adventure and a gift to himself as well as others. From this perspective of grateful humility, Bob became able to supervise his wounded parts, and use the urges to go to the porno site as a signal that he needs to respectfully notice and respond to them in healthy ways.
The urge became an early warning signal for Bob to hold up his lantern of grace and see himself and others with humility. He was bringing truth into his life as a new perspective, a New Program that generates healthy choices in the present. Bob was pleased that the urge could take on a different meaning and activate very different choices.
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 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 affects 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.
© Copyright 2008 Psychological Asssociates James O. Henman Phone: 209.765.9528