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Episode 77: Three Ways to Be a More Compassionate Coach

Learn how to be a more compassionate coach so that you can maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If you are a coach, especially a new coach, then sooner or later you will learn that your clients will show up in various states of excitement, fatigue and motivation.

Sometimes they’ll come into the session feeling flustered and agitated.

Sometimes they’ll show up serene and calm.

Sometimes they’ll show up stuck, demotivated and negative.

And unless you have a way of facing whatever comes up, you will probably struggle to maintain your own focus, energy and sense of self-confidence in that session.

You might take their emotions personally, or you could start feeling like you need to ‘give them something’ or ‘fix them’ by the end of the session. 

But none of those are true.

What is true is that emotions are contagious.

So when a client shows up in any given state, you need to be present in your own space, resilient, and able to meet them where they are at.

If you want to remain neutral, open, objective and empathetic – to be focused and in the moment, thinking only of the client’s agenda….

…..then you need to know how to show up to the session the right way AND how to handle a client’s negative emotions in your coaching sessions.

This episode explores three ways to be a more compassionate coach, so you can do just that.

Why Emotional Balance Matters

Your emotional state has an enormous impact on your brain’s capacity for learning.

More specifically, if you or your client go into a session feeling frazzled, self-critical, angry, sad, exhausted or frustrated, or any other negative emotion, then it reduces the ability to learn new skills, listen, take in knowledge and remember things.

If you are thinking things like “I’m no good” or “I don’t know what to say – help!” then you will bring your focus to that and be less present, attentive and focused.  

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

If your client is verbalising things like “I’m no good”or “I failed”, then they will bring their focus and attention to what isn’t working and their negative feelings, effectively sapping brain resources and becoming stuck.

Our prefrontal cortex is impaired by negative emotions, and this stifles creativity, cognitive ability, curiosity and strategic thinking.

And unless you manage this properly, you risk being sucked into the vortex of your – or your client’s – emotions!

When I started coaching, I sometimes took on the client’s state at the start of the session. 

Sometimes I took their emotions home with me or expected the worst from some sessions when I had clients who were stuck or overly negative.

This didn’t do me OR the client any favours. 

It distracted me from their agenda. And finally, one day, I had a powerful aha moment after feeling particularly miserable – that these feelings were all about me and how I felt, and I needed to switch into focusing on the client instead!

I needed to develop some strategies to help me get into that ‘all about the client’ headspace so I could truly serve them as a coach.

When you and your client are able to be emotionally neutral or positive, your prefrontal cortex is activated and you are both more ready, willing and able to listen, reflect and learn.

You will be calm and present, mindful and truly hear the needs so you can respond appropriately.

Your client will remember more and be able to come up with more of their own solutions. 

And when a client starts talking about positives and opportunities, it gives you an opportunity to broaden and build those positive emotions so that your client gets more out of the session.

I’m sure you can see why emotional balance matters for both the coach AND the client.

As the coach, your priority is to learn how to manage your own fears, insecurities and inadequacies, and to be able to handle your client’s emotional state, however they show up to the session. 

So let’s talk about how to be a more compassionate coach.

Using self-compassion and compassion are great ways to maintain your own emotional and energy in the session, AND help your clients get into more of a creative, optimistic and motivated state.

Self-Compassion Being Skills – How You Show Up

The first thing you can do to be a more compassionate coach is to show up to each session with a compassionate coaching presence.

The being skills of compassion are warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy.

Showing up with these skills helps you to be fully present for your client, and to put your own beliefs, judgements and bias aside so you can truly focus on their needs, wants and agenda.

I would like to share the process I use for building self-compassion.

This really helps me to avoid being sucked into my client’s energy and emotions and get into a more compassionate headspace, so I can be present and maintain the client’s agenda.

Here are the FOUR things I do to build and maintain the being skills of self-compassion:

  1. I work with my own coaches for my own personal development
  2. I use a pre-session ritual, and
  3. I intentionally practice my being skills. 
  4. I manage my own emotions through compassionate self-coaching.

I am always banging on about working with a coach, so for now, I just want to talk about the last three of these things.

Let’s start with pre-session rituals. 

1. Pre-Session Rituals

There are LOTS of different things you can do as a pre-session ritual to help you develop the skills of compassion. 

Here are a few ideas:

  • Spend 5 – 10 minutes meditating (e.g. Headspace app)
  • Spend 5 minutes doing a breathing exercise e.g. 4 7 8 breathing exercise
  • Take a short walk in nature, standing upright, striding purposefully and breathing deeply
  • Visualise yourself being present 
  • Listen to calming music

Basically, you are looking for any ritual that quiets the inner voice and brings you into a calm, present state.

What could you do to relax and become present?

What would best suit your learning style?

What equipment, resources or tools would you need?

2. Intentionally Practising The Being Skills of Self-Compassion

Here’s a fact – when you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

Remember, emotions are contagious!

Your clients will be better equipped to settle down, let go of the past, to accept themselves and to feel self-compassion.

Then, they will be more able to make peace with their challenges and move forward.

If you are self-compassionate, you will be better equipped to help them zoom out of any emotional reactions so they can objectively review events and see things as they are, and start seeing opportunities for change. 

Here’s what I do to intentionally practice the being skills of self-compassion.

  1. At the start of each calendar month, I choose a being skill I would like to focus on.
  2. I write that in my diary.
  3. I find at least one opportunity each day to intentionally practice that skill in a conversation with a friend or family member.
  4. I reflect on that skill before a coaching session and look for opportunities to bring it into the session, to either
  • Help a client move into a neutral place, or
  • To help a client to broaden and build on a positive moment.

This is my personal practice – what would you do to strengthen your being skills?

3. Managing Your Own Thoughts – Being Self-Compassionate

Those of you who know me know that I am a big advocate of self coaching using the Model that Brooke Castillo created.

That is about changing your internal dialogue – to stop catastrophizing, criticising and blaming – so that your self talk becomes more neutral and factual.

I can’t stress enough how important this is. 

The analogy is that you are learning a new language – one that is more empathetic, nurturing and compassionate.

You can learn more about the model at the Life Coach School Podcast.

So the first thing I do to be more self-compassionate is to use the Model to rewire my thoughts.

The second thing I do is to use the tools of self-compassion both as a regular practice and in those moments that I feel emotional pain.

You can learn more about self compassion in episode 76 and you can visit self-compassion.org for some useful tools 

My practice for those more intense emotional moments of suffering is as follows:

  1. I watch my self talk
  2. I catch my inner critic in the act, calling me a name, judging me
  3. I practice self-kindness by replacing my negative thought with something kind – and to do this effectively, I imagine that I’m talking to a friend who felt like this
  4. I remember that other people feel like this. I consider others I know who have suffered.
  5. Then, I bring myself to the present moment by focusing on my breath, or even better, something in nature.

I find that nature helps me to zoom out and get perspective, to feel gratitude and then warmth, and to become calm again.

Summary – Charity Begins at Home

To wrap things up, I ask the question – how can we show up with empathy for our clients, and put judgement aside, if we can’t be compassionate with ourselves?

I truly believe that charity begins at home.

If you want to be a more compassionate coach, then you need to do two things: 

  1. To manage your own emotions and self compassion, and
  2. To show up with compassionate being skills in your coaching sessions with clients.

When you radiate warmth, patience, mindfulness, calm and empathy, then you will show up with compassion AND those feelings will rub off on your clients.

I described my own practice of four things that I do to build self-compassion and compassion:

  1. Working with my own coach
  2. Using pre-session rituals to enhance my being skills for my client’s benefit
  3. Intentionally practicing being skills every month, focusing on one at a time
  4. Managing my own thoughts with self-coaching and self-compassion tools and practices.

If you would like to become more self-compassionate, visit melaniejwhite.com and click the Free Chat page, to enquire about a good fit session with myself or another coach in your area.

Ready to be a more compassionate coach?

Both coaches and clients are better off with compassionate coaching! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here:

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Episode 64: 7 Tips To Increase Body Awareness

This episode of the podcast helps you understand the benefits and challenges of building body awareness, with some tips on how to get started.

Body awareness is the first pillar of Body Intelligence. It is the foundation of all healthy habits. 

It is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

What is Body Awareness?

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

And I want to talk about a few examples so that you really understand what it might involve. Here might be a typical day and where body awareness fits in.

Let’s say you wake up in the morning and the first thing you notice is that you have pretty dry, sleepy eyes so you rub your eyes to get to sleep out of them.

And then you realise you’re a bit thirsty maybe you had your mouth open last night so you have a drink of water because your body has told you that your mouth is dry and you’re attending to that need. 

Next you notice your stomach growling and you feel a sense of hunger so it’s time to have something that you know will sustain you for the morning.

All is good so far, but as soon as you realise that you need to get on with getting to work, your focus shifts to other things and your body’s gentle, subtle signals get lost in the noise.

Having worked with my Habitology members this month, we’ve discussed some interesting things that we’ve all noticed.

One realised that she just needed to take breaks to eat more often.

Another discovered that she had been pushing herself too hard and ignoring the signals.

One noticed how calm she has been feeling.

Another noticed how much more clarity she has because it’s caused her to slow down.

I noticed that when I drink water late in the afternoon, my stomach is settled and I wake up more energized the next day.

Can you see a trend here?

The Benefits of Building Body Awareness

As you can see the main benefit of building body awareness seems to be that being aware means that you will more likely take action to attend your needs better.

But what of that? Why is that important?

That’s actually where the real gold nuggets lie – in the benefits of being aware enough to commit to taking action.

  • You squash imposter syndrome

If you think about it, the first benefit for you if you’re a coach is that you truly feel like a role model for your clients. 

When I ask coaches I’m working with what their number 1 struggle in business is, they say that it’s maintaining emotional balance. 

They say that inadequate self care is a recipe for catastrophizing, judgement, fear, anxiety and lying awake at night ruminating.  All that can be largely avoided or at least tamed with some body awareness.

  • Freeing up creative thinking

What was (not so) surprising was that self-care reduces stress and anxiety, so you have more space for creative thinking.

And let’s face it, business is largely creative, and stress is the opposite of creativity. A little awareness can be a game changer in this regard. 

  • More healthy choices, more often

Being body aware means you’re noticing whether you’re moving enough and eating for hunger rather than boredom or stress. It means smarter alcohol, coffee and chocolate consumption.

I’m sure the cumulative benefits of those things are pretty clear – a healthier, calmer body and brain that ages well, has more energy and maintains a healthy weight.

There are many more benefits, but these are enough to start with and their big, juicy benefits.

How would YOU feel if you could achieve even just ONE of these four benefits?

The Challenges of Building Body Awareness

The main challenge around building body awareness is that you have an existing pattern of being distracted by other things – it’s easy to shift your attention away from your inner signals and to lose focus.

You may also be in the habit of convincing yourself that something else is more important than attending to your body’s needs in the moment – without stopping to think about the bigger impacts and consequences of this decision.

But the great news I want to share with you is that these two things are just HABITS.

They’re thinking habits you have, and you can unlearn them.

You can rewire them.

When you go back and think big picture about the benefits of using your BA on a daily basis, then it’s a no brainer to do some simple, menial tasks to rewire your thinking and get back onto the BA bandwagon.

Seven Tips for Building Body Awareness

Here are some tips to help you build body awareness, so that you can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier.

I suggest you create a simple schedule around these things and use reminders to start building these new habits to improve your BA over time.

Tip 1 – schedule 5 minutes in the middle of the day to write down 3 negative thoughts you’ve had and rewrite them as facts.  

Tip 2 – set an alarm to do a body scan at morning tea, afternoon tea and after dinner to notice how your body is feeling.

Tip 3 – set a reminder or diarise a check in with how you feel emotionally at 1pm – good or bad, reflect on the possible influences and decide what you might have done more or less of to influence that result. 

Tip 4 – write in a journal four mornings or nights per week before bed – even a few lines is enough.

Tip 5 – work with a coach to speak out loud about your body awareness and set individual goals.

Tip 6 – meditate 1 – 5 times per week using an app like Headspace if you need assistance.

Tip 7 – use mindfulness each day to bring your awareness to your five senses – choose a random moment to notice what you see, hear, smell, taste, feel and sense.

Body awareness is simply paying attention to the signals that your body gives you. It’s another way of talking about mindfulness but in relation to your body.

Summary

Body awareness is a simple yet powerful tool that is easily overlooked or pushed down your priority list.

But if you use 1 – 3 practices each week to raise your BA, it’s highly likely that you will sleep better, have less anxiety, eat more healthily, feel calmer, feel like a good role model, have clearer thinking, feel more empowered and in control, and make better, more rational decisions in your life.

If you would like to talk to a coach about raising your BA, go to the contact page at www.melaniejwhite.com now and fill in the form.

Ready to improve your body awareness?

You can live more of your life, be more productive and feel happier and healthier. If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.

Learn more here: