In our culture, we place in highest regard that we have superior intellect and that our minds can think our way out of any problem. I see that often in many of my clients, who arrive at their sessions with an excessively active brain, and ideas and thoughts emerge effortlessly from their mouths as they describe the problem, and also all the extensive thinking they’ve done about it. Despite all this immense thought creating effort, they still cannot resolve their issues and now arrive at coaching for something they may have missed.
I can tell there is massive thinking happening in the words they choose, where “reasoning-based” words dominate, and indicates a potential disconnect with other guiding parts of their being. When there is a lack of ”feelings-based” words, it is a clue that all this thinking is happening in absence of connection with their heart, where feelings are located in our bodies. With other indicators, there could also be a lack of connection with their gut, where our own identity and self are located. When a disconnect to either or both areas happens, I often see that their minds cannot stop the endless circles of thought and undesirable emotions like anxiety, worry, and fear, among others, also circle simultaneously with the massive thought process that is going on.
We see a lot of coaching is like that: many coaching techniques come from clinical psychology and clinical therapy; we challenge distorted thought patterns and unwind them by showing them lack of evidence in reality of their own patterns. And the list goes on. However while some of this does work with some people, it doesn‘t work with all, no matter what the research “evidence” might be.
What if we took them out of their heads?
Therein lies the opportunity for a breakthrough by changing how we inquire. If they stay in their heads, they didn’t have the capability to come up with what they were feeling, or continued to pop right back to coming with more solutions (like more calendar events and habits to form!). Through other inquiry techniques like somatic coaching, we can attempt to ask what they feel through the body, whether it’s asking an affected body part in their visualization what it is saying to them, or asking them to direct their attention to their heart (“I hear that’s what your head is saying; however if you were to ask your heart how it feels about this situation, what emerges for you?”). Even if it’s a one word reply, that is incredibly useful – you can then take that emotion and wrap it back with something else already said and see what comes out then!
Heart and gut are probably the two of the most important connections that people disconnect with. Heart = feelings, desire, passion. Gut = self, how they feel about themselves in relation to what is affecting them. When asked where they may feel it in their body, usually they will indicate heart or gut. They may also just put their hand on their chest or lower torso. That will give the clue(s) as to what is going on behind all their intense thoughts!
Often, it is a simple lack of not trusting what the heart and gut are saying about the situation. The mind races off without any regard for what the heart and gut say, literally leaving them behind in what is supposed to be a collaboration. In many clients, simply asking them to see what their heart and gut said and ask what would happen if they were to listen can quiet their massive thinking processes and set them on a path with more confidence and conviction.
And therein lies the opportunity for a breakthrough in what they are experiencing – more thinking won’t get them there, but generating awareness of what is behind all their massive thinking, and then creating the path to the more effective solution once we know what is the thing behind the thing, if not just simply reconnecting the heart and gut to their minds.
PS: The heart and gut are, so far, the most common areas that are disconnected from the head that I’ve seen in my clients. However, they are not the only parts. To resolve their condition, often insight may need to be generated by inquiring further into other parts of the body, or even into the spiritual side of things. It is why I love practicing holistic coaching and broadening the viewpoint to cover the body, mind, and spirit in my coaching.