We’ve all heard of the proverbial “elephant in the room.” As we dig into ICF Competency #8 of Creating Awareness, let’s zero in on another manifestation of that elephant. It’s the elephant in our BRAINS!
Ubiquitous, yet invisible, this elephant takes up an enormous amount of space in our brains . Left unchecked, it constantly produces movies in our minds —and rarely are these movies rom-coms and fairy tales … more likely dramas and horror flicks.
Our movie-making elephant narrates stories about our circumstances—judging everything as good or bad, safety or threat. It has a tendency to whisper worst-case scenarios. And, it has a powerful ability to create and communicate a variety of emotions to our bodies.
These mind-movie messages are simply predictions—negative predictions about what might happen to us. The bigger the elephant, the more real it becomes to us.
And what feels real to us becomes reality to us. It’s the truth of what we’re experiencing.
Even if others see things differently.
Shifting Predictions toward Positive
How do you shift people’s awareness when those mind-movie predictions are all-consuming, or predominantly negative, or pervasive, or threat-centered?
Here are a few coaching tips:
- Don’t try to fix the client. Trying to fix someone’s perspective basically means you’ve fallen prey to the same duality that the client has.
- See the client from the vantage point of the North Star. When you look upon circumstances from afar, the timeline trajectory grows and things change perspective.
- Assume there is some form of beauty in the client’s circumstances. What can you appreciate in this situation? Perhaps it’s an opportunity for the client to fully experience his power to create, or her opportunity to grow in some way.
- Explore inherent ironies and reverse-engineer strengths. There is often an inherent irony in the client’s situation. For example:
- The “project management” client frustrated by the job search can begin to project-manage his networking activities.
- The “empathetic” manager who has trouble delegating can turn her compassion inward and notice the personal/family impacts of not delegating.
- The “analytical” leader who is frustrated with over-due deliverables from direct reports can analyze how his assumptions have contributed to the delays.
When the elephant in our own mind is pervasively positive, we’ll be much more able to operate from a stance that helps our clients to do the same!