Self Compassion for the Coach
Originally published in Coaching for Transformation
Self-compassion means we approach our feelings and needs in a new way, including those we want to get over and those we seek to avoid. As we recognize that what is inside of us is not the enemy, we enter the space of unconditional acceptance, which then permits integration of all our parts into the whole. This softens us and generates an authentic vulnerability that connects us deeper inside ourselves as well as in the outside world.
Our feelings serve as a barometer to our inner world. When we embrace the full range of our emotions as a coach, we can expand our capacity for self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-management. This allows us to be more fully available to clients. In turn, that personal work furthers our skill at holding space for our client’s intense emotions, which creates safety in the relationship.
Self-responsibility (which is very different from self-blame) means we own our full experience. As we explore our inner reality, we notice our thoughts, feelings, body sensations, aliveness and longing. Without resisting all that, we can simply accept what’s happening within and breathe into our experience.
In our work, we draw on the wisdom of our body, just as we encourage clients to. The practice of noticing our bodily sensations helps us become fully present and aware of emotions. This practice also helps us notice when our heart is shrinking or expanding, and gives us insight into our deepest needs in the moment.
Our thoughts can include judgments and interpretations, but we recognize that they are actually stories we tell ourselves, not the truth. We then notice we have a choice, to label our experience or to watch how our thoughts change when we slow down and pay attention. In this way we can transform negative self-talk into self-compassion and awareness.
As we honor our needs and values, we come to full clarity about what motivates us at the core. As a result, this practice of self-awareness supports us in communicating with authenticity and passion. With practice, we have easy access to our inner vulnerability, which allows us to be fully present with our heart open. When our hearts are undefended, we can step into powerful coaching.
Inner work is vital, but we don’t have to complete our inner work before working with clients. In fact, the client and the coach impact each other’s inner work and capacity for transformation. During a session, our attention is on the client, but if we allow ourselves to be moved by the client’s transformation, we too can benefit. Just witnessing the client’s process can have a profound impact on us.
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