Integral Life Coaching


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A Short Story on Feeling my emotions

(948 words) Environmental Triggers and Our Subtle Emotional Reactions

I was air-traveling after a long time. I usually take books to read, notebooks to write, or audiobooks to listen to. And I usually end up watching people, movies that I don’t even like, or doing nothing. Of course, in the end, I’d judge myself for being unproductive and wasting many hours in the airport and during the flight. Killing time is no fun! 

It wasn’t that I wasn’t aware of my anxiety causing the restless feelings. I didn’t even acknowledge it and simply brushed it away.

Obviously, I wasn’t distressed or panicked but the low amount of anxiety usually gone unnoticed made me feel not enjoying my flight and feeling restless during my time in the airport or airplane and exhausted after my arrival.

This time, I decided to be more mindful as soon as I got to the airport. I was lucky, the airport and security line were not crowded on a Thursday mid-morning. However, I noticed my shoulders began stiffening and even hurting. In my head, I was clear and had no signs of anxiety. But my body was alarming me. Stress usually impacts my muscles, especially my right shoulder and stiffens my jaw. I began searching more in my body. I noticed the shallow breathing. Yup, my nervous system was aroused. I was in fight/flight mode, very alert.

So, I accepted it. Cognitively I began searching for reasons for the anxiety. I noticed that the airport has been a place that separated me from my child for 6 years. Also, the word security brings an alert to me. Even though I have personally worked on the projects related to the security machines in the airports, to me, their protection means there are possibilities of danger. And last but not least, being born in Iran and having it noted in my passport, I have gotten the big red ❌ on my boarding pass many times, singled out, being body and bag searched. Evidently, my body remembers all of that and probably more which alarms me of the possibility of repeating any of those events. Based on my personal experiences, that’s my body perception. 

I tried to remember good memories of traveling around the world through different airports and securely back to my sweet home too. It was nice to remember good memories, but it didn’t balance the unsettling memories in my body. 

So, I decided to let my anxiety be there. Since I had enough time, I allowed myself a leisure walk towards my gate. And told my anxiety, “It’s okay. We are together in this and at the moment we are safe.”

When I sat in the airplane, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to be anxious. I noticed, I wasn’t worried or scared. I was just unsettled due to my personal perception of the airport and air-traveling, and of course being out of my routine. My body needed to be more alert to protect me. Sounds simple but our bodies have to work hard to manage all of that. 

I’m glad I tried to understand my situation allowing myself to feel the anxiety. To my surprise, I read my book more than any other time with good focus and I wasn’t trying to use reading as a distraction. I wrote the draft of this blog post, massaged my neck and shoulders, closed my eyes every now and then, stayed friends with my anxiety, looked outside, and had a good time on the air. The unsettling feeling wasn’t as powerful and distracting anymore. 

On Airbnb, I relaxed without rushing to sightseeing. My body was grateful, shallow breathing was gone, and my shoulders relaxed, the pain was gone by the end of the day. It became more manageable than before. I was certainly more present enjoying my time.

The neuromuscular neurons in our body like the neuroreceptors in our brain have stored all the memories. They send messages to our brain to take survival actions for our safety based on those understandings of the past. All the stress from each event, weak or powerful, remains in our muscle memory. 

There are now many practices to release the stress from our body that could be different for each person. We can learn what actions work for us. Someone can run or do yoga to release the stress. I need to lay down and relax sometimes along with doing yoga and stretches, dancing, and shaking my body. 

The more we become in tune with our bodies, the better we can ground ourselves and get through what life brings to us with more resilience. Research shows that overall, we are more resilient if we feel our emotions, name them, listen to their messages of safety and survival, and avoid brushing them away or distracting ourselves from it. 

Little improvements count and sum up to create a calmer experience. I was able to begin re-teaching my body to remember that it was okay to feel unsettled, to remind myself that I was safe and could enjoy the moment and be present. 

If there was chaos and I was distressed, I’d choose a more powerful tool to authentically feel my emotions (such as deep breathing, closing my eyes for a few seconds, or body centering) to quickly remind myself to be resilient and then later after the storm would do longer grounding practices.

What I was experiencing was allowing myself to feel my emotions and accepting them. I practiced bringing more clarity that perhaps freed my cognitive abilities to perform with more presence.

How do you listen to your body? Do you accept your emotions allowing them to hang out? What tools do you use to ground yourself?

Let’s create a safe space for our emptions!

Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi on Pexels.com


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A slice of My Self-acceptance Journey

It was a wakeup call when Joseph said, “Shabnam, you are reliving your childhood traumas of war.” It had been a few months into my new job that I noticed I was crying every day. 

I knew I feared war and its disturbing news; I had grown up with them. It makes sense that I am against war but to be realistic, if the last resort is fighting to defend or protect ourselves, I accept that as a distressing event. So, my self-reflection on everyday crying was that I was assigned to the wrong projects at work. Defense projects on weapons are necessary (perhaps) but I am not the right person to work on them. I thought I was fighting with my moral values and guilty feelings.

That day in June 2021, I was sobbing in the therapy session. Joseph waited for me for a few seconds and then calmly said, “Shabnam, you are reliving your childhood traumas of war.”

I brought my head up and unhide it from my hands. Tears streaming, I started listening to him carefully. Joseph continued, “The powerful emotions you are feeling at the moment, are all the emotions you felt during childhood but little of them had come out. This strong reaction you have to your job now is to release the suppressed emotions. You are experiencing a trauma reaction.” 

There were a few moments of silence. My mind felt blank, overloaded by the awareness. I had thought it was an inner conflict between my job and my values. Little did I know, the powerful trigger of working on a bomber project caused reliving the trauma of being bombed. I had worked on a similar project before, and my strong guilty feelings pushed me to change that job within a few months. It was my ignorance on not re-thinking the path I had chosen in my career. Or better yet, I had blindly jumped to the next job opportunity that was in front of me, allowing the randomness of the opportunities to build a career path for me. I wish I had a mentor or a career coach back then who had asked me about my values and ethics of working. I was a naive, young, immigrant woman. 

Joseph asked me if I could talk to my manager and ask to be transferred. I talked to the management. Accepting my situation with empathy, they promised to move me as soon as they hire a replacement for me. 

On top of my problem with the nature of the products I was working on, the team who I was working with was matter of fact and serious and worked under the threat of losing their jobs that rippled from the top management. So, the strict hierarchy, demanding for work to be done in a strong authoritarian style with no mercy took me back to the dictator government I had lived under in Iran. That was the right recipe for disaster for a person with such childhood experience.

Earlier in September we hired a young professional who needed training. I was in charge of his training but already slipping on the path of depression yet accepting the management decision. I blamed myself for not being strong enough. I told myself that I needed to wait and cooperate with the team. It was only fair that way. I could do it. I needed to be stronger. 

Mid-September, on a Friday afternoon, I felt so much anger and fear at work that I emailed a co-worker and said I needed to turn off my laptop before I sent a disrespectful email to the project manager I worked with due to her uncooperative behavior. I was shaking and needed to lay down. I crumpled in my bed under my blanket and began sobbing. I was sick over the weekend. It was a powerful anxiety attack and a new experience to me. I had experienced feeling depressed before, but I had denied the power of anxiety and depression and got through it without stopping. This time, I wasn’t able to function, and I asked for a week of sick leave. I received a warm email from my manager accepting that but on Wednesday he called me and asked me to get involved with the new hire and get back to work and I did it. I was stoic fighting to overcome my guilty feelings of the anxiety attack.

It took another month and half until I was completely removed from those projects but by then I was feeling sick and had to call out many days due to the weakness I felt in my body. It was perhaps difficult for my manager to understand the power of my trauma reaction. He never directly talked to me about the matter in our calls, we only talked about the logistics of the programs. I had talked to our Human Resources about my emotions and never to my manager directly. On one of my sick days, he sent me a text, “Are you working today, Shabnam?” I answered that I had emailed him for the day, and I wasn’t feeling well. He texted me back, “Can you send me the x document?” 

I knew that document was not due for another two months. I had been slowly working on it but not much. I wasn’t able to perform well. I thought he wanted to see the progress of my work and fire me for low performance. I was so tired of the situation that I sent him the document and my resignation letter in one email. 

I resigned that November feeling ashamed of not being able to get through the stressful time and depression. I was in a dark place not even mentioning my concerns for my financial commitments. I had started my anti-depression medication a couple of months before, but the depth of the sadness needed more help than medication. I needed self-acceptance. A type of self-acceptance that was a product of self-compassion. But all I could hear in my head was criticism for not being good enough, not being strong enough. Although, physically I could do nothing but lay down most of the hours, I felt guilty for not doing anything. 

I didn’t think about my capacity, my emotional arousal, my constant dark mood, my lack of motivation to do my job, the morning gagging, and tears as soon as I woke up, and the weakness in my body, feeling constantly nauseous. My body was telling me to stop but I had no self-acceptance of my capacity. I wanted to be strong, to be grateful of the opportunities of upcoming changes, and to be accepted by the management team. My body finally collapsed.

Despite all the support and hugs I received from my husband, my daughter, my close friends, and my counselor thoughts were ruminating in my head, 

• Am I really this weak or am I being lazy? 

• Am I so sensitive that I wasn’t able to have adult communication with my manager on how I felt? But he never allowed me to talk about anything other than the work projects. 

• What if I can never go back to work, who will pay my bills? 

• I hate corporate culture. It is very limiting. It is all wrong.

• Am I really depressed? Am I exaggerating my feelings?

• I notice shallow breathing all the time, like I can’t fill up my lungs. Am I dying maybe? That’s not a bad thing. It is liberating. Life is so difficult.

• Am I worthy of all this support I am receiving from family and friends? They will get tired of me. 

• I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I don’t need any advice. I want everyone to leave me alone. But without my friend S and my therapist support, I would not start the medication. 

At the same time, I was going through a one-year program to become a certified life coach, my dream job. It started in April of 2021. In December, I had a four-day session with my coaching school. The philosophy of my coaching school, New Ventures West, is to promote self-development for us as coach students in order to be equipped and educated to be able to help others in an authentic way. It was great to be held in that container with my classmates and teachers for four days. I felt loved, calmer, safer, and a little less depressed. I had the opportunity to contemplate on the concept of self-acceptance.

After the session was over, I started listening to Tara Brach’s book, The Radical Acceptance. As weakness took over and I laid down many hours per day, I listened to each chapter of this book over and over. I self-reflected and listened to it again. 

Another couple of weeks needed to pass for me to feel better about my mornings when I woke up. We were approaching the end of the year Holiday time. I felt the urge to contact friends and have zoom calls with a few. The connections felt great and energized me. From once a week, I increased my connections to a couple of even three per week and started to go out with friends who felt comfortable with the pandemic situation.

Week by week I felt better and by March I started a new job. I accepted a part-time job to make sure I have time to rest and focus on my coaching projects and clients. I had cultivated a great sense of self-acceptance including my imperfections and weaknesses. Through self-compassion, I learned I should be careful about triggers and early signs of depression in my daily activities to be able to regulate my emotions before they go crazy. I began daily check ins, practices to ground myself, and studying more on self-compassion. The ruminating thoughts and doubts had lost their power and I was in a fairly stable emotional state, grateful for all the support in my life to getting out of the depression episode I experienced. My thoughts had transformed to

• Oh, how depressed I was. That was too much emotional pain.

• I am grateful to wake up and have the capability to like my life.

• Silence is great.

• Nature is beautiful and calming.

• I need to rest now.

• How do I feel now? How can I bring harmony to my emotions?

• I need a massage.

• I enjoy my conversations with my loved ones.

• Life is much bigger than my problems. I need to look at my challenges objectively. How can I do that?

• How do I solve this hiccup today?

• What can I offer to life?

The last session of coaching training was at the end of April of 2022. The cohort gathered for another four days over the zoom. I was the second one in the line to receive my final words on my development and whether I would be certified or not. I didn’t feel anxious before the class started. I thought I was a good student. I enjoyed my projects and assignments throughout the year. They kept me going despite the depression and work pressure. They were my refuge. I loved my coaching clients and to be a coach. There was no reason for anxiety.

To my surprise, receiving my development feedback for the one year of my hard work, every question from my teacher felt like an attack and I became more and more defensive in explaining, clarifying, and defending my projects. Her serious face (was concentrating only) became scary to me. She noticed I was nervous. I agreed with her. I was panicking. She tried to sooth me. When the half an hour discussion was over, I was confident I wasn’t receiving my certification and I started hysterically crying. 

Well, that was authentically me. The Shabnam who in her head turned a developmental conversation with her teacher to an exam and freaked out. With the first question on a mistake I had made, my empire crashed. In my head I was supposed to be the good student in this class and with one mistake, my thoughts turned catastrophically towards becoming the bad student I always was in my youth. 

The reaction was so fast in my body that I slipped down in trance instantly. I was not able to do anything except reacting dramatically. However, it took me a few minutes to realize that I was trauma-responding. Through talking to my classmates, deep breathing, and applying the awareness of my recent trauma reaction experience at work, I was able to ground myself and become present quickly.  When I went to the faculty breakout room to hear about the results, I explained that I was aware of my trauma-reaction, and I was grateful to realize it quickly. 

Although the panic had already taken away the joy out of me, I felt grateful when they announced that I was certified. They reminded me that their evaluation was from over one year of my work and not about one mistake. They read beautiful feedback from my clients and reminded me of their observations of my deep connections with my clients. 

I accepted myself with my trauma reactions and felt deep self-compassion. I felt grateful to have developed the skill to catch my trauma-response and to accept it. It took another two days to be completely out of the pain of the trauma reaction, but I was able to function and be present during those days. I was aware of the emotional pain and allowed it to be there hanging out with me. It was part of the process of integrating an unaccepted piece of me – the bad student – and accepting my past. And, to realize there is no good and bad. It is all about our perception!

I am positive the more I integrate different versions of myself, the more acceptance and trust I build towards life including myself. It is a life-long process.

On the last day, the faculty’s last advice to us was “Be you and become more you”. 

Let’s practice self-acceptance together!

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

Edited by Mike Curtis


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Self-Deception: Do We All Do It? Is It Good, Bad, or Both?

(1526 words)

Self-deception has been a recent mind-provoking concept to me. I needed to read and write about it. How we lie to ourselves and accept the lies and overtime we believe they are the truth and not the root of our sufferings. 

With self-deception, we try to hide our flaws and make a good self-image that makes us feel like a better person.

But don’t we often say, “Fake it to make it”? Are there occasions that self-deception can play a positive role? When old beliefs create a barrier and try to convince me that I am not good enough and I believe it because I don’t know better, maybe fake confidence can help me to break through the barriers! 

Self-deception like any other phenomena in life has both sides of the coin. It’s that how we draw the truth from either side.

Bringing a systematic and integral approach to self-deception, we want to be able to recognize the act of self-deception and bring a perspective to it to see the bigger picture. The bigger the perspective becomes, the better it shows us that we don’t have to be fake, and our real self is as accepted as possible. We will be able to see that everyone has flaws and that is just simply being human or any creature. Do we question a tree’s appearance because of a few dried branches? 

In an integral approach, we see ourselves as part of a bigger system and try to remind ourselves of the interconnection between us and the system we live in, the impacts of the system on us and the impacts we create on the system.

If I lie and pretend to myself and others that I am wealthy, then others’ expectations will be different, and I have to lie more every day. If I pretend that I am physically strong while really feeling weak and tired, others count on me as strong and when I break, it impacts others’ lives who counted on my support. If I pretend that I am always right and never make a mistake, after a while other people don’t trust me and my relationships become shallow, and I feel lonely. If I deny any tension in a relationship and pretend everything is smooth, would the tension go away? How about the wrong relationship I stayed in longer that I should have? We know the true answer to most of these questions but there are many times we prefer to be self-deceiver and choose a shortcut to avoid being distracted from our distractions in life; especially when we think we know everything!

And not only that, despite the quick gratification we gain, constant lying to ourselves could create anxiety and release excess cortisol and adrenaline that impact the health of our nerve system and physical being. It takes away the energy that we could spend on actualizing more of our potential. 

In dealing with self-deception, we could live with outdated beliefs and values. So, we may force our environment to follow us or at least we make it uncomfortable for others who have other beliefs and values. Our outdated beliefs create habits that are mostly disturbing, and we think our beliefs are the truth.

In the 70s and 80s working long hours and being busy on a job was established as a value to be a great employee. Today newer generations value work-life balance and would like to get more out of their potential in different ways other than focusing only on their jobs. How many of us deal with this conflict of value in our work environment? 

Self-deception has so many layers of complexity especially when it reaches some life routines. I know my cell phone that I touch every minute of my life is made of material that is mined by child-labor, I look for opportunities to raise voice and support organizations against child-labor. And yet, I need a newer phone because I live in a society that is filled with status-oriented advertisements that falsely convince me a happy life full of merchandize is what I need! Is it? You see the paradox? 

How about voting for a political figure who could create more harm for the society as a whole but do one good thing in the small community I live in?

You see how complicated it could be especially under the current economic system we live in!?

Anyway, self-deception is a self-defense mechanism that is supposedly to make us feel better about our life. But it doesn’t work, it back lashes, and eventually makes us feel dissatisfied, uncomfortable, and even unsafe.

Here are examples of self-deception mechanisms that we subconsciously and habitually use in our everyday life. This is extracted from Self Deception – Part 2 – 60+ Self-Deception Mechanisms by Actualized.org:

  • I think I got reality figured out
  • I think my mind never lies to me
  • Underestimating the power of self-deception in my everyday life
  • Current science is all the fact and if I don’t understand something scientifically it doesn’t exist
  • Or I believe in all of thoughts my mind creates.

In his book Thinking, Fast & Slow, Daniel Kahneman says, “The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.” In simpler words it means we assume our perception of the world is the ultimate reality and there is no other reality other than what we see. Where, in fact, there are countless realities or aspects of a reality based on people’s perception.

Our perception – explained in How Emotions Are Made book review – is constructed based on our survival beliefs – many of them have been shaped as our cognitive biases, life experiences, distorted memories, cultural norms, and social realities, which are usually very subjective and narrow. Kendra Cherry explains the cognitive biases and how to deal with them in this article very well. It is up to us to take responsibility and bring those unconscious biases to the consciousness of our lives.

The more we can clean our lenses to reality and practice self-awareness, the better we can work on the self-deception beliefs in our life. We can enhance our perceptions. It is a lifelong practice that we need to commit to with self-compassion. The gentler we are with ourselves, the better we see the beliefs that lead us to lying to ourselves. Then with more self-kindness and self-acceptance, we can try to gradually change those beliefs and their related habits. Small

steps are always more doable and eventually will make a long path. The more we bring our subconscious to the light of consciousness, the freer we live. 

And why self-compassion? Because research studies show that self-deception could be mostly based on subconscious beliefs and even part of our biological evolution to survive that is witnessed in other mammals too. So, let’s be kind to ourselves and find how we can contribute to the rest of the evolutionary process since in so many cases, self-deception no longer serves us. It probably did as a survival mechanism many thousand years ago, but it is time to begin the change to survive in the new era. It is beyond me and you and belongs to all of us. Let’s all try to do our best. Evolution continues… 

We just have to make sure we don’t mistake self-compassion with justifying our deceiving behavior. 

Here is my suggestion to deal with this phenomenon. Next time we hear the soft voice coming from our hearts on any of our actions, let’s pay attention to it rather than silencing it. Look at the questions below. Allow the voice to get louder by contemplating on these questions.

Repeating this cycle and answering these questions can widen our perspective to help changing our old habits and obsolete beliefs over time. Using our analytical skills and critical thinking will help us to make a better world for ourselves. Don’t worry about doing it perfectly the first time. Just try your best and repeat it every time you hear the inner voice. Listen to it. Awareness is the first step. We can do it! 

Awareness part:

  • Am I experiencing a powerful unpleasant feeling? Am I uncomfortable?
  • Am I feeling like a victim?
  • Am I feeling guilty?
  • Am I feeling powerless?
  • Am I feeling too anxious about the matter?
  • Am I trying to change someone else?
  • Am I responsible for any part of this problem?
  • Am I justifying my action feeling a short-lived pleasure or confidence?
  • Am I self-deceiving?

Analysis part:

  • What does my reaction say about me? 
  • How can I see other aspects of this event? From others’ point of view? Imagining different outcomes?
  • How much do I know about other characters in this story? (If there are any)
  • Is my action along with my values? My morality?
  • What habits are behind it?
  • What beliefs support those habits?
  • Do I agree with those beliefs?
  • Where do I sense it in my body?
  • What can I do? What skills do I need to develop to change those beliefs? What’s the next first small step for me?

I will be honored, if I can be a help as a coach to company you through this journey.

Including a few good links to read and watch on the concept of self-deception:

The Psychology of Self-Deception

Self-Deception 23/30 The Problem of Not Knowing You Have a Problem

To get more to the philosophical side of it, read Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy – Self Deception

Seeing it from Jungian analyst point of view as the Trickster archetype 

Let’s create more clarity on our reality,

Shabnam

Photo by Ron Lach on Pexels.com


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Book Review: How Emotions Are Made By Lisa Feldman Barrett

(864 words)

What I learned from How Emotions Are Made:

In this book, Lisa Barrett offers the results of her scientific study in her lab bringing the most recent neuroscience explorations to understand how our bodies including our brains work to make emotions. 

In the journey of this book, we learn how one brain with notions such as concepts, social reality, and affective realism can create many minds. How our emotions are made is the question.

Barrett argues emotions are concepts that we learn as we grow based on what we get exposed to. Emotions are not universal. Depending on the environment and our exposure to life we could have different understanding of different emotions and express them differently. It is important for each one of us to understand that the emotion represented by a common name like sadness could be experienced and expressed differently by different people. She argues that our brain perception is also affected by our mood that is called Affect in this study. She brings examples of studies on judges who approved more paroles after lunch compared to before when they felt hungry. 

Barrett mentions in her book, “What’s innate is that humans use concepts to build social reality, and social reality, in turn, wires the brain. Emotions are very real creations of social reality, made possible by the human brain in concert with other human brains.” Us, humans constantly create new social realities based on our new beliefs.  

As she describes, affective realism is the phenomenon that you experience what you believe. And then she writes, “Nobody can completely escape the affective realism. Your own perceptions are not like a photograph of the world. They are not even a painting of photographic quality, like a Vermeer. They are more like a Van Gogh or Monet.” Impressionism is the best each one of us can do to see our version of reality.

Based on the stimulus inside or outside, we could experience a mix of emotions that could be hard to understand, let alone to regulate them. How can we understand our mixed emotions that our brain experiences? Barret suggests that we need to come up with new concepts such as chipslessness where we enjoy eating chips while we feel guilty and when we get to the last piece, we feel disappointed and relieved at the same time. Or how about the power of mixed emotions for an immigrant feeling safe and even relieved by not being in her motherland, while heartbroken watching her country facing hardship, and feeling helpless that she cannot stop the violence in her land. There are unlimited numbers of these mixed emotional experiences that could be even unique to each person. We need to learn how to recognize our emotions, conceptualize the experience, and accept them before taking any action or shaming ourselves on the contradiction of our emotions. 

To understand our emotions better and to practice self-regulation, it is necessary to understand the complexity of what happens to our body when emotions are aroused. 

When we understand better how our emotions are made, then we need to learn how to regulate them to build a flourishing life. Barrett introduces the concept of body budget that is constantly calculated by our brain based on moment-to-moment activities and our perceptions based on our previous experiences. Other variables in calculating our body budgets are the genes we inherited as well as our perception of reality and the relationship with other humans around us and what their brains’ perceptions bring to us. 

In general, we replenish our body budget by eating, drinking, and sleeping and reduce our body spending by relaxing and spending time with loved ones. 

Other budget balancing activities suggested in this book are included, getting a massage, practicing Yoga, having house plants, making our living environment tidy, having regular meet up with people who we enjoy their presence, watch a sad movie that gives us a good cry, walk in nature, handy crafts, learn a new skill or language, adopt a pet, get up and move, change your location, and learn what habits don’t serve you anymore and practice changing them. 

Other ways to replenish your body budget could be keeping track of the positive events in a day and what bring a smile to you. When possible, recategorization of our emotions is another way of regulating our body budget. For example, the anxiety felt in our gut for having an exam could be recategorized to feeling energy and determination.

What I’d like to be able to do is bring this concept offered in this book together with The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren, and the research study on “An Atlas of The Human Body That Maps Where We Feel Emotions”. The tree studies offer depth of understanding on our emotions from different stand points yet provide overlap. For us to understand our emotions and regulate them in order to live from a connected state of being rather than impulsive and reactive, we need to understand how emotions are made, where and how we sense them in our body, and what message each emotion represents. That understanding helps us to learn what practices could help each of us – uniquely – to regulate our emotions and develop deeper wisdom.

Let’s create more clarity on our reality,

Shabnam


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Our Nonverbal Communication

What I learned from Leadership Embodiment Book By Wendy Palmer and Janet Crawford (954 words)

“The nonverbal is a huge part of the communication for us human beings.” Wendy Palmer starts one of her speaking events.

In Leadership Embodiment we learn that the awareness of the vibe and body language is important. By standing straight, shoulders relaxed, and body at ease, our body releases oxytocin and testosterone. Janet Crawford backs up this concept in the second section of the book. She explains “What’s clear is that there is an intimate interplay between gesture and neurotransmitters, the chemicals that determine our emotional states. It is not an accident that we feel more powerful when we stand tall. In very short order, that stance increases our testosterone levels, equating with higher confidence.”

Leadership Embodiment (LE) introduces an essential concept on mind-body connection, the important role of our body in our communications. Palmer suggests the connection between LE and the Mirror Neurons theory. Mirror Neuron theory indicates that bodies mirror each other subconsciously when they are communicating, and it impacts the posture of the body and consequently the emotions aroused in the person. In short people pick up each other’s moods from body language. LE brings awareness to this phenomenon and suggests practices that could help deeper connections with others and with life.

LE teaches us about personal space and expanding it to include others and to switch from personality dominated body pose to centered body pose. The simple practice of noticing, standing, or sitting up right where your head, heart and core are aligned and relaxed can go a long way. It doesn’t mean that always sit up or stand straight because we get distracted or stressed during the day, but the trick is not to remain stressed. We need tools to use stress as a source of strength. The sooner we notice the easier we can transform it to strength. However, we don’t want to wait until we are stressed and do the practice. We need to practice centering all the time. The more we practice the deeper the body remembers it.

Centering practice as mentioned in the book could be as simple as 5 to 20 seconds of 4 steps each time.

  1. Inhale and uplift the posture
  2. Exhale slowly and relax shoulders
  3. Balance in according to gravity
  4. Expand personal space to feel the room

You can feel an ease immediately and the more you practice the deeper you sense the ease in your body that results more confidence and broader perspective.

Palmer also offers a practice in communication when a person being pushy towards the other. You can watch this video and practice it with friends. When someone begin to put pressure in us in any type of communication, we tend to have a posture that is either collapsed to make us feel smaller or chest extended that could make us feel defensive. In this practice, she teaches us to bring awareness to our posture, switch to a straight posture, and look further than the person to make our perspective bigger.

She even goes as far as when we don’t have the energy to expand ourselves. She explains, “I’ll invite someone with great wisdom, kindness, and strength to come through me with their energy. I use that person’s energy for my inspiration.”

Palmer emphasizes that repetition is the key to create a new habit. She suggests setting regular short practices to make the new habit by checking our muscles tension at least 10 times per day to notice which muscle groups are tense, and to notice when our head, heart, and core are not aligned, and we are in personality dominated posture. Then we can shift to center.

Centering practice is a small practice that can bring big results into our lives. In the second section of the book Crawford stands, “Leadership Embodiment practices help us develop a fine level of somatic awareness with regard to our emotional state. We can name the emotion we are experiencing and reshape our bodies to transform our emotional expression.” And then she clears that with saying, “Leadership Embodiment practices give us repeated somatic experience of navigating formerly overwhelming neural triggers in a more resourceful way, allowing the brain to record previous triggers as less dangerous than they were once experienced. As we practice with Leadership Embodiment tools, we are training our nervous system that we can withstand the input.”

The more we practice centering and expanding our personal space, the more we include others in our space with confidence and respect that doesn’t cross our boundaries. When we allow bigger space, then we could even put people’s aggression in that space rather than directly in our body. Then we can look at it objectively. And others also mirror our body posture and communicate through connectedness. There will be more response than reaction and the ripple effect of it could make a better environment. Palmer mentions that best leaders lead with warmth of oxytocin, confidence of testosterone, and the strength on their back. Doesn’t every one of us need to cultivate self-leadership?

I have benefited of doing this practice feeling the change in my body. I encourage friends, family members and clients to practice it. Throughout the session with a client, I remember this a few times and switch to centered posture. It is interesting to see the subtle effect of it on the other person. I think this book could be a great starting point for somatic awareness especially for people who are not familiar with it at all.

As my mentor coach shared this video with me, I encourage others to watch it as well. Watching Wendy Palmer and her beautiful body language gives the book a deeper effect.

Let’s celebrate life!

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How Does Life Coaching Help Personal growth?

(683 words – 4.5 minutes read)

Human growth is about enhancing our consciousness and gaining more analytical skills – by accessing to our newer parts of the brain – to understand reality with more clarity to actualize more and more of our potential.

When it comes to self-growth, there is no lack of quality resources these days. Many institutes are providing a variety of paths that help tremendously to find one’s unique journey of self-development. But how can a coach help you in this path?

We humans have the ability to create a story for every life event based on our perceptions. To know how comprehensive our stories are, we share them with others. Others can reflect to us, to see what we have not seen in our stories and how fragmented they are from the whole reality. This is where a life coach can help as a confidant and mirror to us by listening to our stories and helping us expand our perspective on our story. Working with a coach allows us to open our hearts in a safe environment. The coach listens and offers techniques and practices that help us see life with a broader view with multi-dimensional characters in our story acting influenced by the dynamic of the environment. The life coach helps us see ourselves in the big picture of life and how we play our roles in each story.

Telling our story changes the brain chemistry toward more connection and puts a structure on our story. The coach who is attentively and compassionately listening to us will offer the practices that can help us to gradually know ourselves better and change the habits that no longer serve us. A life coach is a partner, a team member, who helps us to set the ship sail and to continue our journey to a flourishing life. A life coach can stay with us until we have enough self-awareness and self-acceptance to enable us to ground ourselves during good and bad weather and lead our ship safely and with resiliency.

In a coaching session, we look at each story from different points of view and will answer questions such as: who am I at this moment of my life? Who are others to me? How am I living now? What are the triggers that unsettle me emotionally and change my mood? What tools am I applying to live my life? Who do we want to become and how do we want to live our life from now on? Then we try to find answers to those questions to build a new “me”.

A coach helps us evaluate the skills we have developed through our cognitive, emotional, and somatic intelligences and helps us create opportunities to deepen our abilities for a healthier lifestyle. The coach supports us recognize our kneejerk reactions to our hot buttons and learn more about connecting to our analytical states which will empowers us to understand how to calm our nerve system. We learn how to recognize different mixes of emotions by their sensations in our body and how to regulate them, advancing our analytical skills.

I don’t think it is an exaggeration if I say that many of us think self-criticizing thoughts motivate us to make progress in our lives. That is a myth and in contrast, new scientific research studies along with traditional wisdom show self-compassion practices are an efficient vehicle of self-growth. Self-criticism comes from our old habits and beliefs.

In order to develop new skills to make the transformation, the life coach investigates our habits and beliefs, and will help us update the ones that no longer serve us. I believe that self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-compassion are the foundations of this work. Until we know what is blocking our energy, and we learn how to accept ourselves with kindness, it will be difficult to accept others truly and authentically and collaborate in life events. A life coach’s primary job is to hold space for us, helping us to accept ourselves for who we are with kindness and to begin the changes that optimize our skills to connect more deeply to life.

Let’s celebrate life!

Editing credit: Mike Curtis

Photo from Pixabay.com