Thursday, February 20, 2014

Protect the Flame

Have your clients been trying to ignore or overcome their problems? Think of the energy it takes, trying NOT to do something they dislike about themselves. Often people are reluctant to confront their so-called negative aspects because that promises to be uncomfortable. Depending on the level of discomfort, this could range from feeling a "pinch" to what one woman said was like walking the last mile to her own execution.

Psychologist Carl Jung had a dream where he faced into a strong wind, holding a small flame in the palm of his handhis task to protect the flame while continuing into the wind. 

You can help your clients protect the light of their inner potential as they walk "into the wind" of the difficult territory of change. To ease this process, instead of wasting energy not doing something they don't want to do, show them how to go with the pattern but with one small, even playful, difference. 

Here are two examples: 
Jerry was overwhelmed with the burdens of work and felt “entrapped.” When I asked him to locate that experience in his body and exaggerate it, he said it was like “being in a chokehold.” Knowing Jerry was a student of aikido, I asked him how he might release a chokehold in aikido fashion. Later we worked with this image, wedding the right-brain language of metaphor with left-brain strategies, finding ways to give his staff more information so they could do their jobs well and diminish his burden of responsibility.
Karen disliked doing the mundane tasks on her to-do list, one of which—making follow-up calls after an introductory letter—was costing her business. She would retreat into playing the piano instead of making the calls, and then feel shame over falling behind in her work. I asked Karen what kind of music she disliked playing. “I don’t like contemporary classical music,” she admitted. I invited her to consider, “How could you improvise in such a way that you’d enjoy playing contemporary classical music?" She answered immediately, with a laugh, “By jazzing it up!” “Great,” I encouraged her. “Now, how could you jazz up your introductory letter so making follow-up calls attracts you?” I suggested she “put it on the back burner and notice the innovative ideas that begin to occur to you.” This suggestion was based on an understanding of creative thinking: after a certain amount of logical clarity, the most innovative solutions come at unexpected, unplanned moments, often in right-brain images.
For transformational change, the goal is to find solutions, not fix a problem. It doesn’t work to fight against undesirable behavior. It does work to interrupt the underlying pattern of processing information that supports the behavior. 

Stay on the path. Protect the flame.   

(The examples above are from Out of the Box Coaching with the Enneagram.)