Coach Charlotte Green shares some of her expertise and knowledge in today’s guest post:
Let your body do the talking
I am often asked whether ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’ are the same or different – are they interchangeable words or do they mean different things?
Feelings and emotions are certainly related concepts and that is why they are often confused and treated as the same thing, and in many cases that works well. But when we, as coaches, are helping clients to really know and understand themselves, it can be really useful to differentiate between the two.
So what is the difference?
Feelings are in the moment. They are what we experience physically within our bodies and through our 5 senses. It’s useful to refer to them as physical feelings. Unlike our emotions, they do not involve the mind. Emotions on the other hand are a mental interpretation of the feelings we are experiencing mixed in with our thoughts.
When asked how they feel, I notice that people respond on one of three levels. Some respond with a thought – “I’ve got so much going on” – others give an emotion – “I’m finding it hard to cope” – or they go inside and describe exactly what their body is telling them – “I feel so tense and exhausted. Everything aches.”
Here is a table to show examples of the 3 levels:
|Level 1:||'no one will help me'||Thought||An idea or opinion produced by thinking / a mental picture – imagined and contemplated in the mind influenced by life experiences|
|Level 2:||'I feel anxious'||emotion||A combination of thoughts and physical feelings – an interpretation|
|Level 3:||'My shoulders feel really tense and my stomach is in knots'||feeling||Physical experiences within the body and information received through one of the bodies 5 senses (touch/ taste/ smell/ sound/ sight)|
So, which level do we want to be working with?
We are a holistic system and need information from each of the 3 levels to be fully resourceful and yet, in the western society we overemphasise the importance of the mind. This means that thoughts can dominate and hijack the system resulting in stress and overwhelm.
By paying attention to all the messages we receive from our thoughts, emotions and feelings we maintain a balanced and informed system, each giving us feedback that helps us be safe as well as to develop and grow. Imbalance occurs when one level dominates or hijacks another or we shut one down. There is no hero or villain in this situation – each part of the emotional system is equally valid and essential and deserves attention.
EXAMPLE – Inviting client to connect to themselves at a deeper level
Here is an excerpt from a recent coaching session (I have client’s permission to share this) where I was inviting my client to connect to themselves more deeply. They move down through all three levels shown in the table above. For those of you who use NLP, this can be a great tool for accessing positive states to anchor.
Coach: How are you feeling today?
Client: I’ve had a good day (thought)
Coach: I know you said that you have had a difficult few weeks so that’s really good to hear. How are you feeling?
Client: I’m happy (emotion)
Coach: How do you know you are happy?
Client: work went OK, got time with my partner tonight and looking forward to getting together with friends tomorrow (thoughts)
Coach: they sound like a lot of good reasons (thoughts) why you might feel happy. Let’s go inside more and find out how you experience that within your body. How does your body let you know it’s happy? What do you notice about your body right now? How do you feel?
Client: I feel a bit tingly all over and I have a big smile on my face (feelings)
Coach: Just sit with that feeling for a moment. You can turn up the volume if you want …
Client: (smiling) Wow! I feel lovely. My breathing has really slowed down and deepened. I feel really calm and relaxed.
How to apply this to your coaching
- Introduce the emotional system to your clients and encourage them to check in with themselves regularly throughout the day:
- Simply ask yourself “how do I feel right now”
- Then notice at which level you answer
- Practice moving up and down the levels, particularly going down if you tend to start from thoughts
- Moving from thoughts to emotions “how am I feeling right now”
- Moving from emotions to thoughts “what am I thinking about right now”
- Moving from emotions to feelings “what am I physically feeling in my body”
- As a coach, remember to walk your talk and check your own emotional system is flowing and that all 3 areas have your attention. It will improve your intuitive abilities to coach and help you build rapport with your clients.
- You can shift physical feelings simply by being present with your breath (mindfulness) so this is a very effective method of managing stress. Give your breath your full attention – it takes practice but in my experience the calm comes quickly and feels really good.
Although I have been a coach since 2006, I have specialised in working with women for the last 4 years, and more recently with young adults, both of which are hugely rewarding. In my experience, developing a complete emotional language has been a massively influential part of my client’s successful transformations.
Women in particular, who are often so tuned into and committed to the wellbeing of other people’s emotions, have found that having the permission and skills to tune into themselves has enabled them to break free of limiting behaviours, thoughts and habits and be able to create a much more balanced and satisfying life.
I hope you and your clients enjoy exploring your emotional systems.
About Charlotte Green
Charlotte founded Inner Confidence for Women in 2006 after a fascinating corporate career managing an international training team for a global electronic publisher where she and her team ran workshops within Universities and Government organisations across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Although she gained invaluable experience and skills from the corporate world, her real passion lay within personal development.
Inner Confidence for Women specialises in self confidence, self esteem and emotional wellbeing for women and young people. Charlotte is incredibly passionate about her work and reaches her clients through running courses, workshops and through 121 coaching.
Charlotte was inspired to focus on working with women after the birth of her daughter in 2010. “Being around so many women who put their own needs to the bottom of the pile while they made sure everyone else was OK really spoke to me. I love helping women find themselves again, or for the first time. It is a joy to encourage women to raise their self esteem and self confidence so they can embrace their lives”
As a professional trainer as well as a coach, Charlotte is able to reach a wider audience creating and delivering workshops to inspire young adult carers in Suffolk. “When an 18 year stays behind after the workshop to tell me excitedly about how they used the new tools and techniques to improve a situation that normally spirals out of control, it is one of the most rewarding feelings in the world”.
Charlotte believes that unexpressed emotions are like a drunk relative at a wedding – they corner you and won’t leave you alone! As an accredited Peer Support Network trainer she co-runs courses on behalf of a local Mind charity, Suffolk Mind, helping people to learn how to notice, accept, express and understand their own emotions so they can increase their confidence and wellbeing.
Charlotte is passionate about helping people to believe in themselves “when you believe in yourself, anything is possible”
Find out more, get in touch, like, follow, tweet (!) …
Twitter : @ICforWomen
Website : www.innerconfidenceforwomen.co.uk