Are You Honoring Your Client’s Reality?

image by www.123rf.com – Post by Ragini Michaels

Reality is a funny word.  It’s very personal and it’s very impersonal. That means it’s relative and it’s universal.  As a coach, counselor, or therapist, it’s your job to discriminate between the two and never assume you know your client’s perception of reality; nor assume that your perception of reality is better than, or more correct, than theirs.

These kinds of assumptions make you blind to (or at least forgetful of) the necessity of not only discovering your client’s view of reality, but also honoring it – in your language, in how you explore strategies or solutions, and in your overall approach to the issue at hand.

Deeply Understanding The Nature Of Personal Reality

20329192_sJust grasping the nature of personal reality is often mind-boggling, much less waxing philosophic on the nature of absolute reality. So let’s just stick to the reality we personally create for ourselves.

NLP assumes personal reality has a structure that is not laid in stone. Rather its nature is flexibility. In this way it is impersonal. The content however is very personal, or relative to the individual experiencing it.

Yet, years of experience under your belt (or even when you’re just beginning), can cause you to feel that you know things for certain. And this can produce difficulties.

Why? Certainty closes the door to further exploration; and this can block your ability to recognize, accept, respect, and meet your client in the reality where they live.

Why Certainty Kills Off Creative Exploration

When an idea hardens into a certainty, it starts to FEEL like Truth. When you feel you know the truth about your client, you are at risk of missing your client’s truth (as well as your own). You are at risk of missing how their perception of the truth is holding their personal reality in place,  imprisoning them and creating their pain and suffering.

When your personal reality loses its flexibility via certainty, it is hard to adapt to the flow of the creative personal realities streaming by from your clients. The bad news is that your professional expertise and experience can easily create this situation.  The good news is that with a little bit of awareness and willingness, you can reclaim your perceptual flexibility and increase your capacity to work within your client’s personal reality instead of your own.

The Paradox: Challenging Your Certainty While Staying Confident & Sure

Years ago when I was living in an ashram in India, I remember the most empowering thing I learned while participating in a spiritual therapy training. The leader said that 14664832 - 3d person character and a question mark - 3d render illustrationanytime I found myself saying ‘I want X for my client’, I had slipped into doing therapy for myself rather than my client. It was a disturbing thought.  But it changed my notion of what helping another person actually meant.

In those days, I was certain I understood the mind and how it worked. I was certain that all I had to do was deliver this information to my clients and they could then change – if they wanted to badly enough.

Of course, I was totally wrong. But the reason I was wrong was because I was certain that I knew the truth, the way things actually were. I can chalk that up to youth and inexperience, of course.  But I also know how easy it is, even today, to fall into this desire for the comfort and confidence that certainty and conviction offer.

The most powerful antidote for certainty is doubt. Just a little bit of questioning shakes up certainty enough to help you regain the professional balance required to truly help another person learn they can actually help themselves.

In the presence of certainty, doubt brings you back to the understanding that all personal realities are unique and therefore different. This requires you to 1) be present and 2) be willing to accept what you find. This reopens the door to your perceptual flexibility and inspired creativity.

The Man Who Wore His Past As A Blanket

Not long ago, I was working with a client whose life was still being dominated by his past. He understood that what he’d been taught as a child from a fundamentalist church and family was no longer what he believed. But, he couldn’t seem to get away from it. He knew it wasn’t true intellectually, but the teachings still felt like the TRUTH.

He had started to explore a specific aspect of his life when I had the thought to check out where he stored his past experiences.  I asked him to point in the direction of his past.  He said it didn’t have a direction. So I asked him to point in the direction of his future and he pointed straight ahead of him. So I asked him again to tell me where his past was and he then shared, “All around me – like a blanket.”

58471633_sNow I’ve worked with enough clients to KNOW this was a major sticking point. Your past should be behind you, where it belongs. I KNEW that if I worked with exploring how to do something different with his experience of the past that I could get more of the change he was looking for. I got intrigued with the challenge of how I could change it.

Then I remembered that the client hadn’t asked me to change how he stored his past. He asked me to help him explore how to enjoy his retirement. This caused me to doubt my conviction that changing direction right then and exploring how he stored his past was the road to travel

So I put my certainty aside, despite the fact that working with time storage in the past had been really powerful. But I was determined to honor my commitment to following my client’s lead. So we went ahead and did the piece of work he’d just started.

At the end of it, when the client felt the change he’d been after that day had happened, I got curious and casually asked him where his past was now.  Lo and behold, he said, “Oh, it’s behind me now.” That was it. He wasn’t surprised or amazed. It had just shifted on its own as a result of the work he’d been doing that day.

It reminded me once again how every person has everything they need to make the changes they want and to get to the outcomes they desire.  My only job is to help them discover and utilize these amazing inner resources. And more often than not, they know exactly how to get it done much better than I do.

The Joys Of Honoring Your Client’s Reality

It had always a great feeling to think I’d helped someone make a change and get the outcome they wanted. But somewhere inside, I actually felt like they made the change because of me and my expertise.  Well, of course, that was half the truth. The other half was that it’s always all the client’s doing.

It’s a paradox, of course. Both are needed.  The 12730236_sguide and the person wanting direction. But when you guide your clients back to themselves as the source of the change, the inspiration, and the motivation to get it done, the joy inside multiples geometrically.

And, in my opinion, when you really know this to be a true – when you are certain – without a doubt – that it is the client doing all the hard work, that truly wonderful sense of being of service arises, pure and simple.

For me, it is the delight of all delights. Like the teacher who gets thrilled when the light suddenly shines in the student’s eyes as they get the point, or connect the dots, and finally understand. It is this mixture of grace and gratitude that is the real payoff of staying true to working within your client’s personal reality.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out more at www.ToHelpYouHelpOthers.com/blog and www.RaginiMichaels.com/blog. And feel free to subscribe if you like.

Best to you,
Ragini

images from www.123rf.com

Draining Beliefs Of Their Truthful Feeling

63571395_s

Beliefs are the glue that hold a personal reality in place. And when that reality gets stretched to its limits, the beliefs either break down, making space for something new, or settle into the shape of a conviction that cannot be moved or shaken.

Clients come in all shapes and sizes as do their beliefs.  In addition, the way they relate to their beliefs is also quite varied. Here are a few tips for identifying where your client is in this vast spectrum, and how to respond:

  • Has your client questioned whether or not their beliefs are the TRUTH? Or do they just assume what they believe IS the truth and operate from that assumption?

    Help your client explore alternative perspectives via the ‘as if’ question format:  Now I know this isn’t the truth, but WHAT IF the opposite were the actual case?  What new options might be there? Or how might you relate to things differently if you approached the situation with this alternative view?

  • Is it clear to you that they have thought about the validity of their belief and remain convinced that their belief is indeed the TRUTH.

    Help your client think a bit more deeply by gently offering counterexamples that challenge their conviction as a universal truth. Keep it light and in the form of a question:  What about the circumstance where (counterexample) happens? How do you imagine that can occur?

  • Some clients intellectually know that their beliefs are not true and that they limit them. BUT the beliefs still feel true in their bodies. This is confusing to most people and can evoke feelings of shame and a sense of failure and/or incompetence.

    Help your client understand this is a great place to be and that it is now possible to get rid of that feeling of truth in the body. Explain that the belief still feels like a truth in the body because of the amount of emotional charge attached to it.

    If you have permission from their system to clear out this belief because it limits them, you can proceed to an Energy Psychology tool or equivalent process. The objective is to choose a tool that will lower the emotional charge until the belief shifts from the felt sense of a truth back into simply a thought that they can act on or not.

There may be other categories of response to seemingly truthful beliefs as well.  But these three seem to be most prevalent.

BASIC NOTIONS ABOUT BELIEFS & TRUTH

There are some basic notions about beliefs and truth to explore with your10280412_s client when needed.

First, make sure your client can distinguish between a relative truth (one that has operating relevance in their personal life) versus an absolute truth (one that is true for everyone, or universally). Offering this distinction can open the door to greater possibilities, insights, and understandings.

For example, how they relate to pistachio ice cream (it’s the best to it sucks) offers a truth based on their own experience (bite of ice cream  + like or dislike flavor + generalization out to all pistachio flavored things + the same response will be there for all people who eat pistachio ice cream). Obviously, not everyone experiences pistachio ice cream with the same response. Thus their experience is relative.

Experiences that fall into universal truth would be rain is wet, oranges are round, breathing  is composed of an in-breath and an out-breath. These experiences are the same for all people.

Second, the introduction of this distinction creates awareness that the reason we form beliefs is because we can’t know the actual truth. When this is the case, we almost always will create a story or belief that helps us better navigate the unknown or unknowable. For example, beliefs about what happens after death, or deciding that Jane didn’t go out on a second date with Hal because he’s overweight.

Bringing conscious awareness to this distinction makes the freedom they’ve been seeking from the limitation/problem/challenge more available. And that is part of what brought them to see you in the first place, whether they consciously knew it or not.

Simply becoming aware that Belief IS NOT EQUAL To Truth can be incredibly freeing.

BELIEFS, TRUTH, AND POLARIZATION

Extreme polarization is increasingly common today.  And with it, comes increased stress8248999_s and anxiety. Why?

No fixed idea can become a permanent guide to happiness or peace of mind.  Things evolve, growth happens, and things change.

When our beliefs are fixed, we lose the ability to navigate our lives and the world effectively.

Without flexibility, we cannot navigate the continually shifting twists and turns of life. And as we’re seeing, this can result in extreme reactive behavior (anger, violence, war), or giving way to giving up  (sadness, despair, hopelessness, and helplessness).

Once your client knows intellectually that their belief is not THE truth and thus limiting them from accessing their full potential to respond, you’ve got a green light to go ahead and show your client how to drain that belief of all its power.

And be sure to remind them that they can direct their own process to re channel the released energy into a new form of expression that is of their own choice (curiosity, excitement, flexibility of viewpoint, etc).

Hope these tips have opened up a new door or two to better serving your clients with love and respect. The beauty of the journey is right there in the unfolding of their own unique process.

If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please give me a call at 425 462 4369.

Best to you,
Ragini

Photo: Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_tashechka'>tashechka / 123RF Stock Photo</a>