How to get unstuck, gain balance, and feel more satisfied in life
Are you wondering how to get unstuck? Does this sound familiar?
“I am always doing, in survival mode, juggling parenting, work, household duties, volunteering, social activities—and find myself in certain routines and patterns. How do I deal better with my chaotic and full head and experience more relaxation, satisfaction and balance in my life?”
I asked myself a similar question the year I turned 40, engaged in a coaching process, and now know that it all starts with inner awareness. Now in my work as coach ~ communication trainer ~ mediator, I don’t provide direct answers or advice to this typical question I hear, but instead give guidance by listening deeply and asking good questions. The answers are uniquely yours – perhaps just not yet accessible.
On “Automatic Pilot”
Have you ever noticed that when someone asks you, “why did you do that?” you struggle to come up with an answer? The majority of the time, we could probably all reply with “I don’t know, ask my automatic pilot.” Simply put, habits are routine actions we perform, driven by our subconscious mind. We don’t know why, we just do, based mostly on the strategies we took on with every new event, dent, trauma, interpretation, conviction, that each helped form patterns throughout our personal past.
Revealing these underlying driving forces is key to better understanding why we do the things we do while on automatic pilot and becoming capable of changing our habits and patterns. It’s about realizing that we have choices, and choosing in a conscious manner. In the coaching process I guide my clients through (typically 5-6 sessions), I follow these basic steps:
Step 1. Empathy, empathy, empathy
Getting to inner awareness requires first and foremost listening deeply with an open heart and “soft ears/eyes” (i.e. without judgment, comparison, blame, advice). I listen for your longings, what you miss in life, what’s most important, your basic unfulfilled needs. When reflecting this back to you, I typically notice a deep sigh, a relaxation in the shoulders, a stillness, a relief in being seen and heard.
Step 2. Awareness of subconscious drivers
The results of your Organic Scorecard (OSC, a tool developed by Transmind), helps get down to the core by highlighting not just your longings, but also ongoing strategies (typically developed in early childhood) and potential next steps. Often it indicates how your subconscious drivers actually clash with each other, causing a sense of being frozen, stuck, unable to break through patterns. (I wrote in an earlier blog post about my first experience with the OSC: ). In broad terms, the OSC helps you gain a better understanding of your:
- emotional driving forces that give energy, movement and great happiness . . . but can also lead to insecurities, fear, sadness
- rational driving forces that provide stability and comfort . . . but can also lead to inflexibility, stagnation, a sense of being stuck
- trusting driving forces that give a sense of peace, letting go, and relaxation . . . but can also lead to an undesirable distancing or disconnection.
Step 3. Toward authenticity
Most people I work with are interested in learning how to be their TRUE, or REAL SELF. Once they’ve gained awareness about why they do the things they do, they’re often ready to build new skills to enable them to be more authentic. I use my training in Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to help each client do some mindmapping, using the following steps:
- separate observations (shared understanding of facts) from thoughts (interpretations, stories you tell yourself, blame, comparisons, analysis)
- use the thoughts to get in touch with authentic personal feelings and needs
- distinguish between needs (what’s really important for life satisfaction and happiness) and strategies (how you might go about fulfilling your needs). When we get attached to certain strategies, this can lead to a painful, “being stuck” experience. When we free our minds to imagine all the different ways our needs can be met, we enable creativity, choice and freedom
- out of the perspective of feelings and needs (and not thoughts), how to “come up for yourself” while staying in connection with others (by making very personal-based requests to help meet your needs).
For me personally, what helped me grow toward authenticity was learning how to self-connect and seeing choice throughout my every day. An awareness-raising diagnostic tool like the OSC and the coaching that accompanies it serves as an amazing short-cut. This in combination with NVC skills enabled me to take very different actions than in my past. I have come to learn that I face choices all of the time and how to make them consciously. I now know that I and my clients (mostly internationals living in the Amsterdam region) never have to be stuck again, can maintain a desired balance, and experience life satisfaction.
If you find yourself wondering how to get unstuck, feel free to read other of my blog posts and contact me for an exploratory conversation. See if my services might be a good match for you by emailing or calling me at: cara(at)crislercoaching.com; +31 (0)6 24379575. My office space is just off the Leidseplein in Amsterdam (appointment in Haarlem are also possible).