How to Self-Care: A Primer for Coaches

by | Sep 8, 2023

Coaching is spiritual. At its mastery, it’s a healing process. The irony may be the toll the healing takes on the healer!

Coacharya

Coaches frequently bring up a challenge in supervision, ‘Dealing with intense emotional issues of the client leaves me tired, listless, and depleted in energy. I am afraid it will have serious wellness consequences for me. How do I handle this?’

This may not be the situation for a large number of coaches who coach transactionally. Such coaches believe in powerful questions rather than deep listening. They have the solutions formed in mind and barely have time to pause before the client finishes. This is the quality of coaching I come across even at mastery-level submissions. At levels below, this is the norm.

Coaches are not to blame. Trainers are. ICF competencies are well written with an emphasis on the coach exploring the whole of the client, their thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and values, through intense observation and inquiry into verbal and non-verbal cues. My colleague Cindy and I come across a large number of new entrants at Level 2 of ICF training who do not have an understanding of competencies and markers. If the client’s stated outcome is to lose weight, so be it, let’s look for ways to lose weight. That’s not coaching. That’s not even good mentoring.

 

Let us see what we can do differently, for the better:

 

Self-Coaching

The starting point of learning at Coacharya is self-coaching. The coach must apply the core competencies and markers to coach oneself to clear one’s own baggage. It’s only when the coach masters self-coaching can they anchor the coaching mindset within them. The skill set of coaching is useless without the mindset.

 

Client-centricity

Coacharya believes in the Rogerian client-centric principles of unconditional positive regard, empathy, and congruence. These are derived partly from Maslow’s Humanistic principles and Jung’s Collective Unconscious concepts. For a coach to move to mastery in coaching, a deeper understanding of these psychological fundamentals is essential. Not merely because they improve one’s coaching, but more because they help us practise coaching spiritually.

 

Systemic View

Coacharya teaches the systemic approach not merely because it’s important to clients. We believe it’s important to coaches. Starting with the question, ‘What would the Universe wish for you to be in service to all at the end of our journey,’ in coach training as well as coaching, raises the bar to selfless systemic service. As you coach, stop your judgmental inner dialogue. Instead, become a witness of being an actor in the process. Be detached and mindfree. Practise sensory awareness coaching by inquiring into the energy sensations in the client’s body. When integrated, this process is selfless systemic coaching in unconditional positive regard, that creates a spiritual base for coaching in self-care.

Self-coaching can become a way of life. Every night, while in bed before sleeping, one can mentally run through the events of the day, and reflect on what one could have done better. Do this in sensory awareness by observing one’s body energy movements when reliving the day’s experience. The negative experience will show up as a discomfort. Merely observing it, in form, structure, mobility, and colour, and labelling it as an emotion often helps to relieve the discomfort.

When the discomfort is greater, such as painful anger or invalidation, one can inhale deeply and then exhale in a burst, both with mouth closed, a few times. In addition, one can also learn to anchor oneself in a joyful situation using a kinaesthetic anchor, which when applied relieves the discomfort.

The simplest way is to visualise a joyful event, with the thumb and index fingers touching in a circle in both hands as a kinaesthetic anchor. Visualise the experience with closed eyes, and after a few deep breaths, as a movie on a huge bright screen in color with all sensory inputs. Intensify the experience, pressing the fingers on both hands tightly and holding for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat the process. Doing this once a day, over 2 weeks will serve for a lifetime.

Another helpful practice is to center oneself with a deep breathing process a few minutes before a coaching session. Inhale deeply from below the navel for 5 seconds, hold the inhaled breath for 3 seconds, and then exhale slowly and completely in pulses for 10 seconds; hold for 2 seconds. Practice this trapezoidal breathing in 20-second cycles for 3 minutes. At the end of the breathing process, visualise yourself covered in a white healing protective energy ball centered in your heart space for a minute.

These simple exercises and the self-coaching process, along with selfless, mindfree coaching with unconditional positive regard will ensure coaching wellness.


Photo by Xan Griffin on Unsplash

Ram Ramanathan
Ram Ramanathan

Ram

Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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