Life Coach Training
A Vocabulary of Feelings
There are many ways that human beings receive information, process experience, and express ourselves. In our culture most people live in their head. They perceive the intellect as the only tool with which to navigate their life. While the thinking mind is an important asset when it comes to making life choices, it is limited in its scope and leaves out vast terrains of guidance from other levels. Holistic coaching draws upon all the resources within an individual, including the mind, but not limited to it.
Emotions offer gifts of guidance and important avenues of self-expression. There is no such thing as a “bad emotion.” You can assist your client to make healthy choices by helping him to connect more with his feelings so he can become more self-aware and learn from the messages his feelings are communicating. If a client is primarily a thinker, recognizing and utilizing the feeling dimension of his world will create richer balance.
Self-expression is one of the most important goals of coaching. A client out of touch with her feelings may not have a vocabulary to express herself. When you assist a client to express herself more clearly and honestly, you have given her a tool that will carry her through much of life.
If a client gets lost in his story or wanders off into the corridor of his mind, simply ask, “How do you feel about that?” or “What is the strongest feeling you have about that situation?” or “What do you feel in the deepest part of you?”
If the client can express her feelings to you—especially those she has not expressed to herself or others, she has taken a significant step. If she is not in touch with her feelings or does not have the tools to express them, you can offer a vocabulary from which she can choose.
Below is a list of feelings from which you might draw. Ask your client, “Are you feeling____________ about this, or is it more like ______________?” In suggesting a feeling word you are not seeking to push the client in a direction, but simply offering a tool for self-expression.
|glad||free and easy|
|infuriated||sulky||uneasy||in a stew|
|worked up||a sense of loss||tense|
List courtesy of Richard Niolon, PhD
There are a lot of feeling words to choose from! I know a coach who printed a list of feeling words and offers it to her clients, inviting them to choose those words that express their feelings. You can be creative in how you elicit expression of feelings from your clients.
Feelings are a powerful level to work at in coaching because they run deeper than the intellect. (Emotion = E-motion: energy in motion. Where there is energy there is life.) Regardless of how much we think, feelings run our lives more than our thoughts. You usually can’t go wrong if you keep directing your client to come back to an honest expression of feelings.
It is also possible to overindulge the feeling level and miss out on the value of reason. Some clients are so wrapped up or even lost in their feelings that they could use a good dose of intellect. Tune in to each client to assess where she is at and help her find healthy balance. My mentor use to say, “The mind alone is a tyrant. The heart alone is chaotic. The marriage of the two is mastery.”
1. List three primary feelings that describe your experience at the moment:
2. List three primary feelings that are or have been undercurrents in your life:
3. Do you navigate your world primarily through your intellect or through your feelings?
4. Are your mind and feelings in a harmonious balance?
If not, how might you create a more harmonious balance?.
I use my feelings as keys to greater awareness of myself and my life.
I guide my coaching clients to use their feelings
as keys to greater awareness.
The material in this lesson © by Alan Cohen is proprietary for the education of students enrolled in
Life Coach Training Program by the Foundation for Holistic Life Coaching.
Using for any other purpose without permission is strictly prohibited.