How many self help books are there that promise a bright new future or a happier life – millions I’ll be bound. In fact I have just searched Google for “coach yourself”and managed 13,500,000 results in 0.36 seconds. So it seems there are a great deal of people ahead of me in this queue.
Now depending upon where you are in your life or career self help and the wise words of countless books can be both a pleasure and a curse. The pleasure being there are a number of ready made answers to life’s problems the curse being having to read them and try to use them. So how easy is it to coach yourself so you can make sense of where you are and most all feel good about the whole business.
I am going to pin my colours to the mast and suggest we start to look coaching yourself with a model that is tried and tested; cognitive behavioural coaching or CBC. You have probably heard of CBT well its the same but without the “tell me about your childhood” therapy. More how are we going to move forward making sense of how thing are and how they could be.
Now one very simple and straight forward model is the ABC Model and is perhaps the most famous cognitive behavioural format for analysing your thoughts, behaviour and emotions. Cognitive behavioural therapy/coaching works on the assumption that your beliefs influence your emotions, your behaviour. By identifying and addressing problematic and automatic thoughts you can help to change your behaviour and experiences for the better.
The ABC Model asks you to record a sequence of events in terms of:
A – Activating Event (also sometimes described as a ‘Trigger’)
B – Beliefs (for example, the automatic thoughts that occur to you when the activating event happens)
C – Consequences – how you feel and behave when you have those beliefs (consequences may be divided into two parts: your emotions and your actions)
So lets have a quick example on how this might work. You are at work and your boss stops you and says “have you got a minute”. Now if you are anything like me my immediate thought is what have I done now! Says more about me than the statement. So the trigger for me is negative as it is my belief that I am in trouble yet again. As a result, I feel nervous, anxious, might need a strong coffee (won’t help the anxiety), might feel nauseous and generally a heightened sense of doom.
Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce to you a choice – a balancing thought. If I had used a balancing thought I would have seen the thing differently, as my boss is probably going to discuss something completely different. One of the approaches of CBC would be to ask you to reflect on whether the beliefs of the activating event are justified, rational or are based on an assumption or errors of initial thought. If on reflection you consider that those beliefs about yourself are not justified you might think of some more realistic balancing statements which you can remind yourself of when the activating event occurs to help keep what is happening in perspective.
So stop and think about those activating events in your life that kick off a whole body experience of something not necessarily good is going to happen. Ask yourself what evidence have you got for this thought and altered feelings about the situation? You can probably cast your mind back to an event in the past that has framed your thinking of a particular event. If its not relevant to this situation then change it, think differently about the event, thinking about the event differently will change the way you feel and behave. Sounds simple but it is a tried and tested method to help bring a sense of perspective into your work & life.
Give it a go, its sometimes hard work as you have to engage in some meta thinking or thinking about thinking. Think about the events that give you the collywobbles and ask is there a different ore positive way of thinking about it. I bet you can and I bet it changes how you feel and behave? Drop me a line if you want to know more.