As A Christian life coach, it is of utmost importance that a Christian Life Coach that you understand how your coachee’s emotions affect their current situation, their goals, and whether or not they accomplish their whatever they contacted you for coaching. A strong life coach certification program should help you understand how important emotions are and how they affect one’s decision-making process. Here is an excellent understanding on what feelings and emotions are, and how they affect your coachee.
Principles of Emotions and Emotional Messages
It is important to understand the difference between feelings and emotions. A feeling is a sensation that has been checked against previous experiences and labeled or given a name. An emotion is the projection/display of a feeling.
Emotional communication refers to the act of expressing one’s feelings. In the counseling profession, this is also known as “emotional intelligence” or “social intelligence.”
An interesting note: The inability to engage in emotional communication (whether you are the speaker or the receiver) is part of a learning disability known as dyssemia. This is a condition in which individuals are unable to appropriately read the nonverbal messages of others or to communicate their own meanings nonverbally. People with dyssemia could look uninterested, fail to return smiles, and often use facial expressions that are inappropriate to the situation and the interaction.
Emotions may be primary or blended: Professionals have identified eight basic emotions: joy, acceptance, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger and anticipation. There are also blended emotions, which are combinations of the primary emotions. For example, love is a blend of joy and acceptance, whereas remorse is a blend of disgust and sadness.
Emotions are influenced by the body and mind: Emotions are experienced in three areas: body reactions, mental evaluations and experiential interpretations. Body reactions to emotions include blushing when you’re embarrassed, nervous habits, or sweaty palms.
According to theorists, a Christian life coach should understand that the coachee’s mental evaluation of what is happening is a bigger influence than what actually happening. In this stage, the coachee evaluates and interprets the behaviors from what they have actually experienced, and their emotions will depend on what they think a certain behavior means. For example, the coachee may think that if someone is rude or insensitive, they are also angry with the coachee based on the way their violent mother treated you as a child.
Emotions may be adaptive and maladaptive: Adaptive emotions can help your coachee adjust to a situation. For example, if he/she is worried they won’t do well in something, the coachee will work harder to prepare for that situation. Maladaptive emotions hinder accomplishing any goals. For example, the coachee may be so anxious about a situation that he/she doesn’t prepare for it. When emotions become maladaptive, they can lead to catastrophizing, which is taking a small problem and making it so big that is becomes overwhelming and insurmountable.
Emotions are communicated verbally and nonverbally: Theorists do not agree over whether humans can choose the emotions they feel. Some argue that you can; others argue that you cannot. However, all agree that we are in control of the ways in which we express our emotions. In some instances, we determine to fully express or vent our emotions, but in other situation we censor our emotions. Often, the expression of our emotions depends on who is around us and whether or not we want to impress that person.
Emotional expression is governed by display rules and cultural: As a biblical life coach, it is vitally important that you understand how men and women present themselves, and how culture influences actions.
Emotional expression is often dictated by what is and is not appropriate within a given setting, society, or social group. Men and women also have gender display rules. For example, it’s appropriate in our culture for women to express their emotions and feelings; however, men are often frowned upon when for doing so. One reason is that men tend to display feelings in overt or demonstrative ways that can lead to physical aggression. Culture also dictates how we should express and interpret our emotions. For example, Chinese students show respect by being quite and passive. Asking questions would imply that the teacher was not clear on the lecture. However, in the North America, students are encouraged to ask questions and to participate in class discussions. Thus, we cannot determine who someone truly is based on their emotional reaction, because we do not know about their cultural background.
Emotions are contagious: As you coach according to icf coaching core competencies, think about your own emotions and how you might affect your coachee. For example, if you were smiling and exhibiting positive emotions, you would affect your coachee in a positive way, and vice versa.
The word motivation can be stated as ‘e-motions’: they motivate us to action. Motivations are felt in the body. Our muscles tense or relax. Our blood vessels dilate or contract. What we feel emotionally, we also sense them physically. Our emotions can send us urgent signals to initiate an action or to maintain our current state of relaxation.
When we are trying to understand something or make a decision, we use our emotions to deduce whether or not what we have concluded is a good idea. When we think about something that contradicts our values, our emotions will tell us that it is a bad idea. When we think about something that could hurt us, our emotions will tell us to protect ourselves. By simply imagining what might happen, our emotions are triggered and we make our decisions based on what we believe what might happen.
We generally wear our hearts on our sleeves as our inner emotions are displayed through our bodies, even though we may not be conscious of this. Our faces, in particular, have around 90 muscles, 30 of which have the sole purpose of signaling emotion to other people that help them decide how to behave towards us. If we have an angry look, then someone might think twice before arguing with us. If we look fearful, someone might want to help us. Thus, our first response is to a person’s facial expression. Being able to read your coachee’s emotions through their facial expressions or body language is extremely important when helping your him/her process their thoughts.
We feel emotins on a continual basis; however, we sometimes enter a state of emotional arousal in which our bodies experience heightened physiological activity. This can be powerful or dangerous and trigger the familiar fight or flight response. States of arousal are triggered by emotions such as fear, anger, curiosity and love, which are felt with an overpowering intensity that drives us to act, often without thinking.
Emotional arousal is a process, which means it happens as a sequence over time. Understanding this is a step towards being able to manage the process.
Arousal often happens through a trigger through one of our senses such as:
Touch: A punch, kiss or caress
Vision: Seeing something shocking or desirable
Hearing: A sudden noise or somebody saying something
Smell: An evocative odor that triggers powerful memories
Taste: Of wonderful or disgusting food
The Process and Effects of Arousal
Arousal typically happens when the body releases chemicals into the brain that act to stimulate emotions, reduce cortical functioning and conscious control, and create physical “readiness for action.” In situations of negative stress, we enter the fight-or-flight state, when automatic responses designed to keep us alive take over. When emotionally aroused, people feel more alive as senses become more acute and the skin prickles in excitement. For many people being aroused is a pleasurable state that leads to the need for stimulation. Negative states such as fear and anger have their benefits as well. For example, angry people can feel all-powerful when their emotions are aroused. Fear is a common factor in many hobbies, especially extreme sports, where people do things deliberately to become aroused, from trick skiing to watching horror movies.
In states of depression, the opposite occurs and sufferers may be unable to feel any sense of arousal, interest and a desire to engage with their world.
Obstacles to Communicating Emotions
There are three major obstacles that effect emotional communication:
1. Societal and cultural customs – societies teach us what is and is not appropriate to express emotionally. When we break these display rules and customs, we are frowned upon or ostracized.
2. Fear – when you express emotions, you are making yourself vulnerable, so it is natural to fear how people will react to you.
3. Inadequate interpersonal skills – the inability to speak or write effectively can make it difficult to be able to express your feelings as well.
Skills for Expressing Emotions:
Always remember that your coachee cannot avoid expressing their emotions, so it’s important for him/her to gain skills for expressing them. As a spiritual life coach, you can use the following steps to help your coachee express their emotions effectively.
1. Understand your feelings: You can find whether or not you understand your own feelings by asking a few questions. (1) What am I feeling, and what made me feel this way? (2) What exactly do I want to communicate? (3) What are my communication choices?
2. Describe your feelings: When you’re describing your feelings you want to make sure to be as specific as possible, describe the reasons why you’re feeling that way, address any mixed or conflicting feelings, anchor your emotions in the present and not the past, own your feelings, and ask for what you want. You also want to use I-messages rather than you-messages. An example would be, “I get angry when you don’t listen to me,” rather than “You don’t listen to me.”
3. Handling anger: Anger can easily stem into many larger problems, so it’s important to handle appropriately. You can do this by using the ventilation hypothesis, which is “the notion that expressing emotions in positive ways allows you to ventilate your negative feelings, which will have beneficial effect on your physical health, your mental well-being, and your interpersonal relationships.”
You can also use the term SCREAM. This is an anger management procedure.
S: This refers to the self. How important is this matter to you? Is it worth the health risks of being angry?
C: This refers to context. Is this the appropriate time and place to express your anger?
R: This is the receiver. Is this the person you wish to express your anger with?
E: This is the effect. What effect do you want to achieve.
A: This is the aftermath. What are the likely long-term repercussions of the expression of anger?
M: This is the message. What message would be appropriate, and how can you best communicate your feelings to achieve your desired results?
4. Anger communication: Here are a few suggestions on how you can help your coachee communicate their anger in successful ways.
(1) Get ready to communicate calmly and logically.
(2) Examine your communication choices.
(3) Consider the advantages of delaying the expression of anger.
(4) Remember that different cultures have different display rules.
(5) Apply the relevant skills of interpersonal communication.
(6) Think about the consequences of the irreversibility of communication.
Skills for Responding to Emotions:
(1) Look at the nonverbal cues to understand the individual’s feelings.
(2) Look for cues as to what the person wants you to do.
(3) Use active listening techniques.
(5) Focus on the other person.
(6) Remember the irreversibility of communication.
As an effective Christian life coach, you want to have many tools available to you, so you can help your coachee navigate their situation. By understanding how important emotions are and how they affect outcomes, you can become a more successful life coach.