“What do you deliver to your clients?” my young friend, a life coach in the Netherlands, asked. He read the descriptions of What I Do, and Who I Am posted on my website, and they lead him to wonder what it is “I deliver”. The question was abrupt and fresh. I hadn’t thought about this. So, I paused for a short while and searched for the answer from my place of inner knowing. What came to me was “My Presence.” During my training at New York University, we were taught to have “a presence” that would ground us. For me this means to create a better “thinking environment” for a client, and refers to the Self Care Space, which I facilitate for this purpose. Over the years I have incorporated this theory into my practice while meeting with my clients and also into the way I approach my own life.
So, how do I do this? I do this by establishing a non-judgmental attitude. It is common to become defensive when we are criticized, which causes our “internal” intuitive and insightful thoughts to be covered over by “outer” less useful and unproductive thinking. We can distinguish our “internal” thinking –or wisdom/connected voice– from our “outer” thinking — or mental noise and undermining patterns of thinking, by recognizing the source of our thought. Is the thought coming from Inside, or Outside? (Inside-Out vs. Outside-In thinking pattern.) In a non-judgmental environment, the coaching conversation will be a fruitful process where thinking patterns can change and our own insights are revealed. We are able to replace habitual, and often unproductive patterns, that we have become accustomed to without cognitive awareness, with new patterns of thinking. In a non-judgmental environment we are able to identify our own connected inner voice, the insightful thoughts that arise from our source, our inner being.
Many of us have had the experience of wanting to share our inner most secrets with someone in an atmosphere where we felt safe and supported, like the safety we feel when sharing a story with a best friend. That safe and trusting space, between two people, is sacred and special as it allows us to “undress,” to expose our thinking and the workings of our mind, and to go further into our wisdom thinking. Once we are relaxed and feel comfortable, then we are not afraid of speaking our own mind. We know we will be accepted and loved without judgment. My presence, as a non-judgmental guide, will facilitate a “thinking environment” where clients are supported to think for themselves and create the change they need to establish a desired and connected sense of self. We are experts of ourselves, and if we are given a dynamic exploratory holding of time and space, a Self Care Space, we will discover the right solutions or resolutions for our life situations.
My Presence: Beyond Our Words
When I was decorating my new office, I was thinking of a cozy living room where I would invite houseguests. Excited as I was to share my “living room” with my clients and to hold our conversations here in this Self Care Space, for the sake of in our modern world of global Internet culture, I now meet many of my clients on the screen, or on the phone. I continue to ponder over what is being lost and what is being gained in this transition from working in-person to working long-distance through technology. However, despite this evolving format to my practice, I continue to maintain the presence in my sessions, whether they are through the screen or over the phone.
All this has led me to wonder about what is beyond our words, the tone of our conversations, the choice of our words, and the silence that we add between what we speak aloud? How to listen to that silence has been the most intimate question for me. I’ve identified one sacred aspect of phone conversation is that it allows us to focus only upon the words of the speaker, without the distraction of any other visual input. And this has revealed to me another quality of presence: that of holy listening.
Gratitude arises toward my coaching-friend in the Netherlands, for while I have been pondering over the new uses of presence in my new long-distance practice he held his own coaching-presence long-distance for me.