Co-Authors: Caroline Anthony (Coaching from the Croft) & Roger Hunt (Alder Tree Mindfulness)
Our occasional series of collaborative blogs exploring different perspectives around tools we use within our practices.
Within my work as a wellbeing coach and supervisor of coaches, I have utilised the ‘Power of the Pause’ in a couple of ways. The first one has been as a professional working with a coachee , the other way has been to apply this to my own engagement within a coaching or supervision session. Both are around measuring us feeling safe within the session if there is any area of overwhelm experienced.
Firstly when working with the coachee, it is about reading their body language and vocabulary around feeling safe within the session. Within my field of work where I am supporting individuals with lower level mental unwellness or any wellbeing imbalances; I need to support them own their feeling of safety within any aspects of overwhelm they may be experiencing. This means having a conversation around their level of comfort and how they would like to manage any uncomfortableness within themselves.
This is worth setting up within the early stages of our work together, it supports them understanding that these sessions are for them to work within to their own requirements. If they become triggered by any discussion points, then within our pre-discussed management of this possibility, the pre-arranged signal is shared by the coachee to bring pause to the session.
Within the power of this pause, the coachee can then decide if they want to move away from this subject or look at what is being triggered to bring into awareness within the session and share with the coach if they want to. This is always about the coachee feeling validated and trusting the process of coaching to support them move forward in a manner of their choice. This is a key element around choice; as choice may not have always been an option to practice in their previous experiences.
The second application is for me as the coach or supervisor to be aware of my own behaviours within my facilitation, projection may be triggering reactions in me. This is part of my self-care strategy, which keeps me balanced and grounded within my professional practice.
How am I working within this area of my work; through bringing pause into the session, then looking what do I need from this pause? We after all are all fellow human beings; I am certainly not in full 100% control of my emotions, I manage them well, yet can be triggered by the smallest feeling of pertinent connection within a conversation! This fortunately is a small range of subjects, due to having worked with many different areas and experiences.
How do I manage this within a coaching or supervision session? I look for options of possibly physically carrying out an action, like retrieving a book or turning on a light. Another tactic may be asking to park a certain element of the conversation that is instigating reactions within me and move the subject to a more neutral area for the coachee/supervisee. By parking this, it can give me space to gain perspective and feel stronger coming back to this element later in the conversation. I am still working within the continuity needs of the coachee yet staying in a safe space for myself.
Both of the above approaches to Power of the Pause, are infrequent accessed, yet I have come across them both for my clients and myself. Have you thought about this in your coaching? How would you approach this area of coaching or not thought of this?
A wonderful quote which opens up the real power of the pause is this:
“PAUSE AND REMEMBER - At any moment you have the power to say “this is enough” and radically change the course of your destiny. Have the faith and courage to follow your hearts calling.” Jenni Young
The Power of the Pause is a concept that is used to allow us to step back, gain perspective and make any changes that we wish to around our energy, speed of process, application, direction or how we get there. In our speed processed world of quick actions, “get on with it approach”, rushed decision making, pausing is powerful as a tool to slow things down to get to a stronger position.
Pauses have become the very foundation of my work as an authentic living coach, for it is in the pauses that we get to meaningfully shape our life, to be able to step away from the thinking mind and habitual ways of doing things.
It is always fascinating when we step onto this journey to authentic living to reflect on all the times we fill those pause moments, we all do it. So often, in our minds we are onto the next thing and the next, and the next and so on….
What makes it so difficult to truly pause?
Pausing is not typically the first response, we are wired to think, do and act. Often we have habitual ways of dealing with things, distraction being a usual response rather than pausing and becoming still. Technology plays its part, how many times, when stood in a queue or in those little moments of pause, do we pick up our phones and start scrolling? distraction and filling time.
Pausing allows us to see our little ways, those habitual ways of doing things, in this awareness there is space, freedom and choice.
Such is the power of true pausing, that it enabled me to kick a 15 a day, smoking habit. I remember the very first day I started smoking, I remember the first inhale that made me go green and feel sick. There started a habit that lasted for years until one day, after practicing pausing for a little time, something clicked. It was as if for years I had been living on autopilot. I remember my very last cigarette. In a powerful pause moment, finally I saw the reality of this habit, the smell, the smoke going in and clogging the lungs, the smell clinging to my clothes, I remembering looking at this smouldering white thing, burning away and thinking what am I doing? the illusion was broken and I crunched a half full packet up in my hands and chucked the lot in the bin, along with my lighters and ash tray. A decade or more later and I know that I will never smoke again, a habit broken by true reality and pausing.
When my coaching clients first start out on our journey together, pausing is usually an alien concept, we have an instinct to avoid stillness, but slowly with practice we come to see that in the pauses we get to create space to be able to see things clearly, we get to know ourselves well, know what we need with a level of self-regulation and self-authority. From here we can form that authentic life.
So there is an acknowledgment here that pausing isn’t always easy and our guidance is always to simply start gently and slowly, noticing when there is an urge to fill a pause moment.
Drinking a cup of tea, waiting for the traffic lights to turn green, waiting in a queue, all little moments to practice the true pause. Feet resting gently on the floor, stop, notice, listen, opening all your senses, noticing the urge to pick up the phone but leaving it where it is.
Little pause moments, peppered through the day all add up. Sounds simple, but this is a radically different way to navigate through life. It is where we get to see how powerful the pause can really be and how it can transform our lives.
My favourite quote about pausing and stillness….
“In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still”
©Coaching from the Croft & Alder Tree Mindfulness