Co-founders of Empower World
Jeanine: Welcome, everybody, thank you for joining Marie and I on this next podcast, the Leadership and Coaching Podcast with Empower World, and I am currently in the beautiful Point Lonsdale in Australia. So, I'm very thankful on this gorgeous, sunny day to be here with you, Marie, in your evening in the UK.
Marie: Yeah, we've swapped roles. Normally we meet your evening, my morning, and we decided to shift things up a bit as we do, stretching ourselves out of our comfort zone. It's dark here. But we've had storms all day. I think it's called Storm Christopher. And it's been knocking me on and off Zoom all day. So, it's great that we were able to connect.
Jeanine: Yes. I hope it has calmed down a little bit for you over there. I've been in touch with the family in the UK and there seems to be a lot of flooding throughout the country, so I hope it's not too bad in terms of the damage, given everything that's going on in the U.K. right now at the moment.
Marie: Yeah, fingers crossed.
Jeanine: So, we wanted to provide some more fantastic value for our listeners and today what we thought, or tonight, what we thought we'd focus on is, Marie, would you like to share what your, because you've been doing some wonderful research lately with Lisa Feldman and we thought this would be a great topic. So, I'll hand over to you Marie to introduce the topic.
Marie: Thanks, Jeanine. Yeah, I have been doing some research. I was introduced to Lisa Feldman's work a while ago with her book, How Emotions Are Made. And I read it and it just made so much sense and it made sense from the way we train coaches to work with emotions. And it also made sense with all the thousands of coaches that you and I have worked with and the processes we use to explore with clients and the language we use. It just resonated so much with me. And she's brought out a new book. I can't remember exactly what it's called. I preordered it. It's seven and a half something, less of the brain or something. But she's doing some phenomenal work and sort of turning the research on its head about what we've been taught about emotions. So, she doesn't want to knock any other scientists. But she's found like the like, for example, Paul Ekman’s work of looking at emotions and the fact that we were told that it was a universal thing, that when we saw an emotion in somebody's face, it “meant” this like sad, happy, angry, frustrated. And his work seemed to say universally, this is what humans… this is what it meant. She’s turned it on its head, because she discovered that were kind of biases in that research that implicated those states. And interestingly enough, she said, and we talk about this when we're training coaches, we never assume anything about any kind of bodily response. So, if somebody is frowning when they're talking about something, it doesn't mean they're annoyed or frustrated. I'm doing it myself now as I’m talking to you. And I'm happy about this and I'm frowning as I’m doing it. If somebody is raising their eyebrows, it doesn't mean surprise or shock. You have no idea what it means. And so, we have to get curious with our clients because they know what it means and only, they know what it means. And it all relates to this fact that the clients know the answer to their own story, their own life. And I just thought we should talk about it because we've talked about it so many times between ourselves.
Jeanine: It's such a great thing to remember as coaches. It's such an important aspect or thing, I can't think of the right words right now early this morning. But something that we as coaches must be truly aware of to not make those assumptions about what we're noticing in our clients. And I recognize this when I hear some of those recordings that we do for our coaches when we're mentoring and we can sometimes hear our clients making an assumption about, in fact, it was only yesterday that I was listening to a call where someone was making an assumption about their client being calm. So, I was sharing with the coach that if we can suspend judgment and get curious and reflect back what we're noticing, potentially the client might reflect back that they're calm, but they might say something else. They might be saying actually underneath I'm really, I'm steaming, but I'm putting on this face as I reflect upon whatever's happening. So, it's so important to, as coaches, for us when we notice our clients changes in physiology to reflect back the changes in physiology versus making an assumption about what they're feeling. And so, Marie thank you for bringing up the furrowed eyebrow example as well that you just demonstrated here, because, yes, I could see your eyebrows flowing. And I also know how passionate and excited you are about reading Lisa's work. And I might have mispronounced her surname earlier. Feldman. I recall an incident and you may recall this to Marie, where I was sharing that I was in a training and I was sharing with the group my passion for Indian food and my eyes, my eyebrows were were furrowed. And so even though I was sharing how much I love this food and I was asked, you're sharing about your passion for food and yet your eyebrows furrowed. What’s that about? So, that was really interesting and I still don't know what it was about, why my eyebrows were furrowed, but I certainly wasn't mad about eating Indian beautiful food.
Marie: Yeah. And actually, so that leads us nicely on to talk about how the brain is predicting all the time. So, apparently, we are not reacting to situations. We are predicting situations or what we see in somebody's face based on past events. So, I'm making up that that person who noticed your furrowed brow in her past experience, her furrowed brow or seeing a furrowed brow meant meant it was incongruent with talking about something you loved. That's important to be aware of because our brain is designed to continually make guesses about what's going on in the world, to keep us safe and to kind of know that we're in a place of safety and the brain doesn't know the difference between the external world and our body. So, it's getting these sensations that are fed into the brain. And it goes OK, where have I experienced these past sensations before? Oh, it was when I was sad. So that means you must be sad because you're doing that.
Marie: And to retrain the brain, we need to have curiosity, we need to be in a state of awe and wonder and we talk about having the curiosity of a five-year-old child in our training, Jeanine, and that state allows the brain to be open enough so it's not predicting something, but it's getting curious about it.
Jeanine: Yes, absolutely. We are meaning making machines. We are judging all the time and therefore making up meanings about what's happening in our world. And that is all designed, as you said earlier, to keep us safe based on what we've learnt in those early formative years, potentially a lot of what we've learned in those early formative years as a baby, as a child, as an adolescent. So, the brain… because it's got to filter so much information, it creates patterns. And so, we create patterns about the meanings that we make about things that we experience, witness, observe and feel. And so, like that five-year-old child or that super detective we're looking out as coaches for those patterns, those meanings that our clients are making up about their situations, their experiences and their circumstances, so, that with our curious questions, we can support them to create awareness, further expanded awareness to determine is that old stuff? Is that really true? Is it serving me? Is it limiting me? Is it empowering me or is it keeping me small or whatever it may be. So, we will be judging as coaches. The key is to suspend it and as you say, Marie, be in that place of wonder, curiosity, being that super detective to support our clients, to break down those meetings that they're making and support them to create beautiful ways forward, empowering ways forward to create those goals, those dreams. To live purpose and values and all of those beautiful things.
Marie: Yeah, absolutely, and this this information about how the brain creates these predictions based on our past experience is really important for our client work as well. So, the stories the client is making up about the people that they're in relation with that generally are causing the distress in their lives because we all want other people to do something else often. It's really useful for the client to start to become aware of what they're predicting. So even teaching a little bit when when we're meeting our clients about how the brain works and talking about… because we don't talk teach in coaching. But in the Discovery Session, we kind of set up some ways of understanding that it helps our client move into coaching and we can ask questions like, “So, what are you predicting right now?”. And it's another way of saying it and we use this a lot is “what are you making up?”. Because we don't know. It's often a story we're telling ourselves. And with that story, where there is an old response in the body that we call emotions. And interestingly enough, what Lisa Fellman talks about is that in the brain, there are not separate areas for emotions and separate area for thoughts and separate areas for context. They all arise from the same area. It's just how we make them up that feels different sensations in our body.
Jeanine: Yes. Yeah, those connections that they're all connected together.
Jeanine: So, it's not looking at them separately. It is looking at how they all connect. And what you're sharing here, Marie, reminds me that often people maybe it's not often, but often I'll say, often people just think emotions just show up. They wake up, perhaps happy, perhaps sad, perhaps depressed, perhaps ready to explore the day and it's recognizing that those emotions they are connected with, subconsciously, what's going on in terms of what our focus is, where our focus is, what have we been focusing on? So, again, it's getting curious about those emotions to find out what are the thoughts, patterns, the meanings that we're making up? Both consciously or unconsciously, so it's it's working at the unconscious level, which is really where the power is.
Marie: Absolutely. So a simple example could be that you have a sensation in your stomach. And you're at the doctor's waiting for results, so that sensation in your stomach, you make up or you predict because of your external environment and your internal predictions, you are making up that you are nervous. The same response in your stomach arises and it's 12 o'clock and you predict that you're hungry. So, it's so interesting what we do. We've got to really unpack. The stories were telling us selves about what's happening within ourselves after what it's based on past experiences or contexts that we know already.
Jeanine: Yes, and I believe the sensations of excitement and nervous are very, very similar, if not the same, based on research that I've read in the past. So, again, it's working with someone to identify what stories are you making up and what stories can you make up about this that's going to serve and support the client?
Marie: I hear you. I mean, one very quick example is I was working with a client today and she had made up that she's impatient and it had a real sensation in her body, this impatience. And she realized at the end this was achievement and even reframing these sensations that she felt within her system and renaming it, it gave her a totally different outlook. And she's an amazing woman and to be able to easily shift that perspective within the time frame will now allow her to go on and create even more of what she loves doing in the world and stop beating herself up about this name impatience that used to potentially hurt her.
Jeanine: Yes, and there’s the bell to say to wrap up, but I really appreciate that exemplary because again, when you coaches' when you hear or known coaches that are listening, when you hear someone say, I'm feeling this… again, if we suspend our judgment and don't buy into the client’s story about what they're making up and get curious about what that emotion is and really support the client to understand, just stop and breathe and reflect upon that emotion, potentially they will recognize when they go to a deeper place of reflecting upon that, that the emotion means something else, just as you supported your client to reframe impatience to achievement. So, if we suspend or moving forward, but actually staying with our clients and supporting them to get curious what's really underneath this, then they can create empowering meanings about what they're experiencing.
Marie: I was going to say go out and check out what you're predicting. Test it out. What are you making up? What are you predicting? And if you don't like what you're predicting, predict something else and experience something else.
Jeanine: Yeah, get curious. Get really curious. Put on your super detective hat or your childlike curiosity mind and suspend judgment. Get curious about what those emotions are for yourself or with others, whether you're as a coach for the client or in your family or with your friends. It's a beautiful way to change circumstances, change experiences, change emotions. So, thank you, everybody, thank you for listening in today, we hope you got value from our podcast and we look forward to seeing you on the next podcast. Thank you, Marie. Have a wonderful rest of the evening.
Marie: You too, Jeanine.