Tracking down and identifying imperatives
In order to identify the inner conflict and the imperatives (imperative violations responsible for it more precisely), the core imperatives are now approached. This is done in several iterations: The coachee is first asked to think of a specific situation that is difficult for him or her. Manager Jane, for example, thinks about what it is like when the person to whom she has delegated does not deliver the expected results. Her counselor asks, "What thoughts go through your mind then?" She encourages the manager to externalize her inner dialogue in this situation by thinking aloud afterwards.
In doing so, she looks at Jane's thoughts through the lens of imperatives, so to speak - that is, she pays attention to phrases like:
I always, never ("Never can I rely on someone")
I/he/... has to/must or should („I have to make the right decision“)
I/ it/ she/ he mustn’t.... („I mustn’t disappoint my manager“)
In the case of manager Jane, for example, the coach detects the phrases: "I'm not allowed to make any mistakes, that's why I have to check all the results".
Once an imperative has been identified by the coach during the exploration of critical situations, he names the subcognition, i.e. the thought to be avoided behind the imperative. To do this, he reformulates the statement "I must" to a "It may be that ...". Elke's statement can be rephrased by the consultant in two ways: "It may be that I make a mistake." Or, "It is possible that I am not checking all the results." For example, she confronts Jane with the first imperative and asks her, "If you think this thought and perceive this in a wide acknowledging way, what emerges ... ?" It is quite important here to emphasize that by verbalizing the subcognition only a possibility is addressed. It is not a fixed assumption in the sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy. But neither is it about ignoring the situation. For Jane, it is specifically about acknowledging the aspect of reality that lies between "I will definitely not make mistakes" and "I always make mistakes." To allow possibilities back into her thinking. This acceptance is crucial.
Revealing chains of imperatives
If Jane now thinks "It may be that I can't control all the outcomes," she again notices in an acknowledging attentive way which thoughts and feelings emerge, what is particularly unpleasant and where the center of the unpleasantness lies. During the process the coach is giving her time to immerse herself in the situation and to hold the search process until reactions emerge - possibly also in her facial expressions and gestures. This often happens after 20 to 30 seconds. From the thoughts she verbalizes, the coach again identifies imperatives and offers them - each as a subcognition with the new rephrasing: "It may be that ..." - . For coaches, this may be a challenge. The challenge is to restrain one's own variety of formulations and to remain very close to the client's words and direct one's attention to the caring, accepting support of her inner processes. In Janes case, for example, the following imperative chain is revealed:
I must not trust my colleagues.
I have to control everything.
I must not disappoint my customers.
I must not appear incompetent.
In the center of the unpleasant
The last sentence, rephrased, triggers particularly strong emotional reactions in Jane: "I may appear incompetent." It is one of her core imperatives that is violated. These core imperatives - even if they are very individual in their choice of words - are usually very closely related to the categories described by psychologist Aaron Beck. "Helpless, Worthless, Loveless" is how the founder of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy named them: It is almost always about the feeling of being helpless, worthless or unloved. These feelings we want to avoid at all costs. While thinking "I may appear incompetent" (the sub-cognition), Jane now approaches with AAP the emerging unpleasant emotions and acknowledges them without falling into paralysis or overactivity. She focuses her attention on exactly those points where the most unpleasant feelings arise. At the same time she also stays wide in her perception noticing all the sensations of the present moment. This is not easy, but with the help of the previously practiced AAP, she can manage it and balance between the perceptions in the present moment and facing the difficult emotions. If it is possible to maintain space and focus in the face of the difficult at the same time, a deep feeling of peace, acceptance and serenity can also arise from time to time: It is what it is. Through the serenity, which grows in the repeated approach to the core imperative(s), the emotional system can reorganize itself, the automatic reaction pattern can be decoupled. The coachees gain better access to all their resources and new behaviors become accessible. In the future, Jane can face the possibility that she may appear incompetent. This reduces the amount of control she has to exert externally, increases her ability to deal constructively with conflicts in her work together, and improves her work-life balance in the further course of coaching.
This is not easy, but with the help of the previously practiced AAP, she can manage it and balance between the perceptions in the present moment and facing the difficult emotions. If it is possible to maintain space and focus in the face of the difficult at the same time, a deep feeling of peace, acceptance and serenity can also arise from time to time: It is what it is. Through the serenity, which grows in the repeated approach to the core imperative(s), the emotional system can reorganize itself, the automatic reaction pattern can be decoupled. The coachees gain better access to all their resources and new behaviors become accessible. In the future, Jane can face the possibility that she may appear incompetent. This reduces the amount of control she has to exert externally, increases her ability to deal constructively with conflicts in her work together, and improves her work-life balance in the further course of coaching.
Introvision in Coaching
In coaching, it is particularly useful when the following situations arise:
internal conflicts that need to be resolved;
external conflicts and the associated inner experience are to be dealt with or anxiety and stressful states are to be treated;
internal and external change processes that trigger uncertainty, e.g. changes of roles in the course of agile transformation processes and a manager suddenly has to adapt his or her own mindset;
a difficult entrepreneurial decision-making process has to be made in the face of external disruption.
In order for Introvision to be successful, coaches should have a lot of confidence in the process and have gone through introvision processes of their own. They should guide their coachees clearly, compassionate and, especially when looking at difficult situations, even prepare them that not everything will be pleasant.
Serenity and calm
As both coachee and coach experience the effects of Introvision it can be surprising and beautiful for both what new possibilities to act arise. Often, as the coachee’s inner attitudes and conflicts reduce, there is a natural tendency toward fewer conflicts in their daily environments. Introvision does not merely have an impact on singular issues, but leads toward a more peaceful approach in one’s broader life experiences.
As a result of these direct changes in the coachee’s inner world, the method has an impact on the organization. Not only can these individuals deal with challenges more agilely, because their personal ability to change has increased, but they will also produce fewer conflicts, resolve new conflicts more constructively, as they are now more relaxed, and less driven by perfectionism and/or fear.
(First published in German in “Training aktuell” 04/2020, p. 20 – 24, Photos by: Canva)
... continue to read part 3: Tips for coaches for the application of Introvision.