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Triggering Your Client / The Pain of Going Back

Part 1: Triggering Your Client

For much of my early coaching journey, I did my best to avoid triggering clients and prospects. Sure, I challenged them, but I was very careful to avoid the red line between what was hard and what caused them to get reactive. Even before I was a coach, I put a lot of work into developing the relational energy and communication skills needed to avoid triggering others, identify when I am being triggered, and getting out of a triggered state as quickly as possible.

But during a recent coaching session something different happened. I triggered this amazing woman I was talking to, but instead of getting scared and employing my anti-trigger defense system, I got curious. I slowed down. I mean way, way, way down. I stayed with her. I tried very hard to not think of this trigger as a bad thing, but as the exact thing she needed to experience. I focused on trusting her fully.

I spent time with her talking about what came up for her and giving her empathy. I spent time connecting with her and looking at the narrative she was running about our conversation and me. Through that investigation, many things became known. She admitted wanting to get off the call. I admitted that triggering her was hard for me, but that I was committed to staying with her. I revealed to her the inherent love and respect I had for her as a person.

When she was ready, we dove deep into the trigger and it was beautiful. What we came to during this very first conversation was deep, powerful, and breathtaking. I was blown away by what happened when I triggered this amazing woman but didn’t avoid the strength or power of her reaction.

This is what is so amazing about coaching. As you get into a rapport with discomfort and become willing to live dangerously, your capacity expands the capacity of everyone you connect with.

To be a master coach you must always be asking:

  • Where can I go deeper?
  • Where do I need to stretch?
  • Where do I fear to live?
  • Where am I holding on to my reputation?

Then, throw yourself into the wholehearted practice you need to become the notorious coach you and your clients’ dreams so desperately need.

Part 2: The Pain of Going Back

Sometimes as you grow and change, you have these moments where you shift back into your former self.

  • Maybe you go home and get into the same fight you’ve been having with your father for the last 20 years.
  • Maybe you find yourself at an event with people you don’t know that well and all of a sudden feel awkward and isolated all over again.
  • Or maybe you take on a task that’s hard and you’re suddenly spun by your old fears of failure and embarrassment.

These kinds of experiences can make you question your growth and doubt that you’ve really changed. But that’s simply not the case. In fact, what I’ve found is that these flashback moments are one of the most powerful indications of deep growth you will ever experience.

Let me explain:

The Analogy of Small Shoes

Let’s think of your capacity for awareness and growth like a pair of feet.

Back when you started your business or professional life, your instincts were weak and soft, kind of like a baby’s feet. As you learned to stand, your bones got stronger and your muscles developed. As you made mistakes and dealt with challenges your calluses grew to protect you and strengthen the places that were weak.

Before long, you were able to walk around on a pair of fully developed feet, with strong bones and muscles. And, of course, you wore shoes that matched these feet.

Then something happened. You found yourself back in a former part of your life. You noticed yourself walking and acting like you did long ago when your feet were small and soft, all while wearing shoes ten sizes too small.

Just imagine how that might feel, shoving your big grown feet into tiny shoes: the discomfort, the restriction, and the pain that would cause. What is that discomfort really telling you? Does it mean your feet are weak? Or that you don’t know how to walk? No, it means that these shoes don’t belong to you anymore.

This is what it’s like to step back into your old patterns or beliefs after you’ve grown out of them. It hurts because you’ve moved beyond this place and trying to walk in your old shoes hurts like hell. It’s easy to imagine this means you suck in some way, but in reality, this is telling you that you’re stronger than you realize and you’ve grown more than you thought you had.

So the next time you feel yourself slip into these old ways of being and it hurts, don’t make it a problem. Don’t turn it into some story about how everything is hopeless. Instead, see it for what it is: a beautiful indication of how you’ve grown and a testament to how you’ll never go back to the way things were before.

2 comments

  • Alex
    | Reply

    Great content and message. So important to remember yet many (myself included) do forget, we go straight to oh no we have a problem phase. Thank you for the refreshing read, i will read it a few times to store it in my memory bank.

  • Marlin
    | Reply

    Like these two tales.
    I am conscious of people’s triggers and watch their body language and listen to their voice pitch.
    I like the shoe piece and it reminded me of the one of the chick and the eggshell.
    Recently had a communication via a text msg. my girlfriend’s daughter and was keenly aware of how much of her filter she placed on my message. She even thought I was sending drones to spy on them while they were staying at my place on Big Island. It was fascinating to here how she read one thing and went to a place with it that I could imagine.

    Thank you
    Marlin

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