Science behind coaching: Positive emotions

by | Feb 23, 2015 | Coaching, Creativity, Focus, Science of coaching | 0 comments

Although I am a certified coach and know from experience that coaching works, I also like to know things, like why it works. I like to know the science behind coaching.

So I’m studying Positive Psychology with the University of Northern Carolina, under Barbara Fredrickson and I’m going to draw on what I have learned about positive emotions from her.

If you have worked with a coach (and if you haven’t, why not? at least try a free sample session, almost all coaches offer them) you know that we focus on fulfilment and you tend to feel pretty good during and after a session.

There is a reason for that, and it’s not just because we are nice people.

“When people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information.

Experiencing positive emotion helps broaden a persons mindset and builds enduring personal resources.”

Barbara Fredrickson (paraphrased from the course)

This is what we are doing when we get you into the fulfilment experience. We are activating the brain, increasing it’s capacity for creativity, flexibility and openness.

And we’re not only doing it for the challenge you are facing now. We are getting you into a state where you can build enduring personal resources. What does that mean? That you are better able to deal with the challenges that will come in the future too.

And when we get you to stay with the feeling, don’t move on too quickly but stay with it, there is science behind that too.

Rick Hanson says in his book Hardwiring Happiness to let positive events sink in for 10-20 seconds. This can make them become part of you, giving lasting positivity.

And when we ask you to notice where in your body you feel the emotion, it’s not because we’re nuts, but because

“emotions are an embodied feeling state involving action”

Barbara Fredrickson (paraphrased from course)

We feel emotions in our bodies, in different places, and each emotion has a tendency to a different kind of action:

Emotion                Tendency to                                      Emotion                Tendency to

Joy                        Play                                                  Anger                     Attack

Serenity                Savour and integrate                        Fear                       Run away

Inspiration            aspire to excellence                          Disgust                   To spit

So noticing the embodiment that is already going on, can help come up with ideas, action plans and strategies.

And while you are experiencing all this, we are doing one our our most important tasks: holding your agenda. While you are exploring, getting creative and going all over the place to be inspired, we are holding your agenda: your goal, the reason you are exploring in the first place. We make sure you use this creativity to find solution to your problem.

So now you know why we do these things: science.

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