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Episode 23

Helping Your Clients Overcome Negative Self-Assessments

We all know that our thinking plays a huge role in how we feel in our lives. Most of us also know however that simply repeating affirmations rarely changes anything in our experience of life.

In this conversation with ontological coach Alan Seiler we explore how language creates our world, how to help clients create new scripts (that actually work) and how to integrate them into their physiology.

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What is Ontological Coaching

Ontology is the study of the nature of existence or the nature of being. How we are as a being is very influential in driving our behavior, and for this reason “way of being” is what ontological coaching focusses on.

One of the things that has a huge impact on our way of being is the meaning we assign to things, which as humans is something we necessarily do – we’re wired to desire meaning, fulfilment and purpose. If we want change in our lives, it’s an indication that the meaning we’re living from isn’t working for us.

Our experience is created and composed via three main domains: language, emotions and physiology. These function as a coherent whole, so if change is going to last it has to be made in all three domains.

How language shapes our world

Language can be seen as a process that constantly generates our reality. We can’t not live in language – the way we listen, speak and write is always generating what’s real for us. In order to create change then, we must learn to be close observers of our language.

New ways of using language can create great shifts in clients. One of the ways we can start to help them in this is by sharing distinctions to help them observe their language and facilitate their noticing what way of being is available to them depending on what words they’re using around a situation or relationship.

Working with self-doubt

One of the most common complaints from people is that they are holding themselves back from following what brings them meaning or purpose due to lack of sufficient confidence or worthiness. These thoughts are treated as fact and this is where the work begins.

Alan’s process is threefold: First, uncover the core negative self-assessments (not good enough, not worthy etc.). This is the background script of the person’s way of being.

Second, have them check if there is any substance to their negative beliefs. This helps them see how they’ve been treating them as fact without that being so. They then notice the unhelpfulness of these thoughts and at this point you can orient them to a new script that would work better for them.

Third, create a new script. Now they have new language but the new thought still needs to become embodied. Here you can have the client stand up, speak the new script, notice their own voice tonality and physiology and adjust until they feel in alignment.

5 questions to change beliefs

These five questions are the process Alan uses to help clients release old belief and open to new ones:

  1. What purpose is served for you by having this negative assessment?
  2. In which areas of your life is this assessment relevant?
  3. What standards does your assessment work off?
  4. What facts support your assessment?
  5. What facts do not support your assessment?

Further questions to support the insights from this process being integrated fully are: “Do you fully and genuinely give yourself permission to this way of thinking about yourself from now on?” and “Is there anyone you feel you need to get permission from?”

Eliminating objections (wherever they come from) is crucial in order to remove all barriers to the clients’ new way of being.

Resources Mentioned:

About Alan

Photo of Alan Sieler
Alan Sieler

Alan Sieler is the founder and director of the Newfield Institute. As a world leader in ontological coaching he has written extensively on the relevance of Ontology to living, working, learning and coaching and is the author of “Coaching to the Human Soul”. His professional experience in education, training and consulting is extensive, having worked with multinational corporations and national organizations worldwide.

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