This article was originally written by Bruneau Woomed – gently edited by The Coaching Room
Coaching can be magic. As Meta-Coaches, you probably heard of and even used this phrase but have you experienced it first-hand?
I would like to share what I witnessed at the last ACMC in Bali which I attended as a Team Leader. Dr. Michael Hall did a demo of Coaching to the Matrix. The client– let’s call him “X” had a situation of being stuck, especially when relating to authority figures. In particular, X said that he could not find the courage to ask questions when attending a seminar or to go and have a chat with his teacher. It was a total blank in his mind when he would be near the authority figure and it happened quite frequently— 2 or 3 times a week and with people that X looked up to (such as with a colleague that he admires). He even added that he had not dared speak to Michael since the beginning of the course and it was a real stretch for him to volunteer to do the demo.
This “Coaching to the Matrix” pattern has actually the same structure as the patterns “Meta- Stating Concepts” and “Meta-Stating Possibility” which uses the miracle question. It moves up the levels to see the entire “system” holding the primary state feelings and behaviours in place.
Michael quickly managed to flush out the current frames and beliefs moving up several levels:
- I feel silly asking questions which may not be appropriate.
- I will be judged as being stupid by that person.
- This would mean that I don’t deserve talking to that person.
- If all that is true, then I would feel sad and feel very very bad.
- Because it would mean I am stupid, that people look down at me.
- And that I am not loved, not accepted and that my thoughts don’t come through.
At that stage, Michael elicited from X a reference event: in school, it had happened that a teacher had judged him and made fun of him in front of the class. He then invited X to blow out the old frames which were not resourceful so as to create space for a new matrix, for more resourceful frames. This was done with the “ecology check” step in the pattern which enables a person to gain perspective on their own system. It puts them at “choice point.”
When X was invited to come up with a new set of frames and a new belief system, his own inner intelligence came up with the following:
- Start with the state of calmly speaking and going straight.
- Believing I can speak with the person in authority and we can have a good conversation.
- Believing that my identity is greater than my speech.
- Believing I can ask good questions for good conversations.
- Believing that whatever happens, happens, and I can accept it and handle it.
- Instead of interpreting things in terms of my identity, whatever I don’t know I can learn.
- Deciding that I can accept myself, “I am who I am.”
Michael checked with X how he felt after all this and he replied that he felt a tightness in his chest and tension in his muscles. By teasing X and asking him if he wanted to keep the old frames, Michael helped X to fully relax and choose the new matrix.
We became aware of the “magic” the next morning at Celebrations time. X said:
“Did you notice that the previous days, I was wearing a blue coat despite the tropical heat of Bali? I always feel cold – especially at my extremities. I cannot sleep with the air conditioner on and even need socks and I know that my roommate was miserable as he felt the heat each night. But after the coaching, something changed in my body. Look at me: I am not wearing any coat and last night, I slept with the air conditioner on and wore no socks. Michael, I would like to know– is there any link with the coaching, with me becoming unstuck ?”
Michael replied that one possible explanation is that X was living with his “feet on the brakes” as he was constantly in a state of fear— fear of being judged and hence be proved to be inadequate. Now being in a state of fear and/or anxiety sends danger signals to the brain and blood rushes to the brain and to the core muscles as danger is being perceived— hence depriving extremities of blood and causing the coldness sensation. And when X chose to lift his feet from the brakes, the message sent to the brain was that there was no danger hence leading to different results. This illustrates the mind-body connection— they are part of the same system.
I observed X during the next days and he was a different person. He became one of those who intervened the most at question time and he no longer wore his famous blue coat. As I reflect on the “magic” which I witnessed, I conclude that it arose out of the combination of the following variables:
- The instantaneous nature of the changes.
- The deep and lasting transformations in behaviour.
- Changes affecting the body.
A word of caution here. I don’t mean that all coaching sessions should lead to instantaneous, spectacular and “magical” results— transformations probably more often than not happen in a very gradual and quiet way. My main take-away from the demo is that the mind and the body are part of the same system and that what may seem surprising at our current level of knowledge makes full sense at a higher level of knowledge.