The coolest thing about coaching, that nobody else is talking about:
Nervous system regulation is contagious. That means you can learn to modulate your stress response, in part, just by being around someone who already knows how to do it.
Allow me to explain:
Ever worked with a neurotic boss who panics easily? Or spent time with someone whose temper goes from zero to eleven on the regular? Ever noticed the effect that has on everyone else in the room, even if the issue isn’t directly talked about?
What about the opposite – maybe a leader who exudes calm even in difficult situations. Or a friend who’s able to crack a perfectly-timed joke to cut through tension. Everyone can FEEL the relief of the temperature turning down.
Our brains are constantly making millions of calculations to keep us safe. Because we are social animals, our mirror neurons are particularly attuned to cues of danger or safety from other humans.
The visceral unease or relief you feel around certain people is the result of an extremely complex electrical and chemical symphony going on in your brain and gut. It’s mediated by the vagus nerve, and informed by the verbal and nonverbal signals you are in proximity to – both consciously and unconsciously.
The net effects you experience – panic or serenity – will depend on both the immediate circumstances you’re in, and also what go-to patterns you’ve rehearsed over time. As they say, neurons that wire together, fire together. (That’s why those of us who have lived or worked with difficult people tend to have our inner emergency alarm system go off more easily and often.)
That means the more you can practice regulating and finding a sense of calm, even in difficult circumstances, the easier it will be to access when the stakes get higher.
And, because that sense of calm is contagious, you can significantly speed up that learning process by putting yourself in proximity to someone who already has it locked in. Your brain interprets the other person’s calm as a sign that the landscape is safe, so your subconscious danger-scanner gets to take a little break.
Good coaches are trained to maintain equanimity (without becoming disengaged robots) when faced with their clients’ stressors. Most of us maintain some sort of mindfulness practice and have spent a lot of time unpacking our own shit so it doesn’t get triggered by yours. And because we aren’t your boss or friend or partner, we don’t need you to feel a certain way in order to get our own needs met.
Therapists are also usually good at this. So are some spiritual teachers, community elders, or mentors who aren’t deeply entwined in your daily life.
What type of practitioner you choose is less important.
When it comes to resilience, stress management, and preventing burnout, I’m obviously partial to coaching because you get to kill multiple birds with one stone: you can learn practical skills, brainstorm specific solutions to your real-time challenges, AND let your nervous system passively download a hit of that peaceful state – all in the same place.
Curious to give it a try? Let’s talk. Book your free intro call today: https://calendly.com/meredithfay/intro