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Coaching: how to reframe an isolation mindset

25th Apr 2020
Founder TrishBell.com
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hand holding up empty wooden picture frame toward a hilly landscape
Photo by pine watt on Unsplash.com

Covid-19 has drastically changed what everyday life looks like for all of us. Struggling to cope with stay-at-home orders and learning to live under self-isolation protocols are challenges that many of our clients have never faced before.

Indeed, in the midst of the current coronavirus crisis, we are all – physically, at least – more alone now than ever before. Feelings of disconnection and loneliness run rampant in our collective global society, and these emotions can snowball into an isolation mindset that has the potential to derail our coaching clients’ progress toward achieving their goals.

Because of this, our clients are now looking to us, as coaches, to show up for them in unique ways. Here’s how to keep your clients on track to success during this time of upheaval by reframing the isolation mindset from one of negativity and lack to one of positivity and abundance.

Refocusing the mind

We are all keenly aware of the current state of aloneness we are living in. Indeed, the lack of a constant barrage of social distractions in our lives attests to this on a daily basis. For now, this is our new normal.

As coaches, we need to be just as keenly aware that this new normal has the potential to tip our clients out of their previously goal-oriented mindsets and into a swampy morass of unproductive feelings and behaviors that may include purposelessness, shiftlessness, lethargy, or sadness.

Providing our coaching clients with one or more clear, inspiring, motivating focal points during this difficult time can be critical to keeping them on track toward achieving their objectives. A good focal point for a client is one that is grounded in positivity – one that speaks to the client’s perception of abundance rather than lack.

The importance of contextual cues

A positive focal point can help to establish a positive framework for events and situations that may not seem positive on their surface. However, it is important to employ this tool properly, or you may actually accomplish the opposite of what you seek to accomplish.

One of the foundational tenets of neuro linguistic programming, or NLP, is that, by better understanding the language we use to communicate with ourselves, we can use that knowledge to enjoy better outcomes in life. In our inner dialogue, for example, we tend to focus on the contextual cues of a statement – the cues that a statement draws our attention to – more than the literal content of that statement.

Picture a ball player standing in the outfield with an open mitt, staring down an incoming ball, nervously telling himself, ‘I’m not going to miss this catch.’ He is, with those very words, cueing up a mental image of himself missing the catch. Thus, he is focusing his mental energy on the very outcome he is trying to avoid, and making that outcome more likely.

Reframing for success

Reframing, then, in the sense that we are talking about it today, is the process of consciously and purposefully manipulating contextual cues, in order to produce more successful results for your coaching clients. This process is often difficult for a client to work through on his or her own, because it requires seeing a situation with new eyes and giving it a fresh perspective.

This is where we, as coaches, can shine. We can demonstrate substantial and compelling value in our clients’ lives, even in the midst of a global pandemic, by shedding new light on their existing struggles and encouraging them to tap into their own powerful inner resources to transform perceived adversities and weaknesses into opportunities and strengths.

This process is, in many ways, not unlike changing out the actual, literal frame around a piece of artwork, and is perhaps just as easily demonstrated. Imagine a swirling, amorphous blob of bright colors on a pale, poster-sized canvas. Prepare yourself; we are about to mentally reframe that piece of artwork, twice.

Perception is everything

First, imagine the aforementioned piece of artwork hanging on the refrigerator at a friend’s home, framed by a ring of old, sticky magnets, and surrounded by photographs of a toddler at play. How do you feel about it? What would you pay for it?

Now imagine that same piece of artwork hanging on the wall at a fancy art gallery, framed in finished mahogany, with an elegantly stenciled title card just below it. Imagine a price tag hanging from this frame, proclaiming that this piece of art costs more than your last car did.

Your entire perception of the value and desirability of the artwork is suddenly changed, isn’t it? This is how reframing works. You can put this process to work for the benefit of your clients by helping them to change their own less-than-desirable perceptions in this same way.

Practical reframing tips

There are just about as many ways to reframe a scenario as there are stars in the sky, but as a coach, you have the advantage of time spent building rapport and getting to know your client, inside and out. What motivates your client? What gets him or her fired up and ready to attack the day?

Use that valuable insider’s knowledge to guide your client in identifying the tools and strengths that will help him or her most when it comes to reframing a negative perception. Creativity is your best friend on this journey. Dig deep, and encourage your client to do the same.

By fostering an attitude of hopeful enthusiasm in our clients, we are guiding them in constructing a forward-thinking frame from a place of confidence and excitement. Adversity can be reframed as a challenge. Loss can be reframed as an opportunity for new experiences.

Reframing in coronavirus times

With a bit of ingenuity, even the challenges presented by coronavirus seclusion can be reframed. Aloneness, for example, can be reframed as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to focus on intense personal or spiritual growth. Loneliness can be reframed as a deep appreciation for the people in our lives and the moments that we have together, no matter what those moments might look like now.

Isolation can create feelings of disconnection and loneliness that seem overwhelming at times, and the dark shadow of the isolation mindset is becoming an ever-present problem during today’s global pandemic crisis. Keep your coaching clients from falling prey to the negative impacts of the often-debilitating emotions associated with this state by reframing an isolation mindset to one of strength and independence.

Hope for the future

No obstacle is insurmountable. After all, with reframing, an obstacle does not have to remain just an obstacle; it can be a building block to something greater. Pay attention to the mental images your client's language is painting for you, and guide him or her in reframing those images for success. Together, we can turn the enforced seclusion of Covid-19 into fertile ground for the birth of amazing new accomplishments.

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