“Stacey, I think that you should stay home, and take some well needed rest for the next three weeks,” the doctor had told her. She couldn’t say he was wrong. The day before, she had had a breakdown at work. She and her colleagues had just finished a difficult meeting at her job and she wanted to treat them to a fresh cup of coffee. Then she discovered that someone had emptied out the last pack of coffee and she consequently wasn’t able to offer them any. Even though it was only that there was no more coffee, she found herself crying inconsolably! So now she was lying down. Burn-out. On the couch. Resting …
She hadn’t really noticed the spider webs on the lamp that much before, but from this position she really couldn’t ignore them. A little bit of dusting would have to be done, before someone came to pay a sick visit! Oh, and if there was a visit, there should of course be some treats! Stacey hopped up off the couch and was looking for her wallet. Also a quick check to see if there is any coffee in the house …
As a coach you’ve heard this kind of story before. Stacey’s situation is recognisable to many people. Always quickly doing this and that, even when you have to rest. If something goes wrong in your environment, you can literally feel the stress within your body. In your mind you know that you are not responsible but you still can’t switch it off. Stacey is not responsible for the purchase of coffee, but still she feels guilty when there isn’t any.
If you receive clients in your practice that are dealing with a burn-out, they will often have a similar story. Such a client finds it difficult to turn off the sense of responsibility they experience, and to listen to their own body.
Tired, but still going on
You are really too tired to work, but regardless you keep on going, and you put the signals your body gives you aside. You really should better stop, but you persist because the work has to be done. You constantly fight an inner struggle between your tiredness and your need to satisfy someone else. It’s not necessary, but you’re doing it anyway. People around you are very happy with you, but you don’t really have a nice life yourself.
If you, as a coach try to put yourself in your client’s place, you can understand their fatigue and their inner struggle. You recognise all the signals, but it seems difficult to get your client to adjust their behaviour.
The body resists, how does this happen?
In Stacey’s example, you clearly see that she has a need for someone else’s approval. Her colleagues are happy with her because she makes coffee for them. That need for approval is also reflected at home. When a visitor comes, the whole place has to be tidy. It absolutely can’t wait.
It has to be done right away.
If a client goes on ignoring what they really want and what their body needs, their body is going to resist. They’ll have stress symptoms. Still, they’ll prefer to work rather than having to disappoint others. Surprisingly enough, those ‘others’ are often clients or colleagues, and their own wellbeing and family come in second.
Where does that need come from?
Before you can help your client tackle their behaviour, you will need to understand where the need to satisfy others actually comes from. In body work, we can learn a lot from embryonic movement. We look at two very typical movements that both babies and foetuses make:
Foetuses make this movement when they are still in the uterus. This posture stands for security. We make this movement when we are looking for support and safety. We curl up on the couch with a blanket and a cup of tea and try to find rest.
Babies make this movement as soon as they are out of their mother’s belly. They open their arms and chest and breathe. We make this movement as children and adults when we are proud of ourselves: When we have passed an exam or have delivered a beautiful achievement at work.
Both postures are good, but they must be balanced. If we only take the foetal position, we will stay in our shell and won’t dare to take risks. On the other hand; If we only have the Moro-reflex, we are always at work and we don’t think about our rest.
The fact that their was no more coffee was in Stacey’s case just the last straw, but the need to satisfy others lies much deeper. She grew up with the standards and values of her – in her eyes perfect – parents and wants to uphold these at all cost. She was educated within an attitude of: “If you work hard, you’ll get there.” She feels she has to please others, work hard and above all follow a flawless trajectory! There is no space to meet the needs of her own body. That’s why she stays in the moro-reflex and surpasses her own need for rest and balance. The result is a burn-out.
How do you help Stacey overcome her burnout?
Using Transactional Analysis (TA), you can show Stacey where her behaviour and ideas come from, indeed from her youth. This is an important step in the right direction. But sometimes that is not enough because the patterns of her youth have literally been stored within her body. Therefore, she experiences physical stress when something goes wrong in her environment, even though she knows rationally that she isn’t responsible for it.
If she were your client, how could you help her? At such a moment it is very good to look at body language. This is a powerful way to help your client to be aware of old patterns stored in her body and to change them.
Body language provides a wonderful tool to start working with your client on a deeper level. You can help your client understand the causes of physical complaints they experience and help them to reduce or remedy them. Do you also want to help your customers in this way? Then the Body Language training is for you. In this course, you will learn how to understand the client’s body language and analyse what the client needs exactly. Also, you will learn to understand and use your own body language in your work with clients.
Interested? Check out the website for more information and sign up.