Not too long ago I was doing a crossword puzzle and one of the clues was HEALING. All four spaces were empty so I pondered the possibilities and looked at the adjacent clues which led me to the desired answer of CURE. Now I know it was just a crossword puzzle but the stark simplicity and limitations of that answer had an immediate effect and my thoughts about what healing means to me immediately started playing in my mind.
Have you ever thought about what healing means to you?
Over the past three years, along with nine other Integral coaches I have been exploring this question by delving into the territory through our personal experiences and the experiences of our clients. Our intention is to bring a deeper understanding of the role of coaching in the journeys of clients with healing topics. We have learned that there are as many different perspectives on healing as there are people to have them. We also learned that how we understand our state of well-being has a profound effect on how we experience what is happening for us. Traditional medicine focuses on illness so people quite naturally develop disease oriented narratives about their experiences.
What would happen if we shifted the focus to health and encouraged wellness narratives instead?
As personal as we have found healing to be there are some common areas of focus to help us understand how to create a more fulfilling experience no matter how difficult the situation may be. Our thoughts and feelings about our health are important but how we choose to address looking after ourselves is also determined by social attitudes that may or may not align with what we believe is best for us. Another factor that impacts our choices are the resources provided within the medical system, including both traditional and alternative modalities that are available for us to rely on. These factors play out differently for each of us making healing a complicated process. Healing requires the active inclusion of all of our intelligences: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. What is happening in the body (the physical) is integrally connected to what we believe about it (the mental), how we feel about it (the emotional) and what it means in relation to our existence (the spiritual).
As a group we also became very aware that healing does not necessarily equate to curing. My work with a client suffering from chronic fatigue offers a great example. When he came into coaching he had tried a variety of modalities to improve his level of wellness. These approaches all have good track records when dealing with illnesses such as chronic fatigue but they just weren’t working for him. Through the coaching conversations we learned that he had some strong beliefs that were interfering with the possibility of improving his sense of well being. He didn’t believe that he could stop and take it easy without feeling guilty unless his body was so worn out that he just couldn’t do anything. He had a disease oriented narrative about what was happening for him. Questioning his belief allowed him to start managing his energy better and his efforts to improve his quality of life are increasingly successful. The change in perspective allowed him to develop a different narrative about how he understands healing and his role in the process. Chronic fatigue will likely always exist for him at some level but his new way of seeing it through the healing that has already taken place will allow him to enjoy life more fully and treat himself with more compassion. His story had changed to a wellness oriented one.
About the Author
Lois is certified as an Integral Master Coach™ through Integral Coaching Canada (ICC) and as a Spiritual Intelligence Coach through Deep Change. Her practice working as a personal and executive coach is based in Calgary, Canada and she also distance mentors coaching students from across North America. In addition, she is involved with a group of ICC coaches who are co-creating a book on incorporating wellness as an integral aspect of coaching, specifically in helping individuals move from a debilitating illness story to a liberating wellness story, even in situations where full recovery may not be possible. Read more about Lois here.