Photo credit: Isaac Benhesed,

Many people are used to living primarily in their heads, especially at work. Emotions are suppressed, seen as weak or inappropriate. What we tap into in coaching is the vast amount of information that these suppressed feelings can reveal. They can also serve as a springboard to our next mindset.

Jumping on one foot

It’s a bit like those space-saving flights of stairs that have steps for the left foot and in-between steps for the right foot. Many people who live primarily in their heads are trying to jump up the stairs on their left foot, using only the left side of the stairs. That’s exhausting.

Does that sound like something you do?

I certainly have a tendency to do that. Why would we do that if we have two feet and a full set of stairs? It’s typically a lack of trust in the right foot or step.

By trusting in your right foot and the in-between steps, you eventually run up and down the stairs like a champ again. This skill leads to a more meaningful life, in general, as well as a higher effectiveness in moving forward toward whatever goals you may envision. Here is how.

Running on two feet

For example, you may be standing on a step that reads: “I’m fine”. Your thoughts go something like this: “I have nothing to complain about, really. Things are not exactly the way I’d like them to be, but I understand why it has to be that way and I’ll make the best of the situation.”

But it’s a fine line between “fine” and “miserable”. The smallest thing can throw you off and you end up on the head-heavy step of victimhood that reads “Why me?”. Typical thoughts include: “Why do they make my life so hard? Maybe I just suck so bad I’m doomed for failure. I’m scared to even try again.”

To get back to “fine” where you take responsibility for your life, it takes a big leap of rationalizing situations and forgiving people. It’s a draining process and you may be going to bed with quite the headache.

The thing is, there is a heartfelt step in-between that can help. It’s labeled: “I’m angry”!

Now, in most situations, especially professional ones, showing anger and acting on it is seen as inappropriate. You have long learned to suppress these emotions. While acting on these emotions may be inappropriate, that does not mean they are inappropriate to have. What can you achieve by using these emotions wisely?

By allowing that anger to surface, we naturally lift ourselves out of victimhood. Of course, anger is also a draining energy and we don’t want to stay there eternally. As it turns out, from that place of anger, rationalizing really feels like a relief. It’s just as natural a step as the one out of victimhood. So now, we get back from “miserable” to “fine” very easily — and the heart is ignited in the process.

Where do we go next with that ignited heart? Popular catch phrases these days include “seeing the opportunity in everything” and “finding win-win solutions” (a mutually beneficial opportunity). But how do we get there when we’re just barely “fine” with the situation? Again, jumping from “fine” to “opportunity” on the left foot alone is a big, consuming leap.

So what’s the heartfelt right step in-between?

The key to seeing inspired opportunities is to find compassion and empathy for ourselves and others. If we can find compassion and empathy for the other person, and connect heart-to-heart for a moment, the desire for opportunity is born and the creativity for the win-win solution gets unleashed.

And I could keep going to even higher steps on the stairs, so stay tuned…

Common Pitfalls

There are a few pitfalls as we run up and down the stairs on both feet. Maybe the most important pitfall — for people living mainly in their heads — is that “I’m fine” is very pervasive. Without some way to ignite the heart, it can be difficult to tap into compassion.

One way to ignite the heart is to let go of the rationalizations for a moment and feel the frustration of the status quo. That is, ignite a touch of anger to get out of the complacency of “good enough”. Basically, we slingshot ourselves from anger, knowing we can be fine, into compassion and opportunity.

Another pitfall can take you by surprise when you realize how much bottled up anger you’ve been carrying around. It may be advisable to use precautions for a controlled explosion. Core Energy Coaches are trained to help you clear that anger in a safe space, so that the next time you feel it, it’s of the informative rather than destructive type.

A last pitfall worth mentioning is when we find compassion for others and forget to find compassion for ourselves. The advice, similar to oxygen masks on airplanes, is to find compassion for yourself first. Otherwise, you run the risk of feeling lost in translation and ending up in victimhood as you tumble down the stairs.

Head and Heart Integration

So why do I call this method head and heart integration – rather than connection? In keeping with the stairs analogy, you typically stand on both feet at any given point in time. That is, with a bit of head and a bit of heart, integrated rather than merely connected. In fact, you may start realizing that you have more than two feet to stand on – but that’s for another day…

Want to see what life looks like when you’re integrated? Let’s connect!

Credit: The concepts inherent in this article are the author’s interpretation of materials issued by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).