The coaching playbook is effective’s A-Z of bite-sized tools, tips and techniques for coaches, managers – and even for your own personal development.
The concept here is that many people carry ‘baggage’ around with them: unhelpful beliefs, assumptions, memories, associations…and they always have the choice to put this baggage down.
So the device I use is to ask them to put on my laptop rucksack, which is quite heavy (an alternative is to lift up a chair); check first that they have no injuries or restrictions. I then ask if they can stand and carry that object with them for the rest of the session. They’ll look askance, and maybe ask why, in which case you simply say – “you’ll find out”. After a while, maybe a couple of minutes, ask them if they’re comfortable, and/or feeling the strain. They’ll probably say yes. Ask if they’d prefer to carry on holding or carrying it, or prefer to put it down. They’ll say put it down. So ask them to put it down. They do so – then ask them to sit comfortably, and explain that the exercise has been a metaphor for the emotional baggage or burden that they may carry with them. And just like the physical bag, or chair, they choose to pick it up and carry it, and can also choose to put it down (or let it go). Ask them which they’d prefer. They’d usually choose put it down/let it go. Remind them that, having put it down, they always have the choice to pick it up again (but once it’s been put down, no one ever picks it back up).
Coach message: it’s a useful device for introducing and developing the idea of emotional baggage. In itself it is very powerful, but the likelihood is that the client will say it is difficult to do with real baggage in real life. Your answer to this will depend on your client and the approach you want to take, but could include:
- beware of the self-fulfilling prophesy of saying it’s difficult
- how do you know if you haven’t given it a go?
- work out between you what the client can do, step by step, to put it down/let it go:
- use a visualisation strategy
- ask the client what success would look like, and work back from there…(reversal)
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