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Power of Meaning, Pillar of Belonging Part 4: Transcendence


The fourth pillar of meaning that Emily Smith refers to is that of “transcendence” which comes from the word “transcend”, or “go beyond”.  ‘Go beyond what?”, we might ask.  The sense of going beyond our everyday world to a higher reality is what transcendence is all about.  
But how can that give a deeper sense of meaning to our seemingly trivial lives?

You would expect the opposite. Yet it works the other way.

Imagine looking at a sunset, imagine meditating for hours at a time, imagine looking down on earth from a spaceship. What those experiences all have in common is that we are faced with something bigger than ourselves that creates a sense of insignificance and this feeling can transform us!

How does this happen?

In two ways.  First, our sense of self tends to disappear and along with it all the petty worries and wishes. Secondly, we get a feeling of being deeply connected with other people and everything else in our world. This experience can help us get a greater sense of meaning and promote a state of peace and wellbeing.

This should come as no surprise to health and wellness coaches who instinctively now that time spent in nature is somehow more valuable than perhaps time spent working out in a crowded gym. Mindfulness meditation come directly from this understanding and works in the same way.

But back to nature. If you needed any evidence of the benefits of nature, consider this.  A study had students outdoors in two groups. One group spent one minute staring at the huge trees that were part of the environment, and the other spent one minute staring at a tall building nearby. They had no idea what the study was about. After this time, a researcher approached them with a questionnaire and “accidentally” dropped a box of pens. The group who had stared at the trees showed much greater willingness to help pick up the pens, than the group who stared at the building. The conclusion? Nature created a reduced feeling of self-importance and made that group more generous towards others.  


How do we use this in our work?  Keep encouraging our clients to experience and savour the wonders of the world!

REFERENCE

Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning


Power of Meaning, Pillar of Belonging Part 3: Helping Clients tell their Stories





















Still on the topic of “meaning”, the next important privilege that coaches have is to help a client tell their story - as it relates to their sense of emotional, physical and perhaps spiritual wellness, and this is often affected by what has gone before.  

At some point, we will all endure hardship and tough times. Some more than others. The story that we create around what has happened will greatly influence how we make sense of the world, and ultimately, how we create our lives. Often the toughest events can alter a person in some significant way and put them on a different and perhaps better path. So it’s not what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us that counts, and we have the power to change this.

People who have endured loss or trauma may choose to avoid thinking about that loss, but to grow we need to come to terms with the way our life has turned out. The wonderful thing about “story-telling” is that even fiction can help us cope with our experiences. By reading we can gain wisdom and inspiration and learn from others’ experiences. By sharing stories, the story-tellers are not just creating meaning for themselves but helping others do so too. In this way, we can reach out and connect with others.

How does this help our coaching practice?
We often hear our clients talk about past events in a certain way, it may be dis-empowering and have a sense of keeping them stuck. By helping them re-frame their story, but looking for a different interpretation, we can help them perhaps create a more helpful meaning around it.

By telling stories of others, or our own (if appropriate), we can connect and inspire our clients. Note that the latter is only done in exceptional circumstances and we have to have a strong sense that this will be helpful to the client!

In summary, there is no such thing as “the truth” as we all remember things in different ways. If we can create a narrative around our life that helps us understand ourselves better, and if that inspires others, then the job of storytelling has been well done. Stories and storytelling shape people’s lives.


REFERENCE

Emily Esfahani Smith, The Power of Meaning




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