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Heart Coach Institute

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Carolyn Thorup, HCI Heart-Centered Life Coach • August 15, 2023

Coaching Success Stories: Carolyn


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One of the best insights I’ve gained from heart-centered life coaching is the importance of aligning the mind and the heart. In section 2 of the Heart-Centered Life Coaching Training Manual Robin shares, “When our mind and heart work in harmony, we have a feeling of inner peace. Both mind and heart play significant roles in the joy and success of our lives. The job of the mind is to keep us alive and safe. The job of the heart is to help us process emotions, love, and serve others.”

In a recent coaching session, I noticed that each time I asked my client a question she would say something like, “I feel really stressed about moving, but in the end it will be a better living arrangement.” On the surface, it seemed to be a very mature way of viewing her situation. She was able to see that the stress and work of moving would give her a better result in the end. So what’s the problem?

As we talked, I observed a pattern of this client mentioning a feeling, then immediately silencing it. She seemed reluctant to spend any time with a difficult emotion. Her mind was consistently telling her heart to be quiet. I asked if I could share an observation with her. She agreed, and I shared that she seemed quick to find a “bright side” to any mention of an uncomfortable emotion. She was not giving her heart a say in the matter. We then explored the idea of what might happen if she allowed herself to feel sad, or stressed, or disappointed.

Allowing Our Feelings

At first, this idea of allowing an uncomfortable emotion seems scary and counterintuitive. Wouldn’t it make the emotion even bigger and harder to manage if you allowed it? Let’s look at this idea. What happens to our heart when our mind takes over?

Working with clients has allowed me to identify some personal limiting thoughts and beliefs. Without realizing it, I have been a harsh judge of myself in many ways. When I would experience a negative emotion, such as frustration, I would stuff down the feeling and allow my mind to say, “This isn’t a big deal. This shouldn’t bother me. This wouldn’t bother most people.” I was rushing past my emotions toward the safe space of resolution. I was disrespecting myself by refusing to see and feel my emotions.. Both “heart and mind play significant roles in the joy and success of our lives.” While our mind focuses on keeping us safe, our heart is essential to giving our lives meaning and true connection.

During a mentoring session with Gaye, she shared what we do to ourselves when we resist our emotions. We stuff down our feelings in the hopes of getting rid of them. Resisting and ignoring our feelings can result in a heart space that is overflowing with unmet needs and pent up emotion. We can think of our heart space like a closet.  Whether we sort it out or stuff it full–it takes effort. And wouldn’t we rather have that effort result in a better outcome?  If we ignore our feelings we will expend effort trying to hold our metaphorical closet door closed. Resisting and stuffing down those emotions shuts down the heart and adds frustration and tension to an already difficult situation. Only by connecting to our hearts will we be able to access the subconscious mind and its ability to move past barriers.

“The heart has answers for us that our mind does not know.”          Robin Johnson

The beauty of giving our hearts a voice can be seen in some recent sessions with a few of my clients.

Client # 1 

During a session, my client brought up a situation with work that had been weighing on her for months. This client is not one to get emotional, yet as she explained the situation she began to cry. I invited her to share three emotions that came up for her as a result of this challenging work issue. She responded,  “embarrassed, angry, and overwhelmed”. With that vulnerable admission of emotion her heart was unlocked and she was ready to remove a few items from her “closet”. Putting a name to the heaviness in her heart made the issue feel more manageable. As a result, she gained insight into ways of conducting herself at work and interacting with her supervisor. Giving her heart a voice allowed her mind to come in with inspired ideas to move forward. 

Client # 2

With this client we were talking and working together to get to the desired session topic. The client shared the desire to challenge her “black and white” thinking. In asking more questions I noticed that she was getting very detailed about the who, what, when, and where information. Our training tells us that this type of thinking is from a person that is viewing things only from their mind. I listened a bit longer and then asked her to share with me a few qualities that she liked about herself. My question took her by surprise and there was a pause as she pondered it. Once she shared some nice things to about herself I asked her what was challenging for her about answering that question. She realized that the tendency to only access her mind limited the way she viewed herself, others, and life. She admitted that she lacked compassion for herself. If the past can’t be fixed or changed what would be the point in dredging up all that emotion? During the remainder of the session we talked through the importance of housekeeping for the mind and heart. Ignoring, resisting, and stuffing down our emotions puts a strain on us. It is worth the effort to take a look at even an item or two that we’ve stuffed in the closet. This is one way we show care and compassion for ourselves.

“Learning to listen to and trust your heart, can be a game-changer for most people. Once you have your answers from the heart, put your mind to work figuring out all the details to make it happen.”      Robin Johnson

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Awareness of Our Current Location.

Client # 3

As this client shared her various goals and plans, she said, “You are probably thinking that I take on too many things and overwhelm myself.” It was a great opportunity for me to say, “Actually, I’m not judging you about that. Are you judging yourself for that?” She mentioned that sometimes she gets comments from others when they see how busy she is or how much she is trying to accomplish. Judgment from ourselves and others quickly shuts down the heart. Judgment traps us in the drama of our life and shifts the focus to what is happening to us. When judgment from others was put aside she had room to explore why she loved to have a variety of interests and projects going at the same time. She felt confident in knowing her limits and also when it was time to scale back. Her observation was that those who judged her actions were typically people who functioned better being more deeply involved with fewer things. Through the session she began to value and appreciate herself more and to trust that she knew what made sense for her. The truth we find when we connect to our heart provides clarity and peace. Our heart can then invite our mind to participate in a helpful way. 

As Robin states in the HCI Life Coaching Training Manual, historically the word coach referred to “a horse-drawn vehicle that would get people from where they were to where they wanted to be.” As coaches this definition is a powerful reminder that as we meet clients where they are, they can learn to listen to their heart and view their current state more truthfully. Connecting with their heart allows them to find the answers they seek. We honor and respect ourselves when we give our hearts the necessary attention and care. There is no upside to rushing past our emotions. Attending to our feelings allows a softening and expansion of our heart. With an open heart we are guided to meaningful answers and feelings of peace.

Carolyn Thorup

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