top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureYotam

The Helper's Shadow (list of stems and questions)

Those of us drawn to coaching often have a bit of the rescuer in us. If we don't take a close look at our motivations or assumptions in helping others, we limit the good we can do and even risk causing unconscious harm.


In my classes on coaching and Shadow, I ask students to complete the following sentence stems (quickly, so that something half-conscious can emerge):


  • People who need help are...

  • People who never ask for help are…

  • People who give great help are...

  • Coaches who charge a lot for their services are...

  • Coaches who don’t charge enough for their services are...

  • Coaches who are too structured with their clients are...

  • Coaches who don’t offer enough structure are...

  • Coaches who enjoy sexual chemistry with their clients are...

  • Coaches who repress any attraction to their clients are...

  • If I’m totally honest, I want my clients to think of me as.....

  • But in my heart of hearts, I’m afraid that I am.....

  • Still, at least I'm not...


The judgment words that emerge from this exercise are really helpful! If you complete the stems and look at your words, they'll you something about who you are trying to be and not be.


And this is the ever-surprising twist of Shadow work: The person you're working so hard NOT to be has a lot to contribute to your life. And for coaches, the person you're working hard not to be has a lot to contribute to your clients, too.


How do we welcome back in that rejected self? And how do we do it safely, honoring the reasons we rejected it in the first place?


Here, I find voice dialog very helpful. I have students identify one polarity from the sentence-stem exercise. What's one quality you're trying to inhabit, and what's the opposite quality that you're rejecting? We'll call these your Proton and Electron and 'interview' both of them. You, as a collection of many protons and electrons together, we'll call the Atom.


(This interview protocol is adapted from the work of Nadja Taranczewski.)


First, we can ask the Proton:

  • What are you there for? What quality do you bring to the Atom's life?

  • In which situations do you mostly emerge? When do you come out freely?

  • How do you make yourself seen or heard? How do you show up on the outside (what would others notice)?

  • When did you first appear in the Atom's life?

  • What deflates you? When do you disappear?

  • What does too much of you look like? When do you go too far?

  • What do you contribute to the Atom's clients? How do you make the Atom a better coach?

  • What needs do you meet for the Atom?

  • What are you afraid would happen if you didn’t do your job as well?

  • What would you like to say to the Atom to make their path a little easier?

  • What else would you like the Atom to know about you?

It's okay if not every question elicits a significant answer. Go with the questions that provoke you the most.


Then, interviewing the Electron, we can ask:

  • Your Atom has probably tried to get rid of you for a long time - What would happen if they actually succeeded? What quality would they lose?

  • In which situations do you mostly emerge? When do you come out freely?

  • How much respect does your Atom have for you? How do they treat you?

  • Disowned parts like you often try to get our attention before they go into full battle mode. How do you knock on the door gently? And how do you act when you kick down the door?

  • When did you first appear in the Atom’s life?

  • Who was your biggest role model – who are you most alike?

  • What would it look like if your Atom learned to use only a wisely measured dose of you?

  • What needs would you love to meet for the Atom, in a wisely measured dose?

  • What gifts would you love to give to the Atom’s clients, in a wisely measured dose?

  • What would you like to say to the Atom to make their path a little easier?

  • What else would you like the Atom to know about you?


If you've followed along with this process, you probably now have some hints of ways to integrate your Electron more fully into your life and your coaching practice. I would urge you to start with small experiments and see what happens.


If you'd like to explore further, contact me about 1:1 mentor coaching openings.

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Being The Place Where Change Happens

As I've been reflecting on what I do and how I help people, this phrase has come to my mind again and again. We all want change - anything we want is a change, in one way or another. Some of us work t

Comments


bottom of page