The following is a discussion of the use of dreams in coaching, excerpted from my final paper for the Haden Institute. Read on if you’re interested.
Life Coaching is a framework within which I practice, and guide others, using the tools for spiritual transformation that have have transformed my life: the Enneagram, archetype work, tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and most of all, dream work. Working with dreams within the traditional coaching model allows you, the client, to discern and align what you want with what the Divine wants. It allows you to move forward in manifesting the life you were created to live, translating the search for meaning into a lived life.
The traditional life coaching model is an all client-driven process, where the coach serves as an encourager and facilitator of the client doing his or her own work. All that’s brought out in the coaching conversation comes from the depths of the client’s own perceptions. It is a wonderful way for people to become empowered, to be encouraged and to believe in themselves. In the healthiest of circumstances, it leads the client to a healthy ego state.
A healthy ego state is also a goal and part of the purpose of working with dreams. The Divine is working each night to bring us back into balance, showing us which way our many see-saws are tilted and the way we need to go to get back to the center.
A problem can occur in coaching when a client’s desires are surface-level and ego-driven. Good coaching does encourage the client to dig deep and see his “gremlins,” things that hold him back, his inner saboteurs. But coaching is future oriented. It does not focus on pathology.
Working with dreams in coaching is the perfect way for you to bring yourself into balance and to look to the future from the healthiest point of view in the present possible. Because in dream work one also discerns the will of God (where God is leading one to change and grow), good dream work makes coaching all the more powerful a tool for one to act in the world as God would have it be. As the client, seeking coaching empowers you to carry out your life’s mission.
In our nightly dreams, we are given clues that work within us to constantly reorient as we zigzag our way down the path of life. We are driven to achieve the straight and narrow path if we listen to this nightly guidance. When we work with and listen to our dreams, we have an effect on the physical world. A right spiritual state of being produces a right worldly state of being.
But we are also co-creators with God. We don’t simply work with our dreams to learn what they have to teach us and sit back as God makes changes in our lives. We must act. For various personality types, action is difficult. Self-doubt, fear of failure and fear of success, anger, resentment and other “gremlins” get in the way. Our dreams may be teaching us that we must deal with our anger, for example, but we don’t always know how to do so. Dreams can then give us clues on how to do so, especially when we set an intention and ask for their help. We then take the information we’ve gathered from dream work and use it in the world.
Coaching is a tool for manifestation. It is like hitting the gas pedal. It can drive us into action and success (however one defines success for oneself). On the coaching journey, the client sets goals, discerns energy drainers and gainers in his life and seeks to eliminate the drainers and amplify the gainers. The steps to a desired path are broken down and worked on piece-by-piece, step-by-step. Looking back on the coaching journey, you can see millions of tiny milestones that were passed along the way to achieving your goals. You can also see many detours. As is the nature of the human condition, life can change on a dime, throw us curve balls and challenges we couldn’t have imagined. It can also give unexpected gifts that change the way we look at things. Just as working with dreams keeps us zigzagging down the path instead of veering off the road and crashing, coaching keeps us marching toward a goal.
As dreams have to help us make tiny corrections each day, the coaching process has to be flexible and adaptable. It is truly a creative process. What you think you want one day can change the next or after a period of discernment. Or the goal may not change but the desired or obvious path to that goal is not what it first looked like. Combining working with dreams and coaching is the path to big shifts that are not only in line with what we want, but also with what the Divine wants for us.
If you, as client, have desired goals that don’t seem to be working out or don’t feel authentic or aligned with your true self, where can you turn? To your dreams. My job is coach is not to tell you what your dreams mean or to project on your dreams, merely to ask powerful questions in the way of the classic coaching model that pull new information from your own unconscious. You can then readjust your goals and discern a path to achieving them.
Coaching questions are never “yes or no questions.” They are open and powerful and asked from a place of deep listening. As coach, I acknowledge your accomplishments and ask you to keep going. “What’s next.?” “What else?” I look forward to partnering with you as you become the person you were created to be.