The Art of Strengths Coaching

S is for Stimulation and Solace for The Soul

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How do you stimulate your soul? How do you, when appropriate, find solace for the soul?

Some activities may, of course, satisfy both needs. Doing these things may increase your strength to give to other people. Let’s explore these themes, starting with stimulation.

People need to nourish the deepest part of their being. Here are some ways that individuals say they make this happen.

I stimulate my soul by:

Counting my blessings … Working in the garden … Walking for an hour each day … Listening to music … Doing creative work.

Encouraging people … Being with kindred spirits … Being with my animals … Creating beautiful things … Studying success.

People sometimes nourish their souls by giving. They may love to nurture plants, animals or other human beings. Giving to other people can lead to them experiencing what is called The Helper’s High.

Piero Ferrucci believes that beauty can nourish the soul. Beauty is more than an extra, says Piero, it is a basic necessity in life. Writing in Beauty and The Soul, he explained:

All of us, in one way or another, seek beauty. We know it brings happiness and wellbeing.

Some manage to see the inner beauty of people: generosity, intelligence, honesty. It is a beauty less evident, but deeper and more lasting.

Beauty, then, brings us back to the here and now. In the presence of beauty it is harder to be distracted.  

To follow the way of beauty means to live in a state of mindfulness that does not admit distraction or escape.

We are here with our whole being. This is our kairos, as it was called in ancient Greece: The moment of opportunity, the timeless instant when revelation comes.

People also love to do soul work, rather than just salary work. Pursing our labours of love engages our whole being and can bring a sense of satisfaction.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things that stimulate your soul.

Describe the specific things that sometimes result from doing things that stimulate the soul.

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People sometimes need to give solace to the soul. Different people do this in different ways.

Some may spend time in their version of a sanctuary. They may sleep, walk, read, talk with friends, play music, pursue spiritual paths or meditate. They relax, reflect and rejuvenate the soul.

Some pursue activities that provide a sense of purpose. They may spend time gardening, painting, running, cooking, writing or whatever. They find that doing such satisfying work helps to re-stabilise their soul.

Some do practical things that can bring a sense of peace. Here is an example from my own life.

Several years ago the calm of the countryside where we live was interrupted by noise pollution. Polite requests to the perpetrators were unsuccessful, so we looked for another solution.

Opting for the sound of water, we saved enough to put a waterfall in the garden. The falling water overcame the other noise, which has since disappeared. The pond also attracted wildlife that has brought other riches to the area.

Piero Ferrucci, who works as a psychotherapist, has written about the power of beauty and kindness. He believes that both can nurture the soul.

Beauty is the perfect medicine, says Piero. Here is an excerpt from his thoughts on this topic. You can discover more via the following link.

http://www.pieroferrucci.it/kinder.html

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The experience of beauty itself is freeing, nourishing, uplifting, and transforming.

I am talking about the beauty we may find in a great variety of contexts: in nature, at a concert, at an exhibition.  

Also in everyday situations: we may find beauty in the reflections of the sun on a piece of metal, or in the shape of a fallen leaf, or in the pitter-patter of the rain.  

Most important, there is such a thing as inner beauty: for example, the beauty of intelligence, of caring and generosity, of vivaciousness and humour.

The experience of beauty makes us open, spontaneous, empathic. In such a state we are more drawn to altruistic attitudes and behaviour.

Much of my time as a psychotherapist is devoted to helping people to treat themselves better. 

They need, for instance, solitude and silence, or nature, or time for play, or greater appreciation from others, and the chance to express themselves.  

And they need beauty. If it remains unfulfilled, we feel uncomfortable.

As we know, the moment we are satisfied and our needs, including the deeper ones, are met, we feel at peace and are better disposed to the world.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, how can you stimulate and, when appropriate, provide solace for the soul?

What may be the benefits – both for you and for others? You may, for example, find even more strength to help other people.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe the specific things you can do in the future to stimulate and, when appropriate, provide solace for the soul.

Describe the specific benefits of doing these things – both for you and for other people.

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    C is for Checking Your Compass

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    Different people use different approaches to checking whether they are following their internal compass.

    Some revisit the eternal questions regarding finding meaning in their lives. A person may ask: “Who am I? Why am I here? What can I give to people during my time on the planet?”

    Some revisit their values and look at how to translate these into action. Some explore their purpose and how to pursue this by following certain principles. Some revisit their vocation and how they can express this by doing valuable work.

    Different people explore these themes at different times. Some do it every day. Some do it when experiencing a crisis, making a key decision or facing a challenge. Some do it when feeling ill at ease.

    Looking back on your life, when have you refocused on your internal compass? What was happening that got you to take this step? What did you did as a result of taking time to reflect?

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe a specific situation in the past when you refocused on your internal compass and this resulted in you resetting your course.

    Describe the specific things you did to take these steps. 

    Describe the specific things that happened as a result of you taking these steps.

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    Looking back on your life, what have you learned from the times when you needed to revisit your inner compass? How did you apply what you learned?

    One person I worked with explained their experience in the following way.

    The first indication of something being wrong was when I started to get warning signs. These included feeling exhausted and getting headaches. I also lost belief in the company where I worked.

    For a while I numbed myself, but things came to a head when I missed my daughter’s school play. This led to my partner and I reassessing our priorities.

    We wanted our children to have a happy childhood, of course, whilst we also wanted to enjoy a good quality of life. Both priorities seemed to be in jeopardy.  

    Looking to the future, we agreed that I should aim to get a more satisfying job. My partner wanted to return to teaching drama, which they did before we had children.

    The transition took several months, but now things are much better. My partner loves working with drama, which they find extremely fulfilling. We also share more adventures together. 

    Three months after the wake up call I moved to a company run by one of my old bosses. He employs me to do what I do best, which is leading projects that solve complex problems. Sometimes I get tired, but this is often the result of doing satisfying work.

    The children are filling their teenage years with exciting experiences. Our daughter loves performing in musicals, whilst our son is showing leadership qualities. He is running sports coaching sessions at the local primary school. Both seem able to manage their parents.

    I am not sure what the future will bring, but the crisis taught me to return to enjoying life. There is also another stimulating challenge on the horizon.

    The local business school has invited me to teach people how to run successful projects inside companies. This plays to my strengths and hopefully I will be able to pass on knowledge that helps other people.

    Different people use different approaches to revisiting their internal compass. Some ask relatively simply questions. They may ask, for example:

    What do I enjoy doing? What are the activities that give me positive energy? How can I do more of these things?

    Who are the people who are important to me? How can I encourage these people? How can I be a good encourager in my daily life and work?

    What are my life goals? What do I believe is important in life? How can I focus on the things that are important? How can I do something each day towards achieving my life goals?

    Some people may explore their purpose. There are many tools an individual can use to embark on this journey. One approach is for them to ask some of the following questions.

    What do I believe may be my purpose on the planet? How can I follow this purpose and help other people?

    Looking back on my life, when have I used my strengths and enjoyed a strong sense of purpose? What did I do right then? 

    What were the strengths I used? How did I use these strengths to help other people or to do satisfying work? What gave the activities a sense of purpose? What were the benefits – both for other people and myself?

    Looking back at these experiences, can I see any patterns? What were the principles I followed to use my strengths and have a sense of purpose? How can I follow these principles in the future?

    What are the activities I can do where I can use my strengths and have a sense of purpose? How can I find or create such activities? What will be the benefits of doing these things? How can I follow this purpose in ways that help other people and the planet? 

    Some people explore these questions and are able to sum up their theme in a one liner. One person I worked with, for example, explained this in the following way.

    My purpose is:

    To create enriching environments in which people can grow.

    The person went on to express this purpose in many different ways. They raised a family, built an interior design business and ran inspiring seminars for budding designers.

    A person can take years to clarify their theme and summarise it in a one liner. They may then spend many more years crafting the words until they feel right, but that is okay. They can use those years to pursue their purpose in ways that help other people.

    Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking the future, how can you keep checking your inner compass? How can you then pursue your chosen course?

    If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

    Describe the specific things you can do to keep focusing on your internal compass and ensuring you are on your chosen course. 

    Describe the specific things that may happen as a result of taking these steps and ensuring you are on your chosen course.

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