The second finding is that we react before we think. Specifically, it is now known that we immediately process most incoming stimuli through “templates” in our Amygdala (mid-brain) (LeDoux,1998). The Amygdala “templates” are applied to each incoming stimulus to determine whether or not this stimulus represents a threat to us (or perhaps the prospect of personal pleasure). Many of these Amygdala templates are probably established early in our life or may actually be “hard-wired” (could they relate to what Carl Jung identified many years ago as the “collective unconscious”?). We process these same stimuli through our cerebral cortex at a later point (1 or 2 seconds later) and process them more slowly. In most cases, we eventually temper the immediate reactions of our Amygdala by means of this more “rational” cortical analysis. When a personal or life coach is working with her client on difficult issues that may evoke fear-based templates, the coach is dealing with more than rational content. He or she must bypass or counter or at least address the emotional impact of these more primitive templates.
While there are many other neurobiological implications for the personal and life coach, we want to mention just one more. It involves the entire body. We establish “stress ruts” when exposed repeatedly to real or imagined threats. These ruts are grooved deeper with each stressful event and lead to permanent structural changes in our nervous/hormonal systems. We become increasingly vulnerable (“trigger happy”) to stress (Sapolsky, 2004). A personal or life coach can play an important role in assisting her client in identifying and even seeking to avoid or reduce the impact of these stress ruts.
Our daily behavior is profoundly impacted by these stress ruts and by our patterns/decisions regarding sleep, exercise, exposure to light, and the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other mind-altering drugs. Caffeine consumption might be a major culprit (Bergquist, 20110> When clients are trapped in such a rut they become less coachable. It may be hard to assist other people until they are “physiologically-primed/prepared” for this assistance. A personal or life coach might insist that her client be physiologically prepared for the challenges of coaching prior to beginning the coaching process.Download Article 1K Club