The Coaching Model using Perspective vs. Heaviness

Control your situationIn this coaching model piece “The Growth Model”  we touch on that key moment in a coaching session that for me is when clarity comes to the client and a shift in perspective becomes possible. A shift usually from a limiting, heavy, significant viewpoint to a new, lighter, possibly bringing a perspective that allows the client to open their mind to broader and more holistic ways of thinking. This I will further explore in this paper at the example of “Perspectives vs. Heaviness”.

And if you are interested in what’s happening in the brain from a neurophysiological point of view when we shift perspectives or change behaviors, I recommend reading my research paper “A Neurophysiological Approach to Change in Perspective”.

Attachment constrains our vision so that we are not able to see things from a wider perspective. Dalai Lama

Perspective vs. Heaviness Explanation

Perspective – defined as a particular way of considering something, a point of view, a mental view, or prospect

Heaviness– defined as of relatively great weight, having great power, weighed down, burdened, having a high gravity, of great intensity

Often clients seek a coach because they feel heavy or stuck in a certain situation or give significance to a certain perspective they are holding. They are not able to see beyond that and they feel burdened and drained. If they were able to see beyond it or if it would be easy to do so, they would not come to coaching and likely the coaching profession would not gain the popularity it did over the past decades.

What we do as a coach in such situations is encouraging them to explore alternative points of view to look at their situation, using the tool of reframing or change in perspective. A perspective is a view based on our beliefs, values, and upbringing, like a picture we create, and behind that picture is an entire universe of beliefs and values we hold and our particular way of looking at the world. Although we know that there is never just one view, we get attached to our perspective, convincing ourselves that it is the truth and only view of reality. We tell ourselves “that’s just how it is”. We carry this reality around, putting ourselves in a box, weighed down with beliefs, notions, and learned behaviors that don’t serve us. That unobserved mind and the significance we give it keeps us from seeing choices or perspectives to view something in a different light.

Reframing is an essential part of the coaching process and for the client to see things differently and thereby come to more empowering conclusions about an event or experience. Knowing what our perspectives are, allows us to have a greater awareness of how our perspectives determine the way that we see things. Perspectives are not right or wrong. The important question is whether a perspective works for us or not. Any perspective that supports us to grow and overcome the challenges of our lives is good. As an objective observer, a coach is in a unique position to empower clients to identify negative perspectives, reframing situations for themselves creatively to come to new perspectives, and with that, new possibilities.

The only thing you sometimes have control over is your perspective. You don’t have control
over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it.
Chris Pine

How does this apply to coaching?

Because we all have our very own point of view, we consciously or unconsciously give significance to our experiences and emotions. This in return can create a feeling of being stuck, weighed down, and heavy if we are unable to move away from that. Awareness of what we are giving meaning to is the catalyst for replacing values, beliefs, and perspectives that don’t serve us, that stop and restrain us rather than support us, let us thrive and grow. Finding a new perspective supports clients to view things differently and, as a result, find new, often more empowering ways of looking at a certain situation. Usually, when clients come to a coaching session it is not the specific situation they bring or their life circumstances that is the problem, it is the perspective they hold towards that situation.

The following table compares the thinking and potential outcomes for both perspectives:

Perspective Heaviness
Who would I like to be? This is me and who I am
I can continuously adjust my behaviors I can’t get out of my own skin
I can review my own patterns and stop habits and change beliefs that do not serve me (any longer) I always do things this way
People can change People are unable to change
Invites reflection and collaboration Is self-centered without considering outside factors
Creates a broader perspective and holistic view Single view and narrow perspective
Boosts confidence Creates frustration and doubt
Creates greater longer-term benefit Brings limited immediate benefit

To work out different perspectives instead of staying in the heaviness is hard and takes time and effort. What I experience in coaching though is that as soon as the moment of clarity and awareness about the limiting belief or perspective that creates the heaviness comes to the client in the coaching session, the wall they don’t seem to see beyond starts to crumble and new possibilities come insight. The success of working through that themselves can in return boost their confidence and encourage them to choose perspective vs. heaviness in a future situation.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Marcus Aurelius

So, what are possible tools that a coach can use to support their clients in the process of moving from heaviness to a new, powerful perspective?

  • Listen actively – Being fully present and listening for the whole of the person, not only what they say but also how they say things, choice and tone of words, gestures, and expressions
  • Ask powerful questions – What is your reaction when you have this thought? Who would you be without having this thought? What could be another angle to think about this? What else might be true?
  • Make observations – Playing back what clients are saying about themselves
  • Pause – Bringing in the distance and emotional stillness for the client (e.g. breathing exercise, count to five before answering) so that the client can respond vs react, has the chance to reflect, and then decide
  • Acknowledge – See the client who they are in their uniqueness and wholeness of their being
  • Let them watch themselves from the outside, like in a movie
  • Use roleplay, metaphor, or analogy – What would you suggest a good friend / your child do in this situation?
  • Create awareness – Challenge the client to evoke awareness and insights
  • Introduce lightness and playfulness – What about this situation could be fun? What would it be costing you to / if you …?
  • Use extreme perspectives – What is the worst thing / best outcome that can happen? What happens if you are fully responsible / you are not responsible at all? What opportunities open up? What alternatives lie in-between?
  • Use coaching tools and techniques –g. mindfulness exercises, visualization, Enneagram, Wheel of Life, coaching power tools, DISC, etc. (careful with CBT & NLP!)

ATTENTION: Before using any kind of tools or techniques, always first check-in with the client and get their permission! 

  • Create action – action is doing and the opportunity to experience something new and can be critical for the clients feeling of success and achievement
  • Make the client accountable – Clients are the owners of their lives and are resourceful to find their own answers and to be responsible for the same

By using the tools listed in the previous chapter (amongst others), coaches empower their clients to

  1. Create awareness and take responsibility (looking inwards versus blaming the outside circumstances)
  2. Assess this awareness
  3. Create learning from the awareness
  4. With the learning create a new perspective of a specific situation for themselves
  5. Nurture that new perspective, creating an environment that supports them holding this new perspective
  6. Name the new perspective

If you are curious to experience this yourself, try out this exercise about any situation in your everyday life:

  1. What are repeating situations that bother you?
  2. What are the perspectives you hold in these situations? (e.g. What outcome do you expect? What behaviors do you expect from your fellow human beings? What do you gain or lose as a result?)
  3. What are the underlying beliefs that present themselves and that you associate with these situations?
  4. What could be other ways of looking at it? What alternative perspectives are also true?
  5. How does that make you feel? What becomes possible now?
  6. Finally, what has changed for you, and what you will do differently next time?
  7. Write down your new perspective and name it

If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. Abraham Maslow


Original source:

Self Coaching system training
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