Try this exercise for a moment.*
Tuck your chin into your chest, round your shoulders, hunch your back and gaze down at the floor. Allow yourself to settle into this position for a few moments. Notice the emotions and sensations that naturally accompany this body position.
Now try to think the thought “I am having a tremendous day!”
Now do the opposite. Stand up tall. roll your shoulders back, puff up your chest, tilt your chin and direct your gaze upwards. You can even try expanding your arms out to the side. Notice the emotions and sensations that accompany this body position.
Now try to think the thought, “today sucks.”
If you’re like me this exercise is nearly impossible.
And it also reveals two important facts:
- Our body position informs our thoughts and emotions and vice versa.
- Having a disconnect between the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel and the shapes we make feels really awkward
So, what if there’s a divide between the goals we are working on, the thoughts we think and the way we hold our bodies?
What if we have “shoot-for-the-stars-level” goals but have an unconscious habit of keeping our bodies small?
What if our heart longs for intimacy and connection but we have a hard time making eye contact or physically relaxing around others?
This is what it means to be incongruent – to have a misalignment between what we want and what we’re currently practicing.
And not only can that incongruence be exhausting, it can slow us down and holds us back from who we truly are.
What is Congruence?
According to Merriam-Webster, congruence is the quality or state of agreeing, coinciding or being in harmony. It’s a word we don’t normally think much about but in the world of coaching it’s everything.
Generally, as a coach, I am aiming to support my clients in achieving congruence on three levels:
Congruence between Authentic Self and Goals
Let’s face it, everything from well meaning parents to peers to cultural messaging has influenced our thinking, our emotional state and our physical presence.
Sometimes we’re lucky and we’ve been raised in a world and environment that supports the optimal development of who we truly are.
And then there’s the 99.9% rest of us.
The first step is to get truly crystal clear on your authentic self. What brings you meaning and fulfilment? What is your purpose? What are your values and what do you care about?
Who are you truly at the deepest level of your heart and soul?
Answer that question first, and then clarify concrete goals to work towards.
Congruence between our Goals and Habits
Your purpose and goals give you targets to work towards.
But, often there is incongruence between the habits we’ve been practicing since childhood and the habits we need to adopt to move forward.
Given that up to 50% of what we do is determined by our unconscious habits, this part can really muck us up.
Furthermore, since many of the habits you’ve been practicing were developed as a child, teen or young adult, these are likely not the habits you need to take you into the next phase of your awesome-life creation.
Congruence between Body, Mind, Emotion and Soul
The opening exercise at the beginning of this article reminds us of how hard it is to have our body work against our mind and vice versa.
It feels unnatural.
We can sense it ourselves when there is a disconnect between the thoughts we think, the emotions we feel, the energy we cultivate and the shapes we hold our body in.
But line up these four parts of yourself. Have your thoughts, body, soul and emotion all fire up around the same purpose, vision or goal and progress comes more easily.
There’s less resistance, less inner turmoil and more light-it-up life-changing action.
If that’s the kind of brilliance you’re ready to step into, drop me a line. I’d love to connect with you.
* Source: Strozzi Institute