Life coaching is more than just professional advice-giving. In fact, it’s a means to hijack a client’s brain and induce actionable, long-lasting change for positive results. Indeed, there’s a lot of neuroscience behind life coaching practices and techniques because of just how big of a role the brain plays in change, daily decisions, and overall personality. Let’s take a closer look.
The Brain and Learning
Naturally, the brain has a lot to do with learning! It’s the central processor or computer body, after all.
Modern neuroscience indicates that the brain, however, becomes less “plastic” as it ages. In other words, as people get older, it becomes harder for them to unlearn bad habits or learn new, positive habits. As a life coach, you can work with your clients to:
- Learn new, positive skills, like new hobbies, new habits, etc.
- Develop exercises to keep those new habits going instead of dropping them
- Learn ways to reduce the instances of bad habits
- And more
In many cases, you’ll rely on positive reinforcement. For instance, you might help a client learn how to positively reinforce a good habit, like going to the gym, by encouraging them verbally and getting others to hold them accountable, like a spouse or friend.
The Brain and Emotions
As the body’s emotional center, it’s no surprise that the brain plays a major role in emotions and emotional regulation. Many of your life coaching clients may come to you with difficulties with emotional regulation; they might want help to control their temper, for example, or need assistance counteracting issues like depression or anxiety.
You can teach your clients various techniques to manage their emotions. For instance, you might teach your clients breathing exercises to help them calm down and feel less anxiety in the workplace or before having a difficult conversation. You can also go into greater detail about the neuroscientific underpinnings surrounding emotions and automatic reactions; that might help your clients feel better if they make a mistake by showing them that they’re only ever in partial control of their responses.
The Brain and Motivation
The brain, of course, plays a key role in motivation. Many of your life coaching clients will come to you struggling to stick with long-term goals or achieve their ambitions in part because of motivation issues.
As a life coach, you can explain how dopamine – one of the most important hormones and brain chemicals – impacts personal motivation, and how various bad habits can saturate the brain in dopamine, arresting attempts toward positive change. Once you explain this to your clients, you can then explore ways in which they can control their motivation system for positive results, such as:
- Getting enough sleep and eating good food, which rewards the brain and ensures healthy habits
- Setting clear, short-term goals that can reasonably be achieved. Each time a goal is achieved, your client might feel a burst of dopamine, helping them reach their long-term goals over time
- Setting and giving oneself reasonable rewards. For instance, if a client is having difficulty sticking to a workout schedule, tell them they can reward themselves with a fruit smoothie after a particularly difficult workout once per week
- Teaching your clients how to pace themselves and prioritize different tasks. For instance, you might teach your clients how to prioritize the worst work of the day ahead and do it first, then do easier tasks toward the end to keep the motivation slide going
Of course, you must also consider how individuals can have drastic differences in brain functionality. What might work for one client could be terribly inefficient for another. Therefore, your responsibility as a life coach is to develop different tactics and approaches for different brains. Be sure to keep track of new neuroscience developments and emerging research so you always have fresh tools in your toolkit for clients in need of your assistance.
The Brain and Decision-Making
Everyone needs to make important decisions from time to time, and you as a life coach may help your client learn how to make those decisions smartly. As neuroscience indicates, we all have different cognitive biases, which can impact our decision-making processes.
If a client comes to you and states that they always seem to make less than stellar decisions, you can break down the reasons for those issues. You can explore a client’s background and the biases they may hold surrounding the topic at hand.
Then, you can implement various techniques and strategies to improve your clients’ decision-making, such as:
- Practicing cognitive behavioral therapy to help your client change negative thinking patterns into positive ones
- Having your client connect with a partner or peer to provide decision-making support
- Practicing patience-building exercises so your client doesn’t make negative, impulse decisions
Again, remember to keep abreast of new neuroscience research and techniques so you can always provide modern, up-to-date help for your clients.
The Brain and Stress
Many life coaches like you will be approached by clients who have difficulty managing stress. Stress can negatively affect brain functionality by making it harder to concentrate, increasing anxiety, and more.
Fortunately, you’ll have a wide range of different tools and solutions you can leverage for the betterment of your clients. For instance, you might teach one client how to practice yoga; this can reduce stress in the body and the brain simultaneously.
For another client struggling with keeping focused at work or putting their nose to the grindstone, you might suggest mindfulness instead. That client will find beauty and motivation in their day-to-day routine and be able to apply their energy more consistently.
In all these cases and more, you’ll help your clients manage their stress in better, more positive ways than ever before.
As a life coach, it’s important for you to incorporate neuroscience knowledge into your life coaching practice and strategies. For example, if you know how dopamine and the brain’s reward system work, you can use that knowledge to develop good plans and development cycles for your clients to help them build new, positive habits and feel good about themselves.