Learning to Coach: A guide to Emotional Awareness

So, not too long ago, I was caught in a loop of unconsciousness… Pretty vague, that is; but by loop of unconsciousness, I really mean that my thoughts and emotions were kind of “working without me.” As silly as it may seem, I woke up everyday determined to live authentically; but before I knew it, I was upset, my thoughts were everywhere, and for some reason, I couldn’t get a hold of my better self.

Before I knew it, I had lived several hours in anger, some time in depression, living a couple minutes, here and there, in fear, and ultimately wasting most of my day in negativity, without fully realizing it. 

Has that ever happened to you? 

Because, lately, It's been happening to me a lot... I can’t seem to get a grip over my emotions.

 Having had enough of my mind taking control from me, I decided to look into what it was – and I came across a chapter in my current book (Spiritual Partnership: The journey to authentic power – by: Gary Zukav) and it seems like he knew just what to say, and when to say it.

So, this blog post is dedicated to learning to identify our unconscious state and when it happens, ultimately illuminating the few ways we can become aware of our emotions, and begin to choose them consciously.

Living in a state of negativity sucks; but not knowing why you’re upset (and still feeling it) is worse. Having learned a simple and fun strategy on how you can view yourself and your emotions, in order to gain back full power in the seat of your emotions – I think it’s important to share this technique with the world, and raise awareness for those who have trouble taking back control of their emotions.


“Imagine you are the coach of a team in a game called “Life.”” – Gary Zukav

You have a number of players, each a world-class expert at their trade, who are ready and eager to play at any moment. One is an expert at anger, one an expert in love, another an expert at fear, kindness, patience, jealousy, contentment, anxiety, overwhelm, and so forth.

When any emotion, or rather – player, is asked to play on the court, they always play to the fullest, and need not to warm-up. When anger plays, she shouts, and continually withdraws herself; her level of expertise allows her to blame someone for anything, and on the deepest levels, cause physical or psychological harm to players on other teams.

But when patience is the player on the court, nothing can distract him from his patience. And when kindness is playing, she is light, funny, sweet, and nothing can take away her compassion.

It is your responsibility, as the coach, to choose the player you will put on the court at each moment. And much like any coach, when you choose a certain player, the player on the court is the one that will represent you. What they do, you appear to have done. If the player is happy and kind, you appear happy and kind. If they’re sad or depressed, you appear sad or depressed. You choose the player that is on the court. At all moments, only one player is playing, and at all times, only one player can be on the court.

The players may argue with you about who will play, and you may take suggestions, but ultimately, consciously or not, you (as the coach) always choose who plays on the court.

But most of importantly of all, whatever player (/underlying emotion) you choose to play… you are 100% responsible for their consequences. Play anger, and you will experience the consequence of anger. If you choose to play kindness or love, you will experience consequences of kindness and love. Since your players are acting on the best of their capacity (they are experts after all), you will experience the most significant consequences of their actions. Play the best of jealousy, vengefulness, or fear – you will reap the best (of the worst) consequences of jealousy, vengefulness, and fear. If you choose to play, full out, the best in gratitude, hope, and faith – you will reap the full out, best consequences of gratitude, hope, and faith.

So, why is this so important to realize? These are crucial aspects of ourselves that we need to become aware of, because they are often, either, running our emotions unconsciously, or creating experiences that we are not aware of. The painful emotions/players on our team are solely frightened parts of our psyche. They are the fear-based, painful, and destructive parts of our personality that, ultimately, we were born to heal.

So, the more closely you watch your players, the easier it becomes to notice the experiences/consequences they create. Not to mention, when you become aware of the role you play in creating your emotions (and their corresponding reactions), the easier it becomes to consciously choose them.

And when we assume the responsibility for our role, and we take charge of our power, we also become familiar with the wide range of emotions we’re capable of feeling. We begin to recognize the common emotions we feel, and we learn to identify the ones that are harder to acknowledge. This is how we develop ourselves as the coach.

“The more of your players you know about, the more control you have over the game. When you know all your players and are familiar with exactly what they do (and the consequences they create), you can play the best game possible.” – Gary Zukav

In the process of learning about your players, and while understanding the consequences each one of them creates, you may come to terms with not wanting to let certain players play anymore. If you’ve realized that some of your players are no longer beneficial to your game (life), maybe because the consequences they create are always painful or unwanted, you can decide (at any point in the game) that you want to retire those players (emotions) from your team.

Say, for example, you’re tired of doubt bringing you the constant consequence of fear, isolation, and powerlessness – and you much prefer the consequences of joy, love, and peace – you can begin consciously choosing to play the players that are favorable to the consequences you want to create.

But let me be painfully clear, the players you decide to retire will not leave the team willingly. They are in the habit of playing when they choose.

You see, before you became aware of them, they played whenever they wanted to. Before you became conscious of your players and their corresponding consequences, they stepped into the game without your consent. Before you became familiar with each player and their traits, habits, and reactions, they dominated your game at will, and they stepped into your game without your opposition.

Now that you’ve become aware of them, they have to forcefully demand to be played. And if you start consciously choosing other players (instead of them), they become more forceful in their will/demand to get in the game.

Say, the player is anger, for example – when you choose not to play Anger, it will become enraged. If it is anxiety, and you choose to play Faith, its angst becomes terror. If you choose another player over Doubt, doubt will forcefully become despair. 

Beware the temptation to play these rebellious players in order to avoid feeling their forceful counterpart. There will be the pain of turning them down. They will fight to be played, and become unbearably painful if you choose not.

But let me serve you a reminder, that the consequences they create when you allow them to play on the court will be far more painful when you encounter them – and worst of all, they will not stop the player from fighting for their spot again. They will refuse to be sidelined until you become aware of them, and consciously take them out of the game.

You can suffer the temporary pain of choosing new players, or you can suffer the endless pain of watching these players create unwanted experiences for your game, and create an even stronger loop of pain, that will become harder and harder to get out of.

“Either you encounter the pain of their despair, rage, or terror, when you decide not to play them, or you play them and encounter the pain of the consequences that they create for you.” – Gary Zukav

So, the more you decide to decline their ability to play, the more they will object. But! Without the opportunity to play, they will weaken from the lack of exercise, and their focus will scatter. Although they will remain forcefully waiting for the next opportunity to play (with or without your consent), your choice to play other, more constructive, players will lessen their strength and decrease their skills. They’ll become less intimidating, and much less distracting.

Ultimately, you’ll have to choose, from moment to moment, who you want to play, and assume the responsibility for each consequence created from your choice of player.

You cannot grow as a coach (aka. grow spiritually or as a person) if you remain playing these destructive emotions/players.

You can do whatever it takes, like meditate, pray, be inspired, or research ways to be positive, but if your anger, fear, or jealousy (and their corresponding traits, such as: judgments, need to please others, need for superiority, etc.) remain out of your awareness, much less your control, they will take over your life/your game, and create destructive patterns, as well as never-ending painful consequences. These fear-based parts of your personality will, time and time again, step into the game without your consent, and create even stronger chains (also known as loops, patterns, or cycles) that create unwanted/painful consequences and experiences.

So what’s next?

Well, your growth and development as a coach (of your own life/game) requires locating and identifying the players (and their traits), experiencing and learning their pain and consequences, and challenging (choosing not to play) the frightened parts of the team (our personality).

(Let me, again, be painfully clear that) the more you ignore them (repress, suppress, or deny your painful thoughts/emotions), the more they play, and the more painful the consequences you encounter. Do not hope you can transcend them, ascend above them, meditate or pray them away – because these are all ways of avoiding them. You are the coach. You must assume your responsibility of experiencing your pain, becoming aware of it, and then choosing not to play the painful emotions that bring you such pain (which in itself is a painful choice). 

“As you become aware of yourself as the coach, amongst the first things you notice are how many frightened parts of your personality are on the team and how often they play. This is always a disturbing discovery.” – Gary Zukav

 Sometimes you’ll come to experience players/emotions on your team that you refuse to look at again because you don’t want to confirm what you aren’t willing to believe. But there are parts of your fear-based personality that go completely against what you want, what you believe in, and what you care for. Beware not to refuse (turn your head from) or repress these experiences; they may end up being the players that put themselves on the court without your consent. Become aware of them, conscious of their traits, feelings, and consequences, and start consciously choosing new players (emotions) instead, and you’ll find that in time, they will weaken and diminish altogether. 

So, let’s talk about the positive and fun players now; the players who feel good to experience, and that create happy and healthy consequences, which are pleasing to encounter. These are the loving (love-based) parts of your personality. These players are: patience, care, joy, contentment, happiness, kindness, compassion, love, gratitude, interest, faith, and hope (as well as many others).

When they are active (on the court), you have no memory of the fear-based players. You know you’re living with a purpose. You’re grateful for every little thing in Life. You’re happy with everything that is around you. You are fully engaged in the present moment.

As you become aware of yourself as the coach, you realize you can’t play love-based players and fear-based players at the same time. It’s one or the other.

So when you consciously choose to play the loving players, the fear-based players lose their strength.

After a while, your fear-based players begin to wither. They lose their frequency and intensity; their demands begin to diminish, and eventually, they lose their power over you (practically) altogether. Obviously, they may continue to object to being benched so often and push themselves out to play, but you, as the coach, have become aware of your power and must consciously decide not to let them play. 

So… yeah.

I understand that it may take a while to build this connection as the coach. But trust me when I tell you that you don’t have to wait until you’ve been in so much unconscious pain, agony, or overwhelm, to start exploring your role as the coach. You can begin to explore your relationship with your pain, and find out the roles, traits, and habits of each player (emotion) in your game (life). And with the experience you get from that, you can gradually develop yourself as the coach, and start choosing your most valuable players from each moment on.

So, how will you start assuming your role as the coach? What players are currently running your game without permission? Are they love-based players, or fear-based players? And which of your players would you like to see more of?

Let me know in the comments below!

Sarah ELLEComment