When I met him, his gaze was distant, disengaged, dazed, distracted. He was at OplanTrabaho, drifting among the employer tables, searching for something he couldn’t find just yet. He was wearing a striped grey and pink top, had flowing curly hair. I recognized him by how the counsellors described him to me, not by the nametag he had on his chest that read: “Dick”.
We invited Dick to return to the counsellor’s area where we had been waiting for him for almost 30 minutes. When we took a seat, I asked if he had eaten lunch (it was almost 2pm). He continued to gaze far away and didn’t answer. When I asked what time his last meal was, he said he hadn’t eaten anything the entire day. A fellow volunteer got some food for him to eat, and he consumed the pancit in a few minutes. I got him a cold bottle of water – a small relief from the heat of the afternoon sun.
I saw the nametag on his chest: “Dick”. I asked him what his real name was. I didn’t understand his reply. I changed my question: “Aling pangalan ang pinaka-gusto mong tawagin ka?” (“By which name do you like being called?”). He said “Angel po.”
Oh, that was a breakthrough in itself, for the guy with the nametag “Dick” to tell us that she preferred to be called “Angel”. So Angel it was!
I invited Angel to a quieter area for our coaching, away from the busyness of the job fair.
I told her that I could coach her and help her have different ways to think and feel about a situation. She said she wanted that alternative, because she was tired of feeling so sad and low. I could see the sadness in her eyes, the mere thought of her family, separated by the storm.
I guided Angel through an NLP pattern. At the start, she broke down and cried, her knees buckled and she knelt on the ground, her hands covering her face as she recalled an experience. I allowed her to feel the experience for a moment, a brief moment. I’m sure she’s been crying a whole lot, and I she said she was tired of feeling down.
I asked her if she was willing to have a new way of feeling about the experience. She said yes! I guided her into a state that she called: “kalipay ing unciano” (my best recollection of her words for “happiness” or maybe “happiness is good”).
After a few minutes, she broke into a smile! Oh what a beautiful smile! It was the first time I saw her smile! I continued to guide her through her state of happiness even as she stepped into the memory that brought her to her knees just a few minutes ago. With patience and love, we continued on so she could choose the state she wanted to be in. “kalipay ing unciano“.
And there she was. An angelic face smiling with renewed hope. I reminded Angel that she could access her “kalipay ing unciano” anytime she wanted or needed in the future. And that from hereon, she can choose to feel “kalipay ing unciano” when she wants to, just by doing as we did the past few minutes.
I asked Angel to describe to the other counsellors what she experienced in our coaching. The other counsellors were astounded! Just seeing Angel smile was a big breakthrough! All in just around 15 minutes of NLP coaching.
To complete the transformation, we asked Angel if she wanted to change her nametag. With persistence, we got materials for a new nametag. It was Angel herself who wrote her name – the name she chooses to be called.
It was Angel herself who chose to be in her “kalipay ing unciano“, the feeling she chooses to be in.
“I saw an Angel in OplanTrabaho, and we coached to set her free.”
– Edwin Ka Edong Soriano
p.s. We’re inviting all volunteers working with Yolanda survivors, join us at a 2-Day FREE training to Build Resilience and Overcome Trauma. Register at http://bit.ly/buildresilience
p.s. photo credits: wordsonimages.com
p.s. Updated July 12, 2014: Also republished at www.winninglearning.com/coaching/