Balancing polarities in coaching and self-coaching

‘Any virtue practiced to an extreme can become a vice’

Dear Reader,

This weeks article offers some personal reflections on how to work on sustainable personal growth through awareness of the dynamic of polarity, I hope you enjoy it!
Final call for the Integral Mindfulness program for Coaches, counselors and trainers, it starts this Saturday and Tuesday!

In the spirit of  balanced polarity,


The Integral Mindfulness Program for Coaches, Counselors and Therapists – Creating sustainable high performance and deep wellness – Starting October 5th & 8th!

Overview: This is a six-session dynamic mindfulness program designed for:

  • Those looking for an engaged, practical mindfulness course designed to build resilience, effectiveness and wellness in the face of work and life challenges
  • Trainers, coaches and therapists looking to integrate mindfulness into their own professional practice with clients
  • People who have been through basic conventional mindfulness training programs and are looking for the next level of practice and performance


Balancing polarities in coaching and self-coaching

One of the principles that I work with a lot in my coaching practice is ‘Any virtue practiced to an extreme can become a vice’. For example:

  • Too much willpower and assertion can become cruelty or bullying
  • Too much love and gentleness can make you into a doormat for others

So, in order to balance my love, I use willpower as a counter weight. In order to prevent my willpower taking a wrong direction I combine it with an ‘opposite’ or polarizing quality of love.
Working with this method is one of the ways that I seek to bring sustainable improvement and higher performance to my clients.
As a coach therefore when I help a client to develop one positive quality, I also often introduce a complementary opposite at the same time to help keep the first quality in balance. This can play out in many different ways and combinations. For example, if I look at three recent sessions:

  • In the first session the client noticed that his virtue of lightness and humor sometimes also manifested as avoidance of problems (hiding behind humor), and not taking his commitments seriously. So, we worked on a complementary quality of self-responsibility and taking his word and commitments seriously. The new quality of self-responsibility could then help guide his use of humor to a positive expression, and prevent it from becoming an escape route or avoidance tactic.
  • In the second example we were working with the client’s body-image. The complementary polarity we worked on was firstly acceptance, liking and caring for his body as it is. The second was developing the ambition to help shape his body (through exercise and diet) to become the best that it could be. Again, you can see that one polarity helps the other to stay in balance.
  • In the final example we worked on another polarity. Firstly, I got the client appreciating himself for where he had got to presently in his life journey. Secondly, we worked on clear articulation of goals and a timespan for executing them in a focused way. The goal setting prevents appreciation becoming complacency, while the Self-appreciation prevents excessive goal-focus and potential burn out.

Working with polarities is also a good thing to bear in mind in your own growth and self-reflection process. If you are trying to develop a particular strength, it is worth asking ‘What is the opposite, complementary quality that will hold my focus quality in balance?’

Check out Toby’s performance and life coaching pages.

Article content © Toby Ouvry & Integral Meditation Asia 2019.


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