Recently, practices such as ” Firewalking ” (walking on coals) or ” Glasswalking ” (walking on broken glass) have been introduced in coaching, as they seem to have a high impact in overcoming fears and help people learn how to transcend the limits that our own mind imposes on us.
The benefits of Firewalking
We have all faced problems and obstacles that have arisen in our lives, and in the face of which we have often been paralyzed. Sometimes these problems seem unsolvable or too complicated to find the right solution. Coaching is a discipline that helps to overcome the limiting beliefs that prevent us from facing those challenges or obstacles that we face both on a personal and business level.
Coaching: Firewalking as an impact technique
Firewalking is a technique that has been imported from the United States, where it has been performed for more than three decades. It is used as a life metaphor to unlock people and empower them to cope with difficult everyday situations. In this way, individuals become more resilient and gain self-confidence. It also helps them to test their limiting beliefs, overcome their fears and increase their motivation.
Psychology has long investigated the relationship between the mind, emotions and pain. In the article “The Phantom Limb: Mirror Box Therapy” we already echoed the studies of Ronald Melzack, a researcher and professor of psychology at McGill University in Canada, which resulted in the Neuromatrix Theory .
This theory attributes the diffusion of pain and its transmission through the body to a complex system. The system involves several areas (central and peripheral nervous system, autonomic nervous system and endocrine system) directly influenced by several psychological, emotional, genetic and social factors. But in addition to the influence of the mind in enduring physical pain or firewalking, it seems that, according to this coaching technique, dealing with physical pain can bring benefits on a psychological level.
Overcoming Fears with Firewalking
In the business field, firewalking has also had a great impact. According to experts who use the technique, walking on fire is a challenge that promotes business empowerment, leadership skills, courage or other virtues that so often influence success. On a personal level, this attitude of facing one’s fears and commitment to oneself, makes the person aware, committed and increases his perspective and options, empowering his resources to achieve the goals he has set.
No one can deny that there are moods and attitudes (confidence, inner strength, joy, etc.) that motivate us and push us to action, and there are paralyzing moods or attitudes (anxiety, fear, confusion, sadness, etc.) that make us powerless. It is possible that firewalking, as a coaching technique , helps to increase self-confidence.
Metaphors in coaching
From childhood and as we grow up, stories and tales teach us values, principles and social norms . The stories we hear shape our lives, and in turn, the stories we begin to explain define who we are, our experiences, perceptions, and the perspective we have of the world.
Coaching uses metaphors as empowering techniques for positive beliefs, as the symbolic language of storytelling defines us and our perspective of the world, providing learning. It acts on our subconscious in a much more empowering way than any suggestion or advice, and mobilizes our creative capacity in the inner search for new options.
From coaching it is stated that people have all the answers , you just have to accompany them to become aware. The generation of new options through metaphors leads the coachee (the coach’s client) to relate to and understand reality from another perspective.
The effectiveness of metaphors
But for the metaphors to be effective for the coachee, the coach must develop a story that will facilitate identification by the client and help him or her look for more adaptive options. Therefore, the coachee must feel that the metaphor meets his or her needs and offers meaning. The metaphor can also help to deepen the understanding and resolution of problems , and is an important tool for change if used well.
For example, during the coaching process, an overly outgoing client showed little ability for self-observation and for questioning his own attitudes. The client, who is passionate about mountaineering, eventually improved his ability to introspect, as the coach made him reflect by saying, “Now it’s your turn to climb the inner mountain.
In firewalking sessions the metaphors can be several. For example, “both in life and in firewalking taking the first step is the most difficult, the most difficult” or “you have to walk through life as if over the coals, otherwise you can end up burning yourself. You have to step firmly and keep going no matter what”.
Experiential learning: testing empowering beliefs
Metaphors are going to facilitate the path for the acquisition of more adaptive and beneficial beliefs, but in order to anchor these new beliefs they must be tested. To eliminate a limiting belief it is highly advisable to replace it with a empowering belief. This is not a new concept in coaching, but has been applied for decades in psychology, for example, in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Experiential learning is based on the fact that knowledge is created through transformation by experience. Concrete experience is transferred to an abstract conceptualization which is actively tested through new experiences.
Firewalking and self-confidence
These experiences of failure or success will affect our mental programming (values and beliefs), which will have consequences on our beliefs of self-efficacy (also called self-confidence). The experiences are the most important source of information for the perception of self-confidence, since they will facilitate the verification of whether these beliefs will be effective or not. Repeated success in certain tasks increases positive evaluations of self-confidence beliefs, while repeated failures decrease them, especially when failures cannot be attributed to external circumstances.
To read more about this topic in our article “Albert Bandura’s Self-Efficacy: Do You Believe in Yourself?
In short, by testing the new empowering belief and observing its positive effect, it will facilitate its anchoring. This will provide a new vision of life. When you are aware that you yourself are the writer of your own novel , you can change the course of things to improve your well-being and face life’s challenges differently.
Below is a report explaining how the Firewalking seminars work. Take a look at it: