When a sex coaching couple enters your office, they bring in a story. Usually, this story is one of the glass half empty. You can help shift your clients’ narrative by reframing their story as a glass half full instead.
Acknowledge the Glass Half Empty Story
This is a story of wires crossed, gifts unappreciated, and a long ride on the resentment merry-go-round. It may include complaints, assigning blame, and bids for who is in more pain. There may be something swept under the rug and even a skeleton or two in the closet.
This story needs to be told. It is a chance for the pain and helplessness to be expressed and acknowledged.
Listen to it with care. Being heard is often a prerequisite to being helped.
At the same time, stay mindful of the image the story conjures. It’s often an image of shortage, deficit, lack. The couple may be trying to express to you just how empty their glass is.
You may be drawn to believe them.
Look for Evidence of the Glass Half Full Narrative
From the moment they first open their mouths, turn on your “resources radar” and scan their story for every admirable effort and every kind word. If you take notes, block out a section of the page and label it “what’s in the glass?” Don’t force it, just watch and keep track.
They both found the time and resolve to come in, didn’t they? Perhaps they’re maintaining eye contact? That goes in the glass.
At first glance, does it look like they’re both unwilling to compromise? Perhaps they both want to keep true to themselves—kudos for that! Put that in the glass.
Oh, he likes that she brought home this one book about sex three months ago…? That’s what’s in the glass, too.
Build your image of the clients with the glass half full in mind. Don’t worry, you won’t lose sight of “the problem.” They will point you to what is missing. But if we’re after breaking the cycle of deficit, they may need you to point them to the pages they skip over in their story.
Then you can use your resource list in a double fashion.
Change Your Image of Your Clients
First, use it to build a glass half full image of your clients in your mind. Draw on it to build a faith-based approach to your process with them. Filling a bottomless pit may be daunting, but filling a glass that’s already half full? Much more doable.
NOTE: At Sex Coach U, a “faith-based approach” to working with clients has nothing to do with a specific religion or belief system. This approach is in contrast to a fear-based perspective. It’s a way of helping our clients feel into possibilities and resist stagnation. Instead of “I can’t do that because I’m scared it won’t work” we encourage a mental shift to “I have faith that something good will come out of this if I try it.”
Introduce a New Narrative
Second, once the story is told, heard, and acknowledged, use your list to share your faith with your clients. This is not to invalidate the pain; this is to draw their attention to the parts they skipped over, one at a time.
“So, I hear you have tried a number of different things to solve this concern. I love your proactive approach.”
“I appreciate that you are both sharing your truths with each other, however tough they may be. This is how you build an authentic relationship. Well done.”
This is the beginning of changing the narrative, of getting out of the mindset of the empty bottom and starting to float on the surface of what’s already there. The much-desired brim of the glass looks much more reachable from here!
Empower Your Clients to Keep Telling Their New Story
When you feel the couple leaning into the new narrative, it is time to let them experience filling the glass on their own. This is a task that works great when done in session for the first time. Be the moderator and the loving presence that will help them keep telling the new story.
Step 1: Give each person a piece of paper and a pen. Ask them to work individually for five minutes and write down everything they enjoy or have enjoyed about their sex life with each other. Give a few examples:
- “I love it when you are being gentle with me.”
- “I love when you touch my ears.”
- “You turn me on when you put on those tight pants.”
- “You are a great kisser.”
Step 2: When the lists are ready, ask them to sit facing each other and take turns reading their sentences out. The listening party should put down their own list and really tune into what’s being said. Make sure they know this is not a conversation starter—this is sharing. The only thing the listener is allowed to say in response is, “Thank you for telling me.”
Some couples may be shy to share their more intimate thoughts with you present. Ask them to read out only the sentences they are comfortable with at this point.
Step 3: Invite the couple to reflect on what they thought and felt, and how their bodies reacted during the sharing experience. How did it feel to appreciate? How did it feel to be appreciated? How does it change their outlook on what is possible to resolve their concern?
Finally, help them develop a gratitude practice they can continue on their own.
Drive the point home.
The glass half full is already there. Seeing this narrative—and sharing it with each other—is a choice.
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