Honoring Protectors

A key element that sets us apart from other coaching programs and sets us up to create powerful and lasting change in our clients is the practice of Honoring Protectors. A client once said to me, “The reason I need to be working with you right now is because you approve of my parts more than I do.”  

That’s part of our job as coaches. But why is it so important in creating lasting change? 

Think about it: Changing a part, or someone’s mind, in any area of life, requires learning how to influence. Imagine getting into a yelling match with someone over a difference of opinion: are you ever going to win that other person over to your point of view? Most likely not.  

Most people try to effect change by forcing themselves and bypassing long-standing protective strategies used by our Protector parts.

The problem with that is that it becomes a game of willpower.

The strategies haven’t shifted; they’re just being resisted.

Clients almost always eventually tire of these effortful, willpower-based ways of trying to change themselves. As soon as the vigilance is dropped, their previous patterns and strategies spring back into place.  

Finding these protectors and taking the time to understand their motivations, see their brilliance, reflect it back, and thank them for their service can turn them from an obstacle to the client’s goals into an ally.  

Sometimes it isn’t enough to simply see them and acknowledge them. Often, to win them over, we must learn to give them even more permission to exist, even more permission to use their strategies (for a time). This is the realm of experiments and reality-bending, where we practice bringing protectors out. Making their invisible labors visible. Giving them more approval and expression than they’ve ever had. When we do this, it changes how we relate to our life, our friends and our clients—not through constant effort, but because something deeper has shifted.

The foundation of all transformational work at the Connection Institute begins with embracing what is. Giving approval to the brilliantly designed pre-existing systems and programs of the body and psyche. In doing so we unlock influence with protectors and befriend them. When we do this with our clients, they then have allies to take with them wherever they want to go.  

Protectors can show up in all sorts of ways.

Here are some examples:

  • Avoidance
  • Insulting
  • Confusion
  • Criticism
  • Spiritual Bypassing
  • Abstracting/intellectualizing
  • Self-criticism
  • Perfectionism
  • Performing
  • People-Pleasing
  • Fight/Flight/Freeze/Fawn
  • “Not good enough”
  • Helplessness
  • Bossy
  • Nervous laughter
  • Sarcastic
  • Blame
  • Anger
  • Speeding up/going fast
  • Resistance/disagreeing
  • Moving very slowly/overly cautious
  • Self Rejection
  • Other Rejection
  • Hiding
  • Hair covering face
  • Crossed Arms
  • Sleepiness/drowsy
  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Superiority/Inferiority
  • Comedic/ Entertainer

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