The emotional power of mutually uplifting experience
A few weeks ago, I went with good friends to see Camille O’Sullivan at the Union Chapel. It was one of those rare gigs where one song brings a tear to the eye, and another sends a shiver down the spine. Camille has a prodigious range: from torch song to classic Bowie; from sparse and quirky to elegiac. She took from Leonard Cohen, Prince and Pink Floyd. Not only did she do them justice, but she added a dimension. As Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal”, and this was a heist!
A gig like this is elevating, deeply-warming, and mood-shifting. It leaves a physical memory. And that’s all I had wanted to say and share: no fancy lessons about coaching or leadership, just a great experience. And then I had a supervision.
Aboodi and I explored how I might work with a client whose mood seems all-pervasive. I fear that their mood will eat away at the foundations of any cognitive resolution to the dilemmas they face. We can name this mood, and explore it, but having done that how can we help them shift it in a way that is sustainable?
My evening with Camille confirmed two things that Aboodi said: moods are contagious, and there is power in embodied practice. The gig was a shared experience of being uplifted. The emotional power of the gig was not just down to the talent and performance of the singer, nor was it only about my receptiveness. I was surrounded by people having a similar experience, judging by the spontaneous standing ovation at the end and the wry smiles on my friends’ faces. The shared feeling was palpable. I was feeling pretty good before I went, but as a sustained experience it generated a physical change that shifted me emotionally. I was lost in the music for a good couple of hours, immersed in it.
I don’t know whether music, or going to gigs, or hanging out with a few hundred strangers will impact my client’s mood. But mood is contagious and it responds to enriching experience. So whatever floats their boat is worth a try. And whoever will bring some lightness, energy and sense of possibility will be the people to try it with. We can’t all spend a moody evening with Ms O’Sullivan, but there is a world of experience out there waiting to move us, and legions of people to share it with.
Originally published on Stephen’s blog
Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/pPquxoraq_M