Coaching | Mentoring, Ethical Nonmonogamy | Polyamory, Love & Relationships

A primer on Energy and my promise to you

I’ve just completed the third and final module for an intensive six-month course as part of the process of getting certified as a CPC (Certified Professional Coach). As part of the course, I am also working on becoming certified as an ELI-MP (Energy Leadership Index – Master Practitioner), which sounds woo-woo as heck, amirite?

That’s what I thought, too. The coaching program I selected had an option I didn’t know about for prospective students. Students are able to attend the first of three weekend training courses for free, and choose to enroll for the other two after. Not knowing that was an option, I’d already committed and pre-paid for the course prior to showing up on day one.

My reaction to this was very “Level 3,” which was “I’m glad I didn’t know because I probably wouldn’t have continued with the course if I had attended the first module without the financial investment.” A lot of that first weekend was what I now understand to be the process of setting a baseline language through which the rest of the program starts to make more sense. Case in point: being able to identify my reaction/response as “Level 3 Energy.”

The Energy Index

I’m going to attempt to synthesize six months of training into one blog post for the purpose of creating a baseline language between myself and my readers and/or clients on what the seven levels of energy are, what they really mean, and why it matters.

In short, the 7 Levels of Energy were defined by the creator of iPEC as the different ways that people react to every day situations. I like to think of them as archetypes of one-dimensional behavior.

It’s important to note that every level of energy has both advantages and disadvantages, and as such – are neither “good” or “bad.” As you increase from Level 1 to Level 7, there are benefits in some ways and drawbacks in others. The bigger question is “how is your current approach serving you in achieving your goals?”

It’s also important to note that most human beings we encounter are not one-dimensional. We all have the capacity for all seven levels of energy within ourselves, and different areas of our lives may bring out one more strongly than the other. Your reaction to, for example – a conflict at work might bring out a lot of catabolic (or destructive) energy response; while a conflict with your child or spouse might inspire a more anabolic (constructive) energy response.

The following bullet-pointed list copied directly from the iPEC website found here:

  • Level 1: Feeling lost. Stuck. Lack of choice. I can’t. I have to. Fearful.
  • Level 2: Anger. Combativeness. Resisting or fighting energy.
  • Level 3: Rationalizing. Fine. Coping.
  • Level 4: Care. Compassion. Service to others.
  • Level 5: Reconciliation. Win-win. Solution-focused.
  • Level 6: Intuition. Creative genius. Visionary.
  • Level 7: Absolute Passion. Non-judgment. Oneness.

Still with me? How about an example?

You are driving on the freeway when another car very suddenly cuts you off. How do you respond?

Level 1: This person didn’t even care that you were there. It figures. Your day has been shit and this is just another shit part of it. Maybe you should get off the freeway – if you get into an accident you won’t be able to afford a new car.

Level 2: That MOTHERFUCKER. What an ASSHOLE. You speed up and tailgate him for a few minutes before repaying the favor.

Level 3: Well, shit. At least you were alert enough to avoid rear-ending them.

Level 4: Was that a pregnant person in the passenger seat? You hope that whatever caused them to be in such a hurry isn’t life-threatening. They probably didn’t see you because they’re so wrapped up in something awful going on in their lives.

Level 5: You know what? That was scary, but that person probably needs to be somewhere, and their actions reminded you to be more alert and make sure you paid your latest auto insurance premium.

Level 6: Hmm….there must be a better way to detect when someone is in your blind spot. You spend the rest of the drive home figuring out how to design this feature.

Level 7: The cutoff wasn’t even a blip on the radar. You are one with the world and the world is one with you. Alternatively, you are able to process every single one of those reactions all at once and select the one you wish to project into the world – but at this moment, you choose to contemplate the possibility of not reacting at all as though it didn’t really happen, because five minutes from now it will have been forgotten

Why it matters

During the final module of our training, myself and all my peer-coaches participated in iPEC’s proprietary ELI Assessment. The assessment consisted of 75 or so statements that we rank in terms of how closely or poorly they resonate with our lives.

I’ve taken online assessments before. The personality one – the Meyers-Briggs one? Every time I take it, I get a different outcome. It makes me feel like it all depends on the type of day I’m having. Most of the time, I read the description of the outcome and I think “that sounds nothing like me” or “yeah, sometimes – but not always.”

So I didn’t have much faith that this ELI was going to tell me anything about me that I didn’t already know, and I had a reasonable amount of expectation that what it did tell me would feel completely foreign.

We received our results back on the first day of our final three-day training session. We were told to only read up to a certain page, and not go beyond it. I scanned through the pages, which contained a bunch of words and two big charts with an additional number highlighted on the bottom.

I had no idea what it meant. The moment I realized that I didn’t know what the heck I was looking at, any anxiety about measuring up or having “passed” the test disappeared. It didn’t MATTER what the results said about me. I know who I am and this paper isn’t going to tell me anything.

The next day, our instructor taught us how to interpret the results.

Mind. Blown. Throughout this experience there has been a recurring theme of “Trust the process.” Since day one, our trainers have asked us to keep an open mind and accept that it would all make sense in the end.

Despite having these small epiphanies throughout the entire program to trust the process, I was floored when my peer coach went through my ELI Assessment results with me and I got it. I understood the interconnections of the energy levels and why levels one and two were not “bad” and why levels six and seven were not inherently “good.”

It’s not about judgement, but about consciousness. It’s about being conscious, not only of your reactions but also of your options when life throws you a curve ball.

It’s about making a choice to react in a way that’s going to serve you in achieving your goals.

Immediately I saw how valuable this information could be, especially when working with clients who are approaching polyamory or open relationships from a resistant or fearful space.

Beyond that, it helped me to understand how I could utilize this information to improve my own energy as a coach.

The day before this third module began, I had had an interaction in an online support group with someone whose approach to being in a relationship with a polyamorous person was very different from mine. More specifically, this person’s approach and energy around the existence of a metamour (or partner’s other partner) was solidly catabolic, Level 2.

I gently tried to nudge them into having some empathy for their metamour. The response was, paraphrased: Maybe it makes me sound cold, but they signed up for this and I don’t care if they’re unhappy.

That really bothered me. I’m not going to lie, that really bothered me. I’m not in the habit of engaging in conflict in the groups I moderate (PS – “go out of your way to avoid conflict” was one of the results of my ELI assessment) – so I backed off in group, but it did cause me to question how I was going to show up as a coach for clients who were definitely going to have similar reactions. After all, online – that person could not see my face (which is completely transparent when it comes to what I’m feeling). But in an in-person coaching session, or even on the phone – a client would probably hear me being Judgy McJudgerson and feel like I was no longer a person they can trust.

The answer came to me through this process – and looking back, I couldn’t believe it had eluded me until then.

I was reacting at a Level 2 to their Level 2 reaction. As a high-conscious person, I am capable use my understanding of the different levels of energy to imagine what my reaction would be at each level, and choose the one that serves me (and my client) the best way possible.

I could go with a Level 4 reaction and have compassion for the client’s hardship as someone who feels victimized by their partner’s polyamory and who is grieving the loss of their monogamous relationship. I could approach it with a Level 5 reaction by acknowledging and validating my client in order to help them feel heard and preserve the trust between us so I can keep my client. I could achieve level 6 by using the experience to create an exercise that helps future clients identify when they are experiencing catabolic energy and determine, if it isn’t serving them to achieve their relationship goals, whether or not they can be open to “leveling up” as it were.

But, to more directly answer the question “Why is this important,” it’s this….

I am not perfect. There are certain topics that activate my Levels 1 and 2 stress responses, and I am not always in that conscious place where I realize that it’s affecting the way I’m showing up in my blogs, comments, or responses.

I want you, as someone who reads what I write, or engages with me in support groups, and especially you – who will become one of my coaching/mentoring clients, to have this agreement with me:

If you are sensing that I am having a reaction that seems out of character, or has some very strong Level 1 or 2 feels that are not serving our common goal, please feel comfortable in letting me know you feel this way.

Even in my most activated Level 2 state, I am still able to pull myself out long enough to question if I am being influenced by a past experience, a current environmental factor, or a misinterpretation. Especially when someone suggests to me that I am reacting strangely.

In fact, it’s happened before – before I had the language from iPEC to explain it. I was responding to a post in one of the online support groups and, despite thinking I was being highly logical and fair in my response – someone else, not the original poster, asked me if I was feeling okay. “Your response seems harsh, when you’re usually much more gentle than this. Is everything is alright?”

Sure enough, I hadn’t realized that I had gone full McJudgerson and that my response was coming out significantly more harshly than I’d realized. I was able to acknowledge that the situation that had been described had hit very close to home, and that I’d not been conscious of how it had activated my assumptions and interpretations of the dynamics at play.

I can’t promise that every time I have an opinion that doesn’t fly with someone else that it’s a case of my being unconscious of my lower level energy – but I can promise that any time I’m asked to check in with myself, I will. Even if I can’t shift out of my catabolic state, I can acknowledge and be more conscious of it.

And I hope, if we are in a coaching relationship where we’re jumping into some scary territory for you – that you’ll do the same.

Interested in participating in an ELI Assessment or learning more about how Coaching can help improve your relationship(s)? Contact me.

3 thoughts on “A primer on Energy and my promise to you”

  1. I have come to anticipate some rich insight every time I get to read a new post from you. This one only reinforces that in me. The way you describe your experiences pulls my imagination right to the place you’re in, and I feel like I experience it too. This is what good writers do, and you do it consistently. The content of the 7 levels of energy shifted my thoughts and emotions as I read it. I felt the sense of seeing myself and my life from a bit of a removed distance that widened my perspective and makes me feel in control. A partner of mine is a professional coach and I relish my role as a major support person of hers. I will share this with her.
    Thanks for writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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