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“Aha” moments create new stories

Updated: Aug 19, 2021

No, I’m not talking about the feeling you get from watching your favourite 80’s Norwegian boy band, lovely though they are.

Aha moment = the light bulb in our minds, a sudden awareness, or moment of complete clarity.

A wonderful flash of insight = when the person being coached experiences all the pieces coming together. When all the dots seems to align and they just know there has been a shift in thinking. Most importantly this moment extends far beyond intellectual learning and problem solving.

The best way to explain the “aha” moment is to reference Gestalt psychology and those tricky photographs you’ve probably seen on social media. At first glance, perception dictates what you as the viewer will most likely see as ‘figure’ and what you see as ‘background’. A ‘switch’ needs to occur for your perception of figure and background to reverse, resulting in an ‘Aha’ moment.

In coaching clients will describe this moment of clarity and insight as something that affects their physical bodies, thinking, emotions and the even the soul. Naturally the mind and body are connected so in some ways this is a false distinction.

The psychologist Dr Carol S. Dweck explores the plasticity of the brain in Mindset and champions the practice of developing a Growth Mindset. The philosopher David Bohm, author of Thought as System connects thought to our perceptions, our sense of meaning and insight. He also reject the idea that thought and the body are separate:

“Wherever it comes from, the important point is that insight works directly at the physical level …so it really affects you through and through”.

Physical changes affect the heart rate, changes in skin tone, noticeable differences in the voice, pressure lifting from the chest, neck, throat and head. At the level of thought coachees describe release, relief and bursts of insight, joining-the-dots and an immediate sense of knowing not only how to proceed but why this is the right decision. A feeling of lightness.

At the most profound level Miller & de Baca (2001) observed in Quantum Change that the ‘Aha’ moment is the start of surprising and enduring personal transformation - this is what they call ‘quantum change’.

The quality of the reflection and the joy of unearthing core values on which to build life purpose and deeper meaning is a critical part of the ‘Aha’ moment. Clients were able to articulate their most powerfully held beliefs which they defined as inner knowing or intuition.

Some of the best “Aha” moment quotes:

“like opening the valve on an old oil well…the pressure release and momentum gets rid of all the other crap that has been lying dormant in the pipe ”

“those old beliefs have lost their power - I can choose to allow myself to feel them and just let them move on ”

“the first sparks of insight was followed by a shower of mental connections - I suddenly joined the dots and then in the days and months after that - had a real revelation ”

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