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Isabella Puddu Blog

Thoughts of a coach

A treasure hunt: finding Glimmers

Shiri Ben-Arzi, Master Medical Coach - Founder and Director of MCI

Isabella Puddu, Professional Medical Coach & Caregiver Coach

A Glimmer is defined as “a subdued, unsteady shining or sparkle”.

But what if I told you that Glimmers exist in our lives and that finding them can regulate our stress, help us connect to possibilities, and give us a sense of calmness and joy?


To unpack the simple secret of discovering the Glimmers in our lives, we first need to understand what they are.

The concept of Glimmers is part of Polyvagal theory, founded in 1994 by neuroscientist Stephen Porges. The theory describes how our nervous system is constantly analysing by and trying to decode events, behaviours, and situations people, to determine whether they're a threat.

When faced with an alarm signal, our body switches from a sympathetic to a parasympathetic mode and releases stress hormones. Once we decide how to respond to the stressor, our hormones balance back and so does our niveous system.

This means that we are able to alter the state of our nervous system by looking for experiences and things that can help us feel safe, happier and connected switching from a dysregulated and reactive state to a calm and positive one.


The term Glimmers was coined by Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker specializing in complex trauma.  In her 2018 book, “The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy”, Dana notes that Glimmers are "small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm" and “can be a micro-moment that’s predictably present in your world.”


Could this mean that Glimmers might be a contrary antidote to triggers?

A trigger is something that makes you feel unbalanced, upset, frightened, overwhelmed, and distressed because it makes you remember a bad experience that happened to you. It affects your ability to remain in the present and connected to your resources.


The concept of Glimmers became popular after a viral TikTok video in February 2022 by psychologist Dr. Justine Grosso. Since then, they have become a new trend on social media among GenZ.

It’s important to say that Glimmers do. They are not a substitute for deep and profound work on ourselves but they can help us feel grounded and balanced and help our develop resilience that will keep our mental health as we go through life’s various challenges.


According to Deb Dana, “you may notice a Glimmer through your senses: a smell, a taste, a sight, a sound, the touch of something.”

Finder a Glimmer is easier than you think. Simply ask yourself: what makes me feel good and safe? Glimmers can seem small and insignificant to others, but they need to be meaningful to you.

Glimmers are unique and personal, bringing different emotions and reactions. They are also considered a flow of energy that helps us make decisions and respond to events.

Everybody can find Glimmers inside themselves and outside world; once you find them, they become your best friends and superpower.


Here are some examples of Glimmers: petting the dog, a morning coffee, a hot bath with bubbles, a drink with friends, a walk in the park, a movie in pyjama, starting a new book, a family album, a sunset, the sound of water.


They can be useful in coaching because they give direction, lightness, empowerment, control, and energy as they are connected to our identity and who we are.


Glimmers are aligned with the Medical Coaching principle called The 2% Truth.

The 2% Truth addresses what we know to be absolutely true about who we really are.

In medical Coaching, these truths exist beyond the circumstances of our lives.


This brings us to the question: can we find Glimmers in difficult and overwhelming events of crisis, such as a medical crisis?


From a Medical Coaching perspective, the answer is Yes.


Here are a few questions you, the coach, can use to help your clients start discovering their 2% truth – their Glimmers:


-       What’s the truth about this situation/emotion?

-       What becomes possible when you allow yourself to be with it?

-       What becomes possible when you allow yourself to feel the emotions this brings up in an authentic way?

-       What is the good thing you learning about yourself through this experience?

-       What becomes possible from this learning?


The journey to uncover our Glimmers is based on four principles:

1.     Unattached curiosity about what we know, what is hidden from our consciousness, and what might be possible.

2.     Everything that happens to us can teach us something good about ourselves.

3.     We are more than the circumstances of our lives,

4.     We are not our thoughts, emotions, or behaviours.



Glimmers are part of the building blocks of our resilience, self-care mental health, making them an integral part of our lives and not just something that is “nice to have”


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