Using emotional insight
for personal development and professional success

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Funnily enough, people are different – a little bit of broken, a little bit wise

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

I'm going to be presenting a series of posts and ideas to help encourage personal growth and change. These are all tried approaches I've used with a range of people in both professional and personal settings.

But the problem with a blog post is that it goes to everyone. The great thing about individual conversation and coaching is that you can fit the technique and insight to the specific person you are dealing with. And I think it is quite well established that people are different. They think differently, feel differently, have different values, different scripts, different techniques, and different emotional environments. In fact, I believe that the inner life of the people around us is much, much more richly varied than most of us ever realise (one of my favourite questions to ask someone is "What is your experience of your own mind like?" – try it, you'll be startled by how strange things seem in the minds of other people).

The upshot of this is – what may be an extremely useful and helpful insight to one person may be the most stupidly bloody obvious pointless waste of space to another. This is something I've run into many times over the years of observing minds and emotions – I'll wrestle a new piece of wisdom from the depths of understanding, and present it proudly to a friend only to hear the equivalent of "Well yeah – duh!"

Fortunately, this same idea so casually dismissed by one may be very helpful to another. This is the nature of self development – we have wonderful richness of wisdom within us, but also areas of restriction, confusion and painful frustration. The same person who can walk a room and make friends with everyone in it, might fall apart at the idea of giving a speech to the same room. A person with brilliant organisational skills may endlessly procrastinate about tasks concerning self education. An individual in a rich and fulfilling relationship may still find that a simple conversation about housework brings up intense and confusing emotions. Ideas that play to the part of the world we just 'get' may seem facile, whilst seemingly simple ideas in areas which cause us to struggle may be revelatory.

This is all good news – there are many things we don't need to learn, but things that can help hugely for the areas in which we are stuck.

All of which is a long way of saying… I hope you find the content on this blog and site useful. But if I appear to be stating the bloody obvious, or describing a problem you just can't imagine anyone struggling with, just be patient and move on to something else. After congratulating yourself on having wisdom and insight in one of the really important parts of life.

The dreams that restrict us – the gap between what is, and what we want to be

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

I have had a number of conversations recently with people who seem unhappy with an aspect of their life, but never seem to get around to doing anything about it. These are people frustrated at their current place of work, or dissatisfied with a personal hobby or activity, or even constantly upset in a relationship. What I noticed a number of these people had in common was a tendency to spend time hoping things were otherwise, and through doing so excusing things as they are.

These are people unhappy in their job talking about how their job would be fine if just x and y were different. Or in a relationship talking about if their partner were just different in these few ways. Or that they keep indulging in a frustrating or unfulfilling activity over and over because if it just altered in these certain ways it would be what they wanted it to be.

By carrying an image of what we hope the world would be, and by mentally interacting with that image, we aren't dealing with the world as it is, but instead with a fantasy that isn't there. But by repeatedly indulging the hope that things will change, by focussing on the potential that we can see but that isn't being realised, we deny ourselves the impetus to actually start changing.

When this situation has come up in conversation I've found it useful to ask the question "If this situation/person never changes, is always going to remain exactly as it is, what would you do?" It's remarkable how often this question provokes the desire and motivation to change. I've heard immediate answers like "I'd get a new job" or "I'd quit and spend my time doing something else". Yet these options hadn't seemed reasonable before. The presence of the fantasy – that things will suddenly turn around, evolve, get better – is remarkably disempowering.

Time spent in a fantasy that life has a purpose for us, that our luck is about to change, that the circumstances that surround us will shift of their own accord, is time not spent engaging with reality, learning about our current situation, making judgements based on truth, noticing opportunities for forward movement. Participating in the reality of things, rather than absenting ourselves into a comfortable mental space, is what makes us powerful, skillful and correctly directed.

Fantasies have to die in order to create the best possible reality. Only by seeing reality as it really is can be see the building blocks that are going to allow us to construct what we desire. Only by experiencing our dissatisfaction with the way things are will we find motivation to implement change.

Things do shift, grow and get better by themselves. But more often than not they don't. So I think it's a valuable question to ask – if this is how things are going to stay, if right now is a genuine representation of the state of your life, what would you cease putting up with and start to change?