It is easy for others to make suggestions when they have no skin in the game. They are not the ones who feel the consequences. It is still helpful to get those comments anyway, because the emotional detachment can help those people say things, that need saying, but are hard to say. That are hard to hear. The only people who will understand your context fully, are you, and those who dive in with you. Those who share your story. Deeply. The ones who partner with you, so that your futures are intertwined. Even then, both of you will be figuring it out. That is the messiest feedback loop of all. The stuff that cuts to the bone. The stuff that feels risky, because you worry about if they will leave. So sometimes the same feedback is better if it comes from someone else. Who says something matters as much as what is said. After all of that, the only thing that matters is the next thing you do. That is up to you, and those who dive with you.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
One challenge we have with helping solve the problems we can see is an implicit superiority. Some justified Colonialism as a 'Civilising Mission'. They saw development as a path from being a barbarian to being civilised. Missionaries were sent out to educate the savages. Very little effort was made to learn. I believe we learn best when it is in both directions. We learn best from peers. If someone's world is too different from yours, you are unlikely to be able to understand their challenges, let alone suggest a reasonable path out. All advice is autobiographical. For feedback to resonate, we need to be able to see our story in others, and their story in us.
One way to build is to have a vision, and then fight your way through the obstacles in the way. Another way to build is to see. To give something that is already there a name. The nameless exist beyond our stories, but our stories help them exist in our minds. Naming connects us. The 150 group I am a part of is one of several that are there already. The group is (1) replicable, the idea is (2) scalable, and the purpose is (3) sustainable. Engineers bend the world to their will. I want to find fellow sculptors. To chip away and reveal the beauty beneath the stone. Like Michelangelo's, our sculptures are unfinished.
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Often we live our lives in parallel not sharing the struggles that affect us the most. Communities offer the opportunity for growth and vitality to people with enough in common to understand each other, but enough diversity to challenge each other. I recently joined a London group of 5 men who meet twice a month to support and challenge each other. One of those chaps is Yaron Engler. He bursts with energy, and sees the world very differently to me. With enough common fire for there to have been an instant bond. Kirsty Hanly is a friend of his. They have just started building a Facebook community called 'Me. You. Us' to create a supporting, loving, place for men and women to dig deep into the intimate relationships that hold us together, and tear us apart. I have invited them to have a chat about their intentions for the group.
Hi Trevor, lovely to connect! I love what you say there about a common fire between the men in your group. I think that’s what Yaron and I were looking to create here, it’s a space where people looking to explore this subject can land together and find the common fire that allows for a supported discussion. I wanted to create a community where we can explore, go deep, ask questions of each other, share common experience and remember what is possible when people choose to live is a space of inspired connection rather than disconnection. Fulfilment and incredible sex being two of those possibilities!
The area of relationship, intimacy and sex is so relevant to everyone but it feels we need to figure things out by ourselves. It’s as if we are not suppose to talk about it. It’s like a big fucking secret. I see so many people really frustrated, angry and confused about their experience with intimate relationships so I thought that creating a community where we talk openly about these things would help people understand each other better. I know from my experience that with some practise, good tools and open communication beautiful shifts can happen.
I totally agree. When I left my marriage so many people came up to me in the street or at my children’s school and told me of their secret frustrations in their relationship. It was as if my experience being gave them permission to ‘come out’ about how unhappy they were. As a therapist of course I hear about this stuff all the time but I remember being surprised at how many people who on an everyday basis would consider themselves to be fine were not having sex or the sex they would like, were desperate to be heard by their partner or wanted to leave all together but didn’t know how, or were worried about the impact on their children. And then there’s all my clients who come to see me because they can’t meet anyone at all. All those personal blocks to dating success… It's a secret minefield for many people.
And there is no reason for it to be like that. Sure, relationship is a complex concept. I am the last one who would say that I have the cure for the perfect relationship. There is no perfect relationship other the one YOU CHOOSE TO BE IN. If you choose to be in one than show up! Stay open. Be willing to give it all and get hurt. I believe that life is about being open. Being honest. Being true to yourself. My wife knows it very well and we have the most beautiful relationship. Is it smooth and easy? Fuck me! No, it’s not! But we keep on growing. We keep on discovering. We keep on succeeding through our failures and all the mess. And all the scars that we carry on the way make us stronger. It’s because I know the power and the beauty of this path that I wanted to create this group. I am very passionate to support those who have the courage to stop hiding. I know that if you are ready to live your truth without all unnecessary bullshit and masks around it you will find magic. This is a powerful invitation.
So the thing that makes the difference is having two people who are committed to that growth, then together you can journey through all that comes up. The problem is that many people are not in that space or don’t have the tools to be able to navigate what inevitably rears it’s head. If you are the one who’s doing the growing that becomes a painful situation. You cannot do intimacy for two so you either have to stay in your relationship and know that’s how it is, for now at least, or find someone who is able to speak more of your language and is open to growth and exploration. It’s not easy for many people.
This applies to us all but I speak to women here when I say that I believe that intuitively we all know what is needed but it’s a practise to enable yourself to listen and be connected to that. In her book ‘Women Who Run With The Wolves’, Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls forward the Wild Woman in all of our feminine souls - she’s wise, she’s deeply connected to nature, she’s alive and free.
"Without her, women are without ears to hear her soultalk or to register the chiming of their own inner rhythms. Without her, women"s inner eyes are closed by some shadowy hand, and large parts of their days are spent in semi-paralysing ennui or else wishful thinking. Without her, women lose the sureness of their soulfooting. Without her, they forget why they"re here, they hold on when they would best hold out. Without her, they take too much or too little or nothing at all. Without her, they are silent when they are in fact on fire. She is their regulator, she is their soulful heart, the same as the human heart that regulates the physical body."
It’s important to be deeply listening to your Wild Woman and what she already knows to be true, but so many people have lost that connection. This group is a way to explore more of who you already are - men and women - to develop a vocabulary around your needs and desires, and to learn how to enjoy the game or relationship so much more fully.
Yes. Enjoying is an important part of this. Relationships, as I mentioned before are too often connected to struggle. But with open mind and heart and with the right tools - all the frustrating, annoying and scary things can be converted into fun. Once you learn some ‘new rules’ of this game of relationship you start to laugh and enjoy all those things that pissed you off before. That leads to deep connection with much more intimacy and quite a lot of laughs. This is true for all those who are in the relationship they consciously choose to be in. If you don't want to be in the relationship you're in that’s a whole different story to explore. But first, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and think and feel from a clean place in your heart.
And getting to that clean place in your heart is the part that most find so difficult. That's where coaching with cognitive hypnotherapy can be so amazing as it allows a working through of all those blocks to opening. All those places where we hold back, close down, point the finger at the other, and the other things that get in the way of what we really want to have happen. But it's a crazy journey. I'm certainly still on the path of learning with it all. What do you think Yaron? An endless yet fascinating exploration? As we've already said, the trick is to learn more of the game that means it can all be flowing and enjoyable, rather than painful and difficult.
Jane, one of the women in our macbook group wrote: ‘Ultimately relationships are an inside job’ - I love this. If we are in relationship we are always on that journey and that a beautiful thing, but the only way to make the journey more flowing and enjoyable by being honest with ourselves first. Otherwise it will sooner or later become a nightmare. And to be honest with your partner you must first be honest with yourself. Otherwise all the shit that I am throwing at your partner is a mix of projections, judgements, and withholds that you carry inside. And you’ll get the same from your partner. I have fucked up relationship in the past by not being fully honest and this is why I committed to full honesty with my wife and I do notice the huge difference in this relationship. There is nothing I need to hide. Are there no pains, no difficulties? Sure there are, but I can now face them with a smile whilst staying open and enjoy the incredible ride we are having together as a couple. It is an incredible journey.
Jane is absolutely right, it’s all about ownership of your own experience. I’ve just come out of a short but super intense relationship which was an incredibly beautiful/horribly painful experience, the kind the universe drops in your lap to give you a slap and wake you up from time-to-time. The whole thing was like being in an accelerated growth chamber. Ultimately we were wanting different things in life, but I’m incredibly happy we came together as we did. The point is not that things are easy (although you know you are on the right path when it flows well of course!), but it’s what you do with what comes up for you that’s important. That goes for life generally of course, but especially important in relationships. We are all doing the best with the resources we have. What is really great is when you get a few more resources though. A few things can make the hugest difference.
I agree. Resources and also teachers. A few days ago I had a session with one of my teachers together with my wife. So many blocks were removed in that session. It was scary. It was powerful. It was very beautiful. I love seeing the growth that is created in our relationship thanks to the resources and teachers I find on the path. It requires me to be bold. To ask what I want. To stay strong to the challenges that keep coming up all the time. And they do keep coming 🙂. My relationship and my sex life have changed significantly in recent years in the most beautiful ways because I invest a lot in it. In the end of the day and in the end of life I will be left with the love and the connections that I have created. This is why it is so important to me to be fully honest and to make sure that I lead with my own truth of giving and receiving in the relationships that I create. I keep seeing the powerful impact of this in my life and this is why I want to offer this path also to my clients.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I love stories. They breath life into objects, facts and things by creating a way for us to relate to them. Through comparison and contrast, they tease out meaning. They create meaning. I believe we have one soul in the same way as we have one story. Our separate stories are an illusion created to allow us to focus. Vedantic philosophy calls this illusion Maya. The same dots connected in different ways by different people to come up with infinite ways of seeing. We identify with the separate stories, but one day that identity will fade to dust and all that will be left is the story. Through the lingering connections to the other stories we helped build. Through the lingering connection to our shared story. Our shared soul.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
In a discussion, the principle of charity requires interpreting what you hear in its best, strongest way. It is related to Bull Quota & Benefit of Doubt. A Bull Quota requires parking the stuff you disagree with until you have really understood the story. Giving the Benefit of Doubt requires believing the best in people unless you have strong evidence otherwise. Interpretative Charity maximises the possibility that you can find agreement. It assumes your intent is to find agreement, and isn't to break arguments down and 'win'. A skilled debater can win any argument, and create a loser. A thriving community is built by finding the strongest possible common ground we can. Intent matters. What you do matters.
Monday, August 14, 2017
Things change from where they are. Having a vision of where we want things to be is a key part of being human. We dream. We can close our eyes and imagine other worlds. It is one of my coping tools. When things don't go the way I want, I imagine a parallel universe where another Trev is dealing with that world. A world I can visit when my eyelids meet. My responsibility is this world. This Trev. With these eyes, ears, and touch open. To gather the flavour of those dreams, I need to nudge this world by learning about it. Wu wei is the Tao concept of non-action. Acting in a wholly natural, uncontrived way. Taking things as they are. The irony being that by not striving, you can actually achieve more.
Friday, August 11, 2017
When we are constantly building, there can be a debilitating feeling of spinning the wheels. Bill Gates said, 'Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.' I am a big fan of Tim Minchin's idea of being 'micro-ambitious'. Little goals add up. Slowly, until you look back and see how far you have come. Big goals just freak us out, because frankly, we are not in control of the path, and deep down we know that. We are good at fitting stories to the past. At coping. We have a fair amount of ability to control the next step. We can remember our last step fairly well, without too much retelling the story to make ourselves feel better. So if you compare, compare to yesterday. Do something that matters today. And repeat.