When I browse through old posts in this blog, I often have a light bulb moment.
“Oh yeah!” I’ll say, as I remember an old strategy that I used to find useful.
I have forgotten my own advice. And when I read it again I recall that it’s super helpful.
There’s a town in Belgium called Geel. For centuries, its residents have opened their homes to people with severe mental health problems.
Over 200 people with mental health difficulties live there. They are in “foster relationships” with local families.
These boarders have good outcomes. Better than at the hospital they would otherwise be in. For instance, they take less medication.
I want to let you in on something. There’s a lot of score draws in therapy.
This approach works, but only as much as that approach.
This philosophy works, but only as much as that one.
This technique works, but only as much as that technique.
Forty years of research says so.
When we get anxious or panicky, our breath changes.
Instead of regular breaths in, and regular breaths out, the rhythm changes.
We take a loooooong breath in, and a tiny breath out. Then we repeat.
Look at someone in real distress. That’s what their breath is doing. Long breath in, tiny breath out. Over and over again. It looks like they may hyperventilate.
You’re at a party. You’ve been here for three hours. Bob was there when you arrived. So he’s been here the whole time too.
Yet he’s not spoken a word to you.
You’ve watched him mingle around the others, and he seems to have spoken to everyone else.
But not to you.
Imagine someone you care about was about to walk into traffic.
You are not close enough to grab them back.
And if they carry on walking, they’d get hit.
What kind of voice would you use to alert them to the danger?
Would you be timid and polite?
As a writer, I know that telling a story isn’t about saying everything.
Telling a story is about picking tiny aspects from the mass of everything. Then linking them together in a way that kind of matches up.
Telling the story of ourself works the same way. We pick out some things, but we leave out almost everything.
When people come for counselling or therapy, they will naturally want different things. But always at the heart of it is the desire for some kind of change.
It may be a desire to change aspects of their life. It may be a desire to change aspects of themselves.
So they want the therapy to be some kind of “Change Machine.”
Photo: Elise Schnaars
Imagine if you woke tomorrow to find that your best hopes had been realised.
How would you know?
This is a question I often ask my clients.
People tell me a range of things they’d notice that would be different tomorrow.
It’s exciting. Unpredictable too. Everyone has such different ideas about what their preferred tomorrow looks like.
Have you ever woke up feeling shit for no reason? And you don’t even know why!
Many of my clients report this, and I experience it too.
I move from sleep to wakefulness and immediately I feel miserable. My eyes aren’t even open yet. And it’s there in the pit of my stomach.
Our job is to build hope, not deepen despair.
Each time we sit with a client, we face that crossroads. The path we choose depends on the questions we ask.
Some questions add to the stuckness. They deepen the sense of overwhelm and hopelessness.
Other questions generate optimism.
His Dad died when he was 9. Four years later his Mum was institutionalised. At 13, he had noone but his Grandma. So he went to a boarding school for orphans.
He went on to become a pioneer in American basketball, and the first African American to coach an ACC basketball team. He’s in the basketball hall of fame.
He stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, looking out at the crowds. He was the final speaker that day. He was just 34 years old. The date was August 28th 1963.
The words he said have inspired every generation ever since. If you’re looking for change in your life, Martin Luther King would make a great therapist. Those fine words are a good place to begin.
Two months ago I was sat in front of Netflix. Exercise meant flicking through the shows. My thumb was superfit!
Today, I’ve just completed a 5k run. So what happened? How did I do that?
The answer is at the core of what it means to be an exceptional leader.
There are times during the year where it pays to step back and review how life is going.
This reflection allows you to celebrate your victories, and plan to beat your challenges.
In this post, I will walk you through the review process I invented for myself. True to my own practice as a coach, this process is solution focused.
There’s one way of saying No that’s easy. Say Yes to something that you don’t want to do.
In that moment, you have just said No to all the things you could have done instead.
Every Yes brings with it a thousand Noes. That’s opportunity cost.
There are two ways you can deal with that.
It doesn’t matter how successful we become. There are times when we all doubt ourselves.
A big presentation. An important meeting. A new challenge.
The negative inner voice relishes the chance to have its say.
For many of us, that negative inner voice is a regular companion. It never help us. It instead gives us criticism and undermines our confidence.
We were stood outside Caenarfon Castle in Wales.
Many years ago, people used to live in this castle. From time to time, their enemies would try to attack it.
I thought of how to attack a fortress like this. What were its weak points? There didn’t seem to be any. As defences go, it was formidable.
Pixar learned how to tell stories from a comedy improviser. She learned it from another comedy improviser. His name is Kenn Adams.
All those big movies used a structure that was for telling stories without a script.
Life is like that too. It all happens on the fly. We don’t have any lines.
This episode blew my mind. Don’t miss it. I’m talking with John Lash. At 18, he pulled a pistol on someone and shot them dead.
He got a life sentence in a US jail. But inside prison he went on a journey that led him to a passionate belief in the ideas and practices of nonviolence.