Untying-the-Knot-blog

Untying the Knot

One thing I know for sure is that life is complex.  We are complex.  Of course the paradox is that amidst the complexity and confusion there is simplicity in life.  But just because it’s simple, doesn’t make it easy.

I sometimes liken it to untying a big knot.  At first it can seem overwhelming, hard work or even impossible.  As we persevere however, we find a way.  We can make make sense of, and unravel the complexities of life, which at first can seem daunting.  Ultimately the unravelling bring us great joy.

When you know what you’re doing, you can do what you want. Moshe Feldenkrais

We have strategies for everything we do.  When we understand these strategies, we come to know how we’re doing what we’re doing.  We can then do more of what we want.

One of the strategies I developed as a kid was having a sense of fearlessness in the face of aggression or violence. I unconsciously modelled that from my dad.  He was a violent man.

I learnt to have a fearless sense of adventure and willingness to take risks – some might say to my detriment.  I’ve nearly died on several occasions – while skiing, driving, riding motorbikes and even swimming.  I’ve set up and run numerous businesses, several of which ‘failed’.  I became a risk-taker, a real gift (and skill) I had learnt from my parents.  Thank you guys!

One of the many things that NLP coaching has given me is the capacity to understand and model out the strategies that create things like fear or fearlessness. That’s been life changing.

knot-5As I look back on my youth, more often than not my subjective truth (or experience) was informed by limiting beliefs and coping strategies set up in my childhood.  Along with fearlessness I learnt to be very fearful in certain contexts.  Context creates meaning.  However, from my very first NLP Practitioner course, through to my Master Trainer certification and beyond, what I’ve consistently done is to challenge and unravel those limiting, unconscious behaviours and beliefs. I’ve needed help along the way.

Untangling a big knot is very difficult, if not impossible to do instantaneously.  Over time however, if you pick a little here and a little there, it can become an easy process, even rewarding if we take it (and make it!) easy. This has been my NLP journey.

While I’ve had amazing and instantaneous breakthroughs and life changing experiences; while I’ve come away from courses and NLP coaching sessions with a profoundly different sense of what is possible and how I can make changes in my life – actually over time – many of the changes have happened at an unconscious level; easily, naturally, without having to even think about them or try.

That’s pretty amazing.  To think, that the human experience or evolutionary process has been designed to enable progress, learning and change.  In a way – less is more!  So the big knot has been untied over time with a lot of effort at certain points and much less so and more enjoyably at others.  As I look back and see how radically different my life is now, I can begin to understand and truly appreciate that the journey is significantly more important than any destination.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

I still have that capacity to slip back into depression or play the victim from time to time.  However, I recognise these patterns and address them much sooner than I used to.  I now know how I create these states, so I can do something different.

As Robert Dilts said – having multiple options is flexibility and having multiple perspectives is wisdom. This is accessible to all of us.

That’s our knot to untie – in a way to let go of the effort and our way of doing things and wake up to new possibilities, options and perspectives that free us to be fully ourselves; to be who we were born to be.

Most of us are not who we think we are. We are so much more that we could ever imagine. Yet who we think we are dictates our behaviour and how we show up in the world. Behaviour is an expression of identity.

The fullness of who we are stretches far into the past, the present, and our future. It ripples out into eternity without us ever really being able to fathom.

I’m still unravelling and accepting the mystery of who I am. Despite (and perhaps in part because of) the many challenges, it’s a pretty cool journey!

Will you join me on it?

If you’d like to, why not click the help button in the bottom right of your screen and we can have a chat…

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A-way-out-at-last-blog

A Way Out At Last

When I was a kid, like many people I had dreams of a life well lived – a life of possibility, freedom and unlimited joy. However, as I grew up I discovered that life was often harsh, people couldn’t be trusted and feelings of joy were often fleeting.

As children we tend not to be aware of what’s ‘normal’ or dysfunctional.  The older I got however, the more I realised that my dad beating my mum or me up for that matter, was not right or normal; that my dad being a con-artist, drug dealer and in and out of prison was not normal; that living with my grandparents (who were both Colonels in the army) from the age of seven and being sent off to boarding school – was not normal.  As a result, I grew up with a ton of limiting beliefs. I became angry, scared and violent.

“Action will furnish belief, but will that belief be the true one? That’s the point you know.”  Arthur Hugh Clough

Over time, I came to learn that beliefs are nothing but a feeling of certainty about what something means.  They are not truth.  However, we operate from these ‘truths’ – from the limiting beliefs we grow up with – as if they are truths. These beliefs are like glue holding our internal worlds together, often very shakily, or unhealthily in my case.  And because we act as if our outdated and limiting beliefs are true, they often become self-fulfilling prophecies.  The world is dangerous.  People can’t be trusted.  I’m not lovable.  These become true because we believe them to be true.  As we mature however, we all come to realise a deeper truth – that the world is both safe and dangerous.

When I entered my twenties and begun to hear of ‘depression’ it dawned on me that I was depressed.  I realised that I had been depressed for much of my life.  That’s not to say I didn’t have fun and adventurous times with my parents, at school or University.  I did.  But I had this creeping sense of unhappiness; like a dark storm brewing in the distance, covering the sun and never quite passing.  Beneath the mask of being ok, was a sense – that all was not ok.  I’m sure that many people read through it.

When I discovered NLP techniques, I began to see that ‘depression’ wasn’t a thing.  It was a process. In other words, we have to do very specific things in order to feel depressed.  Yes, it’s a label.  But depression is more than a label, an idea or a disease.  We ‘play’ a part in it.  And if I played a part in creating my depressive states, then I must have some control over this ‘thing’ that had controlled me for most of my life.

There was a way out at last!  What I’ve learnt to do since (and this is the essence of NLP) is to understand HOW I do what I do (in other words how I got depressed) so that I could do more of what I wanted.

As Mosche Feldenkrais said “when you know how you do what you do, you can do what you want”.

I now understand how I get depressed, despondent or un-resourceful, so I go there much less often.  We have to do very specific things in order to get stuck.  In fact we are never really stuck.  We only ever think we’re stuck.

It is our thinking that creates stuck, unhappy or depressed states, just as it’s our thinking that creates joy and happiness.

We have to believe untruths in order to get into and stay in these kind of unresourceful states. I still have that capacity and to be honest, I still find myself in un-resourceful states more than I’d like to.  I’d like to live in perfect joy and harmony.  But if we’re human that’s a pretty tall order.

That said, I now have so many ways out of stuck states. I have choice.  We have choice.  The starting point is truth – that’s the difference between our distorted version of reality and reality in actuality.

This is the beauty of NLP.  It gives us a framework where there is always somewhere to go in our thinking.  And it is our thinking that creates how we feel, which drives our behaviour and ultimately the results we get in life.

As Michael Neil said, we feel our thinking.

This has profound implications. If there is always a way out of our stuck state, limiting beliefs or emotions, what then becomes possible?

Continue the journey… Untying the Knot

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As they say.. there’s nowhere quite like home

Beginning-my-NLP-Journey-blog

Beginning My NLP Journey

I remember the first time ‘I got it’.  I was sitting with a new friend called Dom, on my NLP Business Practitioner course.

It might have been the second day, I can’t remember exactly.  However I do remember that in the space of about five minutes, doing nothing other than asking him some simple questions, his whole state and physiology changed.  He was beaming me a smile.  He was so grateful for me helping him figure something out and I was so grateful for being able to help him.

I had just seen with my own eyes the power of NLP; the simplicity and beauty of it and I wanted more.  I finished my NLP Practitioner a few months later and was a changed man.

A few years prior to this however, I’d never even heard of NLP courses.   I was in a horrible job, selling corporate videos to CEO’s around the world.  I say selling, more accurately trying to sell.  Imagine a London call centre, grey cardboard booths separating people like cattle and lots of falsely impassioned young men and women trying to convince high powered executives at the other end of the phone to part with £16,000 for a corporate video that would be beamed around the world on satellite television channels.  Sales.. sales.. sales… I couldn’t stand it.

Previous to this job I had been running a film production company, fresh out of University. I had no idea what I was doing, but me and a couple of friends thought it would be a fun and good idea to make a film. Fast forward a year and we had produced the most expensive short film of ’97 and a couple of music videos.  I was heavily in debt, so felt I had to bail out and get a job. And this is where I ended up, in a goldfish bowl unable to get out!

Long story short, my friend Alex called me up one beautiful sunny day as I was sat inside my grey cubicle.  The contrast couldn’t have been more stark.   I felt unable to find a way out of my physical, mental and emotional prison. There I was inside my goldfish bowl looking out onto a beautiful and sunny world. I could see and almost touch it, but from my side of the window I couldn’t have it.

In that moment, Alex asks me down the phone “Stan, you fancy going to work in Ibiza for the summer?”  My immediate response was something like “Yeah.. for sure mate.. Let’s get out of here!”  At the time, I had no idea how we’d make it work, I just knew that we would and could and the vision of being in Ibiza selling music was infinitely more inspiring than sitting in a cubicle for the summer doing some incongruent job.  I had been to Ibiza on holiday the year before but truth be told, I had no real idea of how it would work.  I did however see other people making it work when i was on holiday and I knew the pain of remaining in London, was waaaaay more painful than following what felt right in my heart.

Before I left that job, the sales manager mentioned a book that forever changed my life.  He said to me that if there is one book you ever read, make it Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins. Funnily enough I didn’t read the book for about 2 or 3 years (I’m a slow learner!) but when I then decided to set up a clothing label (which would become my second ‘failed’ venture into business), I thought it might be a good idea.

It was a page turner. However, it didn’t help me to shift any of the core patterns I’d had from growing up in a highly dysfunctional family. I believe that these things run deeper than any book can fully address.

At the back of the book was a card which I posted, requesting more information. Before I knew it I’d reluctantly signed up for a seminar by Anthony Robbins.  The salesman was very, very good!

That weekend changed the direction of my life forever. Funnily enough, things actually took a turn for the worse after the event, but it had awoken something within me; something I knew to be true, but that had eluded me until then. That within all of us are the seeds of greatness and possibility; that we can all awaken the giant within us.  Until then I had been plagued by self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and more. Yet somehow I knew that life had to make sense somehow. I couldn’t just be destined to a life of limitations and unhappiness.

The experience opened the floodgates of possibility; it gave me an experience of believing that anything was possible; I had a vision and I was determined to achieve it. I had begun my NLP journey without really knowing what it was or how it worked. I just knew there was something in it, in me, that was special, worth exploring and moving towards.

As they say, all great journeys start with the first step. I had taken mine. And my life has never been the same again.

I am often reminded of how profoundly life changing that choice was and how, as a result, I keep on finding deeper levels of personal, emotional and financial freedom that I once deemed impossible.

I’m also reminded of what Bob Gass said. “What we see and hear is what we think about. What we think about is what we feel. What we feel influences our reactions. Reactions become habits and it is our habits that determine our destiny”.

I had a new vision; I was thinking differently; I had control over my destiny because I had begun to see, hear and think about a different possibility for my life. The future was bright and it was mine for the taking. As long as I was prepared to continue doing the ‘inner work’ and removing the barriers I had created through my thoughts, I could create the kind of life I wanted.

Continue the journey… A Way Out At Last

The view from my ‘Lighthouse’ in Ibiza :)