Category Archives: NLP

Ken Wilber on Spiral Dynamics

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KW: In Integral Psychology I present charts that summarize over 100 developmental psychologists, East and West, ancient and modern and postmodern. Spiral Dynamics is only one of the 100, but I have recently been using it quite a bit because it is simple and fairly easy to learn, even for beginners. Based on extensive research begun by Clare Graves, Spiral Dynamics (developed by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan) sees human beings evolving or developing through eight major waves of consciousness. For convenience, I will reprint my brief summary of these from A Theory of Everything.

SPIRAL DYNAMICS AND THE WAVES OF EXISTENCE

The first six levels are “subsistence levels” marked by “first-tier thinking.” Then there occurs a revolutionary shift in consciousness: the emergence of “being levels” and “second-tier thinking,” of which there are two major waves. Here is a brief description of all eight waves, the percentage of the world population at each wave, and the percentage of social power held by each.

1. Beige: Archaic-Instinctual. The level of basic survival; food, water, warmth, sex, and safety have priority. Uses habits and instincts just to survive. Distinct self is barely awakened or sustained. Forms into survival bands to perpetuate life.

Where seen: First human societies, newborn infants, senile elderly, late-stage Alzheimer’s victims, mentally ill street people, starving masses, shell shock. Approximately 0.1% of the adult population, 0% power.

2. Purple: Magical-Animistic. Thinking is animistic; magical spirits, good and bad, swarm the earth leaving blessings, curses, and spells which determine events. Forms into ethnic tribes . The spirits exist in ancestors and bond the tribe. Kinship and lineage establish political links. Sounds “holistic” but is actually atomistic: “there is a name for each bend in the river but no name for the river.”

Where seen: Belief in voodoo-like curses, blood oaths, ancient grudges, good luck charms, family rituals, magical ethnic beliefs and superstitions; strong in Third-World settings, gangs, athletic teams, and corporate “tribes.” 10% of the population, 1% of the power.

3. Red: Power Gods. First emergence of a self distinct from the tribe; powerful, impulsive, egocentric, heroic. Magical-mythic spirits, dragons, beasts, and powerful people. Archetypal gods and goddesses, powerful beings, forces to be reckoned with, both good and bad. Feudal lords protect underlings in exchange for obedience and labor. The basis of feudal empires –power and glory. The world is a jungle full of threats and predators. Conquers, out-foxes, and dominates; enjoys self to the fullest without regret or remorse; be here now.

Where seen: The “terrible twos,” rebellious youth, frontier mentalities, feudal kingdoms, epic heroes, James Bond villains, gang leaders, soldiers of fortune, New-Age narcissism, wild rock stars, Atilla the Hun, Lord of the Flies . 20% of the population, 5% of the power.

4. Blue: Mythic Order. Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of “right” and “wrong.” Violating the code or rules has severe, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful. Basis of ancient nations . Rigid social hierarchies; paternalistic; one right way and only one right way to think about everything. Law and order; impulsivity controlled through guilt; concrete-literal and fundamentalist belief; obedience to the rule of Order; strongly conventional and conformist. Often “religious” or “mythic” [in the mythic-membership sense; Graves and Beck refer to it as the “saintly/absolutistic” level], but can be secular or atheistic Order or Mission.

Where seen: Puritan America, Confucian China, Dickensian England, Singapore discipline, totalitarianism, codes of chivalry and honor, charitable good deeds, religious fundamentalism (e.g., Christian and Islamic), Boy and Girl Scouts, “moral majority,” patriotism. 40% of the population, 30% of the power.

5. Orange: Scientific Achievement. At this wave, the self “escapes” from the “herd mentality” of blue, and seeks truth and meaning in individualistic terms–hypothetico-deductive, experimental, objective, mechanistic, operational–“scientific” in the typical sense. The world is a rational and well-oiled machine with natural laws that can be learned, mastered, and manipulated for one’s own purposes. Highly achievement oriented, especially (in America) toward materialistic gains. The laws of science rule politics, the economy, and human events. The world is a chess-board on which games are played as winners gain pre-eminence and perks over losers. Marketplace alliances; manipulate earth’s resources for one’s strategic gains. Basis of corporate states .

Where seen: The Enlightenment, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged , Wall Street, emerging middle classes around the world, cosmetics industry, trophy hunting, colonialism, the Cold War, fashion industry, materialism, secular humanism, liberal self-interest. 30% of the population, 50% of the power.

6. Green: The Sensitive Self. Communitarian, human bonding, ecological sensitivity, networking. The human spirit must be freed from greed, dogma, and divisiveness; feelings and caring supersede cold rationality; cherishing of the earth, Gaia, life. Against hierarchy; establishes lateral bonding and linking. Permeable self, relational self, group intermeshing. Emphasis on dialogue, relationships. Basis of value communities (i.e., freely chosen affiliations based on shared sentiments). Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus (downside: interminable “processing” and incapacity to reach decisions). Refresh spirituality, bring harmony, enrich human potential. Strongly egalitarian, anti-hierarchy, pluralistic values, social construction of reality, diversity, multiculturalism, relativistic value systems; this worldview is often called pluralistic relativism . Subjective, nonlinear thinking; shows a greater degree of affective warmth, sensitivity, and caring, for earth and all its inhabitants.

Where seen: Deep ecology, postmodernism, Netherlands idealism, Rogerian counseling, Canadian health care, humanistic psychology, liberation theology, cooperative inquiry, World Council of Churches, Greenpeace, animal rights, ecofeminism, post-colonialism, Foucault/Derrida, politically correct, diversity movements, human rights issues, ecopsychology. 10% of the population, 15% of the power. [Note: this is 10% of the world population. Don Beck estimates that around 20-25% of the American population is green.]

With the completion of the green meme, human consciousness is poised for a quantum jump into “second-tier thinking.” Clare Graves referred to this as a “momentous leap,” where “a chasm of unbelievable depth of meaning is crossed.” In essence, with second-tier consciousness, one can think both vertically and horizontally, using both hierarchies and heterarchies (both ranking and linking). One can therefore, for the first time, vividly grasp the entire spectrum of interior development , and thus see that each level, each meme, each wave is crucially important for the health of the overall Spiral.

As I would word it, each wave is “transcend and include.” That is, each wave goes beyond (or transcends) its predecessor, and yet it includes or embraces it in its own makeup. For example, a cell transcends but includes molecules, which transcend but include atoms. To say that a molecule goes beyond an atom is not to say that molecules hate atoms, but that they love them: they embrace them in their own makeup; they include them, they don’t marginalize them. Just so, each wave of existence is a fundamental ingredient of all subsequent waves, and thus each is to be cherished and embraced.

Moreover, each wave can itself be activated or reactivated as life circumstances warrant. In emergency situations, we can activate red power drives; in response to chaos, we might need to activate blue order; in looking for a new job, we might need orange achievement drives; in marriage and with friends, close green bonding. All of these memes have something important to contribute.

But what none of the first-tier memes can do, on their own, is fully appreciate the existence of the other memes. Each of the first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened. Blue order is very uncomfortable with both red impulsiveness and orange individualism. Orange individualism thinks blue order is for suckers and green egalitarianism is weak and woo-woo. Green egalitarianism cannot easily abide excellence and value rankings, big pictures, hierarchies, or anything that appears authoritarian, and thus green reacts strongly to blue, orange, and anything post-green.

All of that begins to change with second-tier thinking. Because second-tier consciousness is fully aware of the interior stages of development–even if it cannot articulate them in a technical fashion–it steps back and grasps the big picture, and thus second-tier thinking appreciates the necessary role that all of the various memes play . Second-tier awareness thinks in terms of the overall spiral of existence, and not merely in the terms of any one level.

Where the green meme begins to grasp the numerous different systems and pluralistic contexts that exist in different cultures (which is why it is indeed the sensitive self, i.e., sensitive to the marginalization of others), second-tier thinking goes one step further. It looks for the rich contexts that link and join these pluralistic systems, and thus it takes these separate systems and begins to embrace, include, and integrate them into holistic spirals and integral meshworks. Second-tier thinking, in other words, is instrumental in moving from relativism to holism, or from pluralism to integralism .

The extensive research of Graves, Beck, and Cowan indicates that there are at least two major waves to this second-tier integral consciousness:

7. Yellow: Integrative. Life is a kaleidoscope of natural hierarchies [holarchies], systems, and forms. Flexibility, spontaneity, and functionality have the highest priority. Differences and pluralities can be integrated into interdependent, natural flows. Egalitarianism is complemented with natural degrees of ranking and excellence. Knowledge and competency should supersede power, status, or group sensitivity. The prevailing world order is the result of the existence of different levels of reality (memes) and the inevitable patterns of movement up and down the dynamic spiral. Good governance facilitates the emergence of entities through the levels of increasing complexity (nested hierarchy). 1% of the population, 5% of the power.

8. Turquoise: Holistic. Universal holistic system, holons/waves of integrative energies; unites feeling with knowledge; multiple levels interwoven into one conscious system. Universal order, but in a living, conscious fashion, not based on external rules (blue) or group bonds (green). A “grand unification” [a “theory of everything” or T.O.E.] is possible, in theory and in actuality. Sometimes involves the emergence of a new spirituality as a meshwork of all existence. Turquoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization. 0.1% of the population, 1% of the power.

With less than 2 percent of the population at second-tier thinking (and only 0.1 percent at turquoise), second-tier consciousness is relatively rare because it is now the “leading-edge” of collective human evolution. As examples, Beck and Cowan mention items that include Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere, chaos and complexity theories, universal systems thinking, integral-holistic theories, Gandhi’s and Mandela’s pluralistic integration, with increases in frequency definitely on the way, and even higher memes still in the offing….

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Managing assholes, step one

I saw this quote by William Gibson:

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes”

If you are then step 2 is to consider the question:

‘Why are you there?’ … what benefit are you getting from being in this situation?

Step 3:

‘What if you left?’ … imagine the consequence of leaving this situation with these assholes and notice any fears.

Step 4:

Find the courage to face into these fears and move towards and through them

Step 5:

Look again at the people surrounding you.

Zero effort meditation … sounds too good to be true?

If someone told you that it was possible to reduce stress and pain, improve physical health, promote inner well-being and even psychic abilities with no personal effort and an almost insignificant financial investment what would you think?  Sounds too good to be true?

Meditation, ooh meditation; meditation, that’s what you need

The benefits I have sited above are all associated with the practice of meditation.  But wait!  I also said no personal effort.  Chances are that if you’ve tried meditation that just won’t fit with your experience!  Keeping the mind focussed on a single thing can be very challenging indeed!  So can practices like developing loving kindness for your worst enemy.  It all takes serious amounts of concentration.  Add to that a particular way of sitting – probably cross legged with no back support – and you’ve got a particularly difficult experience all round.  Consequently, many people expecting meditation to be a relaxing way to zone out for a bit give up the practice before they have experienced any of the benefits.

Before we get onto the ‘no effort’ bit let’s understand a bit more about what meditation does and why it it beneficial.

Brainwave states

When we meditate we learn to move ourselves into different states of consciousness and we become aware of different things.  These changes in state have associated brainwave states that can be monitored by measuring the tiny electrical impulses in the brain.

I found the following explanation on a site that sells meditation machines:

Beta waves (15-30 oscillations (or waves) per second (Hz)). This is the brain rhythm in the normal wakeful state associated with thinking, conscious problem solving and active attention directed towards the outer world. You are most likely in the “beta state” while you are reading this.

Alpha waves (9-14 Hz). When you are truly relaxed, your brain activity slows from the rapid patterns of beta into the more gentle waves of alpha. Fresh creative energy begins to flow, fears vanish and you experience a liberating sense of peace and well-being. The “alpha state” is where meditation starts and you begin to access the wealth of creativity that lies just below our conscious awareness. It is the gateway that leads into deeper states of consciousness.

Theta waves (4-8 Hz). Going deeper into relaxation and meditation, you enter the “theta state” where brain activity slows almost to the point of sleep. Theta brings forward heightened receptivity, flashes of dreamlike imagery, inspiration, and,sometimes, your long-forgotten memories. It can also give you a sensation of “floating”.

Theta is one of the more elusive and extraordinary realms we can explore. It is also known as the twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we rise up out of the depths of delta upon waking, or drifting off to sleep. In theta, we are in a waking dream, and we are receptive to information beyond our normal conscious awareness. Some people believe that theta meditation awakens intuition and other extrasensory perception skills.

Delta waves (1-3 Hz). This slowest of brainwave activity is found during deep, dreamless sleep. It is also sometimes found in very experienced meditators.

So, meditation is the skill of choosing to go into different brainwave states.  But how does that lead to the permanent benefits that we cited earlier?

How to get a state benefit (without being a dole bludger)

When in these deeper states thoughts and feelings come into awareness that were, previously, buried.  As these thoughts and feelings come to mind they move through and out of the body … you, quite literally, work things out.  This working out process can be somewhat turbulent … it can result in periods of intense emotional experience.  It can feel like falling apart … or even dying.  To the extent that you resist the change, then it is difficult; to the extent that you surrender to it and have faith that it will work out for the best then it is easier.  This process is sometimes called catharsis.  This separation from what is bad inside is the natural process that I facilitate when I am working with clients.

When you work those things out that do not belong inside you get a greater sense of who you are, a greater ability to know what you want, and a greater ability to act in order to get it.

Choosing states … the easy way

If you want to go on a long journey would you prefer to drive or to take the train?  Driving can be fun and developing driving skills can be rewarding but all too often you find yourself spending hours stuck in traffic and long journeys can be exhausting.  So long as there is no industrial action, no wrong type of snow, no leaves on the line, and the line actually goes where you want to go – then the train is a great alternative.  Simply get on, sit back, and relax.

Brainwave entrainment technology is the train of the meditation world.  It utilises an external stimulus to resonate the brain into progressively deeper states of meditation.  All you need to do is to put on your headphones – get into the carriage – and listen to the sound of the track.  (Ahh, the pun of it!)

The track is in stereo with neutral sounds such as rain water or ambient gong sounds.  Ahh, nice and relaxing.  But listen closer and you will notice a seemingly constant tone in the background; this is the really important bit.  The tone is the carrier of the resonant brainwave frequency that we are seeking to create.  When the frequency changes – the rails change direction – and the brain follows.  (Can you see what I did there?)

How do the tones carry the brainwave frequency?

The tones going into each ear are at a slightly different frequency.  When you have 2 waves at slightly differing frequencies sometimes they are in phase and add to each other; at other times they are out of phase and cancel each other out … the result is a beat at a frequency equal to the difference of the 2 input frequencies.  I found the following diagram on the web that shows it well (thank you Mr Epstein’s Grade 11 Physics Class):

The really cool thing is that when each ear is getting a different frequency it is the brain that is doing the reconciliation … the brain is creating the resultant beat that it is then falling into sync with.  This phenomenon is often called ‘brainwave entrainment’ and the interaction of the tones are called ‘binaural beats’.

Controversy

Not everyone is convinced that binaural beats lead to meditation benefits … for a well written overview and counterpoint I recommend this article.

The subject is also written about by open source binaural beat audio generator Gnaural:

‘Many consider the idea of binaural beats influencing brainwave activity “controversial”, but only the claims of what the influence means are controversial. That rhythmic stimuli can induce FFR (frequency following response) is well established across many species, comprising a subject known as “driving”, with binaural beats falling under the category “auditory driving”, but not having a monopoly on it. Even the isochronal beating of a drum can induce FFR. But binaural beats appear to have advantages over other auditory approaches by being more efficient, both as a true low-frequency sinusoidal stimulus and by engaging more neural circuits than conventional hearing. BBs are also less invasive than some of the non-auditory approaches such as photic or electromagnetic, which are effective but induce seizures in a percentage of the population. In my experience, binaural beats have been as harmless as anything else I listen to through headphones.

‘I also embrace the fact that binaural beats require a conscious effort to get their effect, since i am not interested in replacing meditation but in facilitating it, particularly when anxiety or stress have made it hard to start meditating in the conventional way.

‘As for “snake-oil” claims by profiteers as to what binaural beats can do (ranging from targetting specific drug states to curing disease), my experience is that low frequency brainwave entrainment works as a blanket effect to create a focused mental state similar to hypnosis, in which heightended suggestibility causes expecations to strongly influence experience. But rather than take a dim view of this, I see it for its positives: as a means of implementing suggestion and of facilitating the exploration of mental states. And in regard to the idea that suggestibility is mere gulibility, it should be noted that even the AMA now acknowledges that placebo, despite having no scientifically understood mechanism, gives a statistically reliable effect that can positively imact a percentage of people for whom their either is no conventional treatment available or it has failed.’

Where can I get hold of this binaural beat technology?

I first heard about this technology under the brand name Holosync.  The founder of the company promoting the product is Bill Harris and his CDs do a great job of explaining the technology, the catharsis, and generally motivating you to stick with it.  I think that the Holosync products are great value when you consider the benefits that they provide, however, the first level still costs a chunky $179 and, if you like it, there are 11 more levels to purchase after that.

If you are a bit technical and like the idea of experimenting with yourself then check out the open source projects Gnaural and SBaGen.  I haven’t used either of these myself yet.

The product that I have been using for a few years now is called The Meditation Solution.  So far as I can tell Meditation is at least as good as Holosync and costs a fraction of the price: $29 per level (as a download) or just $280 for the whole course of 12 levels.

I have no commercial links with the promoters of The Meditation Solution.  I think it is such a good product, and so complementary to the deep therapeutic work that I do that I recommend it as a practice to all of my clients.

Listen to free trial meditation track here

For an investment of less than £20 and an hour or so a day of lying back and relaxing why wouldn’t you give it a go?  Just like you – I believe that it is good … and that’s the truth.

The presuppositions of NLP

Here are some of the presuppositions (things we come into a situation assuming) often associated with NLP.  They are not ‘true’ as such … more of a handrail when developing the attitude of curiosity and wanton experimentation.

The map is not the territory

A map is a practical resource which helps us to find our way around.  For a map to be useful it needs to change the size and reduce the complexity to a level which helps the user.  Maps for different purposes can look very different: a road map, ordinance survey map and tube map for example.  We get used to the maps that we use and it is sometimes a surprise and frustration when reality seems to be different from what we expected: roadworks, unexpected boggy bits, or stations that look far apart but are only a few minutes walk above ground.

In life we go around making mental maps (or models) to help us make sense of our experiences.  Beliefs about how people and systems work help us to choose what to do next.  These generalisations may come from our own experiences or have been accepted from those around us.  Just as a tourist map can point us to areas of interest our mental map draws our attention to certain information from our experience of the world – distorting it.  Because we experience the world in that way it can seem like that is the way it is, the only way it can be – our reality.

When we realise that the map is not the territory it gives us the option of changing the map.  And when the map changes, so does the reality of our experience.

People are doing the best they can given the choices available to them

If someone is behaving in a way which you perceive as ‘bad’ does that make them a bad person?  According to you, perhaps.  Would their mum agree?  The values that drive their behaviour may well be different to yours.  They may or may not be aware of what these values are … perhaps thinking they can’t help their reactions.  Perhaps even judging themselves (or part of themselves) as ‘bad’ for doing what they do.

Is this kind of judging of behaviour useful?  In some contexts such as in court it is essential in order to protect others from the consequences of future actions.  In a therapy or coaching context it is more useful to assume that people are always doing their best … given the choices that they perceive are available to them.  The mindset becomes exploratory rather than categoric, collaborative rather than judgemental.

Accept the person, help them gain more choices, change the behaviour.

Underlying every behavior is a positive intention

Every behaviour?  Always?  Maybe, maybe not.  But is this a useful belief to start out with?

Let’s consider the extreme case of someone who says that a part of them wants to commit suicide.  What could be the positive intent of such a seemingly destructive thing?  Well perhaps it shows that, at least in this area of life, the person can choose, that they have power over themselves and their life?  Perhaps it is to stop them being a burden to others and help the people around them have more freedom in their life?  Perhaps it is to end some suffering, gain relief and feel better?  Perhaps it is to punish the person and give them what they deserve so they can feel that justice has been done?

Rather than arguing against the behaviour this approach helps build understanding and rapport.  From here it is much easier to explore other ways of gaining the positive benefits without the negative consequences.

There is no failure – only feedback

OK, so it is possible to fail your driving test.  But does that mean you have failed?  Or could you have just succeeded in finding some areas for further improvement?

There is a saying in NLP, “If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got”.  If you are attempting to get a certain outcome and it just isn’t happening then you can always work longer or harder.  If, however, these don’t work either (or if they are just a bit boring!) then it might be time for a re-think.  And if you don’t know what else there is to do then anything is probably as good as anything else – perhaps you can get some more information that way?  This is the attitude of wanton experimentation … what’s the worst that could happen anyway?

The meaning of our communication is the response we get

Have you ever innocently said something to someone and had them blow up in anger or run off in tears?  If we communicate a message to another person and they react in an unexpected way then we can always blame them for not understanding what we meant … but how useful is that map going forwards?  Alternatively we can take their response as feedback and design our next question to gather more information about, say, their reaction.

People are always communicating, verbally and non-verbally.  Research (that hardly anyone who trots this statistic out has actually read) suggests that only 7% of the meaning of our communication is through words.  The rest of the communication process takes place through body language, tone of voice and the various signals words cannot convey.  That’s means that 93% of what we communicate is not from our words!  Excellent communication is about your whole self. B y working on your stuff and developing your ability to be authentic – even when under pressure – you are increasing your power of communication and influence.

Relationships: Becoming aligned

This article was first published in humanHi magazine in January 2009.

An hour or so ago I was hard at work … in bed, with my eyes shut, awake but dreaming. Dreaming that my job for the day was over; that this article was already written; and that I was pleased with it. As I imagined reviewing the completed pages I noticed the warm glow of achievement in my belly and allowed a smile to move over my lips. An idea for some content landed with me. As if on their own, my eyes opened, and I had the urge to get up and start doing.

The benefit of alignment

Is it possible for you to be with the partner of your dreams? If you live all alone and never meet anyone else then the answer to this question will certainly be a ‘no’. If you live around people but never interact with the people you fancy then the answer will also be a ‘no’. If you interact but in a way that seems to scare other people away; if you are always rejected, can’t have what you want or plane don’t deserve it; if you are ugly, stupid or bad; if you being with that person does not serve society / please god or happen with love; if any of these things are true then you probably and quite rightly can’t be with the partner of your dreams. And you will probably continue to prove yourself right … just as you have been so far in your life.

In order for something to happen easily and effortlessly we need to have a sense of it being right at all levels … a sense of alignment. Just as you line the 2 sights of a rifle up with the target before you shoot it is important to align our sense of purpose, who we are, what we believe, what we are capable of, what we are doing and where we are doing it in order to set a compelling goal. In the context of meeting the partner of your dreams it can be useful to consider this outcome from a number of different perspectives or ‘logical levels’. After we have considered what these levels are I will walk you through an exercise which is designed to align them and increase the chances of you achieving the outcome you desire.

Environment Where do you live, work and go out? What kind
of people do you meet there? Where do the kind
of people you would like to be with hang out?
Behaviour What are you doing to meet the partner of your
dreams? Anything you would like to be doing more
of less of?
Capability In the context of relationships what are you
really good at? What skills, abilities and capacities
do you have already and what areas could you develop
further?
Beliefs / Values What do you believe about the world, the opposite
sex and relationships in general? Brainstorm endings
to statements such as: “The world is …”;
“men / women are …”; “relationships
are …”; “I always …”;
“I never …”; “It’s
wrong to …”, “It’s bad
to …”, “I must …”;
etc. 

In the context of a relationship / partner what
is important to you? (This is the list we worked
on a couple of months ago.)

Identity What kind of person are you? Who were you in
the past and who would you like to be in the future? 

Complete the statement “I am” with
as many answers as you can think of. For example:
‘shy’, ‘desperate’, ‘afraid’,
‘loved’, ‘beautiful’,
‘arrogant’, ‘independent’,
‘unworthy’, ‘unlovable’,
‘submissive’, ‘dominant’,
‘a rescuer’, ‘a victim’,
‘a persecutor’, etc.

Purpose When you have the relationship of your dreams
what does that do for you or get for you that
you don’t already have? What would being
in that kind of relationship with you do for your
partner? What differences would that sense of
togetherness make? How would it affect your lives
and those of the people around you?

Increasing your sense of alignment

The following technique will help you to become more aligned.

1 – Find a space where you have room to take 5 paces forwards. If possible work with someone else who can ask you questions and hear your responses. Stand up and ready yourself to consider the ‘logical levels’ of your desire for a relationship.

2 – Starting where you are begin thinking about all the ‘Environmental’ considerations as described in the previous table. Where do you go and who else is there when you arrive? Spend about a minute doing this. If you have a friend there with you they could ask you questions that help you think about the space around you and you could tell them what comes to mind.

3 – Take another step forwards and consider your ‘Behaviour’ – the things that you actually do to initiate or maintain a relationship. Continue stepping and considering all the way up to ‘Purpose’.

4 – When you are at ‘Purpose’ ensure that you get a real felt sense of the benefits of being in the relationship you desire. Perhaps you will feel a shifting in your heart or a sense of lightness come over you.

5 – Keeping that felt sense with you now step backwards back into the ‘Identity’ space. Now that you have that sense of purpose what do you know about who you are in that relationship? Consider this for about 30 seconds – notice what has changed now.

6 – Keeping the sense of purpose and the learnings from each previous level step back through all the previous logical levels spending 30 seconds or so in each as you notice what has changed. All the way back to ‘Environment’.

7 – Notice how you are feeling about the possibility of having the relationship of your dreams now. Is it possible? If your answer to this question is ‘yes’ you are ready to begin meditating on this possibility.

Meditating on success

Almost every writer on success that I have read stresses the importance of visualisation. The principle we are hooking into here is the law of attraction – that you get what you focus on, that like attracts like. The idea is to visualise the moment that you know that you have got the relationship that is perfect for you and to make this so realistic that you get the feeling of having what you want. You are meditating on having rather than wanting. (If you meditate on wanting then this is what you will get: wanting!) It is worth adding here that you should not include any specific people in the meditation – if you do this then you are assuming that you know what is best for them and you are trying to manipulate them. Simply imagine someone with all the characteristics that you value in a lover and leave the detail of exactly who this is to the universe. It could be the person you wanted it to be … or maybe someone even better!

So, the important question is ‘How will you know that you have the relationship that you want?’ Is it when you see the person across the room and your heart skips a beat? Probably not – too early … what if you kept on skipping beats like this but it never got further than that? What about when you are repeating your wedding vows to each other? Again, probably not – presumably you ‘knew’ that this was the person you wanted to be with way before this point. What we are after is that first moment of really knowing.
The one that I use is to imagine that I am going out with my partner to a night club. Under ‘normal’ circumstances I would have gone to this place alone with the hope of meeting someone there. In my visualisation I am entering the club with my partner and I am really happy that they are there to enjoy it with me. I feel a sense of trust, connectedness, excitement and freedom. We are an attractive couple and we find that other people come over and talk to us. We are going to have fun tonight!
Simply visualise your version of how you will know 5 minutes every day focussing on the pleasant feelings of having what you want. I’m beginning to use this technique more and more in all areas of life (including article writing!). It seems to work surprisingly well. Why don’t you have a go for a month and see what difference it makes for you?

Relationships: Making space for someone new

This article was first published in humanHi magazine in November 2008.

Being connected

To me being connected with someone means that you have feelings associated with them. Those feelings can either be positive such as love, compassion, trust and pride; or negative such as hate, resentment, blame, loss, fear and guilt. When we are connected to people in a positive way their presence in our lives is enriching and supportive; negative connections drain our energy and distract us from what we really want in life. They are bad for our health, wealth and happiness.

Take a moment now and cast your mind back through your past relationships. Are there any ex-partners who bring up negative feelings when you think about them now? Anyone who you have kind of split up from but are still in your life? Anyone who you no longer see and would like to forget but are reminded of often and for all the wrong reasons? How much of your energy and attention is taken up by these unhealthy connections? What other uses could you find for that energy?

In any relationship there is give and take. To illustrate this I like the metaphor of two people living in separate houses who start having a relationship with each other. To begin with all of their possessions are in their own house and they take it in turns to visit each other. As the relationship develops a certain amount of lending and borrowing begins to happen. He wants to borrow a CD from his partner and she is happy to lend it to him. She plans to do some DIY but needs a specific tool that he has and is happy to lend it to her. He has a small house full of junk and needs some extra space so she offers to store some boxes of junk in her loft. If this process continues then the partners possessions can become quite mixed up and they may even forget who owns what. (In the real world people move in with each other and own things jointly which can make splitting up even more difficult but for the sake of the metaphor lets assume that they keep their separate houses.)

On an emotional level there is also give and take. There are certain things that I want to do which I do not do because I believe that they will hurt my partner, for example, not sleeping someone else who you meet on a night out. There are other things that I don’t really want to do but I do anyway because I believe they will please my partner, for example, going with them to see their favourite band. I behave in the way that I do because I believe I know how my actions will emotionally affect my partner and I take responsibility for those effects. I hold an impression of them as a person in my imagination and use this internal model to guess at their reaction and choose my behaviour accordingly. Some of the information I use to build my internal model of them will have been based on their past reactions; others will be assumptions I am bringing into the relationship based on my experience of how other people have reacted in the past (transference) or how I would feel if someone did it to me (projection). Me having this model of them in my imagination is a bit like some of their stuff being in my house. Me guessing at their reactions based on how I would feel is a bit like me putting some of my stuff into their house.

Splitting up

Being in a relationship is sometimes likened to walking hand in hand down a shared path. We keep each other company and support each other along the way. But as we grow and experience life our priorities can shift and our paths can change direction. A good example of this is when one partner decides they want children and the other does not feel ready for this commitment. We find ourselves at a fork in the road and compromises begin to look like neither partner is getting what they want. Rather than trying to hang on sometimes it is better for both partners to let go and move on.

An ideal separation happens with love and compassion. Both partners are honest with each other, decide on the split together and stop taking each other into account when making decisions. In our house metaphor they give back the things that do not belong to them. In emotional terms they stop consulting the model of their ex-partner when deciding what to do and this image gradually fades and recedes into the distance.

Other separations are less ideal. Sudden cutting of ties such as walking out during an argument, leaving home without warning or even an unexpected death give no opportunity for both partners to be open and honest with each other, understand and forgive each other and move on. Emotions such as pride, fear of violence or emotional overwhelm may hold them apart. In the house metaphor he holds onto the CD to piss her off and she is sad and angry because she misses it; she doesn’t want to give the tool back because she is using it and he feels too guilty to demand that she gives back; he doesn’t have room for his boxes of junk and she doesn’t feel able to throw them away. The internal models of the other may be pushed away or blocked out but they are big and powerful, amplified by negative emotions, sapping energy, still exerting control.

The problem perpetuates

If you have not properly disconnected from your previous partners then you are not in a good position to welcome another partner in.

Every time you see something that belongs to them or remember something they have of yours you are reminded of them. Every time you are reminded of them you feel those unresolved negative emotions. When you feel negative you focus on the negative; and then you get what you focus on: a new partner with the same characteristics as your exes.

If a new partner does come along your internal model of them has to live with the internal models of you exes. The models of your exes influence what you expect of your new partner and you transfer these expectations into the model of your new partner rather than building a clean model from scratch based on your experience. You behave according to your flawed model of them and they simply respond to your behaviour … probably in a way that fulfils your negative expectations.

Making imaginary space

In last months article I introduced a way of disconnecting and freeing your energy by talking to the models of people you hold in your imagination. This technique gets the same result but by using energy rather than words.

– Find yourself a comfortable place to sit. Take a few deep breaths to relax and allow your eyes to close.

– Get a sense of the ground beneath you and encourage your awareness down into it. Continue down through the layers of earth until you reach the centre. As you connect with the centre of the earth notice how this sense of groundedness affects the way you feel at the centre of your body – in the area of your navel.

– Remaining connected to this centre now sense up above your head and out into the vastness of the universe. Imagine a source of light and infinite wisdom – a sun or higher form of self – to be there above you, happy and ready to help you when asked.

– Allow the image of your ex-partner to come to you – this is your model of them. Notice what it is like between you … is there anything preventing them from being right there in front of you were you can see them easily? Allow the source of light to heal anything which is preventing you from facing them until you are able to sense them clearly.

– With the support of the light above you accept back anything that they were holding for you. If you are holding anything that belongs to them then give it back.

– Notice how you feel as you face them. Allow the source of light to shine on you and heal any negative feelings in you – filling you up with acceptance and compassion.

– When you are healed share this energy with the model of your ex-partner. Allowing the energy to flow where it is welcome and heal what wishes to be healed.

– When you are both healed notice the sense of understanding and forgiveness between you and allow the other person to drift away. When they have gone bring your attention back to your sense of connection with the earth and the light above you. Notice how this strong connection with yourself gives you the freedom and ability to make new and empowering connections with others.

After you have completed this exercise allow yourself some time for reflection. How do you feel about that person now? What has changed? Who are you now and what is important to you? Complete the process with all of your significant exes and then with the less significant ones all together.

Making real space

Now you have cleared space in your imagination it is time to put that freedom into action. My challenge to you now is to go through your possessions and to make a pile of all of those things that belong to ex-partners. Dig out your address book and return them to their rightful owners with a polite note requesting that they do the same for you. While you are at it notice how many other objects such as photos and gifts there are on display. Do these bring back good memories or bad? Is it time to clear them away now and make room for some new memories to begin?

Relationships: Knowing what you want

Originally published in September 2008 by humanHi magasine.

Know what you want and why

If you ask some people what they are looking for in a partner they will often say something like “I don’t have a type, I’m not fussy, I’ll just know him when I meet him.”  For some people this may well be true … they are relaxed with being single and either find someone or they don’t; no problem.  But other people are waiting.  Waiting for Mr or Mrs right to come out of the blue. Waiting for their life to be complete; but not actually being that aware of what it is that they are actually waiting for.  Just that they will know it when they find it and hoping that God, the universe or chance will bring it to them.

The “I’ll know him when I meet him” signal is probably a thrilling and often overwhelming love / lust feeling which puts the pink coloured spectacles on and makes us act in impulsive and sometimes irrational ways.  It feels good but how reliable is it really?  Have you ever felt this feeling and, later on, realised that the person was really not all that?  Or have you found yourself being attracted to partners who, at some level, you know are not good for you; repeating the same patterns again and again.  But what can you do?  It’s just chemistry, right?

While the attraction process is an unconscious one then there is little you can do … except, perhaps, loose confidence in your emotions altogether.  What I am proposing here is that you bring the attraction process into awareness.  When you know what your are attracted to you will know what to look out for and when you have actually found it.  And if you are attracted to ‘the wrong kind’ of partner, perhaps you can make a few changes before the pink spectacles get put on again?

Become aware of the qualities you are looking for in a partner

The first thing I would suggest is to make a list of the qualities you value in a partner.  We are going for a high level view here so keep them abstract.  If there are certain specific things you normally look for then ask yourself what they are an example or indicator of.  “Blonde hair and blue eyes” may be an example of “Good looks”; “Masters degree” may be an indicator of “Intelligence or Education”.  Get the idea?

When you have a good long list of qualities choose your top 8 – 10 and put them into a rough order of importance (most important first).  For example: Kindness, Beauty, Sexiness, Intelligence, Depth, Positivity, Fun, Passion.  To check the order of the list perform a series of thought experiments by asking yourself: “Would I rather have a Kind partner who wasn’t very Beautiful; or a Beautiful partner who wasn’t very kind?” You may find that your list changes somewhat.

When you have completed this process you should be able to describe what it is like as you meet your ‘Ideal Partner’ and find that it pushes all the right buttons!  For example, “I am meeting a sexy, beautiful man.  He is kind and intelligent and I can tell that he has great depth.  He is positive about life, with a great sense of fun and is financially stable.”  There should be no surprises here … more a sense of recognition – you are describing what, at some level, you already knew.

Uncover any lurking negativity

Now comes the really interesting bit.  For each of the qualities you have chosen find a word which describes the opposite … try to get a separate word rather than just putting “un” or “not” in front of what you already have.  When you have the opposites you are going to consider the proportion of yourself which is attracted to the positive aspect, compared to the proportion which is repulsed by the negative aspect.

Quality & proportion of me attracted to
this

Opposite quality & proportion of me repulsed
by this

Sexiness 80%

Beauty 90%

Kindness 60%

Intelligence 80%

Passion 30%

Positivity 50%

Fun 40%

Financial stability 20%

Coldness 20%

Ugliness 10%

Nastiness 40%

Stupidity 20%

Boredom 70%

Negativity 50%

Boredom 60%

Brokeness 80%

You get what you focus on

Have you ever ridden a bicycle around a sharp bend in the road?  When you look around the corner towards where you want to be then you tend to get around easily; when you are distracted by the gravel in the gutter that you don’t want to hit, skid on and end up in a horrible nasty mess on the side of the road … yep, you tend to create what you are trying to avoid.

As you can probably guess, the qualities we are interested in are the negatives with more than 50% of your energy going into avoiding them.  Though the person in the example is saying she wants someone Passionate, Fun and Financially stable she means that she is trying to avoid being with someone Boring and Broke.

Given that ‘the energy flows where the focus goes’ the chances are that she will have a pattern of attracting Boring and Broke partners.  Or, perhaps more likely, she attracts partners who appear to be Passionate, Fun and Financially stable but then reveal their ‘true’ nature later in the relationship!

Change the pattern

If you find that there are certain qualities you are avoiding I suggest the following meditation:

1 – Remember all the people who you have known in your life who have the quality you are now trying to avoid.  How did they behave with you? How did that make you feel?

2 – In your imagination invite each of these people in turn to be there with you in the room.  Are they standing or sitting?  What direction are they looking in?  What are they wearing?  Politely explain the impact that their behaviour had on you.  For example, “David, when you sat on the sofa watching TV when I was trying to talk to you I felt ignored and hurt.”; “Jane, when you never offered to pay for dinner I felt exploited and that made me angry.”

3 – When you have said your piece invite them to say anything that they need to say to you.  Really listen to what you imagine they would say.  (Repeat as necessary until you have cleared the air between you.)

4 – Forgive the other person and ask for their forgiveness in return. Then allow them to drift off on their way.

5 – Repeat the process for each other person.

When you have completed the meditation consider how you feel about that quality now.  Do you still find it repulsive or is it different now?  Less emotional charge?  Less important to avoid it?  Revisit your List of values … does it need to change now?  Are other things more important?  What difference does that make?