The Evolving Ape.

Recently I was asked: why provide this information for free? Doesn’t your living depend on it?

As an evolving ape, I am beginning to realise that there is an alternative to short-term profiteering from other people’s hardship and distress.

To explain what I am getting at prompts me to comment on my motivation for writing this blog.

For a start, I am writing it for me; I am gathering my thoughts at the tail-end of my career.

That said, I am confident that my story will help me talk to a different kind of ‘client’ or, indeed, a non-client (as well as old clients).  There are people out there who are able to change themselves with minimal professional guidance. I will be happy enough if just one person makes a safe change in the direction of their life without consultation with me or anyone else!

Furthermore, in practical terms, my approach may increase the flow of business to professional therapists. Some people reading this material will do some experimenting and come to the conclusion that some professional advice may help. That is a ‘good thing’ as the first step along the path of change is the recognition that something needs to change. The individual becomes more confident about how, and where, to find the help that will move things on. In the jargon of my professional world, this is termed resource-building!

By becoming more aware of what we need to do, and the obstacles to getting things done, we can identify our own conclusion and act on it. The most successful clients I have ever worked with are those who come to meet me after they have already started to make changes.

One obstacle to change arises when we are told what conclusions to draw, and how to behave, based on those conclusions. For example, our families and life partners do this to us with the very best of intentions, but that behaviour can have the unintended consequence of stopping us in our tracks – prompting, some, to rebel against what we are told!

There is a lot of difference between information that directs us toward something, and similar comments that simply point out, or guide us. Once we had spiritual teachers directing our behaviour from the pulpit, or its equivalent. Today we are much more able to assess information and make judgments for ourselves. Humankind has not been around so very long, but we are still evolving froma  reactive being into a thinking self and, thereafter, to an increasingly self-directing human being. Sadly, I am aware that this comes at a cost as some people initiate large and unsafe ‘experiments’ that endanger themselves and others around them. For the present, we still need laws to contain those disorganised individuals.

When you find that my material is interfering with your move toward self-direction – drop it!  I am sure you will find something that does not work, just as there will be things that DO work. Please let me know so I can review content. When I help, I want it to be to ensure that you devise changes that you want to make.

 

Return to:

Welcome to Find Your Nudge

How to give yourself a nudge

How to do safe experiments for yourself

When ‘doing’ isn’t enough.

My major blog places emphasis on action – getting something done.

So here’s a bit of heresy against myself!

Doing is not always a respectable word in therapy as action does not always ‘bring home the bacon’.  Action can be be a substitute for ‘real’ change in some situations – a handy disguise. We can pretend to be changing.

Ever heard of the French expression: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose“.  Roughly: the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.

One reason why safe experiments may not work is that our cunning minds find actions-of-convenience that are, in truth, sneaky avoidances. In my blog, I have included a useful experiment to reduce that possibility – using Socratic Questions. Did you know that the first therapists were the ancient Greeks (oh, and probably sages from even more ancient civilisations).

So what did Socrates do that seemed to help others? For example, he used Ironic Modesty: once he was challenged by a claim that “No one is wiser than you.”  He tried to  disclaim the award, but ended up concluding that his wisdom  was greater than many simply because he possessed awareness of his own ignorance.

His great skill was the Questioning Habit – in his conversations with others. He was argumentative and cross-examined others to improve our self-knowledge. He was said to be devoted to the truth so much so that he died rather than give up his philosophy and his home.  He was obliged to poison himself when a jury of his peers convicted him of being too clever by half! He believed in the power of reason and, after his conviction, he was said to have continued to argue about his fate after death.

He saw the sneakiness of his fellows and appeared to test himself to the death.

To become more aware of our own sneakiness requires us to pay attention to our thoughts, beliefs, values and attitudes. In these areas, the experiments you may have to do are thought-experiments. Albert Einstein was the celebrity thought-experimenter and you can find out more about them at:

http://bigthink.com/paul-ratner/learn-how-to-think-like-einstein.

To work on inoculating yourself, try saying ‘hello’ to your own sneakiness and just notice the ways in which you are sneaky. Notice all the benefits of sneakiness to you and consider whether sneaky may help you from time to time and, if so, how.

When you find a way in which sneaky is getting in the way of your preferred change, go back to the main blog and design a safe experiment once more and let Socrates keep whispering in your ear.

One of the principles I have mentioned in the blog is that no ‘safe experiment’ will always work for everybody or even work always for some people. The most sensible things to expect is that all experiments can work for some people, some of the time.

 Sometimes it helps to think about things and to be aware of our thoughts, as well.

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