Saturday, 29 September 2012

Personal Development Guru or Human Being

An article earlier on in the week, about Paul McKenna battling depression, sparked a heated debate on a Facebook, NLP wall. The debate itself didn't surprise me too much, but it did stay with me.

The debate was polarised into two camps: the first being - he's human after all and the second, quite vociferous - he had no right being depressed, he's supposed to be a guru.

The whole thing resonates with me because it's a bit of battle I wage within myself. Given the really quite poor choices I made in the past, what right do I have to say don't do this? My life and personal history has been far from drama-free...most of which was self-inflicted. How on earth do I guide people, knowing that I've done the same or worse myself? 

It also brings peoples' expectations of their personal development guides to the forefront.

It seems they are not allowed to make mistakes, or to have bad days, or to go through the trials and tribulations that all human beings go through.

Part of this is to do with expectations created within the media - politicians, actors and people who work within the public sphere often fall short of these high expectations. The Press and society tuts loudly in disapproval when the latest scandal breaks. The person we all thought was perfect fails again.

Personally, I can't trust someone who is totally charismatic and maintains an aura of permanent good cheer and/or other worldliness. In the personal development world, there are quite a few with the perfect facade. Their work borders on cult, as they wind their 'followers' up into a frenzy, charge them loads of money and head out to the next seminar/CD/book/DVD, breeding more dependence.

My problem with the 'always happy', 'always positive' persona is that it's not authentic. I don't care if the person I'm learning from doesn't have The Perfect Life. In fact, I'd rather know that they understand what it's like to hit rock bottom and have had to claw their way back to the sunshine. That they've used their own teachings to sort their own shit out.

But I suspect, I'm in the minority here.

And therein lies the problem for me trying to set up my own Personal Development business. 

I'm not willing to create a Perfect Life facade. I just can't do it. And if that's what it takes, well, I'm walking away. I have recently had some amazingly shitty days. I have felt honest-to-goodness despair, frustration and have disliked myself intensely. And it's all out there. I've vented on Facebook, twitter and Google +. So in 10 years time one of my clients could do some digging and find me effing and blinding about how crap things are - cue one disappointed person.

I've learnt some great skills, there is wisdom which I am trying very hard to incorporate into my daily life. Perhaps, I am still a student and will never become a teacher. I'm cool with that. I do still have so much to learn. I am up for sharing what I've learnt. If my life's work is to be the terrible warning, rather than the shining example, so be it.

I want to lead an authentic life. And that means owning the down days, the crap decisions, the days I don't like myself very much. 

On an end note, I feel for Paul McKenna. It's hard losing a parent. It must be so much worse never to be able acknowledge the pain and loss, to have to keep the facade going. I have much more respect for him now, because he was able to say it, like it was. Good on him.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The Adventurer

It never ceases to amaze me, how a different perspective can really change things. A different view on an old problem, can bring about resolution; and things shift from then on incredibly quickly.

A lot of the work I've been doing has been about bringing my focus into the Present. 

Taking it away from the Past, because that's been and done, and obsessing about it, doesn't resolve what actually happened. It happened. And the best thing about it is the fact that it's done! Because it's done, I don't have to relieve the situation, the feelings all over again. 

Bringing my focus away from the Future. It hasn't happened yet. My focus was full of fear: what ifs, disasters lurking in the bushes, people waiting to stomp all over me, a vision of me being a mad old woman with cats all by myself.

All of this fear from the Past, worry about the Future, really buggers up the Present. It's hard to enjoy your next breath if you're in such pain. It's hard to see the people trying to love you when you're busy being angry about the stuff that happened so long ago. It's hard to be hopeful when you believe that you're doomed to repeat the patterns of the past. There really is no point.

The realisation that the Past and Future are mere constructs. They don't really exist except in the recesses of the mind, is so liberating. Their power to limit and constrict diminishes, with the realisation that it's all about attitude. Byron Katie has been instrumental in adjusting my thinking about reality. Her Work has honed and refined what Richard Bandler started. Have a look what she says about arguing with reality: you only lose 100% of the time. And as for Bandler, he's all about blowing limiting beliefs out of the water. If your life is determined by your perspective (is your glass half-full, half-empty or are you getting a jug to fill it up with?), then why not choose the perspective where you have fun?

Allowing the fear, pain and disappointment of the Past and Future, gives you the freedom of the Present. Everything becomes possible.

If you accept the Freedom of your Life, doesn't that make you an adventurer? Every day has surprises, beauty, laughter in it because it unfolds without your expectation. Nothing is disappointing.

Being the adventurer doesn't mean Life becomes Easy. 

It's funny, but when I've talked to people about this, 'easy' tends to come up in the conversation.

"It's easy for you to say that, it's not so easy to do."

I do wonder about where this expectation came from. Who said it would be Easy? And since when is Easy better? Bluntly, the expectation that personal development work should be Easy, is lazy thinking. It's lazy thinking coming from a place of weariness and despair. Nothing grows out of weariness and despair; only more of the same. It's impossible to be an adventurer if you stay at home in the same old, same old. It requires action, a willingness to try, to experiment. And when you're exhausted by your Life and it's limitations, it all starts with inspiration.

What inspires you? What excites you? What pleasures you?

My Facebook friend Paul Boynton, has a fabulous framework for getting you moving, it's called Begin with Yes.

And if you're trying a new way of thinking, a new perspective, a new way of living, it's bound to be a bit clunky at first. It's called learning, which means unless you are a savant, you've got to practice, work hard to catch the old patterns of thought until the new stuff beds in and becomes second nature.

Think this isn't possible? When you were a small child and you had to tie your own shoe laces by yourself for the first time...didn't it take you a few goes before you get it right? Worst case scenario is you end up with loads of grannie knots to stop your shoes from falling off - as long as you can keep going, tie them up again if they become's all that counts.

Where is your adventure going to take you?