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Thinking – what works!

I haven’t blogged for a while and there are a number of issues I want to consider in this blog.

People regularly ask me why I don’t market our service more aggressively and showcase our success. Well, there are a number of reasons but first and foremost is that the success we have is not down to us but the people we work with.

I never ceased to be amazed by the things that people can achieve when they begin to recover their clarity of thinking. Every person who works in our company who works with people referred to us knows that the real work doesn’t take place in that meeting in our offices or in a café but in the rest of the week when they are back in the real world of their own lives. This is where they make changes; this is where they begin to move towards what works rather than focussing on “the problem” they begin to think about what would work; they begin to notice their successes and do more of what takes them toward their preferred future. Our role in their change is minimal and based upon questions not answers, we do not produce their answers – they do.

So we do not advertise our success – it is not ours but that of the people we work with. If they wish to offer their success in public and make a connection with our efforts then it is up to them not us. They are the experts in their own lives and it is that which we celebrate when we see them for the last time and they can then go and get on with their lives in the knowledge that we are here if we could be helpful again. We aim to have the lightest possible footprint in their lives.

I retweeted Darius Galasinski (http://dariuszgalasinski.com/2018/12/14/2152/ ) this morning after I read his “interesting patient” blog. I wondered how anyone could be far up their own backside to treat anyone, let alone someone who is in a vulnerable state, in such a fashion. To be teaching this way of being towards others just beggars belief. A little humility on the part of professionals might be a small step in the right direction. After all, one day the boot might be on the other foot.

Prior to reading Darius’ piece I read a piece from the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/15/to-take-on-climate-change-we-need-to-change-our-vocabulary?utm_term=RWRpdG9yaWFsX0d1YXJkaWFuVG9kYXlVS19XZWVrZW5kLTE4MTIxNg%3D%3D&utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GuardianTodayUK&CMP=GTUK_email) called, “ To take on climate change, we need to change our vocabulary”. This headline struck me as so limiting. To tackle any of the planet’s difficulties right now we need to change our language.

Ever since we began to communicate using abstract ideas we have been driven by problems; fixing problems; describing problems; categorising problems as though solving problems will provide us with a solution. Sadly, all that solving problems does is to focus us upon what we don’t want – problems. Solving problems does not focus us upon what we want. What we want are solutions.

Then I came across this, “Until you start focusing on what needs to be done, rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. If solutions within the system are so impossible to find, then maybe we should change the system itself.” @GretaThunberg

The question I want to ask as a result of reading that is, “which system?” If we just try to change systems of government, administration, production or commerce little will change we will simply change the system for another that may or may not be better.

No, it is time we changed the way we think. The quotes above clearly indicate that people are beginning to think differently but we have a whole evolutionary process to overcome. We have been problem focused or “threatminded” since the dawn of human beings on this planet. If we hadn’t been we would not have survived in a physical world of existential threat (other animals, other humans, risk of many kinds). Today most threats, not all, are intellectual not physical. Threats are no longer threats to our physical integrity but threats to our wealth, careers, status and so on. However, our physical being has only developed to respond to physical threat and it is only since the Second World War that this has changed. We still respond physically to intellectual threat. It is called anxiety – imagined fear. We drive our bodies mad because our bodies want to respond to our imagination by trying to run away from it! It is our thinking that creates our distress. We constantly focus on problems and rarely upon what our world would look like if we had been successful. For a fuller discussion see my Blog (https://wordpress.com/post/steveflatt.wordpress.com/555 ).

It is language and the nature of our language that determines our view point in the world. For example, Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” The concept is attributed both to Maslow and to Abraham Kaplan, although the hammer and nail line may not be original to either of them. If we focus on problems or our descriptions of them then all we will see are problems.

As Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Currently most people approach their activities in a threatminded way, attempting to reduce the difficulty instead of increasing success. Nowhere is this more apparent in mental well being. Everywhere I look I see professionals trying to reduce anxiety, depression, obsessive thoughts, traumatic memories by focusing upon them as though that will remove them. Frameworks and theories are created to identify problems and them focus on their removal – we cannot remove or forget – but we can begin to fill our heads with what is wanted, notice the times we achieve them and build upon those times, develop more helpful thoughts about what works.

This is all about language. It is not about treating “symptoms” which at the end of the day are our bodies natural attempts to respond to threat. It is not about managing our emotions better, though that can be helpful. It is about deciding what we will think about and acting on those thoughts in a way that will takes us in the direction we want to go (towards safety) rather than spending our lives running away from danger – real or imagined.

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