The Gentle Rebel Podcast

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Meditation is a broad word. It describes a set of tools that create conditions for a deeper state of awareness and focus. And as such, it doesn't describe one particular approach or method. Every practice has its own unique characteristics and features. Outside of a specific school, there is no right or wrong way to meditate. In this episode of the podcast I speak with my friend David Johnson. He practices the Gelug-pa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. And has done for over 30 years. He shares some gentle thoughts about how to start, nurture, and develop a practice (regardless of what tradition you might be drawn towards). Practice and Meditation There is a temptation to give up or try something else when things get hard. But in any kind of practice, the process IS the goal. It is through repetition that success is seeded, nurtured, and grown. When we are not attached to an outcome, we succeed every time we show up. And in the case of meditation, we see it working through a deeper awareness of what's going on within. Awareness expands inside the space between stimulus and response. This is where we can watch thoughts, emotions, and reactions rising within us, as we experience life and the world around us. Rather than identifying with those things, we begin instead to choose how (and if) we want to engage with the thoughts, feelings, and urges that spring to mind. In The Episode We Talk About: What meditation is (and maybe isn't). Why meditation practice can become overwhelming and confusing. And what we can do when we find ourselves down rabbit holes. The sole (or soul!) concern of meditation. The difference between the use of meditation and mindfulness as a sticking plaster and meditation as a doorway to inside-out transformation. The practice of Tonglen. Why goals around meditation should be broad. How to know if meditation is ‘working’. And why that’s not necessarily a great way to think about it. Why community (being with others) is important when it comes to building meditative practices into your life. Over to You Do you have a meditation practice? What have been the biggest challenges and joys for you? I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below. Or get in touch directly through email or social media. Connect With Me Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: The Haven: Watch This Episode on YouTube Links to Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Show Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: Listen to my music: Nick Danzinger - Danzinger’s Travels: Beyond Forbidden Frontiers
I often seem to say "be gentle with yourself" when someone is going through a hard time. In those moments of strain and pain, it's what I want for them. To release pressure and expectations they might put on themselves. It's easy to suggest to others. And the advice for how they might go about it is pretty free flowing too. But when it comes to ourselves? "Be gentle"...not always so easy. Even if I know I need to be gentle with myself, the "how" is harder to bring about. Especially during those times of strain and pain. The Antithesis of Self-Gentleness Perhaps it's because, "be gentle with yourself" seems like a call to action. A response to something. We often engage with things like self-care, self-compassion, and self-kindness as stuff to do. As such we might think of it purely at a surface level. But this is not usually enough. Not least because of the driving message behind our self-critical voice...that WE are not enough. Or that some aspect of our life isn't how it is "supposed to be". We are hard on ourselves when we experience core contradictions. That in our current state we are not good enough, happy enough, rich enough, calm enough, smart enough, attractive enough, caring enough, cool enough, assertive enough, popular enough, free enough etc. And in order to feel whole, we need more of whatever it is that feels like it's missing. This Week's Episode In this episode of the podcast I explore the idea of naming some the contradictions we hold. This is one way to be gentle with ourselves. To do it without inner-judgement or a desire to analyse and fix. To allow space for those conflicts to make themselves known. Examples like, "I want to stay in and I want to go out". "I want to be alone and I want to be with you". Or "I want to travel the world, and I want to settle down". A lack of personal self-gentleness often expands out of the language we use to frame collective norms and expectations. In a society that struggles with non-linear contradictions and matrix-conflicts, these kinds of statements look like problems to fix. "You've got to choose one or the other", "you can't want both, you'll have to decide". The truth is, we ALL have contradictions like this. We all carry 'polarised' desires that look like opposites, but in actual fact often go together. They are part of the same whole. Such contradictions might appear to be signs of fragmentation and inner separation. But rather than things to eradicate on the road to wholeness, they ARE signs of wholeness. Only when we begin to step into and embrace the contradiction at the heart of life, do we find the messy truths of who we really are. Rather than a source of anxiety and shame, it's actually something to enjoy, play with, and explore, with freedom and creative flow. Be Gentle With Self, Be Gentle With Life Gentleness is the flexibility of a willow tree. Under the weight of snow it is supple and bends, dropping the weight from its branches. Compared with the oak tree, which is strong in its ability to collect the weight of snow upon it without bending. Until...crack. It breaks and falls. To be gentle with ourselves is to be gentle with the world outside of ourselves. One inspires the other (like the rhythm of breath). It's a cycle and a pulse. We can hold other people, our stories, our identities, our expectations, assumptions, and judgements, like the willow tree holds snow. And with supple flexibility we can let go when our branches bend, and spring back into place once the payload drops. "Supposed to" and "should" are the rigid, inflexible branches at the core of a certain collective story. They pile the weight of "doing-ness" onto the trees in the forest, and wonder why the floor is covered in broken boughs. To be gentle with ourselves is to hold the world with gentleness first. It's not the forced reaction to a life of feast or famine, boom or bust, spend or save.
We've been taught to believe that life is linear. In many ways it feels like it should be. But it's not. Reality is a messy, chaotic, and rather arbitrary experience. The Myth of The Linear: Beginning, Middle, End This belief in linearity is a product of systems that we build as humans to forge productive meaning in the world. It helps us build a sense of identity and purpose around our one directional pursuits. But it's a trap, full of unhelpful beliefs, judgement, and anxiety, because it takes us away from our messy truth. Everything Is Breath Time is represented by clocks, seasons, and years. These are repeating cycles with rhythmic patterns, expansions, and contractions. Everything is breath. Inhale and exhale. Space is represented by atlases and maps. They give us a picture of how and where the material world is positioned around us. Everything exists in temporal space relative to everything else. Things are formed. They expand, contract, degrade, and re-form into something new. Everything is breath. We keep the myth going. We pass milestones, judged by time. For example, we use age as a symbolic representation of who we are. And yet it says nothing intrinsically meaningful about a person. We know that it means nothing. Just think of your response to the question "how does it feel to be 10?" or "how does it feel to be 50?" It feels no different at all. Why? Because the joy of life is not found in a linear experience of it. Joy, flow, and creativity all transcend the boxes, labels, and identities we try to squeeze life into. Palliative care nurse, Bronnie Ware, recorded the thoughts of patients in the final 12 weeks of their lives. “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says that “common themes surfaced again and again.” All 5 of the biggest regrets are underpinned by drift. And a belief in the myth of life as a linear process. When we fall for this myth we engage in a pursuit of the unattainable object. We get close to this in moments of existential angst. Maybe you've had such experiences yourself, where you think, "I've done this and I've done that, and yet I'm still not where I'm supposed to be." Supposed To (Linear Mirages) We are encouraged to keep our eyes on "supposed to" mirages. They're always just a little further down the road, attached to things like happiness, wholeness, and enough. Once we GET THERE, we will be OK. But when we arrive we discover they were an illusion. Until another one appears a little further along. "Maybe that's the answer", we say to ourselves as we pursue the next shimmering promise. But what if there is no "there"? What freedom might that give us right "here" instead? To come back to the messy playful chaos around us in this moment. Only when we break with "supposed to" will we begin to feel the possibilities for growing life from the inside out instead. The present moment is our canvas. And that canvas is all we truly have. Our understanding of life is not linear. Memories aren't on a chronological conveyor belt. Sometimes our old experiences can feel completely present; and when we think of them it's like no time has passed. It's like those relationships with people when there is a fold in the timeline between meetings. It doesn't matter how long it's been, you just pick up exactly where you left off. What if we were to picture life with this same awareness? To see our story, not as a timeline, but as a map. Where everything is connected, and we can reach anywhere we want within the landscapes of who we are. Because that's how life IS. We can step off the linear conveyor belt. It's just a myth. We can start to release the anxiety of not yet being, and the shame of not having been. And draw the canvas of our present from the inside. Living from a position of nowness, gratitude, and acceptance instead of supposed-to, will-when, and if only.
Do you ever feel like you're caught drifting through life? I know many people feel that way right now. Don't beat yourself up. It's not your fault. In the previous episode of the podcast I looked at the difference between experimental and conceptual types of people. We considered some of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves when we try to squeeze ourselves out of shape to suit the dominant models and modes of being. What is Drift? Drift is an unsettling and anxious driving force. It leads us away from ourselves. Either as an inability to take the next step (analysis paralysis and fear of doing the wrong thing). Or as frenetic action (mindless movement in any direction - it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you don't stop). When we drift we lose control of our direction. We have no agency over the route we take. Things happen to us and around us. And once we’re caught drifting, it can be really difficult to find a way back to ourselves. A Double Bind For Repeat Bloomers For experimental types, the future emerges from a pathway of incremental curious exploration. We connect dots, and build from one experience to the next. As such, life is naturally slower to unfold and evolve. Which is why as we explored last time, experimental people are often "late" or "repeat" bloomers. Such people don't have a concrete vision for where they will be in five years. That's not how life unfolds. It grows from within. Out from a core of being-ness. The second part of the double bind is the attitude of society. Experimental approaches to life are not generally valued or encouraged in mainstream culture. As a collective we enjoy success stories about the youth, we demand quick fix solutions to deep long term problems. We hear that "if it can't be measured, it can't be managed", and if you can't manage it you can't improve it. What if this is a neat sounding load of garbage? One of those quotes that sounds true at a surface level, but is actually rather diminutive and damaging to people? Slower Souls and Experimental Trailblazers By the standards of an "up and to the right" society, the messy path of inside-out becoming might be seen as drifting, procrastination, and a waste of time. And through osmosis, this message can seep into that story we tell ourselves about ourselves. We hear it, we're told it, and eventually we believe it because, like the idea that you can't improve what you don't measure, it seems true. But only because it speaks to a very narrow particular way of engaging with the world. When a prevailing narrative takes a strong hold of society, those who don't conform to the modus operandi, feel like they don't fit. But not only that...they genuinely don't fit. They might start to feel like they're broken, not enough, or less than, because they aren't like "everybody else". Drift becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. When you find yourself in that boat (so to speak), is not your fault. And while it may seem like you're not like everybody else...there are so many people who feel the same. They're usually just quieter, wondering why they're not like "everybody else". It’s impossible to bend yourself out of shape when it comes to these natural preferences. For example, if you're rushed into completing things before you’ve had time and space you need to explore at your own pace, you won’t reach your own potential. And you won't hit the standards you want. This prevents you from bringing the best of yourself to the world. And it buries the truth of who you are and your possibilities. Drifting Doesn't Discriminate Before we restrict the idea of drifting to experimental types, it's important to point out that conceptual goal driven people fall into drift patterns just as easily. For the conceptual types, they might drift away from themselves through an unhealthy attachment to up and to the right. They tether to goals as the source of their identity. It can look like growth,
Have you ever been asked where you see yourself in five years? How did you respond? How WOULD you respond you were asked today? I struggle to think in long term abstractions. I think I always have done. But I never understood why for me and for many, this might be an impossible question to answer. In the previous podcast I spoke with Kendra Patterson about burnout, late blooming, and the differences between Conceptual and Experimental people. These topics are all interlinked, and might shine a light on the struggles many of us experience. There is a common assertion in the personal development world that you should "begin with the end in mind". But what if the end is not that simple? For many of us, our deepest desires are not end points. They are inexplicable moments and feelings, brought about by an openness to a life of slow meandering and repeat blooming. Along an evolving and experimental pathway of incremental steps? A Lot Can Happen in Five Years If you search for "begin with the end in mind", almost every result tells you to define your destination so that you can draw a straight efficient line between where you are and that desired point in the future. Many articles on the subject carry a shaming spirit. If you can't say where you'll be in five years then there's something wrong with you. What if we can't really know where we're going until we get "there"? And our route to joy is the journey itself...experimenting, moving, joining dots, and building experiences that take us in all manner of unexpected direction. This is not an easy path to justify in our modern world. Society likes nice neat roadmaps and linear processes from "problem to solution". But by trying to squeeze ourselves into these boxes, we neglect our natural orientation and preferences. What if some people have no idea where they want to be in five years time, not because they refuse to dream; but because life just doesn't work like that for them? The Stories We Tell Ourselves The relationship we have with our core underlying traits, informs the story we tell ourselves about ourselves. And this is especially significant if society prefers and promotes one approach or trait over others. Society celebrates people who followed a conviction about what they wanted to do with their life from an early age. Those who "pursued their passion" with unwavering drive and determination. We say “follow your dream”, with the unspoken assertion that everyone has one. A tangible concrete thing that we were born to do with our life. And for some people this idea idea of "finding their purpose" or knowing what they were "meant to do" with their life, is exciting and enjoyable. But for others it can be a huge source of underlying anxiety. And it can underpin the story we write for ourselves, based on what we're taught to believe about the right way to be. We might let life happen to us, as we accept that we're failures, drifters and perennial underachievers. A Different Way of Being But what if the success for people like that, was found in the heart of the journey itself? What if joy was not the dream of getting to the destination, but it was discovering, exploring, and experimenting along the way? And what if that approach to life wasn’t seen as time wasting, procrastinating, and unfocussed; but actually key ingredients to your success as a human being? And what if you could begin to accept yourself in all that messy beauty? And even find a way to make it work in practical, intellectual, and emotional ways. When I look back at my own life I see this so clearly. I’ve never been one for long term conceptual goals, and I used to beat myself up for not sticking with things, getting distracted, and allowing projects to veer away from their original intent. But stepping out of that self-judgement and away from the critical inner ego, I can see that all of the things I’m most proud of in my life so far,
Are you one of life's ‘late bloomers’? I think I’ve always felt like one. So it gives me hope to know that late blooming is a "thing". For as long as I can remember I've felt like it takes me longer to grasp things others seem to just ‘get’. Even when I was a teenager...and perhaps earlier than that. In many ways it’s a difficult feeling to put into words. The way my mind maps and pieces things together has felt frustratingly long winded and slow at times. But when I listened to Kendra Patterson’s podcast about Late Blooming, something clicked for me. Late Bloomers don’t just approach life at a slower speed. Their orientation to the world is different from what we might consider to be normal modes of operating. As Kendra points out, the core of this might be the difference between conceptual and experimental types of people. Conceptual Types Have a clear picture of how they want things to look. They work deductively (they know where they want to go and have a clear plan in order to get there). Weinberg and Galenson (2019) looked at the lives of Nobel Laureates in Economics. They found that Conceptual innovators made their most significant contributions to the field in their mid-20s. Experimental Types (The Late Bloomers) Start with a step and build incrementally. Often without a clear picture of where each step will lead them. They connect dots as they go and their creativity is underpinned by discovery along the way. They work inductively (accumulating knowledge from experience). In the research, Weinberg and Galenson found that Experimental types made their biggest impact during their fifties. That’s thirty years later than their conceptual peers. Society's Preference Society enjoys stories of youth and early bloomer success. It's understandable. But it can lead us to carry a belief that if we're 'destined for success', then we will know in some way by our late twenties. And if we don't fit this conceptual mould, we are left to drift towards self-surrender. Where we start to let go of the things that truly matter. And life happens to us and around us. This makes it EVEN harder for late bloomers to freely pursue the experimental journeys that come naturally. A lot of our world is geared towards conceptual thinking because it’s easy to understand and simple to measure. It makes it easier to answer the question of what you’re working towards. And it’s the foundation of our linear approach to progression through life. Identify what you want and then you can work out how to get there. In this week’s Gentle Rebel Podcast I talk with Kendra Patterson about her experience with burnout. And we explore some of the fascinating topics she looks at on her Stepping Off Now Podcast. In The Episode We Discuss: Kendra’s experience of burnout and the process of working out what it was. How the conflict between the creative and conventional can cause gentle intuitive types to get overwhelmed and burned out. The small practical steps Kendra took in piecing life together after her dark night of the soul What she learned from Søren Kierkegaard about finding cracks of light in the darkness Why Kendra now considers herself a “repeat bloomer” and how that realisation has helped her. The importance of recognising the unremarked moments of life, when progress feels slow. How to connect with the idea that the world is still full of possibility, when life is grinding you down. How we find joy on the journey towards the things we think we want. And why sometimes that teaches us that what we think we want isn’t actually what we want at all. Over to You Do you resonate with the idea of being late (or repeat) bloomer? Which of these modes of operating do you fall into? I’d love to hear your response in the comments below. Or get in touch via email. Links to Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Show Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: https://patreon.
In 2015 Caroline Garnet McGraw’s wrote an article for the Huffington Post. It was called "You Don’t Owe Anyone an Interaction”. It soon went viral. And by the end of the year she had delivered a TEDx talk of the same name. Wind the clock on five years, and I have just finished chatting with Caroline about THE BOOK! Yes, it's now a book! Perfectly described as a memoir meets personal (personal) development, You Don't Owe Anyone, speaks into a common experience. The belief that we must submit to the plethora of expectations. From the world around us. And from within. The book is a practical call to be free from the weight of expectations. Since the initial article, there is something about this idea that has always resonated with people. The story started when Caroline received some emails that made her feel uncomfortable. Her intuitive reaction was one of alarm. But then feelings of guilt, insecurity, and obligation kicked in. She was conflicted, tethered to the belief that she needed to respond. In talking it over with her husband, he declared the catalytic words which fuelled the article, the talk, and now the book… "You don’t owe anyone an interaction.” So many of us are drowning under the weight of expectations. Not just the demands from other people, but the expectations we place on ourselves. The need to respond to everything, to do it perfectly, and to keep people happy. Things that don't truly belong to us. This comes at a cost to our health, our important relationships, and our engagement with the things that actually matter to us personally. In this week’s podcast I speak with Caroline about some of the ideas in the book. In The Episode We Discuss: How we can recognise the impact of intangible personal development work when things don’t work out as planned. The links between expectations and a fear of disappointment. How holding to the weight of expectations might be impacting our lives life. What we sacrifice when we submit to those expectations. Where we feel like we do owe energy, time, and attention to things that don’t truly matter to us. How “Cold Bucket Experiences” can start an inner mission. For which we exchange our authenticity in order to avoid the pain of criticism and judgement. Why guilt isn’t a reliable indicator of whether or not you should do something. And how feelings of guilt often tell you that something IS worth doing. Why so many of us feel obligated to explain and justify ourselves for doing things in particular ways. How changing our language in small and subtle ways can help free us from the weight of OUR OWN expectations. How to playfully fight the protective urge to explain all the reasons what we've done isn't very good. Over to You Does any of our discussion resonate with your own experiences? Which of those areas that Caroline says we don’t owe to anyone, stands out as the biggest challenge for you to let go of? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Links to Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Show Pre-order The Book from Amazon Claim Your Bonuses 237 | The Recovering Perfectionist (my first conversation with Caroline) You Don’t Owe Anyone an Interaction (Huffington Post Article) You Don’t Owe Anyone an Interaction (TEDxBirminghamSalon)  Perfectionism Doesn’t Protect Us (TEDxBirminghamSalon) Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: Listen to my music: Connect With Me Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: The Haven: Watch This Episode on YouTube:
We sacrifice our compassion and gentleness when we are driven by a need to be right. In a world where we have started to draw battle lines in the strangest places, it’s time to think about softening minds. When our thoughts and beliefs become brittle, our understanding of reality becomes fragile. "If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom" - Adam Grant There isn’t a shortage of knowledge in the world right now. In fact we all carry an unfathomable amount of information right there in our pocket. You would think this would make sorting fact from fiction a lot easier, and disagreements simple to sort out. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. In fact we are now more divided than ever in terms of our beliefs about the world, and we are not very good at reconciling our differences in healthy and constructive ways. Practices for Softening Minds Many of us struggle with this kind of relentless and unproductive conflict. It’s draining and exhausting. When we get sucked into brittle thinking we pay a great cost. It impacts our relationships. It causes us to act from a place of urgency, scarcity, and smallness (not abundance, expansion, and creativity). And it sucks all our energy. So we are left with no inner resources to build life upon a foundation of meaningful vision and values. In this episode of the podcast I explore how, rather than asking how to change other peoples’ minds, we might be better off softening minds instead. Starting with our own, by embracing some of the ‘re-thinking’ practices that Adam Grant discusses in his latest book, Think Again. Rather than engaging at the level of ‘what’ we think. To soften our approach and think again about ‘how’ we think. In The Episode You Will Hear Me Discuss: How ‘complexifying’ can disrupt overconfidence cycles and spur rethinking cycles by helping us avoid dividing the world into binary categories. That what we believe often depends on what we want to believe. And how this is informed by fears of uncertainty and the unknown. The three main barriers to re-thinking, and the approach we can take instead if we want to experience more joy and creative meaning. How we can learn from our own experiences of softening and changing our mind to build practices that help give others the space to soften their’s. The benefits of holding our own views lightly and with a spirit of humour. And how to build playful practices where we actively see how it feels to position ourselves differently. How softening minds requires us to look at the process rather than the substance of our conversations. The role ego plays in keeping us entrenched. And the questions we must ask ourselves about what a better vision for the future looks like. Whether distance plays a bigger role than difference in our division and hostility. Over to You Can you think of a time when you had your mind changed in a big way about something? What made the difference for you? And how could you practice softening your relationship with your own thoughts and beliefs this week? I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments below. Links to Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Show Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: Listen to my music: Why Facts Don't Change Minds (James Clear) Think Again (Adam Grant) Why Is It So Hard to Change People’s Minds (Elizabeth Svoboda) Connect With Me Twitter: Instagram: Watch This Episode on YouTube Related Episodes and Articles: Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does How to Change People’s Minds Megan Malone's Twitter Post: “Just because I don’t like what this person is saying, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.” The surprising reason people change their minds A New Study Has Found a Way to Stop People From Believing in Conspiracy Theories
Sarah Santacroce is on a mission. She wants to be part of a gentle marketing revolution. And she’s not alone! This week's podcast is for those who find marketing a source of discomfort. If you struggle with marketing, selling, and self-promotion (as either a business owner or consumer), then listen to this one. I have known Sarah for a long time, and really appreciate her gentle approach to business. Her new book, The Gentle Marketing Revolution has arrived at just the right time. The world is swamped with aggressive and manipulative scarcity marketing right now. And this is contributing massively to a universalised state of anxiety. We are bombarded with the message that we're not enough. That we’re missing out. And we’re being left behind. These stories all drive a tendency towards urgency and panic in our actions. Already this morning I’ve said “no thanks, I don’t want my life to be awesome". I imagine you've seen similar website pop-ups. Using shame and fear of missing out to drive action. I don’t know about you, but I want to deal with businesses who make me feel better, not worse, about myself. And in my own business, I want to operate from an energy and spirit of abundance and expansion. Not scarcity and contraction. This is why I loved reading Sarah’s book. It is a call to slow down. To recognise these unhealthy messages that surround us. And to rebuild our relationship with ourselves and the way we share our message with the world. The book provides a pathway of gradual transformation. Gentle marketing is not yet another blueprint to follow. But it is an invitation into a journey of becoming more of who you are. It shows that truly authentic and meaningful marketing emerges and expands from the inside out. In the episode you will hear us talk about: Why the Gentle Marketing Revolution is not just applicable to business, but applies in all areas of life. Why the appearance of success (by external measures), doesn’t mean it's the right path for us. The importance of knowing what kind of world we want to be part of creating with the choices we make. How following an intuitive path into Gentle Marketing can help us eliminate bugbears and negative beliefs we have around the idea of marketing. And how when we're aligned with out values, marketing doesn’t even feel like marketing. Why listening to our own intuitive reactions to marketing can help give us a clear set of practices and boundaries to follow for ourselves. Why the best businesses make people feel good about themselves. And how this should happen at all stages of engagement, instead of using marketing to create and reinforce a problem that they then promise to solve. How Sarah’s 7 P’s of Gentle Marketing Mandala differs from traditional marketing models. And why this can be a game changer for introverted and highly sensitive marketers. Why your marketing is your unique expression as a human being. And how your energy and spirit will attract the right people over time. Ways to gradually transition into a Gentle Marketing philosophy and practice. Without feeling like you need to change everything right away. Where to find your first clients as you start your gentle business. Over to You What feels good to you about the ideas discussed here? What would you love to experience more of in terms of gentle marketing in the world around you? I'd love to read your response in the comments below. Resource Links The Gentle Marketing Revolution (Book) The Gentle Business Revolution Podcast Get the Extended Play Private Podcast Listen to my music The Reticular Activation System Connect Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: Watch This Episode on YouTube:
The Creative Cure is not another promise of a road towards wholeness and completeness. At its heart, Jacob Nordby’s new book is a simple invitation back to ourselves. Away from the never-ending treadmill pursuit of The Cure. The Emerging Self As we grow up we develop a story that tells us what it means to be us. We prod, probe, and follow our natural curiosity. Connecting with the things that give us an intrinsic sense of joy. Over time beliefs start to develop. We hear stories about what we "ought to do" and how we "should" behave. Our experiences then shape how we show up in the world (socialisation). This process is a natural part of our development. Our sense of self emerges in the context of community. Child-Like Creativity As kids we have an intuitive connection to the creative cure. We experience unfiltered joy through curious play. Our imaginations carry us into magical worlds that we build upon mundane and ordinary backdrops. But as the stories about who we are take shape, that authentic sense of self might experience rejection. Messages of rejection are like paper cuts. They are subtle, but they can really sting: “Why are you doing it like that? That’s stupid!” Or “that’s just your imagination - grow up!” And “only an idiot would enjoy that kind of thing”. Or “why are you crying? You need thicker skin if you’re going to survive the real world”. These messages prompt us to build filters (beliefs and habits) to keep us safe. We create defence mechanisms in the fight to avoid rejection. So we might recoil, hide, and replace those parts of ourselves that we feel ashamed of. And it might lead us to amplify behaviours that we believe will help us gain approval and acceptance. It was great to have Jacob back on the show. I’m excited for you to hear the conversation. It was a thrill to unpack (and even experience!) the practical applications of The Creative Cure. In the conversation you will hear us discuss: How The Creative Cure is in the simple practices that connect us to our inner creative self. Not so that we might reach a place of healing down the line where we find the “missing piece”. The power of this underlying myth in society that we are “born broken”. And how the Creative Cure helps us break from the tireless pursuit to be ‘enough’ and prove our worth. Why we should stop hacking at the branches of life and look at the roots instead. The differences between “child-like” and “childish”. Whether the pay off is worth the trade off when it comes to following our passions along the established paths. The 3 main enemies of the Inner Creative Self How Perfectionism and Procrastination are conjoined twins Three simple questions to ask ourselves in a Creative Cure Journal Practice The impact of hearing "you don’t get to do what you need to do, when you need to do it". And how it conditions judgement, prohibition, and shame when it comes to recognising and caring for our own basic physical needs later in life. How gentle rebellion starts inside ourselves when we heal the connection to our creative self. And we are the contagious cure the world needs, not by TRYING to change it. But by entering our health, joy, and creative spirit. Over to You What are your takeaways from this conversation? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Or get in touch via email/social media... Connect Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: Watch This Episode on YouTube: Linked Resources: Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: Listen to my music: The Creative Cure | Jacob Nordby The Body Keeps The Score | Bessel van der Kolk The Deepest Well | Nadine Burke Harris The Creative Wound: Heal Your Broken Art | Mark Pierce Related Episodes and Articles:
It is said that we live in the age of entitlement. Where society enjoys so much privilege, that it’s lost perspective of what truly matters. The ’sense of entitlement’ is an accusation we see levelled at young people. As if it’s emerged from nowhere, dreamed up by “the youth of today” in order to annoy older people. But it’s not; it’s a path of no resistance, along which we’ve been travelling for decades. We’ve created high levels of anxiety through confusing marketing, advertising, and social media messaging. On the one hand “you are not enough” but by the same stroke “you are worth it”. Well, which is it? As gentle rebels we can start to recognise how the entitlement mentality is not only a symptom of some deeper issue, but it’s also the fuel that keeps the fires burning. And find small steps to shake off our own entitled actions and thoughts, but also to come together and decide the collective values that we not only want to pretend we hold together, but to actually honour them in the way we live. I don’t have all the answers. In fact, I don’t have many. But I’d love to have a conversation about this because it’s yet another source of division within ourselves, between ourselves, and across society. In the episode I talk about The definition of entitlement as a person’s belief that they deserve privileges or recognition just because of who they are. Not because of what they have done to earn them. How it's unhelpful to limit the conversation about entitlement to one of personal responsibility. Without acknowledging the important role of collective values and spirit. Examples of entitlement in every day life, and the negative impact it has on individuals, businesses, and communities. How entitled people are often disempowered people. And rather than always being a by-product of an over-inflated sense of one’s own self importance, it might be the opposite (insecurity, anxiety, and self-doubt). Ways we can begin to turn the tide on the entitlement epidemic. Not just for ourselves, but in how we imagine the future we are building together. And a lot more... Over to You How have you experienced entitlement in your life? What will you do this week to gently push forwards towards a more connected and collaborative world? I'd love to hear your response! Please leave it below, email me, or get in touch through social media. Links to Articles and Resources Mentioned in the Episode: Get the Extended Play Private Podcast: In this week's EP I unpack an article called 9 Entitlement Tendencies and How to Overcome Them Listen to my music: What We Mean When We Talk About Entitlement: What Simon Sinek Got Wrong about Millennials in the Workplace “Millennials, Learn To Be Patient”: Millennials are Struggling At Work Because Their Parents 'Gave Them Medals for Coming Last' (The Independent) The Millennial Question (Simon Sinek Interview): My Related Episodes and Articles: Hopefulness: Portrait of a Gentle Rebel: 7 Characteristics and Values of Sensitive Revolutionaries: Disappointments Happen, Get Over It: Narcissism: 5 Stoic Responses When You Experience The Sting of Emotion: Connect With Me Twitter: Facebook: Instagram:
Resilient people are hopeful people. C.R Snyder referred to hopefulness as the "perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways." Hope is not an emotion or a feeling. It's an intentional mindset and a deliberate practice. And we learn it when we surround ourselves with other people who practice hopefulness. In this week's Gentle Rebel Podcast I explore the links between hope, confidence, adventure, and creativity. Things to Listen Out For: Hopefulness is learned from hopeful people (those who have a clear notion of where they want to go, are aware of how to get there, and they believe in their ability to get there). When we spend time with hopeful people, we learn to be hopeful (set intentions, plan ways forward, and recognise our own ability to effect the change we want to see). It's never too late to cultivate hope. Why I'm been building my hopefulness on an adventure map this year. Why I refused to promote a course about confidence for introverts and HSPs. And how it led me to inadvertently build my own "Inside-Out Confidence" Course. The roots of "Outside-in Confidence". It draws on our shame, eliminates vulnerability, and is propped up by the perception we want others to have of who we are. How self-acceptance nurtures "Inside-out Confidence". It grows through courage, connection, and compassion. And is validated by your values, worldview, and vision for the future. The Two Drift Nets of Goal Setting - binary thinking about goals can derail our sense of adventure. And our favourite characters in kids adventure stories embody hopefulness in the way they approach their big challenges and quests. How I'm marking the 10 Year Anniversary of the release of One World Less and The Prisoner - my 16 track album and novella from 2011. A performance of stripped back version of Lonely Boy, the first track from One World Less. Resource Links Get The Extended Play Private Podcast: Listen to my music: Check Out The Inside-Out Confidence Course | Live With Deep Courage in the Face of a Loud and Uncertain World: Watch Lonely Boy (Original Video) - The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown: Connect Twitter: Facebook: Instagram: Watch This Episode on YouTube: Related Episodes and Articles Despite Everything, Hope is Still Alive and Well…it has to be -
Can you hear the voices in your head? In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast we explore how to let go of what people think of us. Or perhaps, more accurately, how to tune into the voice inside us that isn't pre-occupied with being liked and fitting in. We might assume that the voice we hear is OUR voice. But is that really the case? If it really was us, why would it be so ready to talk us out of so many things that we want to do deep down. Who, what, and where is our "deep down"? The Authentic Self vs The Ego Self The Ego Self doesn't care what you want to do, it just needs to be liked. It seeks power over our actions, words, and beliefs. Encouraging us to do whatever is necessary to stay safely nestled in the tribe. The ego is like a fog. The Authentic Self is the light that shines through it. We either seek recognition (explicit approval and affirmation). By asking ourselves what we need to say, do, or have, to get others to see and like us. Or we seek to avoid being seen and exposed. Asking how we can shrink into the background without anyone noticing. Neither works. And the price we pay is our own authenticity (oneness with ourselves and connection to what matters most to us). When We Care What People Think Brené Brown says, we either shrink back and fail to bring our true self to the world (I'm too much). Or we puff up, and pretend to be something we're not (I'm not enough). For some it's about holding back true self, for others it's about hiding it. Either way, we alienate ourselves from ourselves and end up living a life where we're constantly fighting against who we truly are, and thus making the whole world poorer as a result. In this week's podcast I explore how we can find the light of our authentic self through the fog of ego. And what it makes possible when we practice authenticity, and step clear of that desire to be liked/fear of not being liked. Once our authenticity starts shining, it’s a light too bright to snub out. The criticism and judgement, that once caused us to shrink back or puff up, is consumed by the brightness of that light.
My stapler is someone who really holds things together under pressure. I like to have him around in a crisis. My toothbrush is likes travelling to weird places, but would do anything for me. And my microphone is as loving as she is sarcastic. Yeah I admit it...I like ascribing fully fledged personalities to inanimate objects. It's a really good way to stay sane and not lose your mind. I'm not the only one who does it. Almost everyone I've spoken to has been doing the same thing lately. But with an even more vague abstraction than a sentient stapler... 2020. The year. The previous period it took for the Earth to travel around the sun. And my have we managed to personify and create an enemy out of something so indistinct? Oh actually it's really easy. But geez, I feel sorry for the poor old year. 2020 has been on the receiving end of some severe flack. About stuff he had no responsibility for! And now Netflix is wishing he would die. Son Heung-min has been kicking him out of frame on football adverts. And people have been burning effigies of him, even as he does the walk of shame away from here. Poor guy. 12 months ago he was just getting comfy. He'd climbed up into the Earth's cockpit, and was prepared to drive us all around the sun. He didn't even get paid for it. He was like the caretaker who volunteered to gave up his weekend to drive the bus for the class field trip. It wasn't his fault that one kid came in with a virus, another one brought in fireworks, and there were no responsible adults on the back of the bus who were able to diffuse the escalating situation. So we threw 2020 out, and decided that replacing him with 2021 would solve all the problems. So 2021 is driving now. 6 days into the journey, and she's realising when you have humans squabbling in the back, steering the Earth is actually quite difficult. Have Another Year Anyway, 'Happy' (or whatever we're saying), New Year, Gentle Rebel friends! I wanted to do a check-in episode of the podcast, to say hi to The Podcast, and hello to you. This is a chance to start the new year with a solid footing. In a good spirit. And with a sense of awareness about where we are, what we're doing, and how we want to proceed. Not in a 'add more' kind of way, but in a permission to be real kind of way. In the episode we will have a casual chat about the following ideas: "Or Else, What!?" We often live within bubbles of shame and under those clouds of self-abusive pressure to keep the plates spinning, and the balls from dropping. What if we were to remove the phrase, 'or else', from our self-talk? Maybe this year is a chance to release that pressure, let go of the threatening voice, and pick things up with a more inclusive type of energy. Energy of Contraction vs Energy of Expansion I love coming across people who have not been infected by the spirit of desperation, contraction, scarcity, limitation etc. People who are open, creative, giving, abundant, expansive, and generous. They have space, time, and energy to see you as you are. They have compassion and the courage to let you to walk away...and when you feel that permission, you are drawn closer towards them. Wholehearted Living and Gentle Rebellion I've just started reading Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection. We are covering it in The Haven book club over the next couple of months. And these words, courage, compassion, and connection are at the core of what she describes as wholehearted living. "I see it in my classroom when a student raises her hand and says, “I’m completely lost. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Do you know how incredibly brave it is to say “I don’t know” when you’re pretty sure everyone around you gets it? Of course, in my twelve-plus years of teaching, I know that if one person can find the courage to say, “You’ve lost me,” there are probably at least ten more students who feel the exact same way.
Something has been stirring in me this year. A shift is occurring, which has involved some, at times uncomfortable, oscillating between past and future. I'm starting again. But not from scratch. Maybe you're experiencing something similar? I've been looking back and reflecting on who I've been, while dreaming forward through who I am becoming. It's been a tough year for many people, and I know many of us are experiencing deep stirring changes. Many enforced upon us by external factors. Some by our own choosing. And others brought about by realising that how things are/have 'always been', isn't necessarily how things need to be. And we've seen new possibilities and found the power to change lanes. I'm coming to a significant shift point in my life. After some of the hardest years I hope to ever experience. As I've talked about on Patreon, the pot is now coming to a boil and I'm ready to take it off the heat. I guess it feels like I'm starting again, but from where I am. Not from scratch. Acknowledging and appreciating all that I've been through, and seeing everything as part of the bigger story. As I've been preparing for my next chapter and considering my online plans for the coming year or more, I've been looking back at early podcast episodes and blog posts. It's brought a lot of joy, some serious cringing, and a bit of a dilemma...what should I do with them? The Andy at the end of 2011 is quite different from the Andy at the end of 2020. A lot has happened in that time. I've evolved. The world has changed. And some, maybe even lots, of what I said back then, wouldn't be what I'd say now. Or at least, I wouldn't say it LIKE THAT! 🤦‍♂️ But I'm Not Really Starting Again...not this time It seems slightly jarring to think that people are showing up on my website and finding those earlier posts through search engines and old links. Not knowing me yet, their perception is that the me they meet is the me of now. I guess it's one of the weird things about creating over a long period of time. Perhaps it's been the same for authors, songwriters, artists and filmmakers. They are seen in the present by the light of their past, and perceived to be residing inside of that moment in time. I guess the difference with a blog or podcast is that they go through a much more filtered process of due diligence. They are edited properly, and checked for turns of phrase that might fail to communicate the intended meaning. Part of me has wondered whether it's time to remove those old episodes. To draw a line under them and admit that I don't want people hearing those as a representation of what I'm doing today. But I can't do that. My intuition won't let me. Because it feels disingenuous. I want to keep my history there for people to see because there is something quite fun and interesting about the journey. Where ideas are seeded and things begin to pop through the surface. But I don't feel that leaving them in their old state does that journey justice. Well I'm going to try something different. Starting again without starting over. So I'm Going Back In... I'm not sure where this idea came from. I've tinkered with it in my music videos before. And I've become excited about what might be possible in this context. To converse with those original episodes from where I am today. A bit like a commentary but in the spirit of newness, not harking back. To take those ideas I spoke of in 2011, and build on them 9 years later. It is both a reflection on the creative process, and a demonstration of the creative process itself. I think it shows how things are made. Through the discomfort of connecting dots you don't want to look at directly. It fits with this opportunity I have embraced, to take heed and check in with where I've been. And as I've done so, I've been able to observe and enjoy what’s been going on over the years. Things I had forgotten. Things I'd never appreciated.
In his book, The Highly Sensitive Man, psychotherapist Tom Falkenstein offers insights into the nature of sensory processing sensitivity for men and how our masculine ideal in its present imagined form is literally killing people right now. I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat with Tom recently, and we delved into some of the challenging facing men at the moment. And how those of us with deep sensory processing sensitivity can cope with, and respond to a collective self-sabotage when we seem hell bent as a species on rejecting the full sensory experience at our fingertips. Tom's book takes ideas that have been touched on in other resources about high sensitivity. And he unpacks them in a more comprehensive way, specifically addressing issues around high sensitivity in men. Creating space for understanding, awareness, and an exploration of the unique advantages and challenges they might face. Our conversation follows the thread of the book, which seems to run along two separate but interweaving strands: 1. The Impact of The Current Masculine Ideal What it means 'to be a man' has changed throughout history. It's not a fixed thing. “There’s an English term, ‘toxic masculinity,’ used to describe a form of masculinity based on dominance and violence that rejects emotions. It’s a problem that boys and men are constantly told that ‘real guys’ don’t cry, are highly, almost animalistically sexual, and crush anything that stands in their way. It’s a problem for both men and women. This is the form of masculinity that we need to address. Just because it’s widespread doesn’t mean that it’s natural.” - Margarete Stokowski 2. The Highly Sensitive Man and a Turning Point in Masculinity The tide is changing, and the old masculine ideal is dying. We see this talked about with phrases like 'men in crisis' and questions such as, 'who's the weaker sex?' appearing in the media. And these feed the sense that men are losing something. But what if this was a moment of emancipation for men from the social conditioning of alienating masculinity itself? What if this turned out to be a long overdue opportunity for men to finally gain access to our full selves? Tom talks about his belief that highly sensitive men have a key role to play in this long-overdue emancipation of men from classic stereotypes of masculinity. He suggests we are in a unique position because we challenge and therefore expand the image of the “typical strong man.” What pops into your head when you hear the term 'highly sensitive man'? I bet you can envisage them and they have particular characteristics. If the image is a negative one, then it's almost certainly an incomplete picture, or just plain wrong. The case studies that Tom uses in the book paints a picture of a different kind of strength that we see in sensitive men. An embrace of their whole selves, the courage to transcend the performative demands to shut up and 'man (bottle) up'. And how when they're not driven by a need to fit in and conform (and alienate themselves from themselves), they are able to access a much fuller, richer, and more attractive expression of who they are capable of becoming. The Myth and Performance of The 'Masculine Ideal' Like any ideal, our notions around masculinity are first and foremost constructed. And as with all ideals, they are symbols into which no one truly fits. It's a performance. We see this because most people adapt and shift their behaviour to suit the situation in which they are operating. Within the performance of masculinity, we see people behaving out of character in ways that are destructive to themselves and others. The performance isn't a conscious thing, it's been programmed throughout our lives. And it triggers into action around certain people, in particular contexts and backdrops. It's an act of perverse selflessness where we let go of who we really are in order to give ourselves to some notion of what we need to be in or...
It seems like everyone is talking about The Social Dilemma at the moment. It's likely that most people have never heard of it. And yet the perception I have through my own Reality Feed is that this movie is being talked about everywhere. Though seriously, I believe it's in the top 10 things watched on Netflix this week. I'll be honest. When I first heard about it, I had no interest. It didn't appeal to me because the premise appeared to be going over old ground. Truths about the way we have sold ourselves to technology and social media. And the hype around this notion that we have bought a one way ticket to the annihilation of humanity. Do I really want to watch that? But then my friend Jas mentioned he had also heard it was worth checking out. So I opened Netflix. Wow, there it was. Top of the page, full width spread. As if it had been expecting me. 😳 If you've not heard of The Social Dilemma, it is a documentary that blows the whistle on the Persuasion Technology industry. It revolves around testimonies, reflections, and laments, from some of Silicon Valley's leaders. Those who have been instrumental in creating the biggest platforms and technological features we all know (and most of us use). No Great Surprises There was nothing in the film that surprised me. No great revelations that I hadn't already been at least partially aware of. But the way The Social Dilemma presents the situation felt pretty fresh, and will hopefully pave the way for some good conversations. I never intended to write and share thoughts on this, but my morning pages got a little bit overtaken by my own reflections on what I'd watched. Not least because it is another piece in the jigsaw I've been putting together in the wake of information burnout and news fatigue that really took hold of me about 4 months ago. Weirdly Reassuring Maybe you've been feeling similar. Exhausted by the onslaught of news that makes you simultaneously furious and hopeless. The links, videos, and trending topics, you know will take you into a rabbit hole that leaves you feeling dirty and used, but you just can't help yourself. And it's made all the worse by the fact that you know it's bad for you, but something pulls you in and you just can't help yourself. The Social Dilemma is a reminder that this is probably not an accident. We are moving deeper and deeper into a system which requires us to do what it manipulates us into doing. When I finished the movie I couldn't help but wonder if I'm being farmed like an animal. I also began to Artificial Intelligence really driving us towards self-obliteration , or does it simply bring into the open the stuff that is already lurking around, beneath, and within me. Is it what already makes up the fabric of society? And it only makes it more visible. I have loads of questions. And I'm interested in the power of resources like this, to stimulate healthy conversations. I've already seen the cynical, the dualistic, and the ideological tear downs. I have nothing invested in this film. I don't think hype is the best reaction we can have to it (I've seen plenty of that too). It's unhelpful, not least because it just feeds the very beast we're looking at exposing. Well I found a bunch of ideas really interesting to think about and reflect on... What (or Who) Is The Product? The idea that, "if you are not paying for it, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold" has been around for a while. Of course by definition, if you're not paying for something, you are not a customer. And we don't have to look far to see examples of companies collecting data on its users and building accurate profiles to sell to. For some people this is seen as a positive. Targeted advertising means they only see things they might actually be interested in buying. Gone are the days of being shown irrelevant adverts and posts. Isn't that something to celebrate?
I love the dawning of a new day. It's starting to get a little later. Autumn is the time of year when dawn feels more palpable and squeezable. A couple of months ago I began running regularly again. The early morning jaunts around my neighbourhood are such a helpful way to start the day for me. In recent weeks the sun has been hanging back. Sleeping in. Waiting a little longer before choosing to join me for in time for my pre-run morning coffee. But I think this has made the exercise even more enjoyable. The cold, crisp September dawn preludes the moment the sun emerges above the horizon. And the sun bath engulfs me with its warm golden embrace at the bottom of a certain road. I get to step right into it as I turn the corner. Change is Always Round The Bend I'm deep into a seasonal shift in my life right now. Things are transitioning and repositioning. The sun is setting on the previous chapter, and the next one is starting to emerge. It's exciting and terrifying. But I know it's time. I've updated the blog (not completely intentionally/expectedly). I got carried away with some changes I've been intending for years. It's had a clear out and a deep clean. I have that post car service feeling, when at the start of the next 10,000 miles, confident that things are fine tuned and refreshed. Oh and I’ve set a date. Yep, I've decided when I will take my step off the ledge and let go of my job. Trusting that I can make my life of a slow coach valuable to others, sustainable for myself, and longterm. The date has been said out loud, and I've written it down. So it's official. It's real. It's coming. I'm accountable. The dawn reminds us that change is always sitting just around the corner. And there’s nothing we can do to stop it. There are times when this lack of control might feel like a good thing (when life feels rough), and times when it feels like a melancholic thing (when we want things to stay like this forever). Accepting The Emergence and Shift The Stoics emphasise the importance of accepting things as they are. And relinquishing our attachment to desire for things to be different. Not in the sense of passively rolling over and losing hope for a better future. But to view things with an objective lens that reminds us that this too shall pass (all things at all times). The dawn signals the emergence of the sun on the horizon. It is coming whether we wish it to arrive or not. Likewise, a few hours later, the sun will disappear and the dusk will take us into the night. To wish for day during the night and night during the day is to waste our energy and emotion on the unchangeable inevitability. The Dawning Moment Throughout our lives we experience a number of small personal dawns. When we start to feel a shift in the atmosphere. We get a sense that things are changing, emerging, dying, and becoming. The dawn changes our ability to see the shapes around us. It is the appearance of things based on the emergence of light that makes those things visible. But it’s the moment before we gain the clarity and direct energy of the sun itself. It indicates to us that the change is coming. Do you ever get that feeling that things are shifting, becoming, and emerging? But when you grapple with its meaning, there is not yet enough definition to see the true shape of what’s to come. The Darkness (Just) Before The Dawn There is an old expression that says, ‘the night is darkest just before the dawn’. I’ve read a few articles in preparation for this post. There are some amusing arguments around the scientific validity of this. The debates get pretty heated, and seem on the whole to completely miss the point. It's a figurative phrase, not a literal truth. It is about the human experience. The darkest hour as a human experience, is so often the prelude to change. It’s the moment that stimulates an awakening and a fresh dawn. This might come through hitting rock bottom,
During this month's Virtual Retreat we are letting go of ideas, stories, and objects that we feel an obligation or pressure to hold. Things that have become heavy and limiting. Diminishing our ability to nurture the life we desire at the soul (not ego) level. There are so many normalised and expected approaches to life, which actually take us away from truly becoming and belonging as individuals. Many of us don't feel like we can even question these things. Some of them are so ingrained that we have never even asked considered the possibility that they are questionable in the first place. This retreat is a chance to raise awareness, to ask ourselves questions, and to open up to the possibilities. That we can choose to let go of the stuff that keeps us from being, becoming, and belonging. And choose to pick up the things that we actually want instead. Being - embracing gratitude, acceptance, and peace with where we are and what we have. Letting go of the ego idea that there is something missing and that we must constantly do things to prove our value and worth. Becoming - recognising that we get to set the intentions and choose the direction we take our lives. Letting go of the expectations others have that we will squeeze into their plans and ideas of who we should be. Belonging - understanding the deep sense that we are enough, just as we are. And that we don't have to prove anything to anyone in order to be accepted and belong. Letting go of the prison that we are 'here for a reason', and that we need to 'uncover our purpose'. Peace and Release There are two sides to this vision. On the one hand it's about becoming free from our own voice. Releasing ourselves from the message that we are not good enough, we need to be different, and try harder to fix things. And on the other hand, it's about releasing ourselves from the message that things won't or can't truly change. So that we can step into an open space of possibility. Recognising the power that we have in ourselves to pick up the pieces we choose to collect. To nurture the dreams that mean the world to us. And to design life in such a way that it reflects who we are at that deeper soul level. Beneath the noise, under the stories, and beyond the messages that constantly tell us to tear ourselves away from ourselves. There are so many things that we end up clinging tightly to. Ideas, stories, conventions, and ways of doing things, that take us away from the choices we would make for our lives if we felt able to. As introverts and highly sensitive people, there might be sabotaging people pleasing tendencies, and a desire to avoid conflict and confrontation. A desire to go with the flow and keep the peace, which can have many benefits, but can also drive this sense of disconnect between the life you would love and the life that you have. Redress The Balance The retreat is aimed at helping you reflect on that distinction. When things you hold onto go from serving who you are and the values you want to nurture, to holding and controlling you. To the point where you lose your self-worth, confidence, and sense of connection to the life you have slipped into tolerating, coping with, or simply trying to survive. It's time to let go of the idea that this is what life is about. It's not something to tolerate, put up with, or survive. But rather something to enjoy, create, and explore. This week we are thinking about how to let go of... Busyness We attach to the story that busyness is something to celebrate and encourage. But what if it was actually a sign that something has gone seriously wrong somewhere along the line? Offence If we want space to grow, then we have to have space to fail. Growth only occurs when we feel safe to risk and fall flat on our face. In a highly-offendable world, we hold tightly to offence in all its forms, imprisoning ourselves and others, and putting the brakes on creativity and connection. Perfectionism
The ultimate salvation, according to Alan Watts, is to let go of ourselves and our resistance to death. We are unable to stop changing. It’s impossible. We can’t hang onto ourselves. Yet we try with all our might to hang onto ourselves as we think we were and as we believe we are. We might build our lives on a drive to resist our change, which raises the awareness of our own mortality. What if it’s actually our drive to resist death that is causing us so much resistance to life itself? Memento mori Memento mori is a call to be mindful of death. An idea encouraged in different ways by a variety of religions and philosophy. It is not telling us to obsess or worry about death, but rather to be free within its presence. To be mindful of death is to let go of its threat. And it allows us to be mindful of the deep meaning of life. I’ve been asked many times if my job as an undertaker gets me down. Working in and around death all the time must take its toll. “Urgh, that’s depressing”, comes the response from some people when I tell them what I do. Yes, it is certainly unusual and a bit of a weird place to find myself. And I find it hard to see people distraught in grief, and struggling within their loss. Unable to bring back what has gone from them. But no, it’s not depressing. It’s very rare that I have a day when I look around me and say ‘everything is meaningless so what’s the point? It doesn’t matter what we do, we all wind up dead’. Holding onto Disempowerment Many of us might worry that dwelling on the reality of our death will take us into a place of in-action and disempowerment. My experience of reality is quite the opposite. In fact some of the most disempowered people I know are those who will not entertain the truth that they are going to die. Whether or not we are mindful of death, death still comes to us all. But memento mori helps us find meaning in life before we take our final breath. And it allows us to let go of the stories, beliefs, and ideas that we use to resist our own sense of mortality. The stories, beliefs, and ideas that actually bring death and stagnation to everyday life. When we’re not mindful of death, we become disempowered, and deny ourselves the possibility of real change. When we’re not mindful of death, we deny the potential futures that we can bring to life if we let go of the stagnant waste in which we are treading water. Death comes before life, just like the Spring requires Fall. Let Go of the Life Raft In order to grow, become, and develop throughout our lives, we need to be mindful (and embracing) of death. It’s what makes life possible. Otherwise we ourselves stagnate. We do the same things over and over. Stuck in ruts, and clinging onto old ways, old ideas, and old beliefs, like life-rafts on a dead pond. We spend life bobbing around a body of stagnant water, clinging to these things that are eroding in our hands. Not realising, that if we just let go, the water is shallow and the bed is firm. We can stand up and we can walk onwards. Out. Up. Beyond. What happens at the end of a life spend trying to cling on to our life raft? When we dedicate ourselves to deny, conceal, and suppress the fact that death is inevitable? We still die. Perhaps just with more regrets, less freedom, and the realisation that all those immortality projects to which we’ve dedicated ourselves. They didn’t achieve the desired outcome. If You Want a Better Grip, You've Got to Let Go It was 2008. I was sat at my desk, distracted and discouraged. Another day, overwhelmed by the work I needed to do in order to finish my degree. I’d start one thing and feel punched in the face by all the other things that weren’t getting done. The mountain of work got bigger and my ability to tackle it was diminishing by the second. A vision came to mind. I was holding for dear life a vertical rock face. I was scared of falling, but the harder I tried to cling on, the sweatier I became.
In week six of The Artist's Way, Recovering a Sense of Abundance, Julia Cameron focusses on our relationship with luxury and limitation. It is a fascinating theme to explore. All about that strange and difficult relationship many of us have with ideas around wealth, money, and materialism. It looks at the ingrained messages we have built into our lives about who we are and what we feel we deserve. There is a difference between 'Fake Luxury' (a judgement we place on others). And 'True Luxury' (a freedom we grant ourselves). Our Relationship With The Idea of Luxury We often think of Luxury as something other people enjoy. Not us. "Oh I wish I had the luxury of a lie in" or "if only I had the luxury of a four bedroom house". In this sense, luxury becomes a foundation for dissatisfaction, envy, and even resentment. Luxury is an external; enjoyed by others. It is lavish and extravagant. Beyond what we can ever possibly have for ourselves. But as we explore in this month's podcast, true luxury is something to which we ALL have access. Luxury of Introversion and Sensitivity As self-awareness and understanding increases, there is a transition which I see over time with people I work alongside. In the early days, there's a sense that something is lacking. A kind of poverty, where to them, it feels like they are missing something that others have. We might look at extroverts and wish we had the luxury of their confidence or approach to life or whatever. Then, over time it starts to become evident that the luxury isn't in the external appearance, but it's found on the inside. True luxury is in the self-awareness and the ability of a self-aware person to better manage their natural preferences and tendencies, rather than resenting, and working against them. As we learn more about introversion and sensitivity, we step into a place of luxury. No longer do we need to feel alone, weird, or like we are lacking something. There are many of us, we are weirdly normal, and we are enough. We have enough. We are equipped to learn what we need in order to thrive. Dropping A Wet Blanket On Other People Julia Cameron talks about a formidable artist friend of hers, who has disappeared into 'Wet Blanket Mode'. When she told him about the horse she bought, he responded by saying, “well, I hope you don’t expect to get to ride it much or even see it much. As you get older, you do less and less of the things you enjoy. Life becomes more and more about doing what you must….” You can probably recognise that kind of mentality. Maybe someone specific comes to mind. A particular situation. Where your excitement about something new was brought to a crashing halt by someone who projected all their own dissatisfaction onto you. Julia Cameron continues... "Although not yet fifty, he has already been singled out for lifetime achievement awards. Nonetheless, this is an artist suffering in the throes of artistic anorexia. Although he continues to work, he does so at greater and greater cost to himself. Why, he sometimes wonders to himself, does his life’s work now feel so much like his life’s work? Why? Because he has denied himself luxury. Let me be clear that the luxury I am talking about here has nothing to do with penthouse views, designer clothes, zippy foreign sports cars, or first-class travel. This man enjoys all those privileges, but what he doesn’t enjoy is his life. He has denied himself the luxury of time: time with friends, time with family, above all, time to himself with no agendas of preternatural accomplishment. His many former passions have dwindled to mere interests; he is too busy to enjoy pastimes. He tells himself he has no time to pass. The clock is ticking and he is using it to get famous. " The Luxury of Time These stories don't just apply to artists or creative types. We're all susceptible to this kind of messaging about the things that matter most to us.
What are we becoming? Who are you becoming? Where are we emerging? We are currently experiencing a strange combination of uncertainty, change, and stasis. The future feels a little difficult to fathom. So I wanted to share some thoughts on these ideas because I think we all need a little bit of gentle reassurance and hope. To 'become' is neither good nor bad. It just is. It's a fact. Everything and everyone is in a constant state of becoming, whether we believe it or not. We are always becoming, and we never fully arrive. Becoming and Coaching Coaching fast-tracks intentional becoming. From where you are to where you're going next. And the coaching process give the coachee autonomy over where they want to go, and ultimately, how they will choose to get there. I have come to really love this process. Especially when I get to delve into surprising discoveries and breakthroughs with clients. When the person they thought they were becoming, and the goals they thought mattered most, turn out to be less important to them than they thought. When this happens, the becoming is about getting unstuck, un-wedding, and releasing ourselves from the stories we thought were true. And aligning our next steps and actions with a fresh sense of what and who is next. Becoming is about changing, transforming, evolving, growing, developing, exploring, following, leading, testing, trying, experimenting, learning, observing, noticing, reflecting, emerging, honing, whittling, crafting, deciding, culling, removing, reviewing. It can't be rushed. The process lasts forever, and the results don't last for long. There is no agenda or motive. The Possibility of an Entire You Within a single acorn is the possibility of an entire oak tree. A whole oak tree is inside that tiny little seed. That's pretty mad when you think about it. It's the same with everything...Human beings. You. Me. Everyone we know. The entire possibility of who we are was in that tiny little egg when we were conceived. The possibility of all we have become and are continuing to become. Out of that moment in space and time we have emerged and are emerging. What if Nothing is Missing? We often move through life with the attitude that something is missing. We search high and low. Every new idea is a chance to discover the magic secret. This leads us to believe that getting this mysterious missing part will help us to find ourselves, discover our purpose, or uncover our calling. These can be dangerous ideas. And are directly related to the image we have of the universe. I've recently been listening to Out of Your Mind, a collection of seminars and talks by Alan Watts. It's been an amazing companion to me during lockdown. The recording opens with him speaking about the power of language in framing our basic image of the world. For most of us in The West, this image (myth) is one of two main models: The Ceramic Model and/or The Fully Automatic Model. Myths (images) of the Universe 1. The Ceramic Model of the Universe This is based on the book of Genesis, from which Judaism, Islam, and Christianity derive their basic picture of the world. This image sees the world as an artefact. It is made in the same way a potter takes clay and makes pots, or a carpenter takes wood and makes tables and chairs. This sees God as a technician, who has in mind a plan, and fashions the universe in accordance with that plan. 2. The Fully-Automatic Model of the Universe The original model has everything responding to and obeying 'the plan'. Watts suggests that Science allowed people to hold this image without needing to believe in God. Because the hypothesis of God doesn't help us make predictions about the future (the laws of nature/science/God are all the same. Regularity and consistency allows for accurate predictions to be made. This model sees the world as nothing but unintelligent force. It is only the result of this exuberant energy and a mix of fluke and blin...
The word 'static' has been on my mind this month. Since Jacob Nordby used it when talking about 'connection'. I've been thinking about different types of static and how they are showing up at the moment. There is a lot of static in the world right now. I'm writing this in a state of lockdown. You may well be reading it in a similar place. The COVID-19 outbreak has meant we are in a period of physical stasis, unable to go far and unable to move without good reason. There is a lot of static noise, from the repetitive feedback loops of our news feeds, social media, and email inboxes. And we might be experiencing moments of electrical shock as we rub up against these strange unchartered pathways. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast I look at three specific types of static. We will explore how they show up in unexpected ways, and whether they can even be a potential source of deep joy and possibility. I don't know about you, but I've been struggling amidst the static. Swirling shifts in my mood. Jumps from feelings of healthy stasis and balance, to a feeling of being tethered, rooted, and anchored in a place I don't want to be. A lot of us are feeling these tensions. These leaps between moods and feelings. Ebbs and flows. Ups and downs. This is completely normal, and we need to allow them to be. We can't fight them. But we can sit with them, observe them, and let them pass. This Too Shall Pass This is a saying I'm hearing a lot at the moment. Most often it is a point of reassurance. That no matter how hard things are, we will move through to the other side of this moment. I spoke with someone recently who said she finds the saying a little frightening. And to her it's actually a voice of foreboding joy. It tells us that no matter how good things are right now, it wont last. "Oh yeah. Wow. True." I thought. We load a saying with our own meaning. We project what we need into things like that. The simple truth it contains is this: change is inevitable. Even when things seem static, they are still transforming at some level. This situation is changing us, it's changing the way we show up in the world, and it's changing the state of the world itself. Within an acorn there resides an oak tree. Not all at once. Not yet fully formed. But it's in there. From every word, situation, and moment resides the possibility of what it will become. Static as Stillness On the one hand static is balance, rootedness, and a solid foundation. And on the other hand, it is stuckness, imprisonment, and lockdown. "An anchor keeps a vessel at bay, planted in the harbour, unable to explore the freedom of the sea" - The Minimalists Isn't that the whole point? An anchor is a tool to prevent the boat from drifting away with the wind or current. It doesn't restrict the vessel. It protects it. Surely? I remember finding this quote rather challenging idea to get my head around at first. The notion of being anchored had always felt like a compliment. A positive. I thought of anchored people as good people. They have their stuff together, and they're reliable and trustworthy. But as they unpack the idea in the book, it makes more and more sense. They had followed this desired description of being very anchored, and conformed to it in their early 20's. They climbed the corporate ladder, bought property, and appeared well adjusted to the norms and expectations of the world around them. But this anchoring was stopping them from exploring the world they wanted to see. All these commitments, ideas, material possessions and debts were anchors (weights holding them in place). Forcing static on a curious, adventurous heart. Anchors aren't innately good or bad. They just are. But it's our relationship with them, and our awareness of what they are enabling us to do or restricting us from doing, that is important. We look at this more in the episode. Static as Noise Noise is the way we interpret a sensory input.
We have woken up to a simple yet profound truth... Everything and everyone is connected. These are extraordinary times. I've just returned from my 'one form of daily outdoor exercise'. And I write this, locked down at home, during a global pandemic. I never thought I'd write that sentence in a non-fiction context. Weird. It's all quite surreal. Moments like this bring all the things we take for granted into focus. And we gain clarity on the under-the-surface norms and ideologies that underpin our beliefs and values. The more we disconnect and physically isolate, the more we can see how connected we truly are. Everything impacts everything else. Emotions, information, and ideas spread like subsidiary metaphorical viruses from one person to the next. Markets crash when the proverbial butterfly wings flap gently on the other side of the world. And the image of a single shelf of empty toilet paper can lead to mass hysteria and global panic buying of something that wasn't a problem until it became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Everything is Connected In this month's podcast I decided to develop this theme of connection. So I connected with friends (some old and some new), and invited them to share some encouragement during this period of uncertainty and upheaval. It's turned into the longest episode I've ever produced. I had a great time putting it together, and am excited to share the lovely responses from my big hearted gentle rebel friends. I asked them two questions: 'how are you connecting right now?' And 'what does this make possible for you, for us, and for the world?' How are You Connecting Right Now? We are connecting with other people in different ways. We are connecting with new parts of ourselves. And we are connecting with aspects of society that have been inaccessible until now. We are Connecting With Others "It's wonderful to have this technology. In a time when we must physically distance, we don't actually have to socially distance." - Mark Pierce   "Even though I'm an introvert, I know my limits. And I know that it can feel easy for me to go days without seeing anyone in person. But I still desperately need to connect with others. I need to be heard, and I need to hear others. And ideally I need to see them, even if it's just on video. I just need to remember that." - Cat Rose   "I am connected more with my friends, and I even connect more with my family at home. Because we are doing things like playing games and spending time together which we don't often do." - Lydia Wilmsen   "There have been moments of connection with strangers. Exchanging eye contact which says 'this is weird isn't it?' There's a moment of connection there. This shared loneliness is making it all a bit less lonely." - Neil Hughes   "The family Zoom conference was such a rich experience for us. We laughed and reminded each other of how much we care. These digital tools can be used to continue spreading fear, static, and frustration in the world. Or it can provide a forum for laughter, where there's real connection." - Jacob Nordby We Can Connect With Ourselves "The world is slowing down. And it's really tangible. We can feel it. We're all part of this. We all contribute. And this global quiet is a result of all of us slowing down." - Ben Fizell   "I'm connecting on the inside. I'm meditating and spending time doing inner work. And it's such an empowering feeling because I don't feel helpless or fearful. By going inwards, I feel as though I'm connecting with others in a telepathic sort of way." - Carol Chapman   "We can begin listening out for patterns that show up inside us. A lot of panic and fear comes from other fears. Not just outer circumstances. It is stuff which is already in us. And right now we have more time to really look and go deep. This provides a huge potential for personal growth." - Lydia Wilmsen What Does This Make Possible?
We can attach a lot of meaning to the idea of 'quitting'. Whether it's the judgement that 'winners DON'T quit', 'winners know WHEN to quit', or the mantra that 'quitting is the only real failure'. There are obviously times when these ideas are helpful to remember and they carry elements of truth. But they are definitely not philosophies of life. They are far too simplistic. Quitting carries a whole load of baggage as a word. And much of the messaging is oozing shame from its heart when you drill down a bit. A negative picture of what it means to quit is never far away from shame (a story we believe about ourselves that we want to keep hidden). We quit when we believe the story we tell ourselves. For example, 'I'm a failure, I can't get anything right' (I will just quit!) Or, 'I must shut up and be grateful. I can't get above my station, and just remember how lucky I am to have a job at all given how useless I am...' (I can't quit!) Should I stay or should I go? Yes. Quitting is neither positive or negative. It's simply a helpful option that is always there. We can remember this when we quieten that voice of shame. As Brené Brown points out in her work, the best tool we have against the destructive force of shame is vulnerability. It's to name the shame, and tell the story. Only when we do this does the power balance shift. Blackmail and Internal Ransom Notes Shame is like a blackmailer, holding you ransom with a secret that you don't want anyone to know. 'Do what I say or else I'm going to reveal your humiliating secret to the world!' It's not always big things. In fact, it works its insidious way under our skin with the smallest things. Making a mistake at work ('typical, it's crazy that you still have a job...don't tell anyone about this, they'll know how useless you are'). Building a new relationship ('You're ugly, they're never going to like the real you'). Disappointment ('Don't tell anyone it didn't work out as you hoped. It makes you look stupid. I told you not to get excited!') Around Others ('Everyone is happier without me. They're joking and laughing together. They don't want me here'). Shame tells us a story about ourselves and about the world. And it demands that we keep it a secret. And we respond by staying around against our will, or dropping everything and leaving against our will. Shame drives spiralling debts, affairs, addiction, and unhealthy patterns of behaviour. Because it tells us 'no one can know'. It traps us within fear and silence. The Perfect Crime There is a modern phishing scam that I've seen over the past few years. It taps into shame in a big way, using the weapon of 'sextortion'. It tells the recipient that there is proof of them doing something (e.g. watching porn). They tell the potential victim that they have planted malware on their device, and have access to the camera and their entire address book. They're told that if they don't want to be humiliated they can simply pay a large but not obscene amount of money (bitcoin), and the problem will go away. The most advanced ones will even have a very old password in the subject line, to deepen the sense of legitimacy. There are a huge number of victims of this. Why? Shame. And many many more victims who will never admit they fell victim. Why? Shame. It's the perfect crime because it knows that shame is our kryptonite. Shame drives us to pay them off. And shame keeps us quiet about it. When the shame gets too hot to handle and the truth has no choice but to come out we hit a breaking point. This is when we quit our bond with the shame. And it often gives us the opportunity to be free. Shamelessness becomes a winning strategy. Quitting is ALWAYS an option. It's not always easy. It might be unbearably painful. But it's always possible. Why Embrace the Possibility of Quitting? Quitting is about releasing, letting go, abandoning, clearing, wiping the slate clean, and so on.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Andy Mort
Podcast Status
Jan 10th, 2012
Latest Episode
Apr 17th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
35 minutes
British English

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