People are making simple, preventible and correctible mistakes when it comes to relational and emotional life and this comes at a steep price to all of us. Collectively we are pontificating endlessly and ineffectually as to why addiction,depression and other forms of emotional distress are not only not going away but growing globally. We seem to be missing the fact that in addition to the more visible manifestations of distress, like chemical addiction and depression, that the same
that is feeding them, is also feeding dysfunction everywhere, be it
how we relate to our people, which includes our families, our co-workers, our lovers, our employees, our neighbours, our trading partners, our
children, our homeless, our prisoners and our most vulnerable etc. and how we relate to
our economic life, our consumption, our politics, our sexuality, our work, our exercise , our money, our planet etc.. In other words, the problem is systemic and the common thread is us and how we relate.
Our basic social unit is the family and collectively its current social output is proving to not be up to the task at hand. Our economic system, our families and institutions are producing far too many citizens who are primed for a life of distress. We are living in a rationally and economically driven world that is already awash in consumption, rules and behavioural protocols. Collectively we are biased in believing that more wealth, more consumption and more rules are the solution, but as it turns out, there are problems that cannot be resolved with such remedies. These biases and the righteous and emotionally impoverished thinking that creates them, can actually make some problems worse!
Thus far our societal response is not working and is in some ways gravely misguided. According to Bruce Alexander, Professor Emeritus of Simon Fraser University, on one of his recorded presentations, he likens those of us in the therapeutic profession and other helpers, to those who are pulling out individuals from a river of distress but nobody is dealing with “the son of a bitch” who is throwing the people in upriver”. Our current medical and economic systems are great for solving problems that are physical and logistical in nature but not for problems that are emotional and relational in nature. This does not make them wrong. It just makes them irrelevant to the task at hand which is creating internal calm or emotional and relational peace within the citizenry. Ironically, in the face of unprecedented wealth, technical connectivity and economic efficiencies , our current system seems to be creating the felt experiences of scarcity, loneliness and fear.
From my perspective, the elephant in the room that has been largely ignored , is that our lives do not sufficiently reflect how we are designed emotionally. Quite simply, we are attempting to live lives we are not designed for.
We are trying to be something we are not!
We feel the stress of a stressful life and make our nervous system wrong rather than diving in deeper and seeing what might be driving this. In many ways we are attempting to bully our emotional and relational selves into fitting our lives and systems rather than adjust our lives and systems to fit us. We are mistaking the affect, or in this case our emotional response as the problem and not the thing our emotional selves are responding to—in this case the way we are living our lives. From this perspective a teen agers depressive or anti social response is mistakenly
seen as the problem and not the
psychosocial complex or family or society from which it stems. This type of thinking lets us blame the victim and lets the perpetrator walk. It lets us see enemies where there are none at all. This is unwise! Collectively we have come to perceive
the shadow of something for the thing
itself. Plato warned us of this all too common type of thinking over two thousand years ago. This is a dangerous perceptual mistake for an individual to make! This is a colossal one for a society to make!
We suffer individually and collectively to the very degree that our lives and communities are misaligned with our design. This design in turn determines how functional relating works and how it does not work. Whether or not we will embrace, surrender to, or like these immutable facts does not make them go away nor diffuse their veracity.
There is a river and there is a “son of a bitch” throwing us and the people we love in the water. We need to make a change. Not dealing with it is a little like pretending that we do not have to pay our taxes.This strategy does not get the taxes paid nor does it solve the problem. Quite simply, our relational indebtedness or responsibilities will persist until the debt is paid.
Many in our society are already paying a price. For them addiction, depression, dysfunctional relating, marriage and business failure and emotional distress are a given and they need something powerfully relational from us to help them. We have already tried punishing the victim and letting the perpetrator walk! This got us nowhere and all it did was create some economic activity. It is time to try another approach.
One aspect of emotional life is that relational impacts ripple outward throughout our field of influence. As our parents, friends, leaders and role models are and media report, so are we nudged behaviourally toward their versions of relational and emotional competency and truth. This emotional law works as an amplifier increasing the impacts both good or bad. The problem I am speaking to here does not lie with the amplifier. It is working just fine. Instead it lies with the message being amplified, in our case, dysfunctional relating and short sighted thinking.
You cannot solve a child’s homesickness with more rules or more consumption. If she wants to go home, she wants to go home. You can buy her a new Nissan, put money in her piggy bank or get her to sign a contract that says homesickness is not allowed but in the end what she really needs is home. We are no different.
Build a community from scratch with no agenda
and no rules other than “Do no harm” that understands this problem and continually redesigns itself so that it best brings what its members need and do this as economically and
efficiently as possible and be able to do this virtually so that anyone anywhere can participate.
For this community to be emotionally and relationally friendly, it must at every corner consult its members as to how they are emotionally and relationally. This community then would harness the same impulse that healthy families and healthy communities and tribes do anywhere—by bringing the “Resource of Each Other” or relational and emotional alignment, to its members so that they can best fit into the community they co-create and it must go one step further.
This community must resist the rational trap of creating dogma and rules in order to govern the behaviour of its members. Instead
it must create an intentional and generous space where natural laws and powerful relational imperatives— including economic ones— reveal themselves.
This way the emotional and relational interests of its members will never be subverted to the interests of the community because they are actually and exactly the same.
In this community, a body felt sense of belonging and emotional relevance or “psychosocial integration” will not be just a possibility, but a probability, because the community created will be completely informed by our universal emotional design.
This community knows at a cellular level, that we are designed to be “sensitive” to our environment and that this is good news and not a pathology to be managed or medicalized even if what is manifested emotionally is uncomfortable, deemed unattractive or proves to be inconvenient in some way to the status quo. In fact this community understands that discomfort is often a signpost, especially in the early days of course correction, not telling us where not to go but by telling us precisely where to go, when change is itself essential. In this community, all the emotional messengers will be given their rightful place as esteemed members and seated accordingly at the front of the room at the head table. They will not be kicked to the curb and “medicalized”! This membership includes anger, fear and depression!
Our design, its corresponding impulse and its innate wisdom is a given and our individual and communal response to it is not an “option”, if we are going to get serious about healing this river of distress we find ourselves in, but one of vital importance.
In Kantian terms, this will be our categorical imperative— a “something” that we must bring in order to both heal ourselves and our institutions. In historical terms, this will be our auspicious moment. It will not just happen. It will have to be made to happen. We will have to course correct. The good news is that this kind of course correction is fun and meaningful because we will be steering for the home ports we all yearn for and away from the lonely ones we currently find ourselves in.
In the past the oppressors we have had to deal with have by in large been external. The oppressor that currently demands our attention has slipped within us and has fooled us into believing that it is who we are. That it is us. That things and our lives are just the way they are and that our wanting it or them to be any other way is foolish, unrealistic, uneconomic or utopian. We have internalized all of this. We have facilitated an enormous inside job.
The tyrant is now internal and has convinced us that forgoing a life stuffed full of connection and meaning is but a small price to pay for the perceived safety of control, for unfettered, unconscious economic growth, for certainty and for the status quo. This is not good for us. This is poison!
We must go inside ourselves to see what is really there, who we really are and ask ourselves what we really want AND what we do not want. Once we determine what it is we want and do not want then we must do two things:
- We must steer courageously and unapologetically, individually and collectively, towards what we want and
- We must steer equally as courageously and unapologetically away from what we do not want.
This time around our liberty will not be had by raging war or assassination but by surrender. This will feel a little odd to us and especially to our men whose internal warrior often interprets powerful internal experiences as a call to forceful action. This time we need our men to sheathe their swords and reach for something much softer and infinitely more potent. We still need them to be bold and to know that they can protect us but now we also need them to be daringly relational.
Here, there is no enemy to rage against and most certainly no war to win. Here we require no combatants. We don’t need more laws. What we do need now are friends who are friendly—allies and connection.
This aspect of our true nature, this ancient and glorious inheritance that is imbedded deeply within us is not ,nor ever was, the problem, even though at times we thought it was. It is simply and fundamentally, the essence of who we are and as such predetermines which way to go if we want to find our way home!
We believe that as a species we are homesick and that it truly is time to come home! We believe the next revolution that will rock our boat will be a relational one. The future for our species and our redemption is —Relational —And it is already here.
It has been my experience that powerfully facilitated group or “pod” process holds many clues to bringing what must be brought forward and can provide a compliment to any and all other effective modalities and systems that help us “fill in the holes”. The pod process which has revealed itself to us, is an efficient, evolving, proven modality with consistent and predictable efficacy when it comes to assisting is members in returning to the emotional and relational home we all crave; this same home that preceded us, was presented to each and every one of us at our conception and that resides within us today in the form of an immense pool of unmet, unrealized potential.
This process works.—It is safe. —It is efficient.— It is natural.
And it is fun!
We are not theorizing about something that could or should work. Instead we are talking about something that does work.
What exactly is the pod process you might ask? Well the short version is that it is a group of people assembled either physically or virtually who go on a shared and courageous journey of learning who they really are—a hero’s journey if you will. Together they learn from each other and begin to provoke and arouse the enormous potential that slumbers within them. They use an internal and collaborative compass to steer them rather than external protocols and curricula. They attend to all the resistances and obstacles they encounter along the way and incrementally change their relationship with fear and all the other important messengers.
On November 23rd, 2019 we will be hosting an event in downtown Vancouver Canada called The Step. This event will be at a beautiful venue , the Performance Centre at the Yale Town Roundhouse. It is our plan to stream this to a world wide virtual audience and record it so people can view it afterwards. The purpose of the event is three fold:
Firstly— To show case the predictability, efficiency and efficacy of what we call the pod process in creating community and life forwarding.
Secondly— Have members of our physical and virtual audience take a concrete STEP in their own service during our event.
And Lastly—We will create an ongoing conversation with like minded practitioners of all stripes so that the process that is revealing itself to us, can be honed in real time to increase its relational and emotional potency.
We will create an opportunity for a very large group of “Observers” to watch a smaller group of “Participants” go through a six month group process and PREDICTABLY bring powerful change to their lives and —we will watch them connect with each other. Our participants will only share what they want to share for our community is completely permission based. Our community will do this only because we want to and that the thought of not doing so seems unattractive to us given what we have learned. This will not be hard for us. This will be easy. Because this is what we already do every Monday night.
We understand that emotional and relational truths are difficult to explain. The difficulty is that while the heart has always been able to move us, it and its products, resist the perceptual reach of our rational selves much like the wind resists the perceptual reach of our seeing selves. Who has seen the wind? The answer is nobody but when we see things being moved and when we ourselves can feel it, we know the truth of the wind. Emotional truth is similar. It is very difficult to capture in words what it feels like to be completely connected to somebody or to a community. This is why we find music and powerful poetry so moving and why we align with professional sports teams and the nation state —because we can feel their corresponding emotional winds on us and within us.
It is for this reason that there will probably never be a book that will adequately explain what we do. Instead we want to have you see and feel what we do. This is why we are creating the event. It will be our book.
In 2015 at a depression event I co-hosted in Vancouver, a young woman who clearly knew from the inside, this thing we call depression, asked my co-host and I, “Now what?” In her own way and in two words she had gotten to the crux of the matter. She was hurting and had asked a courageous question and my co-host and I, though we had told our stories as honestly as we knew how, knew immediately that what she and millions of others just like her, were looking for were not just stories but real efficacy.
Our event on November 23rd is my best attempt yet to bring what this courageous woman knew she was looking for.
To her , “ Now what?”
I offer, “ This is what!”
The tragedy of unnecessary suffering and lost opportunity is that it is unnecessary—the costs to us and each other are avoidable. Unfortunately it also seems to be ubiquitous. These facts leave us with enormous opportunities for each and everyone of us to course correct — to win more of what we want and love and have less of what we do not want. If we do this, it will predictably change our internal experiences, and powerfully and predictably influence how our families and institutions function for the better. Because, as we are learning, as is our internal world, so too is our external world!
What would your life be like if each of your connections filled you and sustained you and if going to work was satisfying and meaningful? Where at the end of the work day you were all the better for it and you would go home to a personal life that it, too, fulfilled you.
Look at your life now and how you are living it and look at the lives of others around you and ask yourself this question, “Is this what I want—really want?” And then go one step farther. Ask yourself the question a wise man once suggested we all ask ourselves,“Imagine living your life precisely the way you are living it and have lived it, not just for one lifetime, but for eternity—for millions of years and from that place ask yourself is this what I really want?” Is everything you want and love here or do you want more?
Come join us and let us show you what has revealed itself to us about emotional and relational life and how you too can begin to realize your emotional and relational potential and feel the wind that we can feel. To attempt to do this on your own is much harder and not much fun because of how you were designed.
Imagine that you were a person alone in the immensity of the ocean riding the waves alone. Now imagine there was another right there beside you riding the waves along with you.
Imagine if there were a hundred ?
Or a thousand?—
Can you feel it?
This is who and what you are!
Wherever you are in the world on November 23, you will be able to join us virtually as long as you have cell service or wifi. We would love to have you stop by and see us and we believe you will like and be excited by what you will see and feel.
This is not just a Vancouver nor a North American event. This is a global one. We will roll at 2PM Pacific and we will need about 2 to 3 hours of your time.
Please share this with whomever you think would be interested.
And Please join us .
www.thestep.ca and buy your tickets at:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/the-step-tickets-74024127157 Thank you