navigating through life, career, choices, ambition, relationships is unquestionably hard. It doesn’t come with instructions, but to make up for that, it does come with enormous pressure, be it what you should be doing at a certain stage of your life, which milestones you should reach, what material possessions you should own, what you should wish for, how you should look, which emotions you are allowed to show and what you are supposed to present to the public. One could also interpret this as some sort of instructions, less or more useful.
As our 2022 turns to autumn and hence a new school and academic year, I would like to announce, that this post is an epilogue to Ribalon blog posts. This decision is not because I’m letting go of the blog, but because I’ve let so many new things in by simplifying work and life. You see, I believe that life doesn’t happen to us. It happens for us. And seven years of Ribalon posts have been enormously rewarding, rich, exciting, fulfilling, so much so, that I am with true gratefulness saying that it’s been one hell of a ride and now I’m ready for a different means of transport.
I would like to thank you all, who have been a part of this:
each and every participant that has learned and had fun with me on my trainings
all the young people that have so inspired and challenged my group work
all of the professional associations I used to belong to, for all the wonderful events, networks, gatherings and sharing
all my EU colleagues around the world, who have contributed to our international projects
all my co-trainers, for putting up with me and always looking for my cabbage
all my at the time random new friends that I met whilst traveling across the globe and are still here today
all the countries I had privilege to visit, not as a tourist, but as a worker who wanted to serve and was instead served
all the social media supporters, for keeping in touch, cheering me on, challenging me, following me.
All of you have been incredible and it’s thanks to you, that this journey’s been so much fun, fast, furious and delicious! I once had a dream and the Earth responded. I am happy for what was and I am happy now, closing this chapter and blog with peace and pride. What’s important now, is privacy, quality relationships and a few highly intense and confidential projects. I never thought I would be able to say that I have achieved what I wanted to achieve in international environments, have earned a public and professional reputation that I am proud of and now no longer feel the motivation or desire to continue growing in those or share my work (and life) publicly. However, this is not letting go of the old stuff. It’s letting in the new. There might still be posts of professional nature, when I have things to share that you could benefit from but officially, the Ribalon story and dream is marked “complete”.
With love and honoured that I could share this with you,
Many times queries and inquiries come about how to use Solution Focused Approach to Groupwork. So here are some ideas.
About groups and group work
has members who might or might not know each other,
might or might not want to be there,
have individual aspirations,
have different levels of motivation to participate.
Groups are not teams (can be but not necessarily) – Solution Focused process might in some ways be more straightforward with teams because they already have a common goal or direction (or conflict!) but groups may not.
Same as working with individuals, in group work, the Solution Focused worker is totally in the unknown. It is also very likely that participants will not want to cooperate or expose themselves individually (especially adolescents for instance!). However, they might be very happy to get to know their other peers. The worker’s task is to communicate to the participants that they own the group work. Once they take the ownership of the activity, the rest of the process is rather simple. It’s similar to building the contract with individual clients – once you both agree on the direction, the Solution Focused process can start.
Compared to individual work, group work:
may be slower at each SF stage (more time for the contract, more time for the preferred future, etc., depending on the group size and facilitator’s approach to working with groups),
has a group dynamic going, which can affect the group work (i.e. some participants are more extravert than others, more willing to engage, etc.),
there is a risk to lose individual participants to keep the group running,
brings huge rewards and pleasure for the worker, as after building the contract (common group agreement and individual hopes), the group does most of the work itself, while the worker steps back, becomes the facilitator the process and holds the space for them.
Below is an example of the whole Solution Focused (SF) group process description. These exercises were developed through lots of failures and some successes working with diverse groups. It is very rare to have an opportunity to run the whole SF process, mainly because of lack of time. If so, you might want to choose what suits a certain group and group aim. Groupwork can pretty much take any facilitation methodology you come up with. If you like music, use music. If you like people to move around a lot, use that. The important thing is to be transparent with the group of what you are inviting them to do (the language of “inviting” rather than “getting” them to do something works better) and give very simple and clear instructions. This way it is likely that the group will perceive you as someone who is with them and will give them a chance to express their aspirations and needs, hence taking over the ownership.
Contract or building the platform
a) Introductions – when the group members do not know each other (or do not know each other well):
find a partner you don’t know (or don’t know well)
think of one thing you’re really pleased about (individually)
introduce yourself to your partner (name, what you do/where you come from, etc., what went well)
turn to another pair and make a four: introduce your partner by transforming what you heard about them into a compliment.
b) building common agreement (contract): from I to we (suitable for groups up to 50 where the common goal of the group is yet unknown):
What is my hope for this event (training, group meeting) as myself?
What is my hope from this event (how will I know this activity has been useful for me when it is over and I am back home)?
What do I need to function well in the group?
What do we need to function well in the group?
Each participant writes individually, then in their fours (or fives if the group is larger) discuss what they’ve written and create some “ingredients for the common agreement”. Then pick one person who will share it with the whole group. The facilitator then introduces the common agreement and a “parking lot” for additional rules and suggestions that might not have been addressed or might occur later.
This can be done with the whole group at once, changing partners with each question. The exercise is exploring what the group members came for with their peers. The point is not to tell what they came for (not to disclose their best hopes)but only describe the difference it would make. If working on individual hopes, the facilitator invites the participants to think of something they want to change in their lives (a positive change). If working on group’s hopes, the miracle will change (insert what the group comes up with as a desired outcome, perhaps take it from the common group agreement).
Make a people carrousel (facing each other, each round changing partners) with questions such as:
Think of the weirdest question you could ask (invites them to the miracle, creates a lively atmosphere)
What in your life is already going well?
Imagine a miracle happened and what you came here for (or the purpose of the activity in case there is a very clear purpose to which everyone agrees) is already happening (is the best activity you ever attended). What would be the first sign to you?
What would be different for you in your life, if this miracle happened?
What gives you the confidence that you have got the potential to reach your desired outcome (in case it is the common outcome -what is already giving you the clues that you will benefit from this activity hugely?)
Which skills and resources are you already possessing that might support you on this journey (in case it is the activity itself, which skills and resources of yours will be most valuable in this group to make this activity worthwhile?)
Who would you most like to share your successes with when you return home? Why?
What will other group members be noticing about you that will tell them you are benefiting from the activity? (optional, only if everybody really wants to be there).
Instances of success
An example of tracking instances of success is the exercise called “Hot seats”. You can change the setting based on whether the group is focused on individual or group outcomes. This exercise is only appropriate when there is enough group trust and enough time for everyone to sit on “hot seats”.
Having someone present a case/plan/idea
Having two or three people asking more details around their case/plan/idea
Having the audience tracking instances of success, such as observing what in this idea/plan is already going well. When people in other hot seats stop asking questions, the audience provides appreciative feedback to the person presenting their case/idea.
Using scales in group work
Can be done for very different purposes, for instance:
to check with the group where we are during the activity (10 is you are benefiting perfectly from the activity and 1 is you are not benefiting at all – on a scale mark where you are currently, then explore together how come it is not lower and what would be the signs of a n+1)
to get ideas from peers (scaling walk, useful to close the activity)
to track footsteps into signs of progress (useful to close the activity)
a) When the group is mature and coming towards an end:
Stick papers on each other’s backs. Each participant writes things they appreciated about other participants on their back. They mingle among themselves with the aim to write to as many backs they can. At the same time others will write on their own backs and the key is not to pay attention who is writing on your back.
After 10-15 mins or so (depending on the group’s size), come back and sit in a circle. Take the papers off your back and read it. Pick three things that touched you most and write them on a small piece of paper to keep with you forever. Share in a circle (optional).
b) in crisis situations
Have a cubicle and a list of 6 SF questions such as What do we have to get right, how will we know we are moving forward, What is still working well, etc. and offer participants to randomly throw it at each other. This activity rearranges the power relations and returns the ownership of the activity to the group.
c) final closing
Allow the group to organise itself how they would like to close the activity. It can be sharing in the circle, using some symbol cards (i.e. Dixit cards) and hold the space for their comments, questions, curiosity.
*All of these exercises can be adapted for online groups, using digital tools.
Hope you found this article useful, do give it a go and share it as you wish. And if you would like to sharpen your skills as a group leader and facilitator, Chris Iveson and myself will run another groupwork course at BRIEF in autumn 2022. These courses are incredible and always lead to new innovations, for example this one from last year:
And some other very useful resources for group activities:
SF Activities: Rohrig, P., & Clarke, J. (Eds.). (2008). 57 SF Activities for Facilitators and Consultants: Putting Solutions Focus Into Action. Solutions Books.
some of you have been with me since the beginning of this page (2014) and some of you have been a huge or a small part of this journey over the past seven years. A while ago, way before the pandemics, I was sat at a hairdresser’s, kept there way longer than I was willing to and served by a woman that was too talkative for my taste but she changed the way I view the time and purpose of life since this strange encounter.
As is often the case with hairdressers, they are far better therapists than us. And also great conversation makers. She told me everything about her family, her being in London, her past, present and future. A part of the story was about her grandfather who used to be very close to her when she was little, back in Greece. He was a jolly kind and very popular man, but much trouble to his wife, as nobody really knew how many children he had and how many women with. As such, female village counterparts were pretty cross with the bloke, but somehow my hairdresser, back then a little girl and him formed a bond for life. And one day she asked him: “Grandpa, so many people are cross with you and unhappy with how you are, so many people love you, so many people want you beside and also lots of people want to see you dead – why don’t you live more like they want you to? Why are you this way, so … free and careless?” And his answer was impressive. He said: “Kiddo, I am only here on a tourist visa. This visa will one day expire. I am not here to waste any of my time, nor to postpone what I want to do and how much love I want to give to later, because I am not sure when the expiry date will be. So my stay here is very temporary and I want to fully embrace it. Remember kiddo, this is not a permanent residence we’ve been granted, it’s merely a tourist visa.” Oddly, he died when he was 101 so his visa had quite a long duration and at present, there’s a legend circulating about him as the man who lived fully, but as if he was going to die anytime. At his funeral thousands cried and one of his grandchildren started an organisation helping young people find their purpose in life and place in this world.
We drag so much stuff around with us as we go about living in this world. Things we think we need, insurance policies we are hoping to protect us from the future, luggage and double packed items that are “just in case”, people and relationships that are not right for us but we still keep them “in case they change” and so on. And all this stuff paradoxically only enhances our sense of vulnerability – the more we drag around, the more vulnerable we feel. And the older we get, the less we dare and the safer we play.
A long time ago I wrote a post on not letting go, but instead letting in. And throughout this journey, I have been deliberately focusing on this – letting new things in and allowing for them to work their magic, instead of putting focus on trying to eliminate, get rid of or let go of the things that were not serving, supporting or useful anymore. This required a lot of trust in things working out and not getting in the way by trying to work too hard to work them out. And here I am now, seven years later, in another country, doing things I love, being able to love and be loved. And soon, I will be entering a different stage of life, where my life path and visa will be shared for a while, who knows how long and to what extent, but hoping it would be long enough sharing it with a man that has been everything I ever hoped for in every aspect, so much so it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s real. As it’s sometimes hard to believe that my life path and journey would ever include welcoming a little girl into this world. I am very much hoping that her arrival and start to life will be in a way that she’ll be able to enjoy her family and soon into a life where hopefully, she will be able to create a life experience for herself that she and those around her would be pleased with.
Welcome to my world little baby girl, a world that is no longer mine but expanded and shared with your dad. Thank you for giving us both a chance to become a family and to experience joys of having you and each other. I am of course terrified you’re a girl, because if you’ll be anything like I was in my teenage years, only universe can help me understanding and supporting you, but I am looking forward to it nonetheless. Hope you will always know that your mum can kick ass when needs be so you can have an example of a woman who is standing tall in flip flops in this world and is not afraid of anything, but also one that has her embrace open for you to come to, even or especially when you won’t feel like.
We can’t wait to meet you. And for you, dear reader, I can’t wait to see where the next blog will come from – what time, what state, what content. It might be a while before it happens and perhaps you might no longer be interested in it – a sign that our paths are not crossing anymore. Or you might start sharing it more closely and see something in it that could be of use for you. In either case, I am pleased you are here, sharing your tourist visa and hoping that your stay here is full of life in all it has to offer in a way that is right for you.
a while back I posted about our Strategic Partnership we have with Estonia and Poland and our first training course on Solution Focused Approach which I led is now being put into online version which is ready for you to use! And now I am pleased to announce that our second training course which will be led by my valued colleague and friend Marta Skorczyńska is out and ready to receive applications!
This course will be on non-violent communication and with this blog, we are particularly inviting participants from SLOVENIA only. Lodging and accommodation costs are covered and there is a budget for travel costs too. If you are interested, see more info here. Registrations close on July 2nd. For any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. This project has been a wonderful experience so far so I am more than pleased to invite you to take part this training course.
Btw – the course will be face to face! What a change, huh?
you might have been puzzled or intrigued by all the talk and chatter about the Solution Focused Approach. This site hopefully provides some sort of start so that you can get an idea of what that is, but if you’d like to know more, I’m pleased to announce that this upcoming Wednesday I am hosting a short webinar on the topic.
In the webinar, I’m going to walk you through and introducing you to an approach that changed my professional (and bits of personal) life. If you’ll feel like this might be for you, I’ll also present an opportunity for you to get trained in the basics of the approach – for free. For the past year, we have worked hard with partners from Estonia and Poland to make this happen and now it’s finally here – a brand new online training that will teach you the basics and in this webinar I’ll be so pleased to give you a chance to see it and later on try it yourself should you wish to.
If you’d like to attend the webinar, please register here.
Hope to see you on Wednesday, 9am GMT+1 (10am CET).
a couple of weeks ago, we ran a training together with Chris Iveson, co-founder of BRIEF but also my first supervisor, colleague, co-trainer and a dear friend. Soon after I completed my own SF training at BRIEF, we started doing work together – Chris came to teach with me on my Solution Focused training for professionals in Slovenia in years 2016 and 2017, we presenter together at international conferences, I was BRIEF’s guest to teach at their Diploma and other courses, until they offered me to run a course on my own in 2019 and for the past two years, Chris and I have been working together more closely as co-trainers, with the mission to bring Solution Focused Approach to countries, territories and disciplines where access to training is limited unaffordable and/or doesn’t exist at all. As such we travelled, even in the year of Covid (virtually) to Pakistan, India, Iran and are having activities lined up to travel to Africa and more of Asia in 2021.
The course we recently ran together was about Solution Focused Groupwork – Solution Focused approach for group facilitators. We got lucky for having a privilege to work with a group of 35 marvellous, skilled and dedicated practitioners, so we were already confident (and also hopeful) that two days together would have high chances to result in outstanding outcomes that neither of us could predict at the time we were planning the course.
And one Saturday before the course, my first Guardian paper arrived to our house. Chris has been tempting and nudging me with getting a subscription for years and I have no idea what made me finally agree at the beginning of April 2021. But I do believe that things happen for a reason and in the first paper read in my bed while having coffee and strawberries proved this once again. I was reminiscing about our upcoming course, when this article came up. And then in a blink of an eye, an illuminating thought came to link the metaphor of Kintsugi to the work we do in therapy, coaching and group work. I took a screenshot and sent it to Chris with a text saying “Let’s use this in our course!” and so it began. Before I could start putting my thoughts in shape, Chris had already given it a go with a group of trainees he was with. The response was promising and we started talking. Exploring. Wondering. Trying. Thinking. Hoping. More wondering. More trying. Until an exercise with thought through, deliberate and carefully selected questions was born. We offered this exercise to our group and gave it a proper go with the invite, that participants mute their microphones, but say their answers out loud in our common online space. The beauty of group work is that the facilitators will never know how a certain activity and invite will land and what the participants are capable to do and achieve together as a group. Our group made the exercise better, it brought us new metaphors and language, so we moved from an exercise of “A Broken Pot” to “New lives from broken dreams”. We explored the metaphor of “gold” and introduced a metaphor of “mosaic” rather than a reconstructed pot. So our group has merits that we went beyond the “Art of Repair” which is often associated with Kintsugi, to the art creating new lives. We are thankful to our group for testing this exercise and giving us feedback, which made us want to record it and make it publicly available so that more people can use it, either for themselves as a self help tool, or as an activity used in their group work or training where participants have gone through an experience where their dreams were broken, their hopes dashed, their future destroyed and somehow they are still here.
You can view and try the exercise here:
There will be a written form of this exercise coming up too, to make it really inclusive. Chris and I are looking forward to seeing it be used, replicated, cited, taken on new levels, so let us know what you think and how you use(d) it.
Meanwhile – we will run the groupwork course again. When? When the time is right!
Happy New Year, may it be called a Year of Hope and may it sprout all the seeds you have been planting over 2020!
If I have learned one new thing since the pandemic started, it has been running virtual groups, virtual teams, facilitating virtual meetings and delivering trainings online. And to be honest, I have been enjoying it massively! All the discoveries and possibilities that online environment offers very early on outweighed the doubts and frustrations for not being able to meet face to face. Below is an example of one such event, where Chris and I together delivered a hugely successful post-conference workshop in India. Literally, sky’s become no limit when it comes to running virtual groups. But as they say, it ain’t easy!
Solution Focused approach can be used in a wide variety of fields and settings, ranging from therapy to management, and working with individuals or with groups. Solution Focused Groupwork, whether as therapy, training, support, coaching, or facilitation, and in classes, meetings and other settings, on-line and face-to-face, offers huge potential and can be a very cost-effective, practical and enjoyable way of working with several people at the same time, whether a few or several dozen. It also requires a somewhat different application of Solution Focused skills to those used in individual work. And here’s what Chris and I have prepared for you for 2021: a two day course in Solution Focused Groupwork, that will be delivered online!
In this course, you will explore with Chris and myself how to apply the Solution Focused approach in a variety of settings, both virtual and ‘real’. Chris and I have worked with groups of children, young people, parents, trauma survivors, women in violent relationships, teams and leadership groups. With this experience, together with your experience and skills, you can expect two days of lively, creative, inspiring and highly practical applications of the principles of Solution Focused Groupwork. You will then want to use the what you have learned with your groups immediately, whether you have been working in group settings for a long time, or are thinking of starting to do so. And even if you are already experienced in using the SF approach in your practice, you will gain lots of new skills and ideas from this course.
During our two days together, we will explore the following topics:
Off to a good start: group warm up & group contracting
Group spirit & formation: building collaboration, safety, curiosity and respect
Using the group as a resource to make change simple: preferred future
Group discovery of histories of preferred futures: what is already working
Using scales in Groupwork
Solution Focused negotiating in/with the group
Solution Focused debriefing and reflection in groups
Group endings: backpack of ideas for after the group stops meeting
Various group formats, size, settings and duration: adapting SF
How to plan Groupwork & stay SF in it (when things go left instead of right)
This workshop will prove invaluable in providing a core set of basic principles for conducting any type of group I which you want to maximise the constructive contribution of all group members.
Chris Iveson and BRIEF, the leading training provider of Solution Focused Practice, have been my first teachers of SF when I accidentally bumped into it in 2014. And since, have remained my nr. 1. Over the past years, Chris and I grew closer as colleagues, friends and especially since 2019, co-trainers. Having workshops delivered for larger groups as well as boutique teams (in 2020 we visited Pakistan, India and Iran) we discovered that our training styles and diverse experience uniquely complement each other, so we decided to run this course for you.
Chris Iveson founded BRIEF with his colleagues, Evan George and Harvey Ratner in 1989 and with them has been developing the most minimal and simplified version of this world-wide phenomenon, Solution Focused Practice. He is author and co-author of many books about the approach, including the much-translated Solution Focused Brief Therapy: 100 Key Points and Techniques and Brief Coaching: A Solution Focused Approach. A former teacher, social worker and family therapist and manager Chris brings a wealth of experience to both his practice and teaching. He is also a well-respected presenter around the world.
I’ve been working with groups since 2008. My work varies from running groups in formal settings: university tutors, students with disabilities, academic staff, EU commission, Slovenian government as well as non formal education on international level under Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps. I’m experienced in running groups as well as teams of various sizes and durations, some of the topics of which include tolerance, youth entrepreneurship, human rights, peace education, inclusion, conflict resolution, stress management, mental health, solidarity and non-formal education.
This course will be epic. Details to register can be accessed here. Chris and I are looking forward to welcome you on board!
as the society and humans develop, new minorities, inequalities, injustices and vulnerable groups emerge who at some point when being oppressed for too long, dare to speak up. And the society responds first ignoring them, then trying to shut them down before they are willing to listen.
Gradually, with lots of confusion at first, I got quite close to a group, not in the most pleasant way, that has been existing probably for a tale as old as time and still continues to be, silent all these years. Step mothers. Until not long ago I used to be one. For 11 years.
This group is traditionally marked as “vicious” or “wicked” or “evil”. Like in the lovely story of Cinderella. And I have felt it on my own skin what it’s like to be labelled as the one who:
Took away the daddy/husband
Is a gold digger
Has ruined the family
Is the reason everything went wrong
Has impacted or even disabled the healthy development of the children by being toxicIs crazy
And so on.
For 11 years I tried to cope, understand and be supportive, cooperative and tried to change things, but got dismissive and rude behaviour in return over and over. Until I realised that it was never me who was the core problem of family issues, but even so served more than a handy culprit who came at the right time to take blame and guilt for everything that ever went and continues to be, wrong.
Being a stepmother or the other woman in a relationship also comes with huge responsibility where she is expected to understand and put others’ needs first, especially children (of course, they get hurt the most) and yet will still get in the way, but no-one will ever pay any interest in her needs or wellbeing no matter what she does or doesn’t do. And if she gets tired or leaves, she will be blamed again for doing so. In my example, I came in the middle of family secrets that had nothing to do with me, but yet was the main suspect for the scandal. I got blamed for being successful and creating a life where I blossomed, I was even looked down upon when my husband got ill as if I had a magic wand to make it better or as if I should get ill myself in order to show love and dedication, but on the other hand, it was still too difficult to get any sign of appreciation, but not even show basic respect and manners for any of my efforts.
Having lived through this experience, I learned that the less hard I tried to understand the other perspective, the more opportunities arose in my life until I started focusing only on what mattered to me and areas of life where I could thrive. Don’t take this wrong – it was an awful journey with lots of societal pressure on what I should do/say/feel and nearly all of it came from people who have never experienced anything similar or had done anything to help. And at some point I discovered that there was whole world of women out there who were going through exactly the same. Fellow “gold diggers”, “family breakers”, “twinkies” and the like, maybe it’s time that we reconsider the story of poor Cinderella and vicious step mother and create the story of all those step moms who got in the middle of a muddle that wasn’t even theirs, but even so tried their best to lend themselves to humiliation, non recognition and non representation. Step moms are not villains. Nor are others, to be fair here, but the lack of recognition and reputation of wickedness, craziness and evil is not doing step moms justice. It just isn’t fair, so before you label another step mom, at least try and ask her about her experience and efforts. You might be surprised to discover that you actually might have a lot in common.
I came because of love. And got blamed for breaking the family apart, a family that was already broken.
I stayed for a long time. And got blamed for breaking the family apart, a family that was broken.
I walked away. And again got blamed for breaking the family apart that is broken still.
Dear step moms of the world – you are not alone in this and it is likely that you did nothing wrong. I’ve done lots of research and spoke with many step moms of all ages, with or without their own kids and I heard the same stories over and over – stories of not wanting to speak up for they were the ones that were vicious, evil and guilty. I also spoke with those step moms, who travelled the journey of liberating themselves from those invisible chains, many of which were probably put on by themselves, willingly, hoping that love will make things right. Those were stories of journeys that were hidden and no-one was willing neither to tell nor listen to, but I have and here we are – you are not alone and you are probably a completely normal lovable loving person who is doing her best. I hope you never forget this and don’t let be persuaded otherwise by anyone. Those that try to do so have their own issues and battles to fight and remember, their issues are theirs, not yours. Do get in touch if you could use a listening ear or even support. We have been running occasional support groups so – you are definitely not alone.
And dear ones who are wanting to ignore, shush or judge – I wish that you or your children will never have to experience anything similar. There is great love out there for all of us. So look after each other, closely or from a distance, but don’t turn against yourselves. I’ve a life to live now and so do you. There is so much love there for all of us. Love that will come in a shape of being able to fully hold you, without ever denying you or making you a culprit for someone else’s laundry. I stayed for love for a long time. And am now letting go for love that I was in the way of to flow, while I’ll be letting the new love in.
A bow to you all, keeping head high up, wishing you nothing but the best and stay in good health and spirit.
we often hear that rhetoric question “what is life without love”? And that notion of love being the ultimate driving force that keeps everything moving and sorts things out. You will also come across poetic writings in literature about love being a verb, which is very interesting, for language does determine how we think about things and life. In today’s blog I’ll explore the concept of romantic love between two partners. Other types of love we might do some other time.
Everybody talks about love and yet we don’t often know what it truly is and have difficulty describing it. We do slightly better by feeling (or not feeling) it. In the sense of when you love someone, you put up with things you never would with another person, you will go 29386 extra miles for them and they may be giving you million reasons to leave, but you are deciding to stay for only one reason, over and over again – because you love them. When your phone pings and you see their message your heart jumps. When you see your loved person, your body reacts to them. When you hear their voice, your own melts. When they don’t give you affection, you feel hurt like hell. And when you catch their eye, if it’s mutual, you both know how the other one is, you have common language, you feel each other and you work things out. Without wanting to change the other person. Am I being overly romantic? Today I had a chat with someone, who said my standards were too high, I should have been more realistic and such love doesn’t exist in real life. I said I won’t apologise for making them uncomfortable because their standards were lower than mine. And I didn’t.
Romantic relationship scene in London is quite unique, I must say. I hear it from my clients and I see it with my friends as well as myself. In such a multicultural city, where people do their lives differently as well as process and express their emotions in different ways, it’s not easy to find true love. Many times the word might be used prematurely and too easily, saying “I love you” way too casually, like misusing the word “happiness”. Both then get a bad name, people get bitter and disappointed and, well, unloved, blaming love for it. But love’s nothing to do with it, or does it?
So how do you recognise if you really love someone when you are not sure? And how do you know they really love you back? If love is a verb, it means it’s something we do. If love is a noun, it’s something we have. If it’s an adjective, it’s something we are. Whichever resonates with you better, take it. In life they probably go hand in hand, interchangeably. Let’s first explore how you know if you truly love someone. Do you love them because of something the other person has or does? Would your love stop if they did something to upset you? Does your love change based on what the other person does or does not do?
Now let’s go for the other side, how do you know you are loved – do you feel like you can wave your fist in front of the other person over and over and they will still be there with you? What would happen if the two of you terminated the relationship – would the other person still care for you? Or would they punish you? Manipulate you?
If you are not sure, try breaking up and see what happens. I don’t want to suggest this as something you should do (how would I know anyway), rather I’m offering this as food for thought. Would you be happy for the other person if you saw them being happy with someone else? Would they be happy for you? Would you wish the best or the worst for them? Would they pick up the phone if you rang them?
If you find yourself still having gentle, loving feelings towards the other person even when they are not with you, then you probably love them. If you are happy to be seeing them happy, even when this picture does not include you, you probably love them. If your affection for them is constant (which does not mean you wouldn’t get upset or cross with them), you probably love them. And if you are wanting to have them back in your life, but not forcing them to, you also probably love them.
Similar could go from the other perspective, so let’s build further from here. If you no longer had a relationship, what would the other person do – would they erase you from their life? Would they be insulted? Would they be playing games with you by using your friends in order to get to you? Would they disappear? Take revenge? Do you harm? I’m sure you could find your explanations on what those behaviours are so I won’t offer mine here, but one thing is certain – it’s not love.
In the end, love is going to kill us all. Or save us all? Have you ever been truly loved? Or truly loved someone? Have you experienced both? At the same time? Is this something that is common or rare? Let’s see what you think. Hope this is useful.
everyday we have a chance to discover and define ourselves brand new – who we are and who we want to be. I like the saying that goes we are an average of 5 people we spend most time with (so choose wisely!)
Recently, I took on a new challenge. I’ll be working as a coach with a feminist organisation in London, supporting young women in reaching economic justice, independence and fulfilling their potential. Working with young people 1-2-1 or as group work has always been at my heart and seeing young people unlocking their potential is one of the most exciting parts of professional life. But what is our role in helping them unlock it? Is our call to make a difference? Help people?
I’m not sure I believe in the concept of “helping” people. Such a statement somehow resonates in taking away the credits they deserve in the process and in helping professions we often paradoxically divert the verb “helping” away from its core by calling ourselves helpers, leaders, difference makers, uplifters, etc.
We are not gods in a sense to have something that others don’t, be it superpowers, super tools, a vision or other “supreme” qualities. Therefore, we must be very careful what verb we choose to describe what we do with people and in this world. Otherwise we might end up “getting people to do something”. And we shouldn’t. Not our place to get, move or make people do anything as if without us they would not be able to do it. There is an equal amount of divine energy in all of us when we let it show itself, so how can we allow that to happen and be in this world that might benefit others while they are unlocking their own potential? Here are a few ideas that emerged when thinking about my presence and doing my job better. I would like things working out for you so that you leave with:
Having confidence about you that is going to guide and support you, as you are figuring out where you want and can go in your life.
Having more clarity and energy as well as feeling like riding on a cloud rather than mere coping.
Having a full sense of who you are by embracing this world in all its fullness that it is and learning to appreciate all of the components of it that have led to where you are now.
Being a person that anyone who comes in contact with you will benefit as a result of being near you.
Not feeling bad when the above doesn’t happen.
Being kind, acceptant and friendly of yourself and anyone around you even when they do their lives differently. We are not perfect, we are never going to get our shit done and as such, we can’t get it wrong for life is happening for us, not to us, differently for everybody.
Having way more fun on the way.
Sleeping good and eating well however that looks for you.
Tuning into the frequency of who you really are and spreading the joy of it.
Wanting others to have that too.
These 10 ideas have been immensely helpful in thinking how I want to do my job as well as how I want to be in this world as a professional. Without having to step on a stage and shout how cool these ideas are. They may sound completely rubbish. Or totally useful. Both ways can lead to you discovering your own.