A Patient Cured is a Customer Lost (about ethics in therapy and coaching)

Dear reader,

This came across as I was sipping my morning coffee. In therapy and coaching, there are numerous examples of unethical practices and behaviours. One of them is surely keeping clients in therapy or coaching process longer than necessary and useful for them and sometimes these intentions might be profit driven.

When I deliver trainings in Solution Focused Practice for professionals around the EU and UK, I often tell them that if they want to become rich, they have to change to another modality. SF process is brief and if one is surviving on clients only, one might either become really good at constantly and frequently attracting new clients, or make their living elsewhere (or be unethical, which I will not consider at all atm).

Solution Focused Practice will invite you to think about your preferred future. It will help you describe new ways of living for yourself and might open up new possibilities of a future you consider worth living. It will not tell you what to do and will not provide an explanation of why you haven’t managed to get there yet (or reversed, why you have been in the situation you do not want to be in). The research across cultures, countries and settings shows to have lasting effects comparable to any other type of therapy or coaching, with the difference that you arrive at your desired outcome faster. So why do more, when you can do less? Why spend half of your life in therapy if there are other, faster and lighter options with the same outlooks?

And one more thing re below picture. Therapy and coaching in my modest opinion, are not business services. They should not correlate to one’s ability to pay or afford it. The practitioner should always strive to be brief – not do one session more than what is absolutely necessary. And the “necessity” should always be determined by the client, not your expert opinion. So when the patient feels well, they should not be given extra drugs “just in case” or when the client feels they are able to move on or live their life in the way that is right for them, they should not be imposed another session “just in case”. If they ask for it, that’s a different thing altogether.

So whenever you meet a therapist or coach who will tell you in advance how many sessions it will take, walk away. They have no ways of knowing and their theories are merely theories – they help us think, but not always act.

Some Monday, huh? Wish you a good week ahead,

Biba

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Borrowed from Facebook.

 

Coaching for Change finished: a difference that made a difference

Dear reader,

yesterday we submitted the final report for our international project Coaching for Change.

Sometimes people say “Yeah these international projects are fun and cool, but they do not really make any difference, nor do they have any lasting effects”. I suppose people having these thoughts speak from experience and I would not dare to argue with them. And I want to share with you that our project does not fit that basket.

It has been nearly 9 months since our Training Course in Frankolovo, Slovenia, where 28 people lived and worked closely together and by the end of the course, practiced Solution Focused Coaching conversations smoothly and independently. In these 9 months many things happened: people change locations, change jobs, change professions … move on with their lives. And for some reason, we stayed in touch with each and every one of our participants. I think the reason behind this has to do with us writing the project together.

As I was putting the contents together for our report for the National Agency and European Commission and as I was editing the videos we made during our sessions, I felt such gratitude. What we have done was much more than just another training course. What we started then, was a milestone: we started a new movement. Being a part of this makes me humble and emotional, as it is such a gem when one has a possibility to not only participate, but initiate something as big.

So I would like to share some of the feedback our participants shared. Let their voice speak on our behalf.

Many changes and news in my life. First of all after hard and stressful months I’ve tried the test for a very particular course at the university of Milan and I’m in. I still couldn’t believe it, only 80 seats it’s an economics course with service profile in collaboration with the tourism and social Chamber of Milan. I think in it I could express my passion for practice mathematics and at the same time my love to help the other… and after let’s see what the life is going to offer me. In those months I’ve used a lot what I learnt at the course especially for myself… I realised that so often my way of thinking and see the situation is completely changed with SF. I haven’t used it in professional field, I would not be able but with the kids I look after at the centre, or also in conversation with friends It’s helped me a lot. And I would like to go deeper with coaching because it’s something that I really feel in myself.

I’m writing a field diary with conclusions and reflections for my jobs and I’m having sparkling moments! Now I’m more aware of what we learnt thanks a lot for all., I’m more focused on adults and I do approach them with SF questions. SF training was really interesting and useful for me to improve as a professional and share the informations whit my job partners – those with whom I work more directly. I would really like to participate in an advanced training because it is useful for me as a career counsellor. and to share the knowledge with my team.

I have used the skills in situations, but i did not have intensive changing sessions, it was more used in taking steps to achieve some result. I would love to join an advanced course! I switched workplaces though. Im now working for an organisation supporting youth houses! I am using SF questions, but not in the way we learned it.. i recognise the fact that i implement the theory of solutions focused, but more in groups and not so much for changing behaviour, but changing views.

I am in my last year of my Master’s study, meaning I have been fully occupied writing the thesis. I noticed that during writing and talking to my other colleagues I used some of the SF questions we learned and I tried to break the complaining culture. My colleagues have noticed this and when I was not doing it they asked me to “ask some of your questions, because they are really useful!”. So I have in a way coached our entire class!

The project had a great impact on me and I believe also on what I do and on the people around me. Since the moment I came back I tend to focus on the positive things that happens to me and basically I feel like I am living a more fulfilling life. I truly believe that it s the point of view I had on the things and not the things themselves to make me sad sometimes. This thoughts I have are supported by some moments I lived during the course. When I think to them again I feel empowered and sometimes I find new elements of reflection. One of them is when we had to work in groups and write on a big piece of paper what was solution focused for us? When our group came up with that drawing with many lines with different colors… I don’t know if you remember, but it was extremely powerful for me. I used some of the questions with people around me and I had surprised reactions, like I was asking an unexpected question, but always interesting answers. I truly believe I helped some people tho see other sides of the same reality, myself first.

I tend not to give advice and to accept that the solution with which some people come up with can be a good one for them even if it doesn’t make any sense for me. Maybe there is no order in what I wrote, it was out of enthusiasm . By the way, when I come back I decided to change university and degree. Instead of going on with philosophy, after I graduated I took up a master degree in development and management of human resources and I find it great. I really hope you keep on doing what you are doing because that project was great for me. I will be organising a brainstorming afternoon for a group of 20 people and I would really like to have a process with them, before the brainstorming, to create an atmosphere of positivity/solution focus/no criticism and I want to teach them the SF mindset.

I am more self confident about myself. Training course was a moment to stop, reflect and make an inner turn. I would say I got more independent and self trusting myself in personal and professional life. It gave self confidence to develop constellation as an approach in my profession. The most useful moment was when we shared our future plans and our team members gave the feedback . Now when I look back almost one year ago, I have reached exactly what I wrote and the comments responds to way it happened. So it was a good bread for the road. As well it was my first meeting with Slovenia. A beautiful meeting to fall in love with this country.

I’m using the knowledge I gained thanks to you, almost every day. In my personal life I started to look for my resources in a more conscious way and focus on what I’m grateful for. In my work I started to give much more positive feedback and I use the SF questions in a lot of situation. For example when I start it finish a training or during debriefing an activity. It works really well. Thank you all!

No more words are needed, right?

So if you would like an insight into some of our sessions, have a peek into my YouTube channel and witness the brilliance of our participants.

Coaching for Change videos

Let us continue what we started. If you would like to join, let us know 🙂

Your trainer’s team

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Your trainer’s team

Only for people with low self esteem

Dear reader,

if you are one of those who consider themselves not being self confident, not having very high self esteem and who are experiencing doubts about your skills, abilities, etc., ..

.. this post is for you. If you are fully confident you are one of the best, this post is not for you, so do not keep going.

I’m seeing enormous numbers of clients since September. Men, women, various age, different ethnical groups, social class and definitely different abilities. Before starting to work as a coach and more recently, as a therapist, I worked as a head of tutors for students with disabilities. Hence I met many students. I trained several hundreds of people in numerous groups. Let me tell you a secret.

People I met who were the most capable, special, most skilled, gifted and promising were people, whose self esteem was rather low or very low. These people were full of doubts and very often pretty insecure, quiet and shy.

Their bright minds prohibited them to see their own brilliance, which was probably the reason why others could see and recognise it.

Mass media persuade us high self esteem and self confidence is the key to success. By this we are targeting the belief that we should believe we are something special and that we can do whatever we opt to, no matter what. I think high self esteem is not the key to success and growth. Here’s why.

  • If we believe we are something special and unstoppable, but without moral values concerning the wellbeing of others, we can easily become brutal, heartless and without any internal boundaries. Some of the gangster leaders, brokers, bankers, owners of multinationals are very high in self esteem. Yet only look at what they are doing to our community.
  • Thinking we are special does not necessarily make us special. If you think you can sing, doesn’t necessarily mean you really can.
  • Being content too quickly leads to sloppiness and shallowness. If you are happy with your achievements and inputs of average quality, you are not likely to be heading down the masterpiece route.
  • Yes, it is more likely you will be noticed and yes it is more likely you will have more doors open if you are high in self esteem. Yet if that’s about it for you, people will notice soon enough. And on the long run it doesn’t pay off. You need to demonstrate some real skills then. And they do not develop through nourishing your self esteem.
  • Even if you do have the skills and are truly gifted, having high self esteem can easily drag you into the zone of comfort. This is where you stop being modest and from there you won’t be able to grow any further.

Here’s on the other hand how having low self esteem works for you:

  • You are your worst enemy and no.1 critique. If you do something that you consider good, it is probably a masterpiece.
  • People like spending time in your company, because you can actually listen and are interested in what they have to say, others than talking about yourself
  • You don’t mind being and working alone, because you do not rely on others opinion.
  • When people criticise you, you take their opinion seriously. It might paralyse you for a moment or two, but once you recover, you will improve and get better.
  • The Pareto principle is not for you. Once you go into something, you strive towards perfection. Imagine what a gem you are for the team and to your boss … Imagine having someone like you as a help. Invaluable!

The bottom line: it is much easier to climb a step up and admit to yourself that you actually deserve some of the glory when you truly worked hard for it, than to step down from the pedestal of fake successes you ascribe to yourself. So I am really concerned by this mantra of being super confident, self assured, etc. It leads us to a society of narcissistic, self-reliant individuals. And yet I’m hopeful. Because I see many people. I met and am meeting many people. Many of them are not confident, some not confident at all and have very low self esteem. And this post is a tribute to them – thank you so much for letting me be with you on your remarkable journey and for teaching me this valuable lesson I’m sharing in today’s post! You are and will make this world bright again!

Biba

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Therapy doesn’t work. Coaching doesn’t work either. Clients work!

Dear reader,

in the field of helping professions, there’s a constant battle and rivalry between different approaches about which one works better, has longer lasting positive changes, is associated with better outcomes. There are so many theories about how human mind works, how our brain works as well as theories about behavioural, emotional and cognitive systems, concepts, maps, etc. We’ve got millions of pages written on expertise in different diagnoses, relational problems and family patterns. I don’t mean to be rude but

this is such bullshit.

None of the approaches work. Also none of the approaches doesn’t work. In reality, it doesn’t really matter. Because the one who work here are clients. The ones who make changes are clients. The ones who assess whether something is working in their life (or not) are clients and only clients. I find it ridiculous when professions try to beat each other by proving whose theory is correct. Every theory is correct until it is proven otherwise. We might as well say that every theory has chances of being incorrect. So why all that fuss about trying to explain human behaviour and why trying to analyse the underlying causes for unwanted situations? It only makes sense if we believe in expertise. That we or somebody else knows why something happened and can suggest what we might do in order to stop that happening now and in the future. Yet probably there aren’t many people (if any) who would be able to clearly see all the existing circumstances that influence current situation as well as predict the factors that might have an impact. Let alone to explain the reasons and to offer a correct conclusion on how to improve.

Less is more. To do more with less intervention is an approach that respects and allows clients to utilise what they already have. In my opinion at least, simple approaches are better than complex ones. Simple, but not simpler than simple. Not the same as easy!

Too bad that our society is full of experts of various kind. Take a company for example. When problems arise and company ends up in crisis, we have business analysts, financial analysts, counsellors, risk assessment agencies, coaches, management advisors and many more people, who make a living based on companies trouble. It so often happens that millions are spent on expert studies that result in no change. And it is also very often that the company is blamed for no change, because it didn’t follow expert advice.

This is how people make money. This is not how useful change happens.

In therapy and coaching we have a similar phenomena. Sometimes people are kept in the process of counselling for years, sometimes deliberately, sometimes voluntary. I’m not saying that approaches used in therapy and coaching do not work. Neither am I saying that they do work. Clients work. And it is abusive, disrespectful and actually a crime to keep clients in the process longer than it is absolutely necessary. Every session should be seen as a potential last session and it should take up not even one session more than it is necessary.

So who is it to decide what is necessary? The experts? Experts on whose life?

Who is an expert of your life? Marketing agencies? Media? Social beliefs?

Should be you.

Biba

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Slide used as training material in our Coaching for Change project

When you think you know everything, then you should be worried

Dear reader,

I am 32 years old. I don’t think I can be influenced that easily anymore. I know what my priorities, strengths and weaknesses are. And I’m confident in my knowledge, skills and abilities.

At least I thought so, until quite recently.

Since we had our first Diploma workshop in September in London, I feel like a beginner again. That workshop left me blank, shaken and wondering whether I know anything at all. It was not at all a pleasant experience and I needed quite some time to reflect upon what happened and to find ways forward.

The October was somehow much better, yet I am still very vague about the certainty, clarity and direction where I ought to be moving towards. Then I had a talk … to someone who knows me well, who is close, wants me to succeed and believes I will succeed. He said  he was pleased to witness what I was going through. Because he’d be worried if I weren’t. He said:

If you would right now be saying you know everything and are 100% confident in what you are doing, that would be a sign you are not learning. And if you are not learning, you won’t be able to grow. Those who are certain they know everything, are on the right track into regression.

So I am grateful. I do not believe in having absolute confidence, or the highest/brightest self esteem and self image, because that will come in the way of your learning. Being too satisfied with yourself and too proud will only sustain what you already know and will not introduce anything new. Which might not be a bad thing at all, but it will not bring any outstanding breakthroughs, but merely repeat the old habits.

A beginner’s mind opens up possibilities. An expert mind closes it.

Have a nice Sunday and a toast to all the shy people who struggle with confidence and not being certain. It might be a great sign that you are open to learning!

Biba

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Picture borrowed from http://fearlessyoga.tumblr.com/image/13513081365 (retrieved Nov 6th 2016)

 

 

Almost live broadcasting from sunny England

Dear reader,

Long time no hear. Since I moved to England, looks like I’ve been absorbed and swallowed into the British way of life and work. Kidding, only a bit, as I do not work 12 hours a day (yet). I find it immensely useful and encouraging when working with people who show dedication, passion, are helpful and looking for solutions and ways forward instead of looking for reasons to quit. Luckily here in London, there is such an atmosphere.

Currently, I’m seeing clients who responded to the Open Call and am working on the programme for the Second Professional Solution Focused Training in Slovenia in 2017. Since September, apart from being in London most of the time, Iz was also in Brugge, Bucharest and Malmo. My life is collected and summed up in a suitcase and a huge handbag that is only about one month old, yet already has some heavy marks from the airports, railways, coffee shops, pubs or double-deckers. In December we’ll start working on our second international project Coaching for Change 2 and I’m aiming high, possibly to make it a worldwide project. This is why I’ll be going to New Zealand in March 2017 to deliver a workshop about it at the AOTEAROA NZ conference.

It is nearly three years since I first heard about Solution Focused (SF) Approach. And the more I get to know it, the more I love doing it. Solution Focused Approach is simple to learn, yet not easy to perform. In Malmo meeting someone very distinguished and experienced SF practitioner said that it’s like chess – one learns the figures and moves pretty quickly, yet to become a chess master it takes hours of practice. The same is with learning SF – it can only be learned through practice. Reading and writing about it certainly helps and contributes to one’s understanding and knowledge, but in order to be able to have a solution focused therapy or coaching conversation it takes practice.

Why is it worth the efforts? Because it makes a difference. Because it is radically different from other approaches. Because it is associated with good outcomes. Because it transforms organizations and changes lives. And borrowing its tools and techniques gives people an opportunity to make a positive difference. In their environment, in the lives of others as well as their own. And this is big. For some even something worth living for.

 

London Calling! And an Open Call to experience SFBT conversations

Dear reader,

Tomorrow I’m partly moving back to London (UK) for one year. It’s actually huge news, as I’ll be attending a Diploma in Solution Focused Practice, hence becoming a Solution Focused Brief Therapist. I’m burning enthusiasm and energy! But I need your help.

You see, what practitioners say is not the same to what practitioners do. Talking about therapy or coaching is nowhere near to doing either of it. One cannot learn how to facilitate useful conversations from books alone. It takes a lot of practice.

So I’m moving to London for this particular reason. I reached a certain point in my life where I am proud of my work as a trainer and a coach and I trust my clients to have all the resorces necessary to make a change they want to see. So when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, they say. Ribalon’s second season is slowly closing, as is 2016. This year we launched the first Slovenian professional training in Solution Focused Practice and we splendidly coordinated and carried out our first European international project Coaching for Change. Both promising projects give me confidence that there’s a bright future for Ribalon and for Solution Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) in Slovenia. Like at the very beginning, I still very much believe SFBT is radically different to any other approach to coaching and therapy. And I want people to experience it, make use of it and learn how to benefit from it. So it’s only natural to return back to practice and sharpen my skills so I carry out my mission the best I can, to do SFBT justice.

I will be surrounded by many people in London, who are eager to see me succeed, perform well and who will assist me in my professional development. Meaning, they will closely monitor my work with clients. And I cannot do any work without my clients. My clients are my best teachers and the only true stakeholders to assess whether our work has been useful. I can’t create opportunities alone. Nor can I make a positive difference to anybody, without clients.

This is a call and an invitation for you, who are following this blog and for those you know, who are looking for opportunity to make a difference in their own, or their significant others lives. I’m inviting you to join this journey as a client and to experience the magic of SFBT yourself and contribute to its spread.

Simply click on the link below (a document with more detailed information) and apply. I would be honoured, if you would forward this Call to anybody whom you wish the best and would like to see them discover or find what they are looking for.

OPEN CALL for participants to be engaged in SFBT conversations

Many thanks and – see you soon!

Biba

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It’s not a goodbye. It’s a new hello!

European Breakthrough: Coaching for Change completed

Dear reader,

It’s a week since we have finished our 10-day intense international training course in Solution Focused Coaching for youth workers working with disadvantaged young people.

Already a week passed and I’m still not catching up with what has just happened.

The training course brought alltogether 31 people from 11 different EU countries. I’ve worked with many groups before and have had many trainings behind me, however this group was something special. It was pure heaven.

The outline of our training was quite daring and demanding – not everyone is able to spend 10 or more days out in the wild, without shops, sleeping in a barn with about 25 other complete strangers, without a drop of alcohol and with an agenda of working whole day long from 7.30AM until 18.30PM. Further, we designed the training programme in a way that our participants first experience Solution Focused in action, before actually giving it a name and explanation. This has caused some frustration and confusion at first, as the group was shaken and irritated. But we did not want to provide the answers up front. We wanted them to discover it themselves. However we could not anticipate the story would unfold like this.

We were lucky. The group managed splendidly. They learned. Fast, incredibly fast. The level of energy did not drop throughout the whole training. They wanted more and they self organized in order to get more from us. It was a huge privilege to work with such a group and to see it’s caterpillars turning into butterflies, one by one.

At the end of the course I was extremely proud. Proud to have created an atmosphere for such intense learning. Proud to have been able to witness the group and individual’s progress. And grateful for this opportunity to bring Solution Focused training to the target group that would otherwise never experience it.

I think this training course is an important milestone. I learned so much. About the group’s dynamics, about Solution Focused Approach, about myself as a trainer and myself as a coordinator. The project isn’t over yet, just it’s main activity has ended. We have much more work to do to track and monitor progress and to prepare a short video about it. Since it’s start back in December 2015, the project has changed a lot. Also the crew has changed. We kicked off with seven facilitators and now we are three in the end. And those three will take the project further. It was a huge gamble and risk bringing together new people, new partners as well as a new training design. However for some reason, not many things went wrong. There were some lessons, as I learned to choose people to work with really carefully and we learned more about what works and what doesn’t. But the bottom line was that the only complaint we received was that people were getting fat. A justified complaint I should say, so compliments to our cooks!

I also learned so much from my colleague trainers and from our dear participants, and am really looking forward to our future projects. Not sure yet what they might be. Maybe Coaching for Change 2?

Dear Betül, Mounir, Natalie, Gaya, Moonika, Madli, Bori, Bence, David, Anna, Pompei, Foued, Sofia, Dejvi, Lauma, Giovanni, Tim, Kamila, Paulina, Maja, Tina, Tinka, Denis, Aixa, Silvia,  Ella, thank you so much for being able to get to know you better and to be a small part of your learning journey!

Naomi, Giulia, Raúl, Bea, Hannes, Finn, thank you for your support throughout the project and for your future ideas and inputs!

Matjaž, Mojca, Jana, Romana thank you for your logistic and tehcnical support!

Leah and Árpi, thank you for making this training excellent, outstanding and what it was – a miracle in action! I’m honoured to be your co-trainer and am looking forward to more!

Biba

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Click here for more pictures.

Coaching for Change – our dream came true!

Dear reader,
our dream came true. Remember the post about our EU project? It’s become a reality. We managed to be successful in the second round and got top scores! Soooo, we’re launching the
CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS – international training course Coaching for Change
We are more than pleased to announce the invitation to participate in our first EU project, where Ribalon acts as the project coordinator.
Coaching for Change is an international Solution Focused EU project, bringing together 11 EU countries, starting on August 1st and lasting for 9 months.
The main activity, Training Course, will bring together 25 people and 4 professional facilitators and will take place from Aug 25th until Sept 3rd in Slovenia.
Most of our participants have already been recruited during the project application and preparation stage, yet we’d still like to offer an OPPORTUNITY FOR ONE PARTICIPANT from Slovenia to participate and apply.
Please find attached the project info pack where you can find out more about the project contents and practical arrangements.
Also, do forward this call and news and spread it round your channels 🙂 We’re here for you to answer any of your questions.
So happy for this incredible success and amazing opportunity to put Solution Focused in action!
Biba together with project partners
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Sky – definitely not the limit today!

There are no rules in life. There are only roles in life

Dear reader,

my hands are shaking from excitement as I’m writing this. Finished a videoconference call with a client from Germany in the morning and she pulled the trigger for this post.

She was diagnosed with pathological shyness in the past, as she was unable develop or keep normal relationships. She lived with this diagnosis her entire teenage life and is currently in the final year of her undergraduate studies. She sought my help because she asked for a coaching conversation with someone unknown, unbiased, who is keen on student population, their concerns and problems and would help her find a way forward.

As we talked, it turned out she is thinking about moving out of her country and continuing her studies on the masters level somewhere abroad. She was struggling with her indecisiveness, her fear that she would be unable to cope with unknown people and situations, as well as feeling frightened what would happen in case she doesn’t succeed.  It was pretty much a story that takes place quite often with young people at that age. Then something beautiful happened and I’m copying a section from our conversation (with her approval). Let’s call her Anna and I leave it up to you to decide whether this girl is truly pathologically shy:

Anna: … you know, it’s like first you have to go to school. Then you have to go to university. You have to perform with top scores, otherwise you won’t feel like you’re worth anything. Be the top of your class. Lend notes to your colleagues. Go to parties you don’t like. Get a boyfriend. Have sex because it’s embarrassing if you don’t at the age of 20. Then think about your masters. Get into the top schools, because this is how you’ll get an offer in a company. I’m trapped, I don’t think I can manage all that. And I can’t tell anybody, these thoughts are not good thoughts to have. It’s embarrassing.

Biba: what would the situation you could manage look like?

Anna: I couldn’t. I never could manage. You know I was diagnosed with being antisocial. I can’t cope because of that.

Biba: and if you somehow could? Suppose you could imagine a situation where you could manage, how might that look like?

Anna (long pause): I don’t know if I get your question. It’s a fact I can’t manage.

Biba: and if you could, how would you know you are managing?

Anna: this would be a totally different situation then!

Biba: like?

Anna (again long pause): first of all I wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t be the person I am.

Biba: what might you be?

Anna: I would be simply … enough being me, being as I am. I would do what I like to do. At the moment I don’t really think there’s much I actually like to do. I’ve even forgotten what is it that I really like!

Biba: and what do you like?

Anna: I like to read. I like to cook. I hate numbers [note: she was enrolled in a course that contained a lot of numbers]. I hate staying up late, just because my roomate does. I actually don’t even want to go to masters.

Biba: so you’re very clear about what you don’t want.

Anna: it’s quite a surprise really. I think I hate my entire life! This is not me! I’m not shy, I just don’t like to talk to people! I don’t want to be a good quiet girl anymore either!

Biba: so if you could define it brand new …?

Anna: I would love to, but I can’t … [long pause] I can’t do it because the picture that I like doesn’t fit with what I’m supposed to do right now. And it’s already too late. You know, I don’t mean to hurt anybody or cause anybody problems, nor my parents, teachers, nobody. I was always told to be a good girl and so I was. Trying to please everybody. And I thought they would like me for doing so. But it seems like I can never be enough, just being me. I will never be enough. So I have to do the masters to achieve something. Then get a decent job to earn enough money to be independent. That’s what I would like.

Biba: that’s what you would like, is this how your preferred situation might look like that you could manage?

Anna: no! That’s my current reality and it’s overwhelming! It’s like I’m choking here.

Biba: okay. So if we keep it where you are now, you get the masters, get the job that pays your bills, where do you hope this would lead to?

Anna: I don’t know. I might wake up one day and say my life was … meaningless. Even though I might achieve everything that is expected from me to achieve … Why do we do that, why do I do that, is this normal?

Biba: I think we all try to more or less fit within the rules of our society. What do you think?

Anna: Not sure. It seems like everybody I know is pretty happy with that. They like where they are and where they go. And I’m torn inside.

Biba: I meet many people that are unhappy with that.

Anna: You know what? I actually think there are no rules in life. We invented them just because everybody does it. It doesn’t mean that everybody SHOULD do it.

Biba: it doesn’t, no.

Anna: but I am afraid to do anything about it. I could probably still turn it around when I was younger. You know, before I enrolled to this stupid class. It’s too late for me now, I can’t reverse it.

Biba: imagine we would have your 15 year old and your 30 year old arguing about who is more right to be too late, what sort of arguments might they both use to convince you?

Anna: they would both have pretty strong arguments!

Biba: so what might be their strongest anti-arguments to convince you that it is the perfect time to start over?

Anna: well I could as well be 60. I could just kill myself then.

Biba: you could as well be 23 [she was currently 22].

Anna: I know. I don’t want to waste another year. I want something better, this time for me. But it scares me, you know, it really scares me, because if I do it, I won’t have any support. Nobody knows me like that, nobody is interested in what do I want. Nobody will like who I really am.

Biba: good, it is supposed to be scary! It means it is worth it.

She was perfectly right. There are no rules in life. Sure, you are born, you go to school, you find a decent job when you are 25, you find a partner, have kids by 30, get a dog by 35, buy a house and a family car, go on vacation, pay for children’s schooling, go into menopause, possibly divorce, maybe get grandchildren, retire by 65 and hopefully, have someone to grow old with. Life has a certain natural cycle, we all get older and so far no one has survived yet. But the rules of when you should do what and how were invented because the majority does it that way, not because it should be done that way. You are supposed to eat breakfast. Exercise. Not take drugs. Learn how to drive. Sleep at night. Be faithful. Be on time. Make money. Consume a lot. Park on marked places. All these are the rules that were invented and some of them indeed make most of our lives easier to manage. It is easier if you sleep at night and if you try to follow the principles of a healthy diet. But you don’t HAVE TO do it, if you found something different that works for you. Especially if you found something that is more beneficial for you and others around you.

You don’t have to force yourself to wake up early in the morning if you are more of a night type. You don’t have to get married if you don’t believe in marriage. You don’t have to do the masters or go to university just because everybody does it. You don’t have to eat bananas because they are rich in potassium, if you hate it. You don’t have to run if you prefer swimming. Also don’t have to watch the news if it doesn’t interest you. You don’t have to participate in conversations that you find meaningless or boring.

There are no rules. There are only roles and even the roles change. If you are a parent, you are in a role of a caregiver. Once your children are adults, they might become caregivers and your role will change. If you are a spouse, you are in a role of giving and receiving love and affection. If you are 60, your body probably isn’t the same as it was when you were 20. That doesn’t mean it has to hurt or that you are unable to have regular walks if you like to.

Everything is fluid. Everything constantly changes. You don’t have to be obedient in life just because you were told you should be when you were little. It might help though in certain contexts, but there is no one out there, to whom you should kneel because they are superior. Nobody is better or worse than you are. Nobody is allowed to take the leading part of your life, as this is YOUR part and YOUR life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. So don’t take the part of a victim and don’t bend down. It is your responsibility to discover what you like, what fits you and find your passion to share and express yourself in this world.

Sure, not everybody will like you because of that and you might disappoint quite some number of people. But those who will like you for who you are and how you are, will support you. Someone I love deeply said once to me that he’s been stupid nearly all of his life. And he doesn’t mind being stupid with me as well. There is nearly 9 billion people on this planet. You will find people that share similar interests and who are happy to be your kind of stupid. Even if it’s just a few, these few can support you in your authentic happiness that comes from within your true self when you find your integrity to dare being you.

DARE to be who you are and who want to be! You have nothing to loose, you might only get rid of certain clutter you don’t need in life. There are no rules, only roles, and roles change. Constantly.

Biba

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