We must do away with ALL the explanations

Dear reader,

for several months I wasn’t feeling too well, as you know. Now 100 people will have 100 explanations in terms of why. I’ve also been part of an intensive online programme where a bit less than 1,000 women are meeting together and learning about ancient wisdom, Chinese medicine, rituals, spirituality, manifestation, care, relationships, etc. It is a very nice community with high vibes and pleasant energy, however I’ve discovered that instead of feeling empowered, I am not benefiting personally. I have begun to neglect my own work, my own path, because I’ve spent too much time in this programme. Until I finally noticed it is probably not the best place for me to be at the moment. Shortly said, I discovered one thing: in order to get things done and move forward in your life

Do Not Educate Yourself Too Much.

I learned about myself, that I don’t want to be trapped in any kind of dogma, not even no-dogma. It just does not fit in with me. I refuse to believe that people can be classified, analysed. Or completely understood. It might be my limited capacity of comprehension and ability to conceptualise, if so, be it. I do not have to be smart. I do not have to be right. I do not have to be anything, really. So while trying to find explanations for my recent health problems, I forgot to live. And of course, not to get me wrong, I guess we, people are prone to looking for explanations, meaning, making sense, me including. But for me, I figured that I don’t have to know everything even if I could. Nor do I want to know everything. In fact, I’d rather not. I do not want to be obsessed with healthy diet, rituals, exercises, self care, knowledge about how things work, when and why. For me, the opposite position is the only way not to be wrong and get at least somewhat close to discovering what works for you. In my line of work, working with people with severe problems, difficulties, traumas or challenges (some would even call it diagnosis), my clients taught me one thing: you never know how and why something happened or what your solution will look like. Hence any attempt to explain and/or understand is an attempt leading to a dead end street. My clients have taught me that people make all sorts of meanings in so many ways, that it is simply wrong to try to make sense or generalise human collective experience.

If that in the eyes of some, makes me stupid, shortsighted, resistant, not willing to change or develop, so be it. But for me is quite on the contrary. When you do away with all the explanations, as Wittgenstein said, you are finally able to see things as they are, not things you think they are. Things for you, of course, for others they might be something completely different.

So I’ll stop educating myself and will stop following. I’ll continue living instead, like I used to – brilliantly, passionately, without the urge to understand, comprehend or explain. Creating contents some people can relate to, inspiring people in my own way, not trying to persuade anyone how they should be living their lives and being happy, if because of my influence, someone managed to find his or her way forward.

Happy Christmas and thank you Universe, for this small reminder ūüôā And thank you dear reader, for your kind presence. Wish you a miraculous holiday ūüôā

Biba

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I simply like having life happen as it happens. I like being unprepared.

Successful Failures?

Dear reader,

Yesterday was my first visit to the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) event at the RSA house in the heart of the City of London. Which is a shame really, since I’ve been here on/off for about 3 months already.

Not being used to professional networking and code of behaviour or conduct, but always open for new possibilities, relationships and opportunities, I had mixed feelings of excitement and some nervousness as well. However, being someone that is hardly present and certainly not known, I thought nobody would notice my presence or be interested in what I do or who I am. And that gave me the courage to let go of the nervousness and leave space for curiosity only.

I couldn’t be more wrong. I guess the difference between Slovenian and the UK working culture is not only in the way how we approach and adopt new ideas, but also in the way how we connect and relate to other people, especially how we establish new relationships. Just for a short illustration (and please bear in mind that this is my experience only and is not necessarily a ‘general truth’): when I was younger and had volunteered for the faculty where I studied, I often had experiences such as when proposing new ideas, I would get five arguments and ways why this idea wouldn’t work out and a list of at least five things what could go wrong on the way. I thought this is the way things are done, so adjusted myself in order to be able to function in such an environment. While when I first moved to England, about three years ago, I had a different experience. When I did pluck up my courage to finally dare to propose something, I got a response which surprised me so much, that I think this was one of the first reasons why I fell in love with this country in the first place. I would immediately get at least five ways of suggestions what else I might do, as well as be offered support and useful contacts of people that might be of help. This was accompanied by an attitude of genuine interest and respect. Not something I was used to very much.

So I would let go of my old beliefs and start behaving, working in and seeking for the environment where my ideas were supported. My life changed since then (have a look at the older blog posts if interested how).

The same experience I had three years ago, happened yesterday. I was so wrong for thinking I would not be noticed. At the very beginning, the lady who was hosting the eveng announced this meeting is a special meeting as there are two Fellows from the overseas. And I was so blushing while raising my hand to show who I was yet still I thought people wouldn’t really notice. Wrong again. In the gaps between different project pitches where we were mingling, I couldn’t even get to the second glass of wine as so many people approached and expressed interest. So I met some wonderful skilled, talented and dedicated people and thanks to A., I was introduced to many other Fellows with whom we will possibly work on making the positive difference in our society.

The point of this post was that it is NOT normal or natural to be working in so called ‘problem focused’ environments. Failure is no shame and absolutely not a setback. It is a lesson, learning and a sign of moving. And new ideas should be encouraged, even though we might encounter trouble on the go (which great ideas don’t???) and even though there will probably be moderate or high risks.

In the RSA meeting there was a terrific pitch about failure, as a precondition of a big success. And in order to make that possible, we need successful failures. We of course might not recognize them as such at that moment, however looking back, we might actually be proud and happy to have failed at something, because that opened doors to something else. Something spectacular, possibly

I know I’ve had many failures. Now I also know that many of them have been quite successful failures!

Biba

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For the SuccessfulFailure project visit Twitter @TSFIntervierws

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)

 

 

Blackberry Kiss

Fancy blackberries? Me too. Fruit is my favourite food and I’m a very lucky person in summer, because there’s plenty of it.

Being a child of nature, always picking fruit from bushes or trees or whatever, I still as an adult keep this habit as my one time favourite to acquire desired delicious pieces. And for several weeks now, I steadily pick our blackberry bushes every morning for our breakfast.

But guess what. Our BB bushes grow steep up the hill. Not far, but very steep. Second, as I’m clearly not the only blackberry fan around here, there are many other delegates, such as wasps. Third, blackberries have thorns. Not thorns like roses, but teeny tiny thorns that you can hardly see, but are a curse¬†if you get wraped. The more you resist, the more they come at you and wedge you. Seriously, it’s like a trap, it gets to you slowly, but thoroughly, and neither your clothes, nor your skin are safe.

Our bushes seemed to have won quite many battles and I got scars, but still won a prize, regarding¬†our breakfast cereal bowls. Then after a while back and forth, strange things began to happen. Bushes started talking to me. One day, I was climbing my way up to the battle field and suddenly I didn’t try to scare the wasps away. I just joined and while they were upset for a moment, the next one they let me merge with them. Not even one wasp would attack me, but I had to be really slow and in a peaceful mood. Then I started to pick the berries. The bush whispered. It was very early in the morning and not even the sun was up. The bush and wasps and me. Communicating. Getting to really know each other. Learning how to co-exist in a way that is right for all of us. I realized that I have to take it real slow. With gentle moves. With absolute calm, no rush, no hurry. No thoughts, just trying to go along the frequence that was already there. It worked. I realized that going slow and staying on the surface provided me with great strength and I could achieve my goal without getting wounded.

I wondered if I could transfer this lesson from the nature into human relationships.

It turned out I can. I have an acquaintance¬†who is a big complainer about everything and everybody. Since he knows I’m in the helping profession and am trained to help people deal with difficult situations, he uses every opportunity to brings his complaints to me. But when I ask him if he would like to work with me, he refuses and says he has no problems to resolve. So eventually, I got irritated to be the doormat ready to listen to his complaints and not to make any use of it. I’m a person who doesn’t like to perform meaningless actions that lead nowhere. And just because somebody else does, doesn’t mean I need to be involved.

The next time he came, I was ready. I was the blackberry bush. I didn’t interrupt him or ask questions. I was thinking how I could wrap him around gently, yet still keeping his attention and point to a direction where he would begin to think about his behaviour in a different way. So I just waited until he finished what he had to say for that day and then replied with:

I’m really impressed how you manage to devote so much of your time and energy for others. I think that you care a great deal and am wondering what do you think how they might respond, should they know about you caring so much?

It was not a question, just a plain, genuine compliment. He looked at me for a while, trying to translate my words and then he said:

Gee. You know, I never thought of that from this perspective. I don’t know. I need to think.

I saw him again two days after our last conversation. He approached me, as usual, but now told me everything about what others did that he liked. He was still talking much, but instead of complaining, he was proudly announcing all the good things he had noticed in others.

I love Blackberries.

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Blackberries are leading from behind – hidden under raspberries and blueberries. The best way to lead, is leading from behind.

Every exceptional person has had at least once a painful experience …

Dear reader,

I just came back from the UK again. This time it was a journey up North, with the main aim to attend and present as a speaker at the International Conference organized by the National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP).

My workshop session titled¬†“Having no support system being an¬†advantage and free education being a¬†disadvantage? Lessons learned from a¬†Slovenian perspective”¬†was about how easy, cosy student life hinders development of self-advocacy skills, self-determination and self-respect. I disagree with permissive student centred approach. I believe there should be challenges in the environment and support should be support as a side activity to help you grow, not a patronized shelter.

Ever encountered a situation where you had an almost perfect life, enjoyed it, had much fun and had most of the things you wanted, but you were not really proud of yourself? Ever felt like your achievements were actually nothing special and though you would never admit it, you are in fact only an average student, employer, friend or practitioner? That is maybe because you had it too easy. You always got what you wanted. You didn’t have to try hard enough to get it. This may not be what you needed, though it was what you wanted. It’s not the same thing.

Your achievements were nothing special, because you probably didn’t have to demonstrate any extra skills, didn’t have to invest much time or you had someone else who helped and did it instead of you. For example, if you wrote a seminar paper and constantly asked for advice, is that in fact your paper you wrote? Alternatively, if you really wanted to impress – did you do it by saying what you are and what you can do or was it by doing and demonstrating it? Does your CV contain positions that you never really mastered? Or even activities that you only did several times, but then quit? These flashy headlines may well persuade someone how amazing you are. However how can you¬†feel¬†self-respect and worth, when you know that all this is nothing special or not entirely true?

I believe that every young person needs tough lessons in their life. Maybe even painful ones. These are not unfair, mean or deliberate actions happening to you. They are lessons. There must be a good reason for it; otherwise, they would not happen to you. Character (a person’s moral worth) is shaped through tough times, and¬†hedonism (with boredom and constant greed for more)¬†is nurtured through pleasant times. Thereby, if you want to make a change in your life, don’t expect it to be easy. Or pleasant. If you truly want to be or achieve something special, prepare for hard work. As P. Coelho said:¬†“Straight roads do not make skilful drivers”.

My clients come to me with all sorts of painful past experiences like messed up families, eating disorders, substance abuse, divorce, school retention, sexual abuse, depression, etc. I believe each of them has the right resources to convert this into a valuable lesson. As we work together, the path towards progress often resembles my path, so in order to protect client’s identities I’ll share my own story:

I remember when I was young (about 15-18), I didn’t suit the role of an average teenager. I didn’t like to go out. Didn’t like parties. I didn’t date guys. I didn’t like to talk about the latest hair style or discuss fashion, nor did I wear makeup. I didn‚Äôt want to live at home. I didn‚Äôt want to receive allowance, because I didn‚Äôt want my parents to buy me. I never went on holidays, because I had to work. I had to, if I wanted to be independent and free. Freedom comes at very high costs. I didn’t go¬†to¬†my prom party. And at the university later, I didn’t have a chance to see the world or to go on an international exchange or to afford holidays. I was working all the time. Sometimes I even had night shifts and went straight on to classes. It looks like I’ve missed many opportunities and joys in life. In fact, it is quite the opposite, now that I look back. I may have missed many hangovers, one-nightstands and hours of meaningless conversations. I may have missed all the main tourist attractions that I would probably not even remember today. I may have missed chances of building a network of influential people that would help me become someone.¬†I may be hurt, abandoned, and hopeless as a result.

I value this lesson so much. Because I learned that everything I am today, is a result of past sacrifices in terms of time, efforts, energy, even health perhaps. And it makes me so proud, because I know that everything I did, I did it myself. I’m proud to be able to face the barriers and overcome them. I’m proud that I invested my efforts into knowledge, training and discipline. Even though my colleagues tried to persuade me to relax a bit, come to a party and just enjoy, I didn’t do this, because this was just not me back then. Though I did feel excluded and not a good asset. As if I was born in a wrong place, to a wrong generation, basically. Does that make me a victim? For all the things I didn’t have, all the opportunities I’ve missed? Because of what my parents did to me or didn‚Äôt do?

No.

I’m a winner. And because I’ve fallen so many times and managed to get up so many times, I’m confident I can do it again. I’m so proud that I can firmly stand behind every line in my CV. I’m so proud that nobody just gave me anything for free. I couldn’t be more proud on the fact that deep inside I feel secure, accomplished and fulfilled. And that feeling didn’t come from the admiration or worship of others. I don’t need anyone to prove this to me. It came from within and the tough circumstances of the past have enabled this feeling to evolve.

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Nobody can provide you with feelings of pride. It is your job to build it.

A Word about Expectations, Regret and Disappointment

Dear reader and especially dear students at the Faculty of Arts,

I’ve got some sad news for you and this is the reason why I didn’t post any blog posts for a while. There will no longer be Brief Coaching project at your faculty. The faculty leadership decided not to support the project and make it available for you. To make a long story short about what happened: as I’ve opened Ribalon institute, I wanted to make the project more sustainable, transparent and professional. So I was adviced to hand in an official request suggesting that. This was in January 2015. In February I was called up for¬†a meeting that I told you about. The dean decided to acquire¬†professional opinion about the project from department of psychology and I was asked to wait and not to pursue any Solution Focused activities at the faculty until further notice. So I didn’t and this is the reason why nothing was going on at this faculty. The informed decisions and professional judgments from departments of psychology and education were first favourable towards the idea and found the project’s settings ok, but then something went wrong with the technicalities and faculty management failed to see the worth of the project and failed to place it within the faculty system. I was not engaged during that process so I’m not familiar with¬†any¬†details. The bottom line was that the faculty¬†turned my request down and asked me to withdraw. So I did.

What this means for you is that you will not be able to access any support services or join the activities that took place under Brief Coaching project any longer from within the faculty. I’m really sorry for that, especially for those who have greatly benefited from it. But that does not mean that you cannot attend through some other channel. Write to me and we’ll find a way.

What this whole thing means¬†for me, since most of my work since 2007 has been at this very faculty and I felt loyal and really favourable towards the faculty which I used to call “my faculty”? It means a lesson. I could be disappointed or I could regret all the time and years spent there working voluntary. But I don’t. I’ve learned that my expectations might have been too high and that’s not the faculty’s problem – it is entirely my problem. And because it is my problem, this means I have the influence and can do something about it.

I view this as a sign that it’s time to move forward. The expert opinion from both departments showed that they found the project good and decent. The external expert opinion which I have obtained¬†from EBTA (European Brief Therapy Association) also thought the project was carefully planned and well executed. So I have no doubts about any professional settings or my own competence. And I have some of the best supervisors that I learn from. And I have my own coaches.

Secondly, I’ve learned that I’ve developed and grown. I no longer settle for average and I respect myself enough that I’m able to close a chapter that fails to recognize my work and worth. It took me a long time to get there, but now I¬†know that I’ve made it. And it makes me proud and courageous.

The same day I received the official answer from this faculty, I got a call from another one. Asking if I could prepare something broader than merely¬†workshops. Like a training programme and some other things. It was a moment of one window closing and another, way brighter, opening. So I’m very much looking forward to new opportunities, because I know I don’t need to depend on anyone and I know that I like to connect and collaborate with everyone.

Even though a lot of my plans have been destroyed because of this sad news and I will probably have a period of unstable and a very insecure time, this clearly indicates that I need to do something differently. I’ve learned a lesson to set my expectations low, my confidence high, which consequently results in no disappointment and at last, I have no regrets about anything. Life gives you lemons, so have some lemonade as they say. I even found out that actually I like lemonade and it’s healthy too.

Hope to be in touch with you my fellow students and hope to see you sometimes again. Take care.

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My cat and my nephew building a better future together.