Antiquated Role Definitions – Moving Into The Future

The world is a complex place so it’s really hard to create an accurate mental understanding of it. Most of us do a fairly good job creating a functional reality that allows us to exist and contribute to society. Whatever assumptions we make about the world to get us through our day to day life tend to work well enough to allow work, shopping, recreation, education, etc…. to continue. This is because these assumptions are trivial – the assumption that a cashier will give you change is a fair one because that is their role. A teacher is supposed to teach, fitness instructors are supposed to instruct and co-workers are supposed to do their jobs. These are basically social conventions – implied behaviors and actions for specific roles. Members of society have a collective understanding of all these roles so it’s expected that those playing one of them do so appropriately. Doing so makes society function more effectively because we don’t need to vet every single interaction.

For less superficial roles like romantic partners, it is a lot more complicated. The interactions are more frequent and cover a deeper range of topics. However, we may still apply the same social convention approach to roles – that is we assume that a girlfriend or boyfriend is a particular thing, plays a particular role and should therefore act a particular way. This is what everyone else in our life does – the sales person sells, the lawyer applies the law to get you what you want, the police identify and charge criminals – so we do the same thing with the more intimate social partners. This works very well for transactional interactions because you are making a very general assumption about their potential behavior based on your understanding of the role; a composite understanding of EVERY experience, real or thought, about anyone who played this transactional role before. This approach doesn’t work as well when it comes to deeper non-transactional interactions. The issue becomes that of assumption testing, and more accurately assumption failure, because the understanding that one creates about a girlfriend and the role that she plays ARE going to be tested in a relationship, and some of them are going to fail.

Your understanding of a romantic partners has been shaped by the modeling of your primary caregivers, television, books, siblings, peers, and social exposure. As you begin to date, the understanding evolves and starts to acquire aspects of each relationship. It’s a complicated thing but over time you start to get a clear understanding of what a girlfriend is supposed to do, why she is doing it, what you are supposed to do and what a relationship is supposed to be like. Eventually the role of girlfriend becomes clearly defined – it too is a composite of all of the behaviors that you have come to associate with the role of a girlfriend. At some point the evolution of this understanding slows and the role become more solidified turning now into expectations. You close off to information seeking and choose to move forward with what you have running on the belief that you know all you need to about how a romantic partner is supposed to act and what they are supposed to be. With repeated exposure, their actions will shape your understanding of how the role is supposed to be played but any deviations from the existing role will be resisted and need to be assimilated over time.

The problems really begin because people now enter your life, not as new people with new things to learn about but instead enter as bit players to fill a role in your life. There are expectations for how they should be your significant other, based on your experiences, and your new partner is being held to your old views / roles. We have less concern about learning from them and more concern about getting them to act in a particular way – a way that is compatible with our view of what a girl or boy friend is supposed to act. This is almost completely unworkable because people tend not to respond very well to having their autonomy replaced with a list of demands and expectations, disappointment and anxiety when they act like themselves.

In my opinion, the key thing that taxes a relationship is a lack of information exchange about ones personal definition of what a romantic partner is supposed to be. It isn’t necessarily that being kept in the dark is bad or the wrong thing, it’s just that a lot of people have the tendency to fill in missing information with stuff they make up based on their past experiences. If we don’t directly ask someone what their motives are, we can wait to hear what they are or we can do what we’ve been doing most of our life and make an assumption about what the motives are based on our experience. The problem with this type of manufactured life is that it tends not to reflect reality. The outcome is that you think your new girl friend acts the way she does for the reasons your OLD girlfriend/s would have had. You are living in the past because you are holding onto antiquated role definitions. Your actions are unfair and generally lead away from happiness because you are transferring your old roles onto new people; you are not allowing them to determine their role and how they should fill it.

I am aware of the impact of my past as I can sense it in the back of my mind telling me stuff that it couldn’t possibly know with any certainty. For example, having had a girlfriend that died, a part of me is always certain that something has happened when I don’t hear from a romantic partner. Most of my friends didn’t have a partner die so they’re just know that they are running late. Time for that assumption to go. I had a girlfriend who lived in a different province so I became accustomed to not seeing her for weeks at a time. While I’ll miss them like crazy when they are not around, it isn’t abnormal for me to not spend a lot of time with my girlfriend because I normalized not seeing them. This one isn’t working for me because I really enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and can’t think of any good reason for us not to hang out. I’ve had three girlfriends who were working hard to complete a second degree so I have been able to normalize tabling couple activities until later when school is out and they have the time to reconnect. Being distant with someone I live with is not unusual for me, in fact, it’s actually what I have come to expect out of relationships because people who want to do well in school HAVE to focus on school and deprioritize the relationship. But since I’m not in a relationship with someone who is in school, there really is no reason for me to transfer this understanding / role onto them. We CAN spend time together and we SHOULD remain connected.

So, what does this mean to the single or the newly involved people? The same thing it means to those involved in more long term relationships. You need to be very aware that you are allowing your partner to be who they are, act how they need to and say what they say without an attempt to force them to behave as your antiquate role template outlines. You need to not transfer or project motive or intentions on them. You need to ask them questions when you don’t know why they did something you don’t understand. You must remain diligent to ensure that you are affording your partner the dignity to be who they are and not use your influence to shape their actions to conform to what your role expectation demand they be.

Take A Moment – Cooling It Down Before It Heats Up

Very little good ever comes out of rushing a conversation, particularly when one or both of the parties are emotional worked-up. Yet this is what I see happening all the time and it’s common advice to “talk it out.”

It’s really silly to press on someone to talk things out when they don’t know how they feel or are emotionally aroused. You aren’t talking to them, you’re talking to their emotion, and that’s rarely good. The logical part of the brain is in stand-by so they’re likely going to say a bunch of stuff that feels to them to be terribly important, but doesn’t necessarily reflect what they would say in 10 minutes. But that’s what you get when you hammer on someone to talk about stuff they don’t, at that moment in time, fully understand or appreciate. You need to let things cool down enough to proceed logically, and you need to be able to push pause on the conversation if it approaches the critical level of arousal again.

Why do conversations heat-up in the first place?

Assuming there isn’t a eminent physical threat, there really is only one reason for a conversation to become heated, it reveals information that is incompatible with one party’s world views and is therefore interpreted as a possible survival threat. This is a survival response that is initiated unconsciously when presented with new information does not match an existing pattern. The body release a chemical mix that is experienced as fear, which if left to fester will quickly become anger. This mix also suspends the activity of the prefrontal cortex to ensure that higher level functions do not interrupt the emotional response. Once you are emotionally worked-up, the conversation degrades because of the lack of logic and because dominating the incompatible information out of existence will help to maintain an accurate world view; at least from a survival point of view.

Given the nature of most heated conversations it isn’t surprising that people argue as much as they do. Everyone has a world view that they would like to keep intact and compatible with reality. If you are going to talk to anyone ever, you need to accept that you are going to disagree and that you need to do this effectively and appropriately to move past disagreements and to allow for the rapid assimilation of world view changing information.

What Does Cooling Down Look Like?

Topic is breached in a conversation that triggers emotional response. Pause. Don’t say much. Just let the moment be and see what happens. It will seem like a long time, but take 5 seconds before replying with anything. After 5 seconds, take stock of how you feel. Do you feel confused in that you don’t know what you are feeling? Is there a tightness / excitement in your stomach indicating a fight or flight response? It doesn’t matter, just reply with “okay” and take another moment to observe how you are feeling.

The next thing you need to identify is if you are having an emotional response to the information. If you are, say “can we push pause on this conversation right now? I’m not 100% sure how I feel and I need to take a moment to collect my thoughts.” This should grant you some time to get yourself together. If they keep talking say “I’m having a visceral response to something I’m thinking and I need sometime to let the emotions clear.” If this doesn’t get you the time you need, you need to walk away. They either don’t care or are incapable of caring because the conversation has trigger an emotional response in them.

Once the conversation has stopped, take a few deep breaths and relax. If you aren’t dead yet or haven’t been attacked, there is very little danger to your physical health so what is happening is only a threat to your world view, ego, etc… and does therefore not require an emotional response. As you relax more, let logic take over to help you see things more clearly. Once you know how you feel about the topic, reengage the other person if they are able to be receptive to what you are saying; that is, they are not responding emotionally. Press pause if either party begins to get worked-up again, cool off and repeat as often as you need to in order to find closure or a solution that both people can and are willing to work with.

Life is long and no two people will have the same journey. You are going to have disagreements with the people you care about concerning the best way to live life, move things forward and about your life experiences. In almost every case, there are 1000’s of different ways to end up in the same place. You need to make sure to just let go of the emotions that new information or opinion creates and move forward, cool and relaxed.

There May Be A “Need” In What We Don’t Like Doing

Had lunch with Des a while ago and he blew my mind again. That’s what older brothers are for I suppose.

“You may need to do some of the things that you don’t like doing, which you don’t have a compelling reason NOT to do, because you’ll very likely find that doing them helps to meet a need that you don’t know even exists.”

There are countless examples of me getting an unknown need met or uncovering the existence of a need simply by doing something new. Teaching Group Cycling classes is a great example of this. Before I started teaching, I enjoyed taking the classes because they were a good workout, fun and a challenge. But teaching is very different. You do get a good workout and it is a challenge, but it’s very different from taking a class. It is an experience all of its own. When you are in front of people you are performing. There is anxiety and exhilaration, thoughts and rituals, and a rush that cannot be described or experiences simply as a participant. When the glass goes well, you feel like a rock star or someone who is very cool and the center of attention. When class goes poorly, you feel like an incompetent idiot and kind of want to run and hide. There’s a lot of mental gymnastics going on to keep the whole thing going, which is a skill that I wouldn’t have anticipated needing on order to be an instructor.

The point is, teaching a group fitness class is a lot of fun, but it isn’t like anything I have ever done before or do often, and it isn’t anything like what I thought it would be. While it was something I wanted to do, there were a lot of times at the beginning that I didn’t like it very much and thought about quitting. However, it was a goal that I set for myself so I followed through on it over time I came to realize that I enjoyed it, was getting better at it and that by continuing to do it, I was becoming more powerful than I would have been had I simply packed it in.

And that was Des’ lesson. It’s easy to do the stuff we like to do because you tend to like doing the things we are good at. While you will continue to benefit from doing these things, you’ll make bigger steps forward in your personal development, and in uncovering what you actually like and need to do, by doing more things we don’t like doing.

So when you are faced with a difficult or unwelcome task that doesn’t present any real risk to you, attack it with all of your passion. Superficially it may not represent anything that matters to you, but once you start to do it, you’ll likely find tackling the task is a lot more rewarding than passing on it or even completing a task that you are highly proficient at.

A Few Things Friends Have Said This Year

Below are 5 random things I have heard my friends say to me in the last year and the impact these words have had on me.

When I recently mentioned to Tony that I had started dating someone, he was happy for me because he knows that I have a lot of love and positive energy to give and that it was probably time for me to just get on with giving it. He initially said “just take it slow” but he paused for a couple of seconds and then said “actually, go as fast as you can.” I laughed and said that full speed was more my thing and he said “it needs to be, you’re almost 40. You have a great track record of knowing what doesn’t work so maybe you’ll be able to use that to find something great.” Rare advice from someone who is usually so calculated with their actions that their forward progress is rather uneventful. Fall in love recklessly, completely and quickly.

Historically I have been able to identify something in every girl friend that bothers me. The stuff isn’t much of anything yet I seem to hold onto it and keep it in the present. When I finally said it out loud to Sharyl she replied with “that’s not good” then “you need to stop doing that” and finally “that isn’t fair”. I knew when I was telling her how ridiculous it was but having not said it out loud, I hadn’t actually made the thought real enough to experience it as ridiculous. It’s not a comforting feeling to have that thought-stream flow out of my brain. Yuck! I felt shame as I accepted that this line of thinking has been in me for a very long time. However, when I got back to life a few minutes later I realized that the intrusive thoughts that I had been having were gone;which is great because they taxed my creative and positive energy. When someone like Sharyl becomes bossy, it’s time for me to just do what she says because she doesn’t tell people what to do.

Sean gave me some performance coaching in the summer and throughout the fall. Through talking to him I discovered that I tell stories to myself. The stories aren’t crazy, but they are problem or historically based vs. solution or future based – X happened because of this reason vs. I’m going to do X because that is what I need to do. They show a tendency towards shrugging responsibility and taking action that is costing me success. We can control only ourselves. Whenever something happens and we perceive ourselves as the victim, we are delaying or completely ignoring responsibility of taking control and making the situation better. Either way, we suffer needlessly for some period of time and we prevent progress towards important things. For example, “MY BOSS is MAKING ME do new consultations to get 2 new clients” is not the same thing as “my boss is holding me to the contract I signed stating that I would work a particular number of hours per week or be doing something to get to that number of hours”. I don’t have to like it, but if I want to keep working there, I need to do it. Sean gave me some homework for the weekend, to try to see the lies you tell yourself, and we would chat about it the following week. There were a lot of them and I need to rephrase each of them to put me into a position of influence or power. The lies continue, though they’ve lessened which seems like an improvement.

In January Rachel gave me a shoulder assessment because I’ve been having shoulder pain for a long time and she needed to practice. What was great about her assessment was that I got to see her doing what a clinical athletic therapist would do, which was the culmination of all of her hard work at school and clinic. And she was fantastic. She made no predictions about what the issue was and just worked through a checklist. Before the final test she said “there is a very good chance the following movement is going to hurt you” I said okay and she hurt me. She had identified the shoulder issue that I’ve been dealing with for a long time. Then she explained what it was, how it likely happened, what I needed to do to correct it and the consequences of not addressing it now. She gave me 2 or 3 rehab movements, instructions and a parting thought “it won’t effect me if you don’t do the rehab“. I still continue to do the movements and I continue to feel improvements in my shoulder pain and mobility. This was a great experience because Rachel worked her ass off to learn as much as she could and to become the best therapist she can be. Seeing it all come together was fantastic. Her success was coming after long and tremendous effort. For me, it was the best day we shared, very satisfying and very complete.

During our coaching sessions, Sean realized that he had to push kinda hard to get some information out of me and to get me to talk in terms of what was going on in my head. Regardless of my reason for not being more forthcoming, he got me to see that this was not working for me. “If you want to be indestructible you need to talk to people about the dissonance in your shared life and your expectations and understanding of things so you know you are both on the same page. They may leave, but that is a step in the right direction if the truth makes them go.” This was in early March 2011 and I have found that just saying the tough thing quickly saves a time and emotion. I spend a lot less of my mental energy thinking about a future conversation and can spend energy on things that move my life forward. The other people seem to appreciate it because they know where they stand with me. All in all, it makes life simpler.

Taff – Rest In Peace

Sadly Taff died this week. He feel asleep Sunday and didn’t wake-up to eat on Monday. He was almost 17.

Natalie got Taff when he was 7 weeks old, we were in third year at Brock in 1994. She picked him because he didn’t come to her the way his sister did when she went to meet them. A few days after adopting him, he got really sick and it looked like he was not going to make it. It was touch and go for a few days so I was relieved to get home from school one evening to see Natalie smiling saying Taff was going to be fine. “Great! How do you know?” She said when the vet tried to give him a needle to help to hydrate him he went bizerk and started to get aggressive. He wasn’t on his death bed, he was only getting started and when he started fighting the vet, Natalie knew it. He recovered completely and became a rambunctious kitten.

After Natalie died in 1995 Taff came to live in Milton with my parents. Nat had intended to have him as an indoor cat while she was at school so my folks did their best with this. But Taff had other intentions and lobbied hard to get access to the back yard. Once granted, he made the most of the the warm day light hours outside sleeping. He’d come home to eat and when it got dark, or when he wanted some attention. An easy, peaceful life.

The most wonderful thing about Taff living in Milton was the relationship he and my mom formed. She was his favorite and they spend a lot of time hanging out together. When my mom would garden he’d watch and walk amongst the flowers she was planting. When my mom was sitting in the back yard in the evenings, he’d be there. If a raccoon or possum ever got too close, he’d rush to get between the animal and my mom, start hissing and getting all sideways. A protector against the mostly harmless. It was funny to watch him but he did it anytime something weird got too close to my mother.

My mom is a deeply loving person, rich in joy and happiness. Taff was receptive to these things and in being so, my mom became richer in them! He would wake with her most mornings (wake her) and they’d have breakfast together. My mom chattering away to him, he meowing back acknowledging that it was going to be a great day, adding that bacon would be the perfect breakfast closer. He’d come when she called him and he’s get up and meet her when she’d come home from work. Taff made my mom really happy and he was very welcoming to the love she gave. I think my mom created the best possible life that Taff could have had. For the more than 15 years that they shared, Taff was one of the most special things in my moms life and she gave selflessly, doing her absolute best to see him happy and content.

There is a deep appreciation for having seem my mom be so compassionate and loving towards Taff. He was her little buddy and they looked after each other like family!

Thanks for the memories Taff! Rest in peace!

Hamstrings – Cyclist Do Not Neglect Them

The one piece of advice I would give to someone concerning strength training and cycling would be to learn how to fire the hamstrings correctly and to train them to be as strong as possible. The reason for this is because the back side mechanics of an effective cycling stroke is not an intuitive or practiced motion like the quad dominated front portion. The role of the hamstring is also very complex in that it needs to contract isometrically to add tension for knee stability, then contract concentrically to aid in both hip extension and knee flexion. There’s a lot going there and it can take a while to make the whole thing feel normal and powerful.

Step One – Feel them working while you are on the bike. There is nothing like an indoor bike when it comes to discovering your hamstrings. Set the bike up as normal, clip in or strap yourself to the pedals and ride for 5 minutes to warm-up the body. Once you are ready to work, release one of your legs and put the free foot on the cross bar just above the crank. Correct your posture, engage your abs and start pedaling paying particular attention to your crank speed. You want to feel like you are powering the entire time vs. just as you press down at the top. It may be helpful to think about making a “J” shape with the ball of your foot from 5 o’clock to 9 o’clock (as the foot moves down, back and up). It will be a lot easier to feel them working if your core is tight and you are stable on the saddle. Do this for a few minutes then switch to the other leg. After 2 or 3 sets of 2-3 minutes, clip in with both feet and focus on making the speed more even. Do this 2-3 times per week for 4-6 weeks and you’ll notice a huge improvement in your power output.

Step Two – You need to train your hamstrings be strong during the isometric and concentric phase of hip extension and strong during the concentric phase of knee flexion. They are mostly isolated when they are trained as knee flexors, so keep the rep range here between 6-12 and focus on a quick concentric contraction. When they are trained as hip extensors (stiff leg / Romain dead lifts, good mornings, back extension, kettle bell swings, battle ropes) the contraction should be quick and the rep range should be higher between 10-25. When they are trained eccentrically (glute ham raises) the lengthening motion should be between 4-8 seconds and the rep range between 4-8.

Step Three – You need to understand how and when the hamstrings generate the most power and work with that. Given that the hamstrings play a key role for knee stability with sprinting they tend to be made up of a high percentage of fast twitch fiber. They are also not very active as we break inertia – meaning we get very little out of them in terms of force production with slow concentric contractions. However, as they begin to contract more quickly, they start to contribute more output. So, as with training, when you are on the bike you need to contract them as quickly as possible and this is only going to happen when you are cranking at a minimum RPM – about 65-70. At this speed, your legs are moving quickly enough for the hamstrings to contract with sufficient speed to drive considerable force to the pedals. Anything slower than this and they lose much of their efficiency and output.

Once you have become proficient at recruiting the hamstrings with the pedal stroke, you may find that your riding improves by switching focus from the quads to the hamstrings, particularly after cresting a hill, accelerating and sitting in the saddle as your quads tend to be more active during standing hill climbs and they will benefit from the recovery that a shift in work onto the hamstrings brings.

Regardless of what you do with the new awareness, your riding will improve dramatically once you begin to use your hamstrings when you cycling, and your performance will improve dramatically once you start to train your hamstrings with the specific goal of getting stronger.

Family Roles – What To Do When Only You See

Relationship / communication / interaction problems are a lot like fires in buildings, once you notice one, you have an obligation to address it. If you don’t, the problem becomes YOU and you now wear the eggs on your face for whatever outcome your inaction allowed. This is a truth if you want to live a life in service to yourself. Very little good ever comes from ignoring a problem once you see it. Unlike a fire however, that everyone can see and agree needs to be addressed, many problems in the realm of relationship, communication and interaction are not so clear. Often times, one person seeing the problem is a lot easier than getting two people to agree that there IS a problem.

This is particularly important in areas that require a shared level of understanding of the world. For example, controlling people and toxic relationships. There are people who tend to evoke negative emotional responses in many other people, yet have close friends who do not find them to be toxic in any way simply because they identify the behaviors in the other person which cause reaction and they just ignore the tone of those actions / statements and deal with only the facts. The knowledge that their friend is prone to engaging in toxic behaviors is enough for them to NOT engage in these behaviors. In essence, they see what others don’t and they change their behavior accordingly to break free from something that isn’t pleasant for them and which doesn’t seem like a choice to the rest of us.

Family dynamics can be drastically impacted by one members transcending to a high level of awareness, in both positive and negative ways. In most instances it tends to the eldest child who first grasps and holds onto a clearer version of reality, causing a shift in the roles each member plays in the family unit. Their motivation for the embracing and normalizing an updated reality can come from many places but most tend to find that they want to change simply because the role they are playing does not feel right, creates anxiety or is simply not working for them. As the eldest child, particularly in larger families, some of the child raising responsibilities can be transferred onto them during the formative socialization years when they are learning how to behave and interact with the world. While this makes operational sense from a managing a household point of view – spreading the child raising and housework out reduces the workload for the primary care givers – it doesn’t do much to allow of self determination for the eldest child. In fact, they find themselves in a role that was given to them before they realized they were in a position to choose the role they play.

Awareness of that kind of dissonance will go a long way in motivating the oldest sibling to seek change. And when they find it, there can be a dramatic role change for all of the members of the family as the eldest vacates the position of primary care giver; a shift that will likely be experienced as rejection and a lack of gratitude by the parents and as detachment or withdrawal by the other siblings. Neither are accurate interpretations of what is happening but both are understandable given that everyone else in the family has remained the same while the eldest child has changed their view and behavior. The parents may fear that they have “lost” the child because they have made the decision to reject the role that wasn’t working from them and move their life towards something that more closely resembles what their purpose actually is. The reality is that the child has been found and has broken free from the life that was imposed upon them. It’s a tough pill to swallow for parents because they have likely not questioned many of their child rearing decisions if they experience the shift as something other than the expression of the eldest child’s essence.

With the rest of the siblings, two main things can happen: usually, the roles are sent down one child so that the second oldest begins to play the role vacated by the eldest. This is the simplest and it requires the least adjustment from the remaining members of the family. The eldest child is released from the burden of being something they aren’t and moves forward towards a life that they choose. The other thing that can happen is that as the roles are shifting, some or all of the other children begin to feel the shift and begin to resist the change. They may notice a complete change in the eldest, which is new information, and they may begin to act on the new information to become more self aware eventually breaking free of their previously unconscious role.

Now, what is the responsibility of the eldest child in this situation? That’s a tough one. In some way, they have an obligation to let people know when they are being unconsciously manipulated by others. But the people doing the manipulation are not aware that they are doing it or that there could even be something wrong with their actions. In fact, as is the case with most forms of control within a relationship, they believe it is the proper thing to do. It is normal as it has been going on for decades. In most cases it probably makes sense to say nothing and wait until someone asks about it. There’s a very good chance they won’t see what you see and that you don’t want to be the person to open that door without them asking for it. Even then, it’s a rough road because you don’t know the consequences of opening someones eyes to unconscious behavior.

A lot of the time it will just be easier to continue some of the behaviors, shedding responsibilities slowly while allowing the family to adjust to the changing demands of their newly acquired role. This will be least disruptive to the entire family unit and it will afford one the opportunity to practice not being affected by being controlled; arguably one of the more challenging things a human being can manage. But you’ll be doing it alone because you are the only one who sees it.

Children Early In Life or Children Later In Life

Having waited until at least 38 to start a family, I’ve had a lot of time to think about being a parent without having to actually BE a parent. Had I become a father when I younger, it would have been during a period in my life when I was most energetic and healthy. Since I wasn’t a horrible person I probably would have been an okay parent. But I was not ready because I didn’t have much of an idea how the world worked or that my perceptions about the world were not the same as how the world actually was. While not a dangerous or necessarily delusional, it was detached enough from reality to make passing along irresponsible.

Most of us begin to gain insight into who we are beginning in the late teens and it will continue to develop so long as one has enriching experiences that reveal the self. The more self revealing experiences one has, the greater their self awareness will be. As individuals each of us is on a different path – some will become completely self-aware before they are 20 while others will only become 5% self-aware in their entire lifetime. What matters in not age, but experience and the interpretation of these experiences. The brain adapts to life events in much the same way it adapts to movement – by becoming more efficient with increased repetition. If we have more diverse experiences that present a challenge to our world views, our understanding of the world will become more robust and a better reflection of reality. Reading, talking, therapy, introspection, meditation, exercise, diet, etc… are all things that can help us experience clarity.

I have had most of my enlightening experiences in the last 15 years, from the age of 22 on; right around the time many people are coupling-up and starting families. While I was reading books and chatting with my brother about thinking and how my the underlying narrative sets the tone of my thoughts, my married peers were sleeping 2 hours a night in 20 minute blocks because a child or two needed feed, or to go to the bathroom or do one of the 1000’s of things that children need to do. I was able to build myself while my same-aged peers where building children. “I” became the thing I put my energy into because I knew I needed to and because I was able to.

This is a blessing and a curse. I do believe that self aware people will have an easier time with certain parts of children raising – if I start a family now, I’m doing so KNOWING what I am about to do. I fully understand that my personal development will be slowed dramatically as I shift my focus from me to them. Having this knowledge BEFORE embarking on making a family will go a long way in insuring that I offer my children and wife the benefit of complete attention that should provide the entire family with an enriched environment from which each of us can grow. However, waiting until almost 40 to start a family means that I may not have as much energy as I would have had in my 20’s – I won’t be teaching any of my children how to ride a half pipe or do rail-slides down the stairs of the local library because I’ll be 50 something when they are able to ollie high enough slide that rail – I’ll be a spectator in their pursuit of adrenalin sports; not the participant I could have been had I started a family at 20.

The very thing that will make me a decent teacher to a child is the very thing that will make me less of an activities partner, my age. While I have a lot of experience with abstract things and have a good understanding of emotions, it has taken me almost 2 decades to formulate this understanding, and these were 20 of my most energetic years. While I wouldn’t have been a great role model in terms of appropriate behavior, I’m pretty confident that anyone who was able to keep up with me physically would now have a remarkable level of fitness and skill on a snow board or a bike.

The thing is, it doesn’t matter. I’m not 20 so starting a family young is not going to happen. For one reason or another I have delayed having children until at least now so I’ll be looking at the positives when the time comes. I think my level of maturity will make for an easier experience because at some point I will tire of personal development and will welcome the opportunity to create something more than a different me.

How To Fall In Love Again

1) Give in and accept that your ex partners are always going to have some power / influence over you and your thinking. Take the necessary steps to stop that influence from derailing your forward progress. The best approach here is to just not talk to them for a while and then slowly phase them back into your life if you are able to keep their influence in-check. If you can’t do this, don’t worry, most people can’t. They are your ex for a reason, usually because their and / or your influence did not move you both towards mutual happiness.

2) Accept that your past demons are going to have an influence on your present thinking and actions. Question things that disrupt the flow of the relationship or your partners life. Talk to your partner about these things. They aren’t likely to go away so acknowledging and working through them is a lot more effective and intimate than trying to ignore them. There is nothing wrong with your past and your future can be different. Embrace it and love the life you have lived because it has taken you to your new love. Once you know the life you have lived, you’ll be better equipped to deal with your present life because you’ll accept that there are patterns in your behavior.

3) Take the time to watch the way your partner moves, talks to people and engages the world. Learn to notice the way they are. Look at their hands, their arms, their face. Try to notice all of their features and the way their mouth moves and eyes squint when they smile deeply. Feel the excitement build as your look at them. Learn to associate that excitement with the essence of them. Say to yourself and to them what it is that is beautiful about them. Create a linguistic understanding of who they are, not just a visual understanding. Take the time to touch them, particularly their face, neck and hands. Hold them close, feel their heat and energy against and within your body. Learn to identify the way they feel next to you. Massage them, rub their backs, find out where they are ticklish. Create a tactile understanding of who they are. Listen to their voice, the sound of their breathing, the sound of their foot steps when they are walking. Hear the way they move objects in the kitchen, the shower, the sound of the cutlery when they are eating a steak dinner. Create an auditory understanding of who they are. Smell them. Smell their clothes, their hair, their skin. Condition your nose to identify them by their smell or things that smell like they do. You are to immerse yourself in their essence and notice them, not just the things they do, but the way they are when no one is watching. If you love them, you will take the time to stop and notice all that there is to love about them.

4) Do things together that you would do on your own, but keep doing these things on your own some of the time. Sharing passions will helps to bring two people closer but you must maintain your independence with a part of them in order for you to hold onto your identify. Your partner is attracted to you because of who you are, this will go away when you combine everything and you stop being yourself.

5) Be recklessly open about who you are and what you want out of life. This stuff needs to be shared or else it won’t come true. A common goal empowers the relationship to become more purposeful and progressive. Even if they don’t directly participate, having them on your side will go a long way in helping you be more successful.

6) Challenge them and allow them to challenge you on your choices, motives and decisions. Therapy is a great tool, so a loving relationship will also contain a certain level of therapy-like behaviors. The objective here is allow your partner to empty of whatever is on their mind from the day, to have their feelings massaged out about the things that are troubling, and to basically be given a chance to talk things out and feel better. The hard part is not taking what you hear personally or injecting your opinion or solution into the conversation. You love them, but they need to suffer their own issues alone. Your role is to listen without hearing and ask questions that allow them to feel whatever it is they can’t get rid of.

7) Accept that you will never know how they truly feel about anything and, as such, you MUST remain open to the fact that their world is not the same as yours. Take the steps needed to NOT force your views upon them and to not allow them to force theirs on to you. Agree to disagree and accept compromise with both winning vs. you losing. If you can’t do this, and your new partner needs to maintain their identity, you MUST release them from whatever it is you’re a building because it isn’t a partnership.

So, these are 7 things that will help you create a climate that is conducive to the creation and expression of compassionate and intimate love. But when it comes right down to it, these are actions one would take when they are trying to figure out, as quickly as they can, IF they are with someone who is worth giving-up being alone for. Step 3 will also serve as the most powerful diagnostic tool you can get access to without going to school to learn how to identify motives based on the analysis of behavior – when you know how someone maintains eye contact during a conversation, you’ll know when they aren’t holding it the way they normally do and be able to ask quickly “what is going on?” These things change when a relationship shifts from being something good to something that is in trouble.

How I Have Excelled With My Clients

Looking back about 3 years on my training, I can now see a few ways that I have provided my clients with excellent service. This is the follow-up post to How I Have Not Served My Clients Adequately. Below is a list of 5 things I regard as having been the right things to do:

1) Established the importance of following and recording effective, sensible and sustainable eating behaviors. With body composition, food is key. Good quality whole food, eaten in small amounts every few hours will do more for your appearance than anything else you will do. That’s all there is to looking and feeling amazing. You stay on track by recording what you eat and reviewing this with someone else every few days who asks you to explain and justify your actions.

2) Trained the mid and low traps, along with the rotator cuff muscles to improve shoulder stability and posture. They may be stronger than they need to be, but their shoulders are drawn back and down, so now only my most athletic and strong clients make any reference to neck pain – which is muscle pain associated with lifting or performance. Also, all of my clients report no or a big reduction in shoulder pain; which is fantastic given that there are 3 clients who came to me with chronic shoulder pain being a key area to address.

3) Taught my clients to work almost as hard as they can. All of us have an upper limit when it comes to how hard we can work but very few of us know just how hard that is. Most clients underestimate their upper limit and pull back the intensity prematurely. After repeated efforts, we begin to drive harder and harder, because our fitness improves and because we realize that we can drive harder. Eventually the client finds this upper limit without external motivation and at this point they become trainee or an athlete, no longer a client.

4) Being present and engaging. We share the moment of working out. They know that while I may not be suffering with them, I’m well aware of what is happening with their bodies and we work together to get the most out of it. I firmly believe that you raise the performance of a client when you engage and keep them in the present moment. If that means I need to challenge them on what is going on in their mind when we are training, I go at them about that. I want and they need their bodies to do as many things correct as they can, so emptying the stress tank before training can go a long way in freeing-up mental energy to focus on form and breathing.

5) Providing good value for their money. People come back to train because they believe that their money is being spent wisely. You do this by delivering what you have agreed to deliver in a caring and fun way. You do this by being honest with people and getting them to question their motives and actions. And when we are not able to get the results the client is looking for, I tell them and we reevaluate the training relationship. Accepting when you don’t have the answers or when your solutions are not working helps to keep the trust alive and, while it may cost me clients, it helps to generate referrals.