Have you ever woken up with a sudden sense of clarity that meant you had to leap out of bed and take action?!
I find my best moments of clarity arise like that and this morning it was elephants...... and at 5..00 am here is the picture that I found that has me beaming from ear to ear!
In the last few months, I have been studying the language of business. For years I have been studying psychology - and I know a lot about this - but when it came to running a business I discovered that I was rather clueless and so I decided I needed to learn! .
One of my greatest challenges as I have learned 'business speak', has been to decide on my 'niche.' Who exactly then are my 'ideal clients'. I have learned it is important to be VERY specific. Who is it that I want to work with? And why ? And what exactly is 'my offering'? My difficulty has been that children with complex needs are in practice, a varied group and their support needs cut across complex systems. I enjoy working with them and with the systems at lots of levels. It All interests me!! Yes, but providing what, and for who? I have learned I must be precise..... Yes...but..
Until I remembered this morning about what first triggered me into action on this teaching project - my experience of working in schools and sitting in CAMHS and psychology referral meetings, and then the OECD report of 2007 on the shocking state of well-being of children in the UK and USA. As I was thinking about all this I remembered the story of the Elephants..... the Elephants and the Blind Men - the ancient parable that comes from India, or China, and relates the story of six blind men, all of whom were very clear that they knew exactly what an elephant was like (a rope, a fan, a tree..), yet each of them missing the more powerful truth of the bigger picture.. And I realised that this parable nicely represents what I Matter offers! I Matter is about pulling ideas and people together to provide practical empowering ideas that support action to address the well-being of our children in our individual families and our communities.. I feel strongly that if we are ever to address these issues, then it would help massively to agree on a shared Framework to underpin our decisions at family, community and political levels about what we teach, when, to who, and why.
The Elephant of Psychology - not the parts of the elephant is what interests me.. The fragmented parts imposed on the whole (different diagnoses, models, and approaches) are all interesting but the whole picture is so practical and useful!! And once you have seen The Elephant, and discover just how central the brain is and how central individuals - YOU - are in creating that story and influencing the bigger picture, the rest - the tail and the trunk and the ear make so much more sense because they are now in context. If you are struggling with anxiety, or depression or a challenging complex child, or unreasonable directives, you may have become confused and fixed on a specific issue or diagnosis, or policy, but I believe that if you are a passionate and curious sort of person, I Matter Training can help you take a few steps back, take stock and decide for yourself the what and the why in your specific setting..
I remember clearly the moment, several years ago now, when sitting at my desk after years of puzzling and trying to piece together so many different diagnoses, theories and ideas from psychology into a more coherent whole, that it suddenly dawned on me what the big picture looked like.....and how an understanding of brain development was so central. The revelation was as significant in that moment as realising that the reason that I had been struggling was that the picture was upside down. And when I turned things round, when I turned the puzzle on its head, saw the picture, and found the repeating patterns within it, was so transparently obvious and fascinating -- and not that difficult really. Ahhhhh!! What a relief!!
I called the integration of all those ideas and the picture that emerged 'I Matter'. I could have called it something else, but that is what I saw clearly and so that is what it must remain. What I would like to do through this blog and through the I Matter Project is share what I have learned with others, because if I could help you take even a few small steps forward to piecing together the puzzle and understanding more clearly for yourself the direction of travel in your home and your community and why, I will have done what I intended.
I cannot do the puzzle for anyone else - you must do it yourself, but I can tell you that the vast array of theories and approaches and perspectives in psychology do all fit together into something rather amazing and powerful and practically useful - there is an elephant!!! And elephants are wise and strong and in the wild, know exactly where they are going..
So, if you are feeling stressed or confused right now about what you are doing and why and what you want - be reassured, because there IS an elephant to be grasped, and a clear direction of travel! I can do my best to tell you about the picture on the box but your journey to put it together will be your own! The big picture is EXCITING, though be warned, it can be very challenging! Right now you may be getting too focussed on just the tail of the challenge, or the ear... but there is a bigger picture if you step back and look a little more carefully...
PS. OK, though my work has wide scope to work with all sorts of client groups, my really ideal clients tend to be professional working women, (or a special type of man (!)), - who are i) curious and interested to learn about psychology and child development, ii) passionate about what they do and willing to lead, iii) often have a challenging child or relationship of their own and iv) are quite often overwhelmed but determined to move on so that they can be v) more effective, and have better relationships and more fun, in their home and work settings! I know a bit about all that! Yay!!!
So, this video represents a lot of successes for me! I created a powerpoint, figured out how to record my screen to create a video, managed to get a voice over and upload it to youtube and put it in a blog! Yay!! Tonight I feel quite proud of myself!
Is there something you care about deeply? Something you have been putting off perhaps, that means that you may have to learn some new skills if you decide to take action? Let me know!! If I can do it, I'm sure you can!
Have you ever noticed when you are under significant pressure that your well-being can seem to move between feeling you are doing OK to not feeling OK at all?
One secret to this underlying instability lies in a particular class of beliefs - the judgements - that hold incredible power over our well-being. Judgements are important to be aware of, because it is judgements more than anything else that hold the key to moving from stressed out to back in better balance, from not coping - to coping better -from red to green.
Put very simply, symptoms of stress arise in our bodies when a small part of our brain (the amygdala/security officer/inner child) determines/judges that stimulus events in our lives are Not-Wants and that -in addition - these Not-Wants are BAD for us.
Now, I know all this, but under pressure it is VERY easy to forget it.... As soon as this judgement that what is happening is BAD has taken place, what is triggered is the alarm response and with this arises the preparation for self-protection. We feel tension and find that to discharge tension we may do a variety of things - rage, cry or smoke a cigarette.. Some methods of taking care of ourselves are healthier than others. One of the most important things to remember in I Matter is that if our Loving Adult or Thinking Boss is 'Out to lunch', (ie we are not being mindful and conscious), we may not question the judgement, and in this situation, round and round we can go. Red route becomes active and our well-being decreases.
It is hard to remember when under pressure that a Not-Want may not be BAD. This idea is however central to the I Matter Framework and the I Matter Process.. In I Matter when we are wobbling we can remember (as soon as we are able) that to travel green route, the key is to remember that the Not-Want could be judged as OK (still not at all what we wanted but something we can accept has happened or is happening) and something which might possibly provide an opportunity - for example an opportunity to stretch into a new stronger even happier, version of ourselves.
This reframing can take on a myriad of different versions but is not just about becoming an all accepting push over. It might include such things as asserting our right to say No, or accepting our right to feel pain and overwhelm and ask for help, or accepting the need to revise some assumptions. What is interesting is that each time we manage to successfully reframe the Not-Want, as OK or as an opportunity then our stress levels have a chance to decrease - even just a little. The challenge to stabilise ourselves therefore when under real pressure involves learning to hold the reframes over time - learning how to move out of red route loops, shift the judgements and take the actions needed to move into green - and stay there..
This stuff is powerful! But I find it VERY useful, and I teach it! (And still often forget!) So think carefully, have you got a challenging Not-Want in your life - that you have been doing red route about? Could it possibly be an opportunity to choose green - a stronger, clearer version of YOU? If so, what is the opportunity? What would green actually look like? How might this be a chance for you to stretch?
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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