I delayed writing this newsletter because I have been learning a lot, and I have been working a lot, and I didn't know how to package everything that I have learned. I still don't know but I think this is a great start, just to have a conversation. I came to realize one important power that I am developing. And I want to call you to develop this power as well.
Let me tell you a story first. I have a tendency to postpone things. Maybe you also have this, it's called procrastination, that had been a habit, since I think I was little, and I kept on practicing this habit, even though it had tough consequences for me.
The most recent one happened one month ago I believe that I was joining a big company of coaches for providing coaching services to other companies. And because I delayed fulfilling the requirements (there were some educational requirements), I finished them very late and the time I finished Corona hit and they stopped hiring coaches. And I took this as a gift. I used to take this with quite a disappointment. Back then, in the days when my procrastination would result in a disaster, I would call myself “stupid, you did it again. You just can't do anything different. It's always the same." This time I took it as a message, kind of learning for me. I said “Huh, life is telling you to to act differently next time". I said this was a message. This kind of voice to myself had helped me a lot and I could have my attention directed to this part of my life. I still procrastinate, don't get me wrong, it's not something simple to resolve yourself in, but this noticing, finding the gift in it and having kind words to yourself, is the beginning of the change: the change that you will go through anything in your life. So recently I had a huge task waiting at my desk: it is a training preparation that I do. And in the last month, I think since the year, I have left the training preparation till the last day. This time, I did differently. I took 4 days for preparation. And it still felt overwhelming, it still felt a lot, but what I did was I gave all my focus to it. And I realized while I was starting there was this little bit of tension coming to me: this "Oh, I can't do, this is too much, I can't deal with it. Let's just postpone it”. There was this voice coming. I noticed it. I took a breath. I paused. I kept on working, and I stayed focused quite some time, then this voice popped up again “Let's give a break. Come on let's watch a video". I said “Okay let's take a break" and then I came back, that was again this resistance: “It’s too much work, it's not finishing!" but I sat down, worked. Then I gave a break. This voice kept on coming inside of me that wanted to avoid, that feared the amount of work. And I kept on working at it.
I see it as one of my personal victories that I noticed this power. First the voice inside of me that wants to stop me from going forward because it's fearful, because it was to have things lighter. It doesn't trust in its own capability. And the thing is, it comes from the past. This voice comes from my past experiences. I had developed this voice, because it helped me somehow to deal with the reality, with my capacity back then, but right now I also know that I have a different capacity and I can do differently. And I don't expect things to be easy. I know things are difficult, but I have practiced enough to do difficult things too.
I was going through a training called PQ. This means positive intelligence, have been going through this trainings for the past 7 weeks now, and at the same time last weekend I was preparing a training on transactional analysis and these two thing, touch each other so well, they complete each other. Let me tell you first what transactional analysis says. Transactional analysis says that during our childhood. we form certain attitudes towards ourselves and towards others. And these attitudes are formed because of the things that happened to us, how we perceived them at the moment, and in our capability how we dealt with them.This happens from age 0 to 4. And during this time, through our experiences nearly all of us decide that we are not okay, we are not capable to deal with the world by ourselves. We are not safe. We are not powerful, we are not good enough. This is about ourselves: we decide we are not good: "I’m not okay”. And also about outside world we give a decision if they're okay or they're not okay. They’re okay means the others are good. The others are safe. The others know it, they can do things. Not okay, meaning the others cannot be trusted. They cannot decide for themselves. So we end up in this "I'm not okay, you're okay", or "I'm not okay, you're not okay" positions. Well, the most important part is how we decide that "we are not okay". And because we decide we are not okay, we find ways to deal with situations that will make us feel a bit okay. When we are children, when we are little toddlers, or infants, what we do is either we cry, so that we get our parents to take care of us so we feel a bit okay. Or we make rebellious acts, or we do mischiefs, we become the naughty boy or girl, we are rebellious. And then we also get our attention, even though usually negative - it can be shouting beating- but we get a certain attention and feel okay, just feel touched by another human being. And these ways of getting to a point of temporary okayness create our attitudes in life as well. So probably in my case of avoidance what I wanted to have is to get away from something that I felt unpleasant, maybe I was feeling the other person was not okay. And I was trying to put myself out just to feel a bit okay. Or, I was feeling not okay, and just postponing this feeling and just in this time I postponed, I feel a bit okay. So, these attitudes kept on happening. Then I have another attitude: victimhood where I feel "I can't do this”, "why everything happens to me?". And this also comes from childhood. So these attitudes actually are not formed with my current reality about myself. They come from my past.
The transaction analysis says we have three parts of ourselves, one part is the child, where I have all the childhood experiences that I made about myself and the behavior side developed like crying, sulking, withdrawal, fighting. These are the types of behaviors that I developed with my little mind that wasn't well developed and able to assess the situation and create different alternatives. And I also have in my child's ego, the pure emotions that a child has or is born with like happiness, joy, creativity, curiosity, experimentation. Then I have another thing called Parent. This parent ego is also a storage but it's not the storage of my experiences, it's the storage of what I accumulated without processing it on my own, so it can be behaviors I imitate from my parents. Maybe as a child I was imitating my father smoking a cigarette. It might be my mother shaking her finger to another child. I not only adopt behaviours but also beliefs and statements from my parents or authority figures. And this become the basis for my judgments or judgmental attitudes towards others, but also how I speak to myself. Usually I speak to myself how my parents spoke to me. So, this is what the transaction analysis says, it says we carry our past experiences as a child ego, and also our natural child in us, and we carry our parents messages and behaviors as the parent ego.
Thank god, we are not bound with the history. We have something about the moment, in the now and this is called adult. We all have an adult ego state, which can just be in the moment, assess all the information, decide in the course of action and it's adaptable and it learns, and it can make different decisions and it's where there are no feelings but computation possibilities, action statements that are normative, that are not subjective, they direct to certain data, or it's where I think about things. And this adult state also accesses the child and the parent data, brings them together and decides whether this information is valid and whether I can use this information moving forward. But the thing is this adult - because it's something that develops, as we age, and it's something that adapts- needs to learn and practice. The other two comes from way back and lots of behaviours and attitude, we just do automatically because we had learned and practice it since we are four. And in an un-assessed life or a life where we don't really take time to assess our behaviours, decide on our values, what kind of life we want to have, what is our ethics we can be automatically reactive to things that are happening to us. This adult state needs to practice, needs to take time to think. assess, learn, and it gets stronger. Parent and child have the neural pathways so strong with the past practice that it's easier and faster to act from this space, whereas the adult needs to develop this new neural pathways. And it needs to have time to pause, think and then act. The more we practice this, the stronger we get in our adult state.
This was the transaction analysis. I told you I have been studying PQ (positive intelligence) and PQ doesn't talk about parent, child. It says, we all have saboteurs and saboteurs, are, are the reasons why we experience negative feelings. Anytime you have a negative feeling longer than one second, this means your saboteurs have hijacked you. So it sets the first baseline with saying any negative feeling that stays longer with you is wrong. And the second thing it says is that this negative feeling comes from your saboteur, so it separates you as individual from that thing that causes you to suffer. Similar to transactional analysis, saboteurs are the attitudes, things that we developed in our psyche to help us survive difficult situations where we felt we weren't safe to keep us safe. But the safe place is not necessarily a good place for us. It can be safe but it can be where you feel a known, a familiar suffering. So, in this system there are saboteurs and the main one is the judge. It is like this parent, your inner voice, not liking any of your behaviours, setting standards and always undermining you, is never happy. This judge in you judges yourself but also judges others. You always find fault in other people's behaviours. You also judge situations. Situations are never good for you. So, it creates lots of negative emotions.
In addition, everybody has different accomplice saboteurs. For example, I told you I have a victim saboteur that says I cannot do things, that has “I am a helpless little thing" attitude. Another accomplice saboteur to judge is the avoider saboteur, which avoids the unpleasant or difficult things, chooses to do easy things that are not important. There is pleaser saboteur who does things that make other people be pleased and doesn't focus on herself. There are lots of others: there is restless who just does too many things. There is a stickler who is pushing so much the rule so everything should be according to the rules.There is hyper vigilant, hyper achiever, controller, and hyper rational. I am sure already from the names some of them sound familiar to you. What you have to for yourself is to recognise the saboteurs at play. Anytime you feel these negative emotions, it's your old self or these saboteurs coming up and taking over the control.
How do you change? You start with separating yourself from the saboteur. First you notice when that happens. You say "Oh, my saboteur is an action". It's not you, it's the saboteur so you detach yourself from it. Then you have to pause, because you need to be in this moment to invite your higher self, your adult into game. PQ calls this adult state as sage. The wise self in you and the sage is actually in you, but it just needs to be calm, mindful and in the moment. What PQ program helps you with is that you notice your saboteurs in action, and you bring yourself to this moment. You exercise mind control by bringing yourself in this moment and it is a practice you develop. PQ program comes with its own suggestions, which is actually a mindfulness practice. You can also use your meditation practice (better eyes open). What you need to do is that you need to give your full attention to your experience right now, to the sensations. Instead of thinking, you switch off your relationship with your saboteur who hijacked you. Let's say you are super angry. This means you are under attack of your saboteur. You pause and say "Oh, my (You can even name it in your way, in my case I say) bitch took charge and hijacked me. What I do is I bring myself to this moment in one of the ways: You can touch your fingers to each other. You can feel the sensations. You can breathe in, breathe out, feel the breath in your body, you can look at something in full detail. If you are walking you can just feel your feet touching the ground, or you can wiggle your toes, or fingers, you can smell something, you can taste something, you can feel the wind on your skin. So what you do is you bring your attention to this moment in your human experience through your sensations, and when you stay in this moment. You can do it for 20 seconds or one minute, two minutes. Every time you notice the saboteur, bring yourself in this moment. Now you are in your adult, and now you can choose an action moving forward or a new attitude moving forward and you have won over your saboteur!
That's what happened to me when I was telling that I had to prepare for my for my training. And I see it as a big victory.
This bringing your attention to this moment is a great practice which you keep on doing and doing, because your saboteurs are so strong, coming from the past, or your attitudes are so strong that you need the time to switch your attention back to this moment and while doing it you need to be kind to yourself. You cannot say “Oh my saboteur again! I'm so stupid! I give all my power to this!” That would then be your judge saboteur in charge 🙂 Instead you have a gentle touch, you say “Oh my saboteur is an action there” and then you'll bring your attention to this moment.
Ok, let’s summarise. When you feel a negative emotion:
- You call out your saboteur
- You bring your attention to this moment through mindfulness practice and come to your sage (or adult) state.
Now the last stage begins. And it is about creating a new attitude. PQ programme offers 5 Sage powers: Empathise (with yourself or others), Explore (find new ways), Navigate (decide on a path based on your own inner compass), Activate (commit and take action energetically without interference of your saboteurs) and Innovate (find new ways of doing things). I benefit very much from coming back to the moment first when I feel negative emotions and then take action. A mindful pause is always a good idea. The second practice that has benefited me a lot is to wonder what the gift of what has happened could be. I said I lost an opportunity to partner with a company I wanted to. What was my gift? I saw it as a lesson to do it differently next time and I did it.
Everything that happens can be a gift if we choose to. We can turn it into something productive, we can have an inspiration out of it. That is a great journey of life so if you see it from this perspective. If you see negative emotions as your old self reminding itself, you can stay in this moment, can develop a new attitude that changes everything.
So that's what I wanted to share with you this week.
Here is a link to the Saboteurs assessment so you can discover your main saboteurs.
The PQ program is now open now for registration for coaches who want to be trained in it (Untill july 10th), you can learn more and apply here.
I have written a text for our students in BeCoach Academy explaining Transactional Analysis, which you can read here. I also added my highlights from two books which really helped me in transaction analysis. Maybe it will also create curiosity in you, or maybe it could even help you.
I am saluting you Sage!