So what do I mean by designing for dignity not fear?
I want to give you a couple of examples of clients who have worked with me that I’ve helped identify the story that they’re living inside of and then we’ve designed a story that they want to living.
Jason was a professional in the legal sector, he was very successful describing himself as at the top his game. He worked when he wanted and only on what he wanted to work on. He spent the rest of the time on his boat with a “selection of lovely young ladies” to use his language. Jason had been seeing a psychotherapist for over fifteen years and came to see me because he was frustrated with that experience having minimal impact on his anxiety and depression.
Jack described himself as Love Shy and Incel (he was unable to find a romantic partner) and was anxious and depressed.
Both Jason and Jack were certain that the way they were was unchangeable because they had tried a number of different things including CBT, counselling and psychotherapy.
Both of them had problems with making relationships work.
Both of them were so attached to what they believed was right that they were stuck. Their story didn’t continue any further and they couldn’t see a future that they wanted to be living in. So they were both depressed and anxious. And lacking any sense of vitality and joy in their lives.
I don’t have an intention when I’m first working with a new client we are purely exploring their reality and how they see the world. But I am there with them on this journey so their experience is different because of that.
Part of this is I like the CPS (Collaborative Problem Solving) approach because as a natural empath I easily see other people’s perspectives and I strongly dislike the idea of pathologising people where people are made into their problem or diagnosis by the certainty of that professional making that diagnosis. CPS argues that people just need to develop neurocognitive skills and that they are not broken or damaged.
If you are pro-diversity you also need to be pro-neurological diversity getting not just that people are different that our brains are wired differently so process our experiences differently. So everyone has skills to develop and work on.
And it’s remembering that this isn’t just a genetic predisposition, something that you are born with. Neuroscience tells us that our brains are neuroplastic that they change throughout our lives, and that the process of neurogenesis or brain growth is constantly happening. So a bad experience grows your brain in one direction and a good experience grows your brain in a different direction. So we’re all neurologically different based on our different life experiences.
So I don’t think of people as damaged or broken. And as a trained Ericksonian Hypnotherapist who has spent over twenty years training, developing and improving those skills I’m also an extraordinarily good conversational hypnotist who had the revelation that people are already hypnotised by TV, by social media, by the cultures we grow up in. So I more think of what I do as dehypnosis and deprogramming.
So while I don’t have any intention to lead my client in a specific direction I do show up as who I am and from a position of deep respect for their worldview and I want to have what I call an “honest conversation” with them.
This is why I ask you to think of me as an advisor or coach, not a teacher telling you what to do. Because we’re having a conversation and I’m not just sitting there like a psychotherapist waiting for you to talk or asking you questions. We have a conversation I think of this as being part of the “weave of the total complex” and I’ve written more about that here: https://michaelwilliamroach.com/gregory-bateson
So a lot of things are happening and it’s just a conversation.
After their initial sessions, Jason and Jack decided to continue working with me, and I decided it was suitable to do more work with them. They both began to think about what they really wanted rather than be defined by their successes or failures. Or even as their successes or failures.
Because more than just working with symptoms and getting rid of the presenting problem I’m looking to work generatively which is about where you have the power that is fundamental to who you are and when naturally expressed not forced leads you into becoming more of who you naturally are.
So with relationships, it’s easy to make it about the other person that you want to be in a relationship with. And you define yourself by the success you have in that relationship and what the other person thinks of you. There is a natural chemical and biological high we get from attraction and approval and desire from people we are attracted to.
Neil Strauss wrote a book called “The Game” where he goes undercover in the seduction and pick-up artist community and learns the skills to seduce women. He also wrote another book a few years later called “The Truth” where he confesses his inability to maintain a working relationship with one woman and so tries to make relationships work with three women simultaneously.
As a professional therapist reading this I was going: “How come he can’t see the idiocy of what he’s doing?” But then I answered my own question with: “He’s bought into the cultural programming that we’re all subject to where more is always seen as better and that you can never have enough of a good thing.”
Because this is at the heart of social anxiety that it’s the over concern for other people and what they want, which is what society, what our culture tells us we should be focussed on.
We go: “If only I could find the right person to love me then I would be ok.”
We don’t as often go: “Who do I need to be for myself to be the person I want to be to be living a life I love?”
It’s easy to confuse this with narcissism, where people are in love with themselves.
The distinction I’m making is about having a healthy relationship with yourself not an unhealthy relationship with yourself.
You’ve probably heard the idea that your ability to love other people is directly related to the capacity to love yourself.
So this is about love it is not about desire.
There’s an endless supply of sugary cakes, treats and snacks available to us and we are biologically wired to want that sweetness. So we have an epidemic of obesity because we let our desire rule us.
Similarly, there is an epidemic of depression, anxiety and social anxiety because of desire for what our culture tells us we should want.
But the question that takes more work to answer is: “What do you want?” When we get past those surface desires when we get to the honest conversation about what you really want.
When Jason and Jack started to think more about what they wanted for themselves not what they wanted to be for other people. We started a different journey in a different direction. Because Jason and Jack had both been in therapy for a number of years but they’d been going in the wrong direction. They wanted to fix their relationships with other people. And what they really needed was to fix their relationships with themselves.
This is what I mean when I’m talking about: “designing for dignity” it’s about self-relationship, self-coaching and self-leadership.
So who are you when you have dignity?