therapy, goal setting, yearnings and expectations

last week i had the great pleasure of taking a goal planning workshop with mary-lou hill. this workshop was originally designed for women who are part of mary kay cosmetics. however, since mary-lou is the mother of my friend ronnie (of part-ninja), a few of ronnie’s friends got to have a workshop designed just for ourselves.

i walked into this workshop with a bit of a prejudice, because mary-lou is an NLP practitioner, which is an approach to which i generally do not feel drawn. also, i have been to and given many workshops that involve goal setting and the like, so i was a bit doubtful that i would learn anything amazingly new.

but mary-lou’s wonderful, wise and open style, as well as her unusual approach to goal planning turned out to be a great experience. some of the things that really struck home for me included:

  • the importance of using language that excites the subconscious. it’s at the gut level that i need to be excited; it’s not enough to feel a goal is desirable on a purely intellectual level
  • the importance of being in a deeply relaxed state when imagining my goals – this way, the image is much richer
  • when unpleasant patterns of thinking/acting/feeling come up, i can interpret that as meaning that i am offering them up to myself in order to deal with them, rather than be irritated/frustrated/hopeless that they’re rearing their ugly heads again
  • when these unpleasant patterns arise, i can remember to ask what the most positive purpose behind them is, and then experiment with better ways to reach that purpose
  • some people tend to move towards goals, and others move away from unpleasant states; for me, it’s important to incorporate both

of course a lot of these things were already in my awareness but i needed to be reminded of them and, more importantly, i need to really get them, understand them on a deeper level (i guess that’s what heinlein would refer to as “grokking“)

much of what mary-lou did reminded me of the satir approach (which shouldn’t be any surprise, given that virginia satir, fritz perls and milton erickson were the psychologists upon which NLP was originally built).

for example, the positive purpose behind our patterns (what mary-lou called “highest intention”) reminded me of satir’s concept of “universal yearnings” – the longing for love, acceptance, peace, etc. that is common to all human beings. in satir-speak, the unpleasant patterns i just mentioned would be fuelled by (often unreasonable) expectations, which are really just frustrated yearnings.

and of course the other thing i got out of the workshop is yet another reminder a) of how valuable it is to question my assumptions, and b) that in therapy and many other human-to-human interactions, technique, education and affiliations don’t matter nearly as much as the integrity, talent and life experience of the persons involved in the interaction. who cares what school of therapy/religion/etc. one subscribes to! what matters is how well we understand each other, and how well we get along.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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