Category Archives: Food for thought

Eyes wide shut

Wie wir uns in Partnerschaften mit Trugbildern
unglücklich machen.

by Jochen Ulbing

Ein sehr weiser Spruch lautet: „Man heiratet nicht eine Person sondern drei: den Menschen den man sieht, den Menschen der er wirklich ist und schließlich den Menschen, zu dem er sich in der Ehe mit einem entwickeln wird.“ Heute heiraten wir zwar seltener und dafür weniger oft, der Spruch gilt für Partnerschaften ohne Trauschein aber ebenso.

Die meisten Beziehungen beginnen mit einem Irrtum und enden auch damit. Wir glauben, dass wir uns in unser Gegenüber verlieben und sind doch nur in jenes Bild verliebt, dass sich in den Augen unseres Partners spiegelt. Wir beenden Beziehungen in dem Glauben, dass die Probleme verschwinden wenn wir uns trennen und der ideale Partner eben noch irgendwo da draußen auf uns wartet. Interessanter Weise erleben viele Menschen, mit denen ich spreche, dass die selben Probleme mit dem nächsten Partner wieder kommen – bloß schneller. Vielleicht liegt das daran, dass wir unsere Probleme in uns tragen – ein kleiner verwegener Gedanke.

Was uns oft unglücklich macht ist der Vergleich. Wir vergleichen die Beziehungen, die wir haben damit wie wir glauben, dass Beziehung eigentlich sein müsste – und die Bilder wie Beziehung sein muss haben wir aus Kinofilmen, made in Hollywood. Irgendwie ist uns aber oftmals nicht klar, dass es sich dabei um Märchen handelt – keine Geschichten, die das Leben schreibt. Dann sehnen wir uns nach der perfekten Frau oder dem perfekten Mann, der großen romantischen Geste,… Der Alltag jedoch ist anders: Offene Zahnpasta-Tuben, Socken unter oder auf dem Sofa, der Streit darüber ob der WC-Deckel oben oder unten sein sollte – Alltagsdramen, die es praktisch in jeder Beziehung gibt. Der Vergleich heißt dann Brad Pitt gegen stinkende Socken, oder Angelina Jolie gegen zwanghaftes Staubsaugen während dem Champions-League Finale und das bei dem Anspruch, dass es in einer Beziehung „prickeln“ muss. Dass soll nicht heißen, dass es nicht in einer Beziehung immer wieder verliebte oder romantische Phasen gibt und geben soll – doch die Mühen der Ebene müssen wir dafür mit in Kauf nehmen, wenn wir wirklich eine erfüllte Partnerschaft möchten.

Liebe ist ein willentlicher Akt, nicht etwas das halt passiert. Nicht umsonst heißt es im christlichen Ehegelöbnis: „Ich will Dich achten, ehren und lieben alle Tage meines Lebens.“ Es wäre geradezu verrückt etwas zu geloben, von dem wir glauben es nicht beeinflussen zu können, nicht wahr? Aber zugegeben als Ausrede ist es bequemer. Und ob das noch nicht genug wäre tun wir so als ob in Beziehungen keine schlimmen Dinge passieren könnten und tun dann überrascht, wenn beispielsweise der Partner, die Partnerin sich sexuell mal auswärts vergnügt. Ich will hier nicht der Promiskuität das Wort reden, doch wenn statistisch erwiesen 90% der Männer mindestens einmal in ihrem Leben untreu sind und 80% der Frauen, wie groß ist dann wohl die Chance, dass dies in Deiner Beziehung garantiert nicht passiert? Statt Krisen als Chance zur Entwicklung und des besseren Kennenlernen seines Partners zu betrachten haben wir zur Gewohnheit entwickelt den „Ich kann nicht mehr.“ – Reflex auszupacken und uns davonzustehlen.

Nach meinen Erfahrungen gehört zu jeder wirklich guten Beziehung eine gehörige Portion Leidensfähigkeit beider Partner und der Wille Krisen und Probleme gemeinsam anzupacken. Im Gegensatz zu „verliebt sein“ bedeutet Liebe ein „trotzdem“. „Ich liebe Dich trotzdem Du den Klodeckel immer oben lässt. Ich liebe Dich trotzdem Du immer dann reden möchtest wenn ich Fußball schaue. Ich liebe Dich trotzdem Du Sex mit jemand anders hattest.“ Wenn wir beginnen nicht mehr die Illusion von Partnerschaft zu lieben, sondern unseren Partner ansehen und sagen: „Ich will Dich lieben.“, dann ist Beziehung erstmals möglich in einer Partnerschaft auf Augenhöhe, die anerkennt was ist, und gleichzeitig sieht was noch möglich sein kann. Je eher wir von Trugbildern und Illusionen loslassen, desto größer die Chance auf erfüllte und gelungene Beziehungen.

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About Jochen Ulbing

Jochen ist Unternehmensberater und systemischer Coach, Geschäftsführer und Gesellschafter von Ulbing consulting. Als Autor des Buchs „BeziehungsFlow“, welches 2007 im Österreichischen Wirtschaftsverlag erschienen ist beschäftigt er sich mit Unternehmensführung für Kleine und Mittlere Unternehmen. Beziehungen zwischen Menschen in und um Unternehmen spielen dabei eine entscheidende Rolle. Er ist seit 11 Jahren mit (der gleichen) Frau verheiratet und hat eine 12 jährige Tochter aus dieser Beziehung. In seiner Freizeit ist er Familiencoach. Er ist Mitglied der ICF (International Coaching Federation).

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The upside of cost

(as seen on Roman Brauns Trinergy-NLP-Blog on October 22, 2009)

Yesterday, I met with an illustrator about some ideas for a logo. I was feeling inspired and a little creative, so it seemed natural that I ended up buying art. It went down like this.

I had just left his office and no sooner had I turned the first corner onto a side street that I heard the rhythm and the calls:

Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom…

Picture of a houseThen I saw them: a painted-faced, munchkin-bunch of 4 and 5 yr. olds in front of a city kindergarten. Someone had seen fit to let them out onto the sidewalk wearing impromptu costumes resembling Native American dress. They had feathers and a red-headed chief, whose name I later learned was Lucy.

She expertly calmed the natives as I surveyed the concrete vernissage. Lucy:Stop drumming! We have a customer!” After thinking it over carefully, I picked two works of art with the point of a finger (for 20 cents I thought I could afford to indulge). Lucy:I said stop drumming!” She lifted the rocks which were weighing down the pictures, handed them to me and held out her hand.

Picture of a jetI gave her one Euro (which didn’t impress her one way or the other) and walked away smiling as the drumming and the chanting began again. And as I looked back I was thinking: “That Lucy is a mini- entrepreneur.” And I wondered: “Did someone already teach her about the upside of cost?

Which made me think of Chris Anderson: In his book “Free – The Future of a Radical Price”, Anderson explains the why’s, the how’s and the advantages of the new free economy, in which we enjoy an abundance of things at no cost – like free software, masses of information (e.g. blog articles) and unlimited e-mail storage.

But Anderson is also careful to depict the downside of Free, which he dubs “the cost of zero cost”. He cites the findings of behavioral economists who set out to discover what happens psychologically when we get something for nothing. In one example, researchers set up a booth on a college campus and sold chocolate to students:

“They priced the Lindt truffles at 15 cents and the (Hershey) Kisses at 1 cent. The customers behaved pretty rationally, calculating that the difference in the quality of the two chocolates more than made up for their difference in price: 73 percent chose the truffle and 27 percent chose the Kiss.

Then Ariely (the research initiator) introduced Free into the equation, lowering the price of both chocolates by 1 cent. Now the Lindt truffle was 14 cents and the Kiss was free. Suddenly the Kiss became a hit. 69 percent chose it over the truffle. Nothing about the price/quality calculation had changed – the two chocolates were still priced 14 cents apart.”

FreeThese test subjects literally reversed their behavior due to the Free factor. Anderson provides further arguments that Free is in fact a powerful trigger for the human psyche; that we are subconsciously driven to and by Free. He goes on to talk about the excessive consumption of free snacks at a scientific conference, where he was amazed to see the well-educated participants leaving half-eaten bags of “gratis goodies” everywhere:

No cost, no commitment. People often don’t care as much about things they don’t pay for, and as a result they don’t think as much about how they consume them. Free can encourage gluttony, hoarding, thoughtless consumption, waste, guilt and greed. We take stuff because it’s there, not necessarily because we want it.”

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In my own self-development process and in my work as a coach, I have experienced this…

The price of change and personal development can be very minimal – like when we recognize an obstructive belief about ourselves and decide to exchange it for a constructive one. This can happen in a matter of seconds and no hard work follows. We just feel better and are somehow transformed.

Other times, the cost is higher and there is more at stake. And we may find ourselves needing to exhibit tenacity over a long period of time in order to reach a personal objective.

If you are in the process of consciously evolving and find yourself paying a price – however large or small – remember the upside of cost as you go your course:

  • Where there is cost, there is decision.
    This usually means you are driving instead of being driven (e.g. by Free). Good thing!
  • Where there is cost, there is commitment.
    And commitment leads to a far greater probability of success.
  • Where there is cost, we see value.
    In the end, you are likely to find yourself caring more about the changes you paid for than the ones that came for free.

Lucy could have given those pictures away. But somehow she knew about the upside of cost and the downside of free – without reading Anderson.

How competent!

Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom. “Pictures for sale!” Boom, boom, boom. “Ten cents a piece!” Boom, boom, boom…

Until we meet again,

Shailia

The inner clock fairy tale

Despite a myriad of experiments, medical science has yet to discover a clock in the human body. Still, people frequently talk about their inner clock as if it were an organ, like the liver.

Human beings do have a biorhythm, which has not been mechanically “clocked”, but which can adapt to varying circumstances in a natural way. It is called BREATH. Even the universe itself is breathing.

So, when did we people start talking about having an inner clock? When sand trickled through the first hourglass? I am guessing that it began with the industrial revolution – when human beings became “mechanized” to cope with the requirements of production and efficiency. At that time, the capability of machines was compared with that of man. And man lost sorely. The all-encompassing faith in technology pushed man aside and out of focus.

We would be wise to take head of our vocabulary. “Vocabulary” stems from the Latin word “vocare”, which means “to call”. Hence our thoughts and our language create reality, by calling the things into action that our words suggest. Your words, your will be done.

What makes us tick to ask what makes us tick?

The Indian philosopher Krishnamurti makes a discrepancy between chronological time and psychological time. The latter is what he focuses on: “It is the interval between idea and action.” Krishnamurti tries to make clear that OUR THOUGHTS about time bear a conflict in themselves.

“Our thinking which is captured in this process poses the question: “What is time? And exactly this fathoming question stems from the mechanism of time. That’s why our research is useless because the question itself is time. The ‘Yesterday’ has brought thinking into life, and so the thought divides space into yesterday, today and tomorrow. Or it says: ‘There is only NOW’, forgetting that the present is the result of yesterday.”

Stop ticking and start breathing.

In other words: Man has invented the concept of time, forgotten about doing so (or gotten a case of amnesia) and now asks himself what TIME is, as if someone else (God, an alien, Micky Mouse) invented it.

And in order to be able to invent time, man had to invent thinking first – which he also used to invent the lack of time, by the way.

So if we reclaim the responsibility for our own creations and stop regarding them as a phenomenon separate from ourselves, they won’t be able to overwhelm us anymore.

Time is just space, thoughts are just thoughts and nothing more.

Benedikt

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Benedikt SchreyerAbout me:
My name is Benedikt Schreyer – writer, coach and singer. I love to research life, gain and share knowledge and live up to my full potential. I believe the world is sound. That’s why to love is to laugh – Big loud belly laughter!
I am also a good friend of Pat and Shailia. I will be posting articles here from time to time. I aim to inspire and provide impulses. I hope you enjoyed my first post, “The  inner clock fairy tale”.

Singing with the Moso

Leaving Mother LakeIn a singular time and place – in “the country of daughters” – Moso women drink butter tea and rule society. Mothers and sisters skillfully work the land and manage their households. They care for their Himalayan hair, beauty in and of itself. They teach their daughters to love and conceive freely – without attachment or regret. When it is time, they gather to dance and to sing.

“That year, when the people came out to dance under the stars in honor of the mountain goddess, all the men’s eyes were on my mother.

Around the bonfires, the men danced in a group and faced the women, who likewise danced arm in arm, their multicolored belts tied around their waists. My mother’s waist was thick with all her trophies. … the women pushed my Ama (mother) to show off in the center, and while she danced, a young man broke out of the circle and snatched a belt from her waist.

My mother laughed and skipped from man to man, but she did not catch her belt. She would take it back only when a man worthy of her songs caught it. …my mother could not make up her mind – until Numbu caught it.

His hands on his hips, Numbu began the courtship song:

Little sister, you are like moonlight in the middle of the night sky,
But the moon needs a star above it.

And my Ama answered:

Night has not fallen and the moon has not risen,
But the butterfly is already looking for honey.

Then Numbu sang:

The butterfly has found a beautiful flower; and
The moon is already high up above the lake.

She answered:

If the moon is high above Mother Lake, the water is untainted.
Mother Lake is where I wash and comb my hair.

And Numbu sang:

But why do you comb your hair; little sister?
Oh, little sister, for whom do your comb your beautiful hair?”

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Why am I sharing this book excerpt with you?

Because I love to think about this colorful scene in a faraway culture. Because words are the magic that charge my imagination and emotions, allowing me to envision this other life in another time and place. And in sharing this with you, maybe you too will be transported and we will entwine in spirit – with each other but also with Yang Erche Namu and Christine Mathieu, the authors of the memoir “Leaving Mother Lake.”

To me, these small moments of delight, imagination and connection – when we take the time to pay attention, notice something precious and share it – are like a core retreat. Because no matter how easy or hard life seems, when it is time, we can always gather to dance and to sing, to find something joyful and be one – in the place that is our thoughts.

Until we meet again,

Shailia

PS: Click here to order “Leaving Mother Lake” on amazon.com.

[Today’s blog post is dedicated to Carrie Haunstetter, who shared the Moso story with me. And to her daughters – Sophie and Anna – may they grow confident like the Moso women and always find reasons to dance and to sing.]

When forward thinking is backwards

Yesterday, I was chatting online with my friend, Ed. We were catching each other up; he me on his new job, I him on my studies and so on. I must have been caught up in the telling of my recent successes and up-coming plans, because somewhere along the way, he made a straightforward utterance that stopped me in my tracks unexpectedly. A one-liner that got me thinking. It was this:

“Don’t forget to look back for all the looking forward.”

What he meant was (or at least how I choose to interpret his meaning in relationship to what we had been discussing directly prior): No matter how far you have come or where you plan on going, don’t forget those who paved the way and those who have stood and stand beside you.

This morning, as I again thought about his comment, I was reminded of the main message in “Outliers”, the latest book by Malcolm Gladwell. You may already know him from his other books “The Tipping Point” and “Blink”, which I can both highly recommend.

In “Outliers”, Gladwell reflects on why some people become much more successful than others. He challenges the Western notion that success is an individual phenomenon – that one can become successful in a particular field if he or she is born with certain personality traits, the proper amount of intelligence and talent or the “hard working” gene.

Gladwell encourages readers to take a closer look at the entire system surrounding the individual – time and economic era, access to available resources and family support, chance occurrences and flukes in the system – which he believes are equally, if not more responsible than individual capabilities in the overall equation of success.

Here is a passage from “Outliers” (I especially love this analogy because I am a tree and forest freak):

“Biologists often talk about the ‘ecology’ of an organism: the tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured. We all know that successful people come from hardy seeds. But do we know enough about the sunlight that warmed them, the soil in which they put down roots, and the rabbits and the lumberjacks they were lucky enough to avoid? This is not a book about tall trees. It’s a book about forests…”

Tall treeSo today, inspired by Ed’s wisdom, I decided to climb off my high-horse, “look back for all the looking forward” and recognize the substantial gift that is my forest, my ecology, my place and time in history. Right now, I am taking a moment to imagine and be grateful for all the circumstances and all the sacrifices, the hard work and the tremendous acts of love as well as the many small thoughts and gestures of others which are in every way as significant to everything that I am and will become as my own doings.

@Ed: Although you probably served it unknowingly, thank you for the piece of humble pie. I needed it!

Until we meet again,

Shailia

PS: See what a harmless chat session can trigger in my head. Be careful what you write to me. You may end up getting quoted on my blog 😉

[Today’s blog post is dedicated to my girls – Laura, Andrea, Laura Lynn and Kathy – who always stand beside me.]

Can’t never could do nothin’

Do you sometimes think about a certain saying you often heard when you were growing up and suddenly realize how much meaning is hidden in that simple figure of speech? My grandmother liked to say, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

Like the time she had just repaired the hem on my favorite wrap-around skirt and asked me to come upstairs to see if the length was right. I replied, “I can’t. Oprah’s on.” And she said, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

Of course, what I really meant was, “I am watching TV and don’t want to be bothered.” In the end, I could and did get my lazy butt up and try on that skirt because it made me look thinner and I didn’t want to do without it.

Or like the countless times she informed me she would be waking me up at 6:00 a.m. for our daily walk. I would say, “What! You know I can’t get up that early.” And she would say, “Can’t never could do nothin’.”

What I actually thought was, “Make a fuss over me and tell me how you would miss me terribly if I stayed in bed.” Again, I could and did get up, because those early morning hours alone with her were the best thing about my Summer vacations.

When I think about it, it seems to me that the word “can’t” is like the sheep’s skin which conceals the wolf in the flock. It is a powerful verbal operator which we inadvertently use to hide our lack of motivation, insecurities and dislikes but also needs, priorities and choices. When we say “can’t” we are often disguising other sentiments such as “won’t”, “didn’t”, “don’t want”, “would rather”, “please do” , “take notice” and on and on.

I think “can’t” CAN do something. I believe it is a potent word and, if we are not diligent in its use, it can reduce the quality of our communication, limit our options for action and obscure our sense of personal choice and responsibility.

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I wonder, what would happen if we all decided to ban the word “can’t” from our vocabularies? Maybe we would begin to say and hear things like this:

  • “Could you please unbutton my pants.” …INSTEAD OF… “I can’t do a thing with these fake nails on.”
  • “True, I didn’t write the testimonial yet.” …INSTEAD OF… “I couldn’t find the time to do it up to now because… (insert a million excuses here).”
  • “Yes, I handed over everything because I wanted to stay alive.” INSTEAD OF “I couldn’t not give the robbers my money.”
  • “Apparently, I want to feel shitty about this situation for a while.” …INSTEAD OF… “I can’t stop thinking about how badly the meeting went.”

To me, a vocabulary without “can’t” feels like a more interesting, honest and powerful life.

Looking at the statements above, which differences make a difference to you?  What might you say …INSTEAD OF…?

Until we meet,
Shailia

In the beginning

there was a blog. Untouched and pristine. With every chance to become anything, at anytime. But even before it was anything at all, the newborn blog aspired to be something else, something more. Because already, it had decided it was inadequate. It was yet blank and longed to be full-up with revealing topics, matters that matter and witty discourse.

The baby blog wanted to be perfect and began to worry that it might not measure up in life. It started to feel guilty that it could be doing more, but wasn’t. Barely a day old, the little blog had already taught itself to how to feel bad. How capable!

The Makers, looking across at their afflicted creation, spoke these words of wisdom, “Little blog, take heart, you are a work in progress. At the end of the day, every day, you will be unfinished and your story ever-unfolding. Your purpose is to become and be cause. That’s it. You are perfectly imperfect. And so it should be.”

The young blog smiled, breathed a blog breathe and began to feel relief. In an instant, it had taught itself to have faith. How intelligent and adaptable!

To all of our readers: Enjoy “work in progress”, whatever it becomes.

Shailia and Pat