Posts By: Brendan
“But how do you know you’re right Dad” asked my 12 year old son after I gave him my opinion on advice he’d received from a school teacher that butter was ‘bad’.
It’s a great question and a tough one to answer, especially to a child.
To benefit from the truth you have to be prepared to see the world from different perspectives, and if you haven’t the capacity to do this you can never appreciate the deeper nuances of human life and you can never benefit from having the edges knocked off you and becoming more rounded and therefore more useful to the world. In fact, you could say that a ridged inability (or unwillingness) to see other perspectives is a form of mental disease.
As young energetic college students we are happy to march behind flags and shout mono dimensional slogans sticking it to ‘The Man’ because we are frustrated at being a mere tail that gets wagged by the dog at the dogs’ whim.
But when we grow up (if we ever do) we come to realise that there really are different valid perspectives (and there are invalid ones too of course – just because someone shouts doesn’t mean they have anything worthwhile to say!), and that our universe-centric infantile view of things is…well just that.
But it’s hard to do this because we feel SO STRONGLY that we are right, it becomes part of our identity, and once something is part of our identity it is so much more difficult to separate ourselves from it and see things objectively.
How do I know butter is good for you?
I don’t have the answers my clients need, they do. My job is to help them find it and recognise it and then act on it. They find their own truth.
This is one of those philosophical grey areas that gives people a headache – what do you mean ‘their own truth’? Surely there is only ONE real truth?
I say No. There are factual truths we all agree on…like the existence of gravity (even though we still don’t really know what it is in essence), but when it comes to individuals there can be many truths and each of us must find our own. This is so difficult for many people to accept because at heart we long for the peace of mind inherent in an infants’ binary view of the world…Yes/No, Wrong/Right. It’s simpler, but it’s not accurate.
Butter can be factually proven to contain numerous nutrients that can elevate the health of your body, but your body may not accept it, or might only accept it up to a certain degree.
But why then do the powers that be teach us that it is generally bad?
I can’t get into this right now…it’s a long story that much more articulate people than me are better at telling.
The process of finding your own truth is hampered by a desire to have simplistic answers.
How I help my clients find their way out of infertility is not what most people imagine it might be – I don’t present them with a to do list that gets them there, instead we engage in a process of mutual discovery and it’s only because I have been down that road so many times that I am any good at interpreting the signposts we find along the way.
The key to it all is to have a clear goal. This is a deep truth that works well in all aspects of life, not just infertility, and being pregnant is definitely a super clear goal to have.
I almost wrote “wanting to be pregnant is a super clear goal to have” …but that would have been wrong. If you say your goal is ‘wanting to be pregnant’…then you have already achieved it, what you really mean to say is you want to BE pregnant.
This kind of clarity is what enables us to find the truth of the person’s life because it acts like a magnet that keeps us on track as we head off into a complicated world in search of solutions.
It doesn’t really matter who you are, the only question that matters is – “who are you becoming?”, once you know this you have a much better chance of getting there.
There is no ‘answer’ out there that someone can hand you and say…here…go and get it, if someone pretends there is – they are wrong.
And if someone tells you butter is bad …they are also wrong!
We can see the weakest point in a bursting balloon using slow motion footage, but it is so much harder to tell exactly where our own weakest point is. To complicate matters we are adaptive creatures who can strengthen the weak points in our health if we know what to do.
A good way to think about it is that all chronic diseases ultimately come because some system in our body is overstressed, and it eventually gives. Having a good diagnosis helps us figure out what that system is, if we know how to interpret things. This is no easy task.
Infertility narrows down the systems some bit. We can consider how the adrenal system is functioning, how our thyroid is cooperating with our adrenals, how our pituitary gland is regulating our circadian rhythms and how our GI tract is powering (or disempowering) our hormonal system.
With these functions analysed and encouraged to operate normally we can consider how the ovaries, or the testicles are working…they take their cue from the dance of the other organs.
Infertility is not a mystery if you know how to read the landscape of your body.
Getting diagnosed with infertility is not a setback, it’s a huge step forward because it shows you your weakest point and allows you to focus on the stuff that matters most and not get side-tracked chasing ghosts.
It can take a Caucasian woman with gum disease about 2 months longer to get pregnant than a similar woman without gum disease, and for non-Caucasians it can take longer than 12 months! Source.
“What?…That’s mad” you might say, but actually it isn’t. Periodontal disease is very common and associated with a lot of chronic degenerative diseases including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease…and now even infertility.
What’s going on?
It’s not an easy idea to square away if you view health in the traditional narrow way using the reductionist mindset. But if you see the world in a more interconnected way then you also probably see human health in a similarly interconnected way, in which case you see nothing at all mad about this idea.
Bacteria from gum disease does damage gums by inflaming them, which eventually leads to tooth disease. This is bad. But the same bacteria can migrate into your nerves, and blood and cause damage elsewhere in the body too.
Could it cause trouble for your ovaries? Maybe, but I’m going to suggest we are looking at this the wrong way around.
The real issue from my perspective is that something is driving the gum disease, and that same ‘thing’ is also driving the other degenerative conditions, including infertility.
Yes, we can point to the migration of bacteria along nerve and blood and even lymph transport systems, but it’s deeper than this…there’s a vibe or a note playing in the body that is ‘off’…this is the essential issue.
This is the issue with infertility too.
Consider that we know if people keep their mouths scrupulously clean they can prevent damage to their gums and teeth…so it seems like a cut and dry idea…clean your teeth and you’ll be fine.
But this doesn’t square so well with what we know about traditional cultures who had no oral care but rarely got any sort of gum disease.
What the official guardians of our oral cavity fail to tell us is the same thing the medical fertility world fails to tell us – the problems we are experiencing are not isolated to one part of the body, they are systemic and the solution to them is to rise the tide of health in the whole body – not just in one spot in the body.
Brush your gums…sure…but get your body humming the right note too, that’ll go a long way to sorting out your fertility issues!
Period problems are so common now you’d think they were ‘normal’, but they are not.
If you’ve been having period problems for years that means your inner guidance system has been slightly off course all this time.
Had your inner guidance system been fully operational you would have automatically corrected the problem and been done with it – and moved on to solving the next problem.
A malfunctioning guidance system prevents you from tuning in to yourself and giving your body the attention needs.
If you have been diagnosed with infertility and you have been trying various things to fix it – ask yourself – are you relying on the same faulty compass that’s been guiding you all these years to get yourself out of the problem?
Maybe you need to stop doing things – and work instead to upgrade your compass first!
Imagine a really bad argument between you and another person you care about.
Imagine both of you are hurt and angry.
Imagine this hanging in the air for weeks and the stress and misery it causes just by ‘being there’.
Then imagine that all it takes is for one person to genuinely say the words “I’m sorry” or “I was wrong, you were right”.
Imagine the power those words have to reset the relationship, the mood and the energy of it all. Yet you can also imagine how seemingly impossible it feels for one person to take that step and say those words. It’s hard because it requires admitting we were wrong, it requires becoming vulnerable for a moment, and it requires you to put your trust in someone else.
I mean the words themselves are physically easy to say…it’s the meaning and intention behind them that’s the hard part…right?
What is the internal force that’s stopping us? Is it pride, is it ego, is it our identity?
Believe it or not it’s the same force that is stopping us all from changing yet when we do change, we crossover an invisible divide and something happens inside us – we grow, and our worldview shifts slightly to embrace a new truth about ourselves, one that we didn’t like but we are better for it.
These obstacles are precious signposts telling us what we need to focus on. Dealing with them properly helps us discover the nugget of wisdom that we need to shift our worldview one more step closer to reality, one more step closer to our dreams…whatever they are.
All the great adventures worth going on involve taking risks.
The risk is that you might fail.
If it is a physical journey like crossing the dessert, then the risk is you might die.
If it’s an emotional journey like overcoming anger, then the risk is your ego might die.
If it’s a health journey, then the risk is your old habits might die.
If there was no risk at all it would mean the outcome was certain. If the outcome is certain it means you don’t have to do anything to get it…because it is certain.
If you don’t have to do anything then there is no real journey, and if there is no journey then there is no adventure.
Adventure is something a lot of people can’t handle, the uncertainty of it creates too much tension inside them and freaks them out. For them a normal life of predictability seems preferable, but at a deeper level they are choosing predictability because they fear ‘death’.
But without some level of variety in life even these people would die of boredom, and so sooner or later the urge rises in us all to go and do something different from time to time.
If we resist this, if we become stuck in our ways, life has a way of tossing us upside down to make sure we challenge ourselves. Most of the time this is exactly what we don’t want…but usually it is what we need. There’s a clichéd story to it!
On the other side of human nature are people who live lives of constant upheaval – jobs that expose us to endless unpredictability, relationships that keep us on our toes, challenges that stretch us to the limit of our ability.
Without some degree of inner peace, these people too will die. We all lie naturally somewhere on the spectrum between the extremes of excess boredom or excess stimulation.
Fertility can be lost in people who are bored with life and lack direction or purpose, and it is also lost by people who live in a constant state of ‘go’.
If you find yourself excessively bored then choose to become responsible for something new that matters to you, and then work towards making it happen.
If you are living with your foot on the accelerator and fear burn out, then relinquish some responsibility and take more time out with yourself.
If you don’t do one of these things, then life will do it for you and usually it won’t be at a time of your choosing.
For many of my clients, infertility is the wall they have hit that forces them to take stock. My job is to show them where the ladders are.
If a child lives with criticism they learn to criticise.
It seems to me we must all have been criticised as kids, because everybody I know criticises someone for something. It happens so regularly it could be regarded as ‘normal’ in society, like the proverbial fish unaware of the water they live in, humans mostly seem unaware of how deeply ingrained criticism is.
But there is a serious problem with it, and if you are struggling with infertility it is something you need to be aware of.
Whereas the concept of ‘critique’ is meant to be an objective and honest appraisal designed to help someone, ‘criticism’ is not, it is always judgemental, and that’s the issue. We know how it affects the receiver – it makes them feel ‘less’ – (that’s why we do it!!), but it seems almost no one is aware of the karmic sting in the tail that rebounds on the giver. It sows in us the seeds of our deepest fear – the fear we all have of not being ‘enough’.
This is the fear that wells up inside us whenever we try to pursue our dreams. It is the fear that causes us to doubt our ability whenever we face a challenge big enough to sink us.
It’s because of this fear that we hesitate, we procrastinate, we turn away and we lose confidence. The fear we feel is the magnification of every criticism we ever gave out to others for making mistakes. It makes us shy away from taking risks in case we fail and end up looking foolish in front of others. This in turn makes us choose the path of safety instead of the path of adventure. Alas it is somewhere on the path of adventure that life’s meaning awaits us.
The real tragedy of this self-inflicted wound is that it hinders us from full expression of who we are and what we can be.
We hold back our best self…just in case we might get criticised. For the artist in us all – this is our deepest fear.
The solution is mind-bendingly simple though – The Criticism Diet.
Choose to give up criticising.
Like quitting sugar – the process brings you face to face with just how often you eat it, but once you get it out of your system it loses its grip over you and you feel free!
If you are struggling with infertility it’s possible that your solution lies somewhere down the ‘safe path’, but for many of you infertility IS your call to adventure. It’s a problem so difficult it forces you to venture into unknown lands in search of answers you don’t yet understand.
If you harbour a fear of failure that prevents you from acting, it’s probably because you were unfairly criticised throughout your life. You can’t change the past, but you can change how it affects your future by making sure you are not karmically cursing yourself by criticising others – even if they deserve it!
Most people are unaware that we all use mental models of the world in order to live our lives. It’s not that they don’t know, it’s that they are unaware, but being aware of this fact is really useful.
Mental models help us to understand and play with life as if we know what we are doing, the more accurate they are the greater the chances we will win.
Maps are a good analogy. We use maps to help us get from A to B (no one ever seems interested in getting to C!!) but the map is only a representation of the real thing.
If you are having regular periods but you just can’t get pregnant – that’s reality, but how you deal with this will depend on your map of the world, on the assumptions you make based on your map.
A common assumption women make is “it must be me!”.
A common assumption men make is “it must be her”.
A lot of people never examine these assumptions, or to put that a more useful way – a lot of people are under the assumption that their assumptions must be correct, and therefore they never take the time to examine them.
Funny one isn’t it…assuming that our assumptions must be correct, assuming that our map of the world must be right!
Here’s a moment of truth…it isn’t!
If you find yourself ‘infertile’ but determined to get pregnant then you MUST begin by making assumptions – there is no other way, and since time is never on your side you need to be careful of the assumptions you make because wrong decisions can waste you months.
For most people infertility is a whole new experience that derails their life and takes them on path they never expected to go down. It’s confusing, not to mention highly stressful to say the least.
Assumptions lead to decisions. The most common assumption couples make is “The doctor will know what’s wrong”.
The most common decision couples make based on this assumption is “Let’s book a check up and see what the doctor says”.
On balance this is probably a good assumption because sometimes there are genuine medical issues that need to be uncovered and treated, but behind the main assumption lies a deeper assumption, and this one mostly goes unexamined.
It’s the assumption that GP’s know all about the body therefore they will know all about fertility.
It’s very similar to the common assumption that doctors know all about the body therefore they must know all about good nutrition. Here’s another moment of truth…they don’t!
My experience also tells me that doctors wish people would stop making those assumptions, because it puts too much pressure on them to have all the answers.
Here’s my prescription:
- Assume that your long-held assumptions are at least partly wrong (coz most of them are)
- Assume full responsibility for the problem
- Assume full responsibility for fixing the problem
- Assume that whatever the problem is your body can fix it given the right set of tools
- Assume it won’t be easy
- Assume the universe wants you to succeed
Assumptions lead to decisions, decisions determine your fate.
I read a great line on a forum recently – “Why is it so hard to put into practice what you know?” Answer: “…because in Theory – theory and practice are the same thing, but in Practice – they are not”
I’m like most people, I only put a small amount of what I learn into practice. I’ve procrastinated a lot in my life. This used to bother me but I’m ok with it now. What changed me was the realisation (thanks to a perfectly timed comment from a great mentor) that our time on earth is short and that I was never going to get to ‘do it all’ anyway. I always knew this but never really internalised it.
For me, ‘swallowing the blue pill’ meant I had to let go of notions that I had subconsciously courted my entire life. It was hard. It felt like I was in some sense cutting myself adrift from the old familiar me.
Going through this process made me realise that my biggest sin of all was not the bad decisions I’d made nor the wrong directions I’d taken in life, rather it was the time I waste every day. I haven’t fully grasped it yet and do find myself wasting time now and again, but I’m more honest with myself about that now. I’ve dropped the internal judgment and instead work to create systems in my immediate environment that keep me on track. It’s working well but needs to be constantly improved. I put a countdown timer on my desktop, it counts down the number of estimated days I have left in life – that helps!
I make a serious effort to only do those things that further my goals and bring me closer to my dream. This involves cutting out a lot of ‘stuff’ I used to do and breaking the ingrained habits of doing them to free myself up for doing what matters.
If I had to say what the secret to this is, I would say it’s about clearly defining your dream in a way that feels right to you and makes sense, then committing to it with full intent on achieving it.
A mistake I used to make was believing that I had to know clearly what my purpose in life was, and since I didn’t know I felt paralysed and unable to take steps towards it. This was a limiting belief.
In theory I knew, but in practice I didn’t know how. The truth is you just need to pick whatever purpose seems right to you at any given moment and set things in motion. You can change your purpose whenever you want, and typically that’s what people do. Life becomes clearer to you once you encounter the challenges in your way, they shape you and help you tune in deeper to the real you. It’s the real you that knows your purpose.
My dream is not just one thing, it is an idealised version of the kind of life I genuinely want to live. It encompasses my work for sure, but it is centred around my family, my friends and my desire to make a decent contribution. It is structured around how I want to spend the hours of my days and the days of my life.
It takes a clear goal before your brain can focus on the diversity of tasks you need to get done. Once you have this you can then pour all the theory you have learned into real practice and start making progress. Forget about everything else, there’s too little time!
There is no pathway forward you can choose that totally shields you from the possibility of failure.
You can choose to act, or you can hesitate in the hope of a better option down the road – either way it’s a choice and both options carry risk. Mostly we hesitate to choose a path due to our inborn fear of failure, but let’s be clear – this is still ‘choosing’. There is no way out of it, there is no way to avoid risk.
I don’t care what GI Jane says – failure IS an option, and if you allow yourself to believe there’s a way to avoid risk and guarantee success, then you’re fooling yourself. The truth is we don’t have that much control in life, in fact we don’t have control at all. The only thing that sits within our power is the ability to influence outcomes by our thoughts and actions, in that order.
There are steps we can take to radically improve the chances of solving big problems in our lives but if they are not built on the principle of being honest with ourselves first then they are destined to sink into the sand. The worst consequence of this is not that we don’t get to solve the problem, it’s that we waste our precious time, and we have no way of knowing how much of this we have.
GI Jane and her fellow marines don’t believe for a second that failure is not an option, they know it is and they accept it upfront, then they set about inculcating in their minds the most powerful weapon of influence that exists – self-belief!