Since 13 years of age, I have been on a quest to “decode the human mind” and find what really works to help people change. Over the past 18 years, I’ve studied virtually every approach to psychology out there, from the most clinical and traditional to the newest and most unconventional. The approach I use today is a synthesis of various methods, schools of thought and systems of psychology and is based on one core principle:
Do what works!
My approach not only developed out of years study and experimentation, but also out of hundreds and hundreds of hours of working with people. When I first studied NLP, I was thrilled when the results it produced were nothing short of miraculous. But when it didn’t work, I wanted to know why, and find something that would. I continued to read, study and experiment, and then devise new methods to fill in the gaps. The result is a systematic, step-by-step and strategic approach to human change that is most likely different from anything you’ve experienced.
Core Principles of My Approach to Change
Every methodology is based on a number of core principles that form the foundation of the approach and interventions. Below are the core principles upon which my approach is based and which guide my behaviour and interventions at all times.
Change is possible
I truly believe that people can change, and I’ve seen people make incredible changes many times. Most often, people struggling with the same problem have failed in their efforts to change. This doesn’t mean change is impossible, it just means that what they’ve done hasn’t worked. With the right approach, the right method, the right tools, change is possible… it’s just a matter of finding out how.
In our society we receive virtually no education on how to solve problems, manage our emotions, change nasty habits, communicate or achieve goals. This work is that kind of education. It is a process of learning that helps people develop those missing but vital skills and acquire tools that let them “run their own brain.”
Change requires flexibility/adaptability
If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else. Most people are trying to solve problems in a certain way, without realizing that their efforts are actually making the problem worse. If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to do something else. This is precisely what I aim to do in my work with people. I am constantly observing what is happening, what response we are getting from what we are doing, and adjusting until we get the results we want.
Every method has aspects that work for some people some of the time. The key is knowing what will work for whom and knowing what to do when it doesn’t. Thus, my approach is not a one-size fits all, it is an adaptive and flexible method based on individual differences and strengths.
Change is about Adding Choices
Change is often not a matter of fixing what’s broken or getting rid of something. People repeat patterns because it’s all they know, and usually the patterns we’ve been trying to get rid of are actually useful or effective at some times or in some places. This is why it seems like the mind resists our efforts. Change isn’t about taking something away, it’s really about adding new choices. When your mind has options, it will choose the best one. Since most people have a limited mental repertoire of possible responses, my approach is about adding choices and expanding that repertoire.
People Are Not Broken
When faced with a recurring problem, it’s easy to feel like “something’s wrong with me.” We feel like we’re broken and define the problem as some sort of character defect. But people aren’t broken. Usually, the problems we face make perfect sense based on our experiences and programming. The mind repeats patterns it has learned.
People get stuck when they fall into the trap of thinking they need to change “themselves.” Usually your “self” is fine. What needs to be changed, updated or aligned is aspects of our experience: beliefs, values, perceptual filters, inner conflicts and mental strategies. We don’t need to fix you, we have to break old patterns and learn new and more effective ones.
Every Experience Has a Structure
In the past, many approaches to psychology focused on why? My approach is all about how. As every experience has a structure, I want to uncover that structure, find out how it works and where to intervene most effectively. If we know how something works, if we uncover the structure, we can then alter that structure.
Human problems are actually skills that have been mastered through unconscious practice until they have become automatic. Instead of asking, “Why are you this way?” I want to know, “How do you do that?” When we find the structure, sequence and syntax of an experience, we can redesign it into something that will be valuable to you and relevant to your current aims and life.
Problems are Adaptive Responses
The mind is a problem-solving and learning machine. During the course of your life, in times of pain or threat, the mind looks for solutions and adapts responses to help you meet your your needs. Once it adapts a response, it installs a mental program that then becomes automatic so it can serve the same purpose in the future.
Any problematic pattern, state, behaviour developed as the solution to an earlier problem.
These adaptive responses may be effective at achieving some aim in the short term, but later on in life they may become irrelevant or ineffective. Change means adapting to our current environment and developing new and more effective mental programs.