Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Development | Transformation | Evolution

Development | Transformation | Evolution

There is so much good work being done in the world today. It is astonishing how many people are dedicating their lives more and more to helping others. The human potential movement has spawned organizations and individuals committed to bringing change to the world through changing the individual.

When Ghandi said “be the change you wish to see in the world”, he probably could not have imagined how many people would take up that call and attempt to make the world a better place by making themselves better people through self-reflexive observation and intentional changework.

As a result of the richness in the field that we can now experience, it is useful to distinguish among the many offerings. There are three basic approaches I have noticed, experienced, and participated in directly. They are: 1. Development 2. Transformation 3. Evolution. These are each useful in and of themselves. They are “good”. And yet they have limitations that come along with their benefits. Let us examine this together...

Personal Development is a huge and ranging field. Workshops exist for skill acquisition that are readily available in every major metropolitan area in the Western World, and Asia is quickly cathing on as well. Corporations, having long recognized that their only asset that increases in value over time is their people, send their people to workshops to accelerate that process—to increase their value.

You can attend workshops on money management, communication skills—be it negotiation, sales techniques, relationship models, etc.—health and fitness and well being, and the list goes on and on. What all of these workshops have in common is that they focus on one domain of your life. We could think of it as a vertical line—or multiple vertical lines—of development. When we acquire skills or we “develop” ourselves in this area or that area, we increase the level of that vertical line of development in that domain. Development takes time, investment, and persistence if we are to become developed in any particular area—in other words, to become competent in some area. Skill acquisition is necessary to be successful in this world.

We all want to be more effective at something, and most of us recognize the value, benefits, and at times...need...to acquire more skills. And yet, mere skill acquisition will not solve all that troubles us. We can have all the skill in the world and have those around us not like us, be miserable or demanding, and generally unhappy and unfulfilled. Development may be necessary, but it is only a partial view of what we need as humans. Why is that? Development is a one-dimensional experience—the increase of one vertical developmental line. Increased “heights”, if you will. Yet, human beings are multi-dimensional. Skill alone will never suffice. Out of this limitation arises “transformational technologies”.

A level that is deeper and more complex than mere development. Transformation is unpredictable and at times, instant. It does not deal with any one particular domain, yet it can apply to all domains at any given moment. How is this done? By bringing a different way of being to a situation, something completely new and wonderful can arise out of a "breakdown"—that is a situation where there is an outcome that has been blocked by some circumstance or another.

Frankly, transformation is very appealing in today’s marketplace. It promises instant results in any given moment and gives people tremendous choice, empowerment, and responsibility...leading to more choice, empowerment...responsibility, and this loop feeds on itself with often wonderful results. But not always... Transformation is often reliant on breakdown and breakthrough patterns. In other words, we have some breakdown...and through that, we get to experience transformation of the situation or the circumstances or the dynamics or in ourselves...or a “breakthrough”. This often orients us towards breakdowns. Being humans that we are, we can become attached to experiencing that cycle—or worse...identified with it.

I have actually heard seminar leaders who deal in the world of transformation say that “you will begin to look forward to, and at times even create, your breakdowns”. While it is useful to see “breakdowns” as an opportunity so we can be more resourceful around them, rather than submerged in a “crisis”...building in a mechanism that has people seek out breakdowns has obvious limitations and can be problematic--not to mention hard on the core of the being. At times even causing internal dissonance rather than resolving it.

And while transformation is certainly useful...it is only a two-dimensional phenomenon. Height and breadth, if you will, being that transformation can be applied in multiple domains. But again, this will not fully suffice, as human beings are multi-dimensional beings.

Out of this limitation arises Personal Evolution. Evolution is not very sexy. It is an infinite and life-time game. There is no goal to reach and no "journey" to complete. It requires a life-time commitment. Regardless of which stage you have reached or how much depth has unfolded, there is always another stage and a deeper level. However, evolution is also the most fulfilling, and most complete of the three. It trickles out to all domains, making transformation possible and accessible as well as the development of skills even easier. It serves the whole being. Evolution is about the ever-widening of identity. It is about ever-deepening, ever more complex, and increasingly expansive levels of order.

How does evolution occur? Evolution occurs when the current stage a person is at become inadequate to deal with their life circumstances. We may experience chaos, confusion, or at times, even disaster or tragedy. When this happens, there are two choices or “directions”: evolution or regression. If we evolve, what actually occurs is that our very Self—the core of our being—moves to a new level of order. There is a widening of Identity [capital I]. The Self becomes more expansive, deep, complex, and at times and certainly eventually, more open and more flowing. I stress, this happens in stages. It is slow. It is creeping. it is a process in the largest sense of the word.

However, it is something that affects all domains in your life. Relationships, money, sex, career, family, politics, health, value spheres, world views—all of it. When the very core of who you thought you were and who you truly are evolves, then your experience and the way you relate to everything around you also evolves. It can be no other way. And we all interpret the events in our lives through our current stage of development...it can be no other way. Personal Evolution is truly multi-dimensional. It has height, breadth, and provides--and at times demands--increasing depth. It is an organic unfolding of the core of the being. Exposing ever deeper levels. And in the process, the being experiencing this evolution...this unfolding...comes ever closer to who they truly are. They become closer to Spirit itself until that stage where all separation and what they used to call “God” dissolves and they become Spirit itself.

They become the divine.

If we pause there and we look back on this very piece of writing, we can see the process of evolution represented right her on this page. The evolution of the human potential movement. Out of wanting better results, we created personal development rising to a new level of order. Then we realized, consciously or unconsciously, that development itself was inadequate to address the demands of being human. Out of that confusion and chaos we rose to a new level of order and transformational technologies came into being. This was useful for some time for some outcomes and addressed more of the being...yet we bumped up against the limitations of this level of order soon enough. Out of the realization of those limitations, a new level or order emerged—personal evolution itself. Evolution of the person and the personal.

The organic unfolding of manifest divinity and our personal and internal manifest destiny. Evolution is there. Unfolding is there. Divinity is there. Will you participate in it...or regress?

We are faced with that choice literally every day of our lives. We all choose one at times and the other at times. The key is in choosing consciously...even now.

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Form and Evolution—The Myth of Post-Conventional Development Mapping to Form in Relating

Form and Evolution—The Myth of Post-Conventional Development Mapping to Form in Relating

[This article requires a general understanding of developmental stages in egoic, emotional, or moral developmental models, distinguished by researchers such as GravesGraves, KohlbergKohlberg, Gilligan, etc.]

There is often talk in developmental, transformational, and alternative communities about how polyamorous and/or “open” relationships are more “evolved”. More evolved than…say the conventional forms of monogamy and marriage.

This is an easy trap to fall into, as poly- relationship forms are certainly post-conventional. There was a time when I agreed with this thinking. I used to think polyamory [distinct from what I often see which is “poly-sexual”] was the more "evolved" as is it beyond traditional structures [trans-rational and post-conventional] and by its very nature requires, and often demands advanced communication skills, a solid sense of self, a lack of attachment and more spontaneous and flexible structures than monogamy.

Plainly put—it is more challenging. But that is if it is played clean, which is all well and good on paper...but how often are poly- relationships played clean and played well? Well, not often. In my experience, they are sometimes a morass of jealousy, fear, anger, heartbreak, etc.

Additionally, the truth is, monogamy requires other sets of skill development which while different, are equally as challenging. AND monogamy requires all the aforementioned sets of skills and development if it is to be done well and stay alive and thrive. That is to say, high self-esteem and a solid sense of self, advanced communication skills, and agreements between the parties that allow for play and spontaneity as well as growth and evolution within the relationship itself. So...my thinking has since shifted.

In my experience, we cannot assess depth and evolution, using any developmental stage conception, based on form and be accurate very often. Just using the simple three-stage model I often employ of pre-rational or pre-conventional, rational or conventional, and trans-rational or post-conventional, we can see very quickly that the idea of form does not map across to any stage or level. Here is the crux of my current thinking.

We can all experience monogamy from a pre-rational, rational, or trans-rational place. And we can all experience poly- from a pre-rational, rational, or trans-rational place. In other words, form does not map across to stage of evolution with any real predictability of accuracy. Simultaneously, we can all be drawn towards one form or another…or another, as the result of our stage of development, but again, it is no guarantee which form we will be drawn to.

The key is in what the individual motivations are for seeking any particular form.

To briefly and quickly flesh this out with some big picture generalizations: we could be drawn to monogamy out of fear and attachment—a need to “stake my claim”, or out of a need to have the illusion of safety and security a monogamous commitment provides [pre-rational], or out of a desire for a practical partnership and solid family structures for children We want to have [rational], or out of a desire to explore my depths with one person as a spiritual practice for the remainder for my life [trans-rational].

On the other end of the form spectrum, We may choose poly- out of a desire to get laid as much as possible with as many people as possible [pre-rational], or out of an acceptance that We feel more aspects of myself when reflected in intimacy with more people and that better suits me [rational,] or as an expression of being Spirit at play--as an outgrowth of my experience as a spiritual being and out of a desire to explore freedom, spontaneity, and love of all sentient beings in a consensual and limitless way [trans-rational].

So we can not claim anything with respect to form of the relating being more or less evolved. Of course I wish it were simpler, but assessing evolution depends on each individual, how they are experiencing the relating and what their motivations are for being drawn to one form or another to actually assess evolution. Having tried all forms, including marriage, I like all forms for different reasons. But that is just me.

The question to ask is not which form is more evolved, but rather--are you choosing the form consciously? Are you clear about your experience of the relating and the motivations for your desires or draw to the form? Are you evolving consciously in the form of your choosing? These questions we can answer. Unfortunately, the question of which form is “more evolved” than another is a slippery slope that can easily fall into a trap of superiority and ego-centric musing.

And no one wants that…consciously.

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Past, Present, Future; Our Relationship to Time

Past, Present, Future; Our Relationship to Time

"it's okay to lose, so long as you learn from every game you choose..."

“If there is no future, and there is no past; if all we’ve got is right now, then…let’s make it last.”

"Remember your dreams because your dreams become the life you lead..." --Prince Rogers Nelson

Human beings have a strange relationship to time. We sometimes get stuck in moments and replay them over and over again. We often fail to live in the "present"—not hearing the person right in front of us. Some of us are so focused on our goals in the future we often fail to enjoy them when we attain them—rather, setting new, bigger, more impressive or more challenging goals without ever pausing to enjoy the view from this new height.

Then there is this idea that there is only “the now”-- which is certainly one way to think about it. At the same time, while the past and future may only live in our minds, so do so many other things. Does that mean they do not exist? Memories? Fondness for someone? Plans for our future? They are indeed “real” even if they are strictly intra-subjective experiences.

If we declared they were not, we would have to say things like intentionality, compassion, hope, and love, were not “real”. Are you prepared to say compassion is not real? Aside from the most dogmatic of scientific materialists, I know very few who are willing to support that argument.

What then is the most appropriate and useful relationship to time that we could cultivate, such that we accelerating our personal evolution? How can we use our internal representation of time for emotional choice and ultimately, emotional freedom?

The Past

The past, in the context of accelerating our evolution, is really only useful for two things: learning, and the storage of emotional states. It is a treasure trove of opportunities for learnings and therefore evolutionary advancement.

If, while we review past events, we simply ask two questions:

1. How am I responsible?

2. What can I learn? (that is positive or empowering about yourself or about the world)

...then our relationship to the past is a healthy one.

That is, it is one that supports increasing our spiritual depth and emotional freedom while building on "mistakes" (less than optimal choices) in a useful way. The first question builds esteem for the self as all responsibility does, so long as we are taking responsibility responsibly—that is free of shame. If we use it instead as an opportunity to shame ourselves or judge ourselves, then we have been irresponsible in this exercise and defeated the very purpose of it. The questions must be answered with a positive or empowering forward look. In the case of a “failure” or a negative event, or perhaps in exhibiting behaviors that are out of alignment with our values: what can I learn such that this will not happen in the future? Or, What will I do differently in the future?

In the case of “successes”: what can I learn such that I can continue to model this behavior? How can I increase my effectiveness even further? The Present People often speak of “staying present” or “being present” or “being in the now” as if we were somehow absent. We are always present—the question is, “what are we present to?”

Often when people are not paying attention to what is in front of them, they are paying attention to their internal representations. Their internal thoughts, fantasies, imagery, or internal dialogue. Building the muscle of mastering our minds such that we are present to what is in front of us when we need to be—fully present without atemporal or past-related thoughts—is one of the critical components of the game of Personal Evolution. There are times when we are not even aware of our internal representations. We must bring these into consciousness so they can be managed appropriately and responsibly. Once we become conscious of them, it may be necessary to use certain mental shifts and practices to “shelve” these thoughts to be dealt with later when it is more appropriate for our lives. Sometimes it is a matter of learning to simply quiet the mind through meditation. Or both.

The Future

Often when I work with clients and they are in despair, I elicit their internal representation of time and find it compressed. They are seeing perhaps only two weeks into the future and the events that are occurring in their present are unpleasant--and then it just goes black.

When we extend their sense of time out to include another 100 years these feelings often turn into convictions about what needs to be done--or at the very least, increasing ease.

The truth is that regardless of what is occurring—everything has a nature: it arises and passes away. Nothing lasts forever. This is especially true for human beings. In the greater scheme of things, or in the larger view, or with an expanded sense of time, as we literally zoom out, we become more emotionally free from whatever may be troubling us at that one moment in time. Once the events become objects in our awareness and we are no longer identified with them, we are free form them and can use the events for learnings and make more appropriate choices.

This practice is especially useful for fear and anxiety. The structure of fear and anxiety is that we are imagining some future event with a negative result or outcome. However, since we know that the future exists only in our minds [although in our subjective experience it is very real] then we can bring that imagined future into consciousness and change it to a positive one. Given that neither is more “real” or “true” than the other, the evolutionary master of their own mind will change the imagined future to a positive one and “live into” that—thereby aligning their consciousness around it. While a high level of facility is required, we can all build the muscle of a more responsible and useful relationship to time. Just like all exercise, at first It may cause soreness.

So we start off light. We increase the frequency of our exercise gradually. Eventually, we are lifting heavy weight indeed and are excited about how are new habit is transforming the way we experience ourselves and how we feel. And it is then, that we are becoming free.

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What is N.L.P.

What is N.L.P.

What is N.L.P.?

NLP--the set of tools titled Neuro-Linguistic Programming--is misunderstood far more often that it is understood. There is nothing new in NLP. There is no magic. It will not revolutionize your life whole-sum in one fowl swoop, contrary to the marketing of some. However, it can produce amazing rapid results in a specific context ...

So what is it?

The co-founder of NLP, John Grinder, says that it is simply a learning tool. Nothing more than a set if filters and tools to give you access to more of your neurology for the purpose of accelerated learning.

Gregory Bateson, the world famous behavioral scientist, said that NLP is the only class 3 learning tool on the planet.

What does that mean?

With NLP you learn how to learn. So then, why is NLP used the way it is used in the world most often—for brief and result-oriented therapy? This is a good question and certainly worth addressing. In the beginning, in the early 70s, there were therapists producing amazing results. They were Virginia Satir, the founder and pioneer of Family Therapy; Fritz Pearls, the pioneer and founder of Gestalt Therapy; Milton Erickson, the grandfather of medical hypnotherapy.

Additionally, there was the genius of Gregory Bateson--the world-renowned behavioral scientist. Given the results they were producing, the founders of this class of tools called NLP wanted to find out what patterns these geniuses were employing (at the meta level) that could be modeled, distilled, and reproduced.

So, with their permission, they were studied by the co-founders of NLP along with the supporting staff. Who were these people that modeled the original patterns of these therapeutic geniuses? John Grinder and Richard Bandler assisted by Robert Dilts, Judith Delozier, Todd Epstein, and Leslie Cameron-Bandler. If you’ve a scientific or skeptical mind, read anything by Robert Dilts on NLP. He will make you a believer. It could be argued that this original modeling is just one possible application of NLP.

That argument would be stunningly accurate. NLP is simply a class of tools. It allows you to distill out the structure, process, and context of any given experience. Because of this, I call NLP “the study of the structure of human subjective experience”.

Given that emotions are seemingly the biggest challenge facing human beings, then it could also be argued that investing so much time in studying the patterns of genius that have therapists get results was one of the most generous applications possible for this new-found tool. I would agree with that argument.

That was 30 years ago. Since then, NLP has come a long way thanks to the practitioners of this tool. They have modeled out many processes that the human being goes through naturally for the purpose of accelerated movement through said process.

For example—how does someone naturally resolve a traumatic experience and come out of it with an outlook of positivity and even gratitude? This has been modeled. How does someone align themselves on multiple, holarchical levels of their experience—environment, behaviors, capabilities, beliefs/values, identity, and Spirit? This has been modeled. How does a human being take a part of themselves that they previously disliked and through greater understanding and negotiation, use it as a gateway to core states of being and connectedness? This has been modeled. How does a human being take some parental experience that was traumatic for them and move to a place of resource, gratitude, and compassion? This has been modeled. What is intuition, the most useful of all trans-rational experiences? This has been modeled.

The world owes NLP a debt of gratitude. This may not even be acknowledged for another generation and that is just fine... NLP, as a field, does not care for dissertations or academia. This is largely why it is not accepted in the academic world. NLP, as a field, does not focus on whether or not something is true. “Truth” in this context has no meaning. What matters is whether or not something is useful. In that sense, NLP, as a field, is highly scientific.

However, scientific in the broad sense, not the narrow sense. By scientific in the broad sense, I mean this: experiment, get some result, and offer up your findings to a group of your peers for rigorous testing. In this sense, NLP is deeply and rigorously scientific.

Scientific in the broad sense. Not the narrow sense.

What is NLP? A set of tools to distill out models of excellence. Human models of excellence. Nothing more, but assuredly nothing less.

What is N.L.P.? a summary by Mark Michael Lewis NLP is sourced in the realization that that all human emotion is a function of how a person re-presents (represents, thinks about) any aspect of their experience. If you shift/change/alter how someone re-presents any aspect of their experience, you will shift/change/alter how they understand that aspect, what they feel about it, how they relate to it, and who they *be* around it. In more technical terms, a "top 10" might be:

1. The map is not the territory, the menu is not the meal - human beings make maps of their experience, they re-present their experience to themselves in the five senses/modalities.

2. How we understand, feel about, relate to, and BE around any aspect of our experience is determined by the map we make about that experience (our "occurring" world), not the experience itself.

3. You can change/alter/manipulate the maps (representations, how the world occurs) directly, by altering one or more of the five senses in the “map”.

4. When you change the map, you will change how people understand, feel about, relate to, and BE around that aspect of their experience

5. People work perfectly, they are not broken. They are getting exactly the results that they are getting. They can learn to get different results.

6. People already have all the resources they need and anything one human being can do/be/have/know/relate another human being can learn to do/be/have/know/relate.

7. People always make the best choice they experience as available to them.

8. Every human behavior is driven/caused/sourced by a positive intention, every aspect of human experience is to be respected/honored/integrated .

9. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly AT FIRST.

10. Choice is better than no choice, the element in any system which has the most flexibility will control that system - NLP is about adding choices, not subtracting them. In plain language, NLP provides tools with which to resolve virtually any human emotional issue.

NLP is 1) a set of filters through which to process our experience such that we have more power to achieve our values, and 2) a collection of hundreds of patterns/techniques/”interior rituals” that are specially designed to powerfully and permanently alter how someone represents (feels/BEs about) virtually every/any aspect of their life.

Since human behavior (how we do/be/have/know/relate to our “world) is driven by our emotions 99 percent of the time, the more choice we have around how we “feel,” the more powerfully and elegantly we can create and move through our lives. It is the most powerful form of fix/change/improve technology I have ever encountered. If transformation is all about shifting who we are/BE/relate to our world, NLP is all about shifting how that world automatically occurs for us through time. It is designed to alter not the "fact" of our Already Always Listening (AAL), but the standards by which our AAL automatically judges and assesses our experience.

It is a tool for resolving our past (rather than getting off of it) and tapping into the juice/value of any/every experience we have. If transformation gives us the freedom to "be with" our occurring world, NLP gives us tools to shift the unconscious processes by which that world “occurs.”

But really, what NLP is, is the study of the structure of subjective experience, and by extension, the study of human excellence.

Nothing more. And assuredly nothing less.

Jason D McClain © 2003

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