What Do We Mean When We Say A Person Has ‘Good Energy’?

People often tell me that I have “good energy.” What does that mean?

I think it means that I love keeping it real.

“Someone else shaming you for being wrong almost definitely has way more about them than about you,” notes Youtuber Heidi Priebe.

I am often wrong about things, and inept at things, and good at things. I know there are situations where I will shine and other situations where I will sink. For example, when I am running late, I am not a nice person. When people don’t trust me, I become stiff and guarded. When I am humiliated, I lash out. When I am attacked, I will fight, freeze, fawn or flee.

If I badly want to do something, I have some self-serving reason for doing so, and until I locate what’s driving me, I’m acting blindly.

If I am honest with myself, then I see when others are acting in ways that don’t make sense, and I can guard myself against their lies.

Manipulation is the opposite of good energy.

People rarely feel like they need to pretend around me. Instead, they often confide in me. And in this open exchange, there’s relief and good energy.

Pretending is hard work. If I don’t pretend, I operate with less strain. I’m lower maintenance, and that helps you to relax.

Nothing good happens between us as long as you are on guard.

People who berate themselves don’t exhibit good energy. If you are harsh to yourself, you won’t fill others with joy. There are many worthy programs to embrace from the religious to the physical, but how you do things is usually more important than what you do. Do you hector and belittle yourself or are you a good friend to yourself?

My therapist said to me from 1998 onwards that I should be a good friend to myself but it wasn’t until I was halfway through my three-year Alexander Technique program in the Spring of 2010 that I became comfortable with being kind to myself. Another year of training later and I went to my first 12-step meeting.

As I was gradually able to release my maladaptive resistance to reality, good things flowed.

When I keep it real, it is easier to get on the same page with me as we build a rhythm, and release emotional energy.

My father said that I changed my mind more than anybody he knew. Because I don’t usually put undue stock in my opinions and abilities, it’s easy for me to accept a new way of looking at things.

As I let go of my body armoring of unnecessary muscular tension through the practice of the Alexander Technique, I feel less need to defend myself.

Nobody wants to get close to somebody stuck in a defensive crouch.

Nobody wants to get close to somebody stuck in a fight or flight reaction.

I suspect the vibe I put out and the amount of unnecessary muscular tension I display correlate with the quality of my self-talk, which in turn reflects how I feel about myself.

Sorry to go all Californian on you, but there’s no more important relationship than the one you have with yourself.

We all give off a vibe. We all exert a moral force field. We all affect each other. We’re all like wifi. We power each other. We turn each other on and off. What you do with the energy I pour into you comes back to me. When I touch you or talk to you or just occupy space near you, I’m connecting my central nervous system to yours. No man is an island. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Never ask for whom the energy bell tolls. It tolls for you. Just as you can’t walk into a room without leaving identifying DNA behind, you can’t talk to someone without affecting them. My voice and my hands act as jumper cables. If I am tense, I send that tension into you, while when I am at ease, my touch, my presence, and my voice help you release your unnecessary armoring against reality. When we release needless holding patterns of undue muscular tension, we become buoyant and flow up.

If I tell myself that you should not act the way you act, but I must not lose my temper over how wrong you are, that’s a losing approach. As long as I deny reality, I am tense.

We can never say anything but what we are. The ostensible topic might be interest rates or systematic theology, but we’re always broadcasting. Words aren’t the biggest component of our communication.

From a 12-step perspective, we’re always transmitting — either God or the disease.

When we’re in active addiction, our world of possibilities has narrowed down to getting our next fix. That narrowing has a psychological, physiological, cognitive and social component. Stiff people tend to be stiff in their thinking while flexible people tend to be flexible.

When you tighten your body, your mind and emotions tighten. You have fewer options. There are reduced opportunities for flow. You are painting with a reduced palette. You’re becoming less of a man and more of a caricature.

That stiff bloke over there? He looks like a statute!

Would you rather be around someone who’s flexible or stiff?

A free man is good to find.

On the other hand, there are situations in life where you need a hard man. And that, I’m told, is good to find.

Judith Stansky published the 1981 book The Alexander Technique – Joy in the Life of Your Body. It had a section titled “Why Changes for the Better Occur in your Sex Life:”

My first love relationship was a beautiful and exciting sexual experience. However, I never experienced an orgasm. My lover was very skilled and I often felt close to coming through but it never happened…Then one time it happened. My partner had done nothing different. But I had. I had taken Alexander lessons…

As my pelvis became freed in the Alexander lessons, I moved more freely in sexual activity… My pelvis fell into good alignment, and allowed the stream of sexuality to flow unhindered to completion.

Have you experienced the presence of somebody who exhibits radical amounts of self-acceptance? I find these interactions incredibly freeing. I once had a girlfriend who was so present that I never had to explain myself. She just got it when I was speaking literally or figuratively or ironically. In fact, much of the time, she just got me without my needing to say anything. She could just tell where I was at and sometimes that was angry or ashamed or sad or frightened.

She spoiled me for other lovers.

I don’t last long in relationships where I have to explain myself. I don’t want to work that hard.

In March of 1995, I was living out of my car in West LA. One Friday night at the Westwood Chabad, I met an Israeli guy, Shimon, who said that I had good energy. He invited me to stay with him. That friendship lasted 15 months until he went back to Israel.

The opposite of good energy is transmitting that you have too much to do and not enough time to do it in. Or if you are telling yourself that you have to be perfect. Those two mindsets are the primary causes of unnecessary body tension. (David Gorman)

The Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Arvot) states: “The day is short and the task is great.”

For some people, this message will be energizing but for others, they’ll either tense up or give up.

As I was getting Network Spinal Analysis one day in 2015, the practicioner Ellis Kooby told me, “Time is your best friend.” It was just what I needed to hear, because I often walk around thinking that time is my enemy and I don’t have enough, and that causes unnecessary muscular tension. When I walk down the street thinking, “Time is my best friend,” I feel happier as I expand into life and overflow with good energy.

I was about nine months into my Alexander Technique teacher training in 2009 when my girlfriend noticed that when I walked, I tend to be ball up my hands into fists.

Many people have these tics. They squint, furrow their brows, scratch their face, play with their hair, and distract themselves from the angst inside.

Sixty four minutes into this video, Alexander teacher Rebecca Tuffey tells a singer with a nervous tic: “You might find that is something you can change once your body is more quiet. If the house is on fire, can you do nuanced things? Are you singing Mozart? No, you’re trying to deal with the emergency. It’s like that in our nervous systems.”

When you take the low road in life, you don’t radiate good energy. Daniel Siegel wrote in his book Parenting from the Inside Out:

Our instinctual survival responses to fight, flee, freeze, or even collapse may become activated on the low road and dominate our behavior. The body’s response may reveal these old instinctual reflexes in automatic patterns of response, such as tightened muscles in anger, an impulse to run away in fear, or a sense of being numb and immobilized. Becoming aware of our bodily sensations is a first step to understanding the experiences of the low road. Making a conscious effort to alter our bodily reactions on the low road can help to free us from the prison of these ingrained reflexes. The brain looks to the body to know how it feels and to assess the meaning of things; thus, becoming aware of our bodily reactions can be a direct and effective means to deal with low-road immersion.

I never cease to be amazed at how intrusive and clueless people can be. If you want to help people, and not just intrude on people, you first need to join with them before you “help.”

You have to have a deep level of rapport with somebody before you can ask her an intense question like, “What gives you the greatest pleasure?” That’s not the first thing you can say to somebody. You have to earn the right to ask such questions.

I notice many people prefer to say and do whatever it is they want to say and do without taking into account the well-being of others.

A great way to tune in to those around you is to be as free and alert as you need to be to catch a tennis ball. When you play catch, you get out of your mental and emotional and physical ruts. You join the world around you. You pay attention to different possibilities. You drop your habitual slumping habits and move up in your body and as you do this, your mind becomes calm and you sense your own possibilities for movement and you take into account those around you and you start living in the moment rather than getting stuck in the past or dreaming about the future. You’re associated instead of disassociated.

Sociologist Randall Collins writes in his 2016 book, Napoleon Never Slept: How Great Leaders Leverage Social Energy: Microtechniques of success from Jesus to Steve Jobs:

* Charismatic leaders get people focused. They turn their attention onto the same thing. They set in motion positive feedback loops: people in the group build up a shared emotion; the stronger the emotion, the more they feel themselves in tune with each other, and the more tightly they focus together. And the more tightly they focus, the more their shared emotion pumps each other up.

* At the time when people are feeling it, collective effervescence is so overwhelming that you feel nothing can stop us. But the adrenaline fades out in half an hour or less, and the psychological afterglow fades over a period of days or at most weeks. That is why high enthusiasm for something depends on repeating the experience. It is why religions invented regular church ceremonies– once a week appears to be a good approximation to the time-dosage needed to keep up a continuing commitment. This would be an average commitment. Really high commitment– on the level like Steve Jobs– are kept going by much more frequent jolts of collective effervescence, repeatedly during the day, every day.

* Two people coming together always have the possibility of becoming mutually focused, and building a shared emotion to a high level of rhythmic entrainment. This is what people mean when they say they “click” with someone, or not.

Crucial point: People with high EE go through more successful, energy-building encounters, and fewer EE-draining encounters.

* The feedback cycle: building rhythmic entrainment. Once the encounter is launched, build up shared rhythm. Feel your own rhythm; anticipate other people’s rhythm. Let them blend together. If this can be achieved, initial emotions get transformed. The initial emotion can be fear of an enemy or worry about a problem. It can be anger. And of course, it could be happiness. The key process, however, is to take the initiating emotion and transform it into collective effervescence: sheer bouncing off of each other into a chorus of shared emotion. And that generates emotions on another level: solidarity– the feeling of the bond of the group; and Emotional Energy, that makes individuals feel strong.

* Low attunement drains emotional energy.
Not all encounters succeed. A lot of them are mediocre, neither bringing you down nor pumping you up, just getting along with people, keeping up the routine. Nothing wrong with that; it is how most personal relationships are maintained, and how most organizations operate on a daily basis. But it is not how great organizations work, nor how top careers are made. Steve Jobs hated this kind of routine.
Some encounters are worse than this. They poison personal relationships and send an organization on a downward slope. The causes are in the ingredients.
No mutual focus. People don’t focus on the same thing when they are together. They don’t pay attention to each other. It’s easy to spot. Someone comes into your office, but tunes out what you are saying and looks impatient to head for the door. An audience that checks their email while someone is speaking. A party where the person you are talking to keeps looking around. Research on speed-dating has found that asking a lot of questions is a sign that people aren’t clicking. Good conversations may start with asking a question (what kind of work do you do?) but it quickly leads to a series of back-and-forths because you are focused on something that interests you both.
There are several different reasons why people don’t focus on each other. Among other things, they may not want to. Whatever the reason, if they can’t focus together, the encounter won’t get to the point where it generates any EE for them. The longer it goes on at a low level of focus, the more it becomes a downer.
No shared emotion. Sometimes people are really out of mood with each other. The guy who wants to be casual and jokey, the woman who wants to gush, are not going to get along with someone concentrating on something serious.

* Even worse than forced rituals are phony rituals. These are where you make a real effort to be up-beat; you talk enthusiastically, laugh at people’s jokes, try and get in the swing of things. It’s hard work when nothing ever turns into a spontaneous rhythm. After a day of such encounters, you end up with what is called “interaction fatigue.” This is fairly common in going through a series of job interviews. The organizational pep talk is a loser if all it does is bore the audience.

* Someone like Napoleon becomes an energy star. He is the core of feedback loops that repeat many times a day. He comes in, energized from what has gone before, and gives each new meeting trajectory and focus. He is a good listener, hearing bad news attentively, taking good suggestions forward. He coordinates everyone’s efforts, summing up key points and problems and what to do next. He keeps people in rhythm. The meeting is a success, both practically and emotionally; they move their project forward, and leave the place pumped up with renewed energy. The leader of a well-focused team is the most energized of all, because the energy star is the center of all the circuits.

Randall Collins writes in his 2005 book Interactive Ritual Chains:

* “Every dog will have its day” is more accurately “every day will have its dog.” Incidents shape their incumbents, however momentary they may be; encounters make their encountees. It is games that make sports heroes, politics that makes politicians into charismatic leaders, although the entire weight of record-keeping, news-story-writing, award-giving, speech-making, and advertising hype goes against understanding how this comes about. To see the common realities of everyday life sociologically requires a gestalt shift, a reversal of perspectives.

* Energy and action are always local, always processes of real human beings doing something in a situation.

* The central mechanism of interaction ritual theory is that occasions that combine a high degree of mutual focus of attention, that is, a high degree of intersubjectivity, together with a high degree of emotional entrainment—through bodily synchronization, mutual stimulation / arousal of participants’ nervous systems—result in feelings of membership that are attached to cognitive symbols; and result also in the emotional energy of individual participants, giving them feelings of confidence, enthusiasm, and desire for action in what they consider a morally proper path. These moments of high degree of ritual intensity are high points of experience. They are high points of collective experience, the key moments of history, the times when significant things happen.

* This socially derived emotional energy, as Durkheim says, is a feeling of confidence, courage to take action, boldness in taking initiative. It is a morally suffused energy; it makes the individual feel not only good, but exalted, with the sense of doing what is most important and most valuable. Durkheim goes on to note that groups hold periodic assemblies to revivify this feeling, drawing again on his point that sentiments fade out over a period of time if they are not resuscitated by another experience of collective effervescence. I would add that this feeling of emotional energy has a powerful motivating effect upon the individual; whoever has experienced this kind of moment wants to repeat it.

A final item in the list of ritual effects is morality. The individual feels moral when he or she is acting with the energy derived from the heightened experience of the group.

* Intense moments of interaction ritual are high points not only for groups but also for individual lives. These are the events that we remember, that give meaning to our personal biographies, and sometimes to obsessive attempts to repeat them: whether participating in some great collective event such as a big political demonstration; or as spectator at some storied moment of popular entertainment or sports; or a personal encounter ranging from a sexual experience, to a strongly bonding friendly exchange, to a humiliating insult; the social atmosphere of an alcohol binge, a drug high, or a gambling victory; a bitter argument or an occasion of violence. Where these moments have a high degree of focused awareness and a peak of shared emotion, these personal experiences, too, can be crystalized in personal symbols, and kept alive in symbolic replays for greater or lesser expanses of one’s life.

* Intellectual life is an exciting adventure when we try to push it as far as we can. There is surely more emotional energy in exploration than in conservatively standing pat…

* There are four main outcomes of interaction rituals.

1. group solidarity, a feeling of membership;
2. emotional energy [EE] in the individual: a feeling of confidence, elation, strength, enthusiasm, and initiative in taking action;
3. symbols that represent the group: emblems or other representations (visual icons, words, gestures) that members feel are associated with themselves collectively; these are Durkheim’s “sacred objects.” Persons pumped up with feelings of group solidarity treat symbols with great respect and defend them against the disrespect of outsiders, and even more, of renegade insiders.
4. feelings of morality: the sense of rightness in adhering to the group, respecting its symbols, and defending both against transgressors. Along with this goes the sense of moral evil or impropriety in violating the group’s solidarity and its symbolic representations.

* Individuals are attracted to the most intense ritual charges they can get, indifferent to lesser rituals, and repelled by others…

* After a particularly exciting or up-lifting moment of vicarious participation, one wants to seek out someone else to tell about it. Thus, if one had been alone watching a game, a political election, or other engrossing public event, one wants to find someone else to share one’s excitement with. If the excitement is strong enough, it isn’t sufficient merely to tell the news, even in a loud, enthusiastic, repetitive voice. At peak moments of victory, or suspense followed by dramatic success, the excited viewer reaches out to touch, hug, or kiss someone.

The same pattern is visible in sports celebrations and in other victory celebrations, as depicted in the famous photos of kissing and hugging on the street at the announcement of victory in World War II. Sports victory celebrations are events of predictable intensity, since there is a regular schedule leading up to championship games. At peak moments, built up emotionally in proportion to the amount of tension through the series of previous contests, there takes place an informal ritual in which the players touch each other repeatedly while repeating a few simple words or cries of victory. The bigger the victory and the more the suspense, the more body contact, and the more prolonged contact: the range goes from slapping hands, to body hugs, to piling onto a heap of bodies at the playing field.

* What motivates people to witness games is primarily the experience of being at a highly successful ritual: successful because it has been contrived so that the ritual ingredients will all be present to a very high degree, especially the occurrence of strong emotion in a setting where it can be amplified by bodily interaction within the crowd focusing attention on the action of the game. The leisure time of modern societies—since the mid-nineteenth century when a sufficiently large group of spectators became available, free from the constraints of household and work—has become dominated by this species of deliberately invented ritual, designed to provide moments of ritual solidarity that previously would have been provided by religion, warfare, or political ceremony.

* Bodily presence makes it easier for human beings to monitor each other’s signals and bodily expressions; to get into shared rhythm, caught up in each other’s motions and emotions; and to signal and confirm a common focus of attention and thus a state of intersubjectivity. The key is that human nervous systems become mutually attuned…

* A good micro-conversational example of the buildup of collective effervescence in natural rituals is shared laughter. The sounds of laughter are bodily produced by a rhythmic repetition of breaths caught and forcefully expelled; at the height of hilarity, this happens involuntarily. Most laughter (and its strongest intensity and pleasure) is collectively produced. Once laughter begins, it can feed upon itself.

* In a successful conversation, the gap between one person ending their turn and the next person starting is typically less than 0.1 second… successful talk has no gaps and no overlaps; no embarrassing pauses between speakers or within utterances, and a minimal amount of struggle over who gets the floor to speak at any one moment. What we mean by successful talk here is that it is socially successful, a conversational ritual generating solidarity among the speakers.

* Persons who join religious cults typically are not to any great extent acquainted with, nor committed to, the beliefs of the cult before they join it. They are initially attracted to the cult because they are brought by friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Their belief grows as they take part in the cult activities. In mainstream churches as well, those who have the strongest adherence to its doctrines are those who have the most personal friends who are also members; social ties brings ritual participation, and this brings belief. And those without close ties in a cult or church tend to drop out, and their belief fades away.

I just found a new Heidi Priebe video — “Perfectionism: Why It’s A Vicious Cycle Of Self-Defeat (And How To Break It)” — that explains “good energy” better than anything else I’ve seen.

Priebe, an attachment expert, says: “Perfectionist tendencies create a self-fulfilling prophecy where you tell yourself the story that people will only accept me or like me or want to be close to me if I am showing up perfectly.”

In other words, people who are in touch with reality are more likely to give off good energy. When you know and accept your own strengths and weaknesses, you more likely accept the strengths and weaknesses of others and you accept the reality of your situation and this makes spending time with you easier.

Sometimes, for example, your strengths combined with a particular situation mean that you should lead. At other times, your abilities combined with the situation mean that you should follow directions as closely as possible.

Someone who’s good at math and earning millions of dollars a year in an upstanding fashion does not need to play down his good qualities to emit good energy. This same person might take his Mercedes to a trusted mechanic and trust that man’s judgment that he needs a new car. When he gets home to his wife and kids after a hard day, he might disappear into his man cave for an hour to decompress. On other days, he might put his work on hold for a few hours to take his kids to the batting cage. On a Sunday, however, he might need to put his family commitments on hold to deal with a work emergency.

As he deals effectively with the different situations that come up, he builds confidence and self-respect, and other people sense that he feels good about himself, and that emits good energy.

We don’t warm to people who constantly belittle themselves because we know that they will soon turn that cruel gaze on us.

When we live in the reality of the situation and of our own and others’ fallibility, “we end up not just perceiving reality more accurately. We actually end up living in a different reality than we did before.” (David Gorman)

When we talk to each other and touch each other, we connect jumper cables to each other’s psyches. Whatever is going on with me will transmit to you and vice versa. Tense people will make us tense, and happy people will make us happier. Good people make us feel good and bad people make us feel bad.

Forced happiness disconnected from reality, such as what you often get from people in cults, won’t inspire us. It’s odd. Weirdness is disturbing. It increases the cost of interaction. People who don’t read social cues are exhausting. When I meet a woman who’s worse at reading social cues than me, I keep my distance. Women are supposed to be better than men at coloring within the lines because they’ve survived for thousands of years dealing with creatures (men) who are bigger and stronger than them.

A couple of times I tried to date a diva. That didn’t last long. When she’d walk through groups of people paying no mind to the disturbance she caused, and when she expected me, after our first make-out, to shovel out the crap in her life that disturbed her, that was too much work for me.

April 24, 2024, Heidi Priebe released a video called “Leaky Feelings: How Emotional Incongruence Gives Us ‘Weird Energy’ (And How To Change It).”

Heidi: “Leaky feelings [are] what happens when we go into social situations and where we are feeling one thing and we are unable to contain that feeling, and we don’t want to be explicit about it, so we go in claiming that we are feeling or experiencing one thing while our true state is evident to everyone around us based on the way we are acting, our posture, our tone, and this is one of the things that causes other people to distrust us the most. If it seems that what we are saying and doing are not in alignment with how we are being.”

“As much as possible, we want to match our inner state with our outer one because the more in alignment we are with ourselves, the more confident and relaxed we feel. The more relaxed we feel, the more it signals to other people [that] I am OK and you are OK, that secure way of relating.

“The term ‘weird energy’ floats around in pop culture. We all know what it feels like to be around someone who gives off a strange uncomfortable vibe. Often this is a result of incongruence — what they’re signaling with their body language is different from what they’re doing. Congruence is alignment between our sensation, our awareness, and our behavior and words.”

“The more incongruence we experience, the less confidence we experience. Confidence tends to come from being aligned with who we are on the inside and who we are on the outside. So when we walk into rooms, we give off the energy that I am OK with myself. I am not full self-judgment and self-hatred. I am not at war with my inner state. Ergo, I don’t need you do any of that fighting on my behalf… It puts people at ease.”

Upon hearing the Heidi Priebe video on perfection and its discontents, I immediately thought about Babe Paley‘s portrayal in the second season of the TV show Feud.

Wikipedia notes for “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans”: “Acclaimed writer Truman Capote ruins his friendships with the Swans, a socialite group of New York City high society, by writing a thinly veiled fictionalized account of their scandalous and hedonistic lives in his (ultimately unfinished) novel, Answered Prayers. When Esquire publishes the chapter “La Côte Basque 1965″, after the restaurant of the same name frequented by the Swans,[3][4] several vow to ruin his life in revenge.”

Wikipedia notes about Babe Paley:

Her personal, unconventional style was enormously influential. A photograph of Paley with a scarf tied to her handbag, for example, created a trendy tidal wave that millions of women emulated. She often mixed extravagant jewelry by Fulco di Verdura and Jean Schlumberger with costume pieces and embraced letting her hair go gray instead of using dye.

Paley’s distinctive style earned her a place on the best-dressed list a remarkable fourteen times before her induction into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958. Her ability to command attention, with her impeccable hair, makeup, and overall crispness, was legendary. As fashion designer Bill Blass once remarked, ‘I never saw her fail to capture anyone’s attention. You noticed Babe and nothing else.'”

Retrospectives have suggested that Barbara neglected her children while pursuing social status and relied on her husbands’ wealth to support her extravagant lifestyle. Her daughter Amanda has acknowledged that their relationship was “virtually nonexistent” and that the distance “was her choice, not mine”.

According to several biographers, Barbara experienced loneliness and frustration as William Paley engaged in extramarital affairs. This emotional toll affected her and her family. Moreover, she faced public and media scrutiny, expected to maintain an unrealistic standard of beauty and social grace.

Barbara was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, attributed to her heavy smoking. Preparing for her impending death, she meticulously planned her own funeral, including the selection of food and wine to be served at the funeral luncheon. She allocated her jewelry collection and personal belongings to friends and family, wrapping them in colorful paper and creating a comprehensive file system with instructions for their distribution after her death.

Feud portrays Paley as so dedicated to perfection in her life that she’s unable to connect normally with other people, including her own children.

Heidi Priebe: “When we are relaxed, we give off an easeful and congruent energy because we are not freaking out and trying to hide ourselves. We are going into a situation wanting to be seen. We show up with presence and dignity and we are naturally giving off an energy that makes others comfortable because we are communicating to others that we are ok, you don’t have to worry about me or provide me with self-esteem, I’m not trying to get anything from you, I’ll just be me and you will be you, and that puts others at ease. When people are at ease, they respond favorably.”

“When we show up with incongruent energy, people pick up on that. When we have that incongruent mismatched energy, it tends to make people uncomfortable in our presence. When people are uncomfortable in our presence, it is harder to connect with them because when we are being inauthentic, it is hard to authentically connect with someone else. That can reinforce the belief that I have to be perfect to be accepted by others.”

“People are not attracted to other people’s perfection. If people are attracted to other people’s perfection, it is because they are wounded and they believe that they need to be perfect and to be with other people who are perfect. People with more secure patterning understand that all humans are imperfect. People who can display their vulnerabilities and the things they’re struggling with and can signal where they need help as well as can stand strong where they do have natural aptitudes, that combination of traits is attractive because it signals that I am human and so I am not going to expect you to not be human and we can co-regulate around our strengths and weaknesses.”

“When we are attuned to our ideal, we are not attuned to reality, to where we actually are in life, what skills we have, what opportunities are available to us now within the life we are living, we are not taking the realistic chances for growth and development available to us at the level we are currently at. It is the art of being attuned to our environment and realistic in our self appraisal and figuring out which skills we can build based on where we are starting from that lay the groundwork for excellence later on.”

Alexander Technique teacher David Gorman wrote:

Have you ever had one (or more) of those moments when you feel totally whole and totally free? When everything seems to be doing itself with utmost ease? When you are totally present and at one with the moment? When amazing skill and coordination is just flowing out of you?

Recall those moments and you’ll note that most or all of the following things are happening, and they are happening all together all at once:

— You experience a wholeness and unity such that you have no parts;

— You experience ease and freedom such that there is no effort and everything seems to do itself;

— Your performance is high quality and your ability to express your skill is up there with the best you have done

— You are present in the moment, so much so that often things seem brighter, more colourful, more 3D;

— You experience an expansion out into the space around you, an openness to, and a oneness with, your environment, the others on stage, indeed, the world; and…

— You feel joy and delight, a sort of yummy appreciation that this is really good stuff…

It is a challenge, for sure, in the face of the habit, in the face of your feelings, in the face of what you’ve been taught, but it is possible to inhibit your reaction to the moment and follow the means-whereby which your very own highly-evolved system keeps showing you — which is to open up to the present moment, to your wholeness, and to give your system a little bit of faith that it seems to know what it is doing, and that it can do it really well without your “help”.

Babette Lightner writes:

You feel the meaning you’ve made; you feel your understanding. Responses tell you about your interpretation of the world, not about the world. Another person’s response to something tells you about how she interprets the experience. It tells you about her life, her way of seeing, her perspective, her point of view, her values. Her feeling is true for her. Her current construct is true for her, even if it isn’t true for you. Responses/feelings are part of an internal compass designed to help each individual navigate their own particular life.

Sometimes the meaning made at a particular time of life is no longer useful. It might have been perfect to survive a particular situation. But, now the interpretation is no longer accurate and is getting in the way of living life.

David Gorman has a free ebook “On the Virtues”:

One of the individuals in the book was discoursing on the ‘virtues’ that form the moral foundation to a good person and a good society — patience, honesty, courage, temperance, humility, and so on. She was suggesting, in no uncertain terms, that most of society’s ills were to be accounted for by the sad lack of these virtues in most people. Their baser natures tempted them into vices or sent them into blind loss of control. But (she said), if any right-thinking person took the time and the trouble to practise these virtues, well… he or she would be a better person and the world would be a better place….

Just what are these virtues that we can have them or be lacking them? And if we don’t naturally have them, just what sort of practice does one do to get them? Are they some sort of skilled activity we learn, like golfing or playing a violin, through practice and study? Or perhaps it is more a repetitive kind of practice, like tying our shoelaces, that will turn the virtues into automatically incorporated habits by doing them often enough?

…this standard was reachable through some direct process, though it seems that not many succeed.

Which, of course, raises the further question, if these virtues are so ‘good’, why do so few manage to achieve them?

…If we were patient all the time, would we be aware of being virtuous? Would we even be aware of being patient? Probably not.

…the virtues seem most obvious when we are not being virtuous. In other words, they appear to be most noticeable by their absence.

… So if patience is the absence of impatience, perhaps we need to look more at the nature of impatience than the nature of patience. What is it about impatience that seems so hard to get out of?

…when we have an expectation of the speed at which things should be happening (but they are not), is it not our impatience that spurs us on to try to hurry things up and make them happen as fast as we want? …all this hurrying up results in a lot of struggling and pushing ourselves to do things faster, creating a lot of stress and tensing up which results in further mounting ‘feelings’ of impatience.

…We often get impatient because we have not fully appreciated what is involved in the process and all the steps necessary to complete the task. …the wake – up call of impatience alerts us to an essential level of knowledge — knowing what we don’t know. This acknowledgement of our lack of knowledge invites us to open ourselves up willingly to a learning process to gain that knowledge.

…it makes no sense to practise patience, if by patience we mean trying not to be impatient or trying to slow down and calm down.

…After we have learned and our expectations are more in accord with reality, will we end up experiencing something we would call patience ? Or will we simply be living our lives better — without impatience?

As a result of this learning we end up not just perceiving reality more accurately. We actually end up living in a different reality than we did before — one that includes a changed understanding of the meaning of the experience of impatience and how to use it to learn. With this changed understanding we can then take a completely different pathway than we would have before.

Normally we would take the experience of impatience to be the vice and try to change it to the virtue of patience. Now we can see that there is indeed something wrong, but it is not the impatience. It is the underlying concept of how long things take which is wrong. The fact is that the experience of impatience appears naturally at just the moment when the information of how long things really take is available to correct our ideas. Does this not suggest strongly that we have a wonderful kind of learning ability built right into our very nature?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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