The Gentle Rebel Podcast

Andy Mort

Exploring the intersection of high sensitivity, creativity, and culture read less
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Episodes

61 | How NOT To Join a Life Coaching Cult (with Margarit Davtian)
1w ago
61 | How NOT To Join a Life Coaching Cult (with Margarit Davtian)
In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I speak with Margarit Davtian who is a consumer rights activist, social scientist, and "cult slayer". She exposes deceptive marketing practices, cult psychology, and New-Age conspirituality trends in the coaching industry. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjxP30X9Asg& Margarit, one of the founders of Ethics For Coaching, helps individuals seeking support in life coaching, business consulting, and self-help industries—the project shields against grifters and scammers who exploit vulnerable positions with undeliverable promises and unethical practices. Ethics for Coaching's mission is to educate, support, mediate, and raise awareness, giving consumers the power to make more informed choices. They aim to be a reassuring presence in an industry that can sometimes be hyped up, confusing, and misleading. As you will know if you've been listening for a while, this is an area I am increasingly passionate about. I have seen bad actors take advantage of the trust and hope of good people, who have been convinced to spend ridiculous amounts of money on "high ticket offers" that promise the world and deliver disappointment. Calling Out Multilevel Marketing Scams and Coaching Cults I believe that coaching is a fantastic tool that can help us unpick challenges and find clearer ways forward in a desirable direction. So it's frustrating to see so many horror stories of its manipulative misuse by bad actors. I hope this conversation contributes in some small way to highlighting signs of a multilevel marketing scams and coaching cults so we can all distinguish between good and bad practices and make more informed decisions about what we are looking for and what a particular person is offering. Margarit and I delve into the Four Pillars of Ethical Coaching. These are beneficial not only for coaches but also for clients, who should understand what to expect from the coaches they work with. The Elements of Ethical Coaching Include: Clear expectations and outcomes Be collaborative, non-judgemental, and willing to accept feedback as a coach Deliver on your promises (and promise no more than you can deliver) Communicate with clarity and honesty Don't use scarcity and urgency marketing tactics Don't use mindset manipulation tactics to overcome objections No high-pressure selling Understand potential sources of emotional/psychological harm Don't use coercive control (e.g. programming fears/phobias or using thought-terminating cliches) Commit to establishing competence and maintaining professional boundaries Establish contracting between coach and client Be open about areas of knowledge and expertise (and what is beyond your scope) State and clarify objectives and outcomes Testimonials should only be used with explicit permission No coercive conditions for joining a program (e.g. you MUST share a positive testimonial) Make relevant qualifications, certifications, and credentials known Include refunds, plagiarism, risk management plan (how a client knows what to do when they have a concern) Want to Know More About Ethics For Coaching? They are looking for coaches who are passionate about this stuff to continue the work they've started. Find Margarit on Instagram and YouTube Conscious Revolution Podcast | Substack
59 | What’s New In High Sensitivity Research?
May 31 2024
59 | What’s New In High Sensitivity Research?
Over the past few years, there have been a bunch of developments in sensitivity research. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I share some reflections on the Second International Conference on Sensitivity Research. It was organised by Michael Pluess, Francesca Lionetti, and Corina Greven through The University of Surrey. In all honesty, academic presentations aren't really my cup of tea. My mind drifts too easily. But I munched on bananas and persevered because I really think this stuff matters...I was helped by the recorded replay too. So I hope this episode helps others who are interested in the essence of sensory processing sensitivity research right now. https://youtu.be/FkGsvdA3htw “If you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else." - Douglas Adams I want to understand these developments, so I'm taking on a challenge; to piece together what I've learned from the research and explain it as best as possible. A lot of information was packed into three hours, and I have tried to grasp as much of it as possible. But I very much welcome those with more expertise to help clarify, contradict, or correct any misunderstandings. The full text version of my conference summary is available here. The Sensitivity Research Presentations: Highly Sensitive Children in the School Context (Jenni Kähkönen) High Sensory Processing Sensitivity: Blessing or Challenge? (Veronique de Gucht) - here's the SPS Monitor Questionnaire Genetics of Environmental Sensitivity and its Association with Mental Health and Wellbeing (Elham Assary) Sensitivity and Overstimulation (Sofie Weyn) Attentional Capture and Sensitivity (Robert Marhenke) Effects of Sensitivity and Childhood Family Conflict on Objective Stress Responding (Sophia Bibb) Measurements of Sensitivity (Panel Discussion) Over to You Did anything surprise you in the research? Are there any areas or topics that you would love to see researchers explore in the future? If you'd like to clarify or correct anything, please do share a comment below. And if you fancy chatting with me about anything mentioned in the episode, I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a message. The music you will hear in the episode is a piece I wrote as I was piecing the show together. Writing music gives me breathing space when I need to reflect on, understand, and retain information without looking directly at it. Here is the whole track (the video is of a train that went past when I was waiting for mine about an hour before the conference "started". https://youtu.be/lzDsxewUa5s
58 | Is Artificial Intelligence a Friend or Foe? (with Marc Winn)
May 23 2024
58 | Is Artificial Intelligence a Friend or Foe? (with Marc Winn)
Can Artificial Intelligence help us embrace, explore, and celebrate our human creativity and sensory sensitivity even MORE deeply? In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I speak with Marc Winn about the impact of generative AI on our creative spirit. We step beyond the unhelpful binary debates that tend to view the complex tangle of technology adoption as all good or all bad. We begin with the most important starting question: What do we want to use it for? And how can it help us become more human, more playful, more attuned to our senses, and less mechanical and robotic? https://youtu.be/TjGD4kWjGbw How Can Artificial Intelligence Help Us Become More Human? Marc has dedicated the past 14 years to helping people find their way in a rapidly changing world. He focuses on AI and how embracing it isn't just about technology—it's about people. Through AI Adoption groups, Strategy Days, and long-term Partnerships, he focuses on the human side of digital transformation. Marc is also the author of The 50 Coffee Adventure: A Fun, Light and Easy Way to Build Connections—One Magical Conversation at a Time. In the episode, Marc and I Discuss: The role generative AI can play in giving people who have always struggled simple ways to express themselves Why art is deeply misunderstood (and often overlooked) in its role in changing the world How art has a role to play in helping us meet the significant challenges of our time The link between burning out and building things in other peoples' image rather than your own (and what it means to live from that authentic place within us) Why Marc believes you have more of a chance of changing someone's life by making mistakes rather than delivering perfection Fears and hopes about the post-consumption age of creativity and how mass participation will become a new normal How AI supports and can enhance creativity (rather than replace it) I enjoyed this conversation a lot. It gave me a fresh perspective on things I hadn't considered before. Over to You What were your takeaways? How do you feel about this stuff? Share your response in the comments or drop me a message. Marc's Links Book a Coffee with Marc Moving Fast Together - The Human Side of AI Adoption (Marc's Presentation) 45 Minutes of Marc's Life That Got Out of Hand Marc's Website | Marc's Blog
57 | Coach or Marketer? (with Adam Kawalec)
May 17 2024
57 | Coach or Marketer? (with Adam Kawalec)
If you're a freelancer or solo practitioner, you likely need to wear many different hats to keep your business going. It can be tiring and confusing at times. An understandable trend in the age of algorithmic social media is people donning the social media marketing hat more and more, sometimes at the expense of their core craft. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I chat with my friend, Adam Kawalec. He explains what he means when he says he's a coach, not a marketer or social media influencer. He describes how he's intentionally built his business through word-of-mouth referrals and relationship marketing. https://youtu.be/JpViYWqPN7w?si=4KcI4tj8PjFq_jcS In our conversation, Adam demonstrated what happens when we shift our focus from persuasion, traffic, and engagement to depth, connection, and potency. The invitation to find more meaningful, gentle, and person-centred ways of building a sustainable business left me feeling hopeful and enriched. This goes against the growing trend where the drive for social media influence trumps professional training and development. This is why I wanted to speak with Adam about the ethicality of coaching and how to remain focused as a coach not a marketer. Ethics For Coaches and Marketers It's a companion to the episode with Megan Malone when we considered the cost of reputation damage to coaching as a trained skillset due to a series of documentaries and exposés highlighting nefarious, manipulative, and abusive practices performed by people calling themselves coaches. It often happens when the focus on developing skills as a coach is gradually eroded and replaced by marketing and sales. During our discussion, Adam mentioned the Ethics For Coaching project. It's a crucial initiative to educate consumers and support coaches in practising their craft with integrity, safety, inclusivity, and professionalism. This project's four pillars serve as a guide, highlighting red flags to watch out for and expectations you can have with a safe and competent coach. Much of it speaks to the question of whether someone is a competent coach or simply a persuasive marketer. Stay tuned for my conversation with Margarit Davtian, a board member of EFC and a consumer rights expert, who sheds light on the project's mission and her role in it. In the episode, Adam and I explore: Why marketing doesn't have to feel like marketing when you approach it in the right way Ways coaching differs depending on the setting (and the stakeholders) The difference between traffic marketing vs relationship marketing Ethical responsibilities when marketing and practising as a coach The importance of slowing down if you want to speed things up What it means to be truly remarkable, and how to be so good they can't ignore you Finding the sweet spot in your daily rhythm to commit to growing without burning out Over to You What are your thoughts on the topics we discussed? I'm eager to hear your takeaways. Feel free to share your comments or drop me a message. Connect with Adam Website: https://adamkawalec.com/ Inside The Comfort Zone Podcast
56 | Does Your Voice Sound Like You?
May 10 2024
56 | Does Your Voice Sound Like You?
In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we delve into the intriguing concept of voice, the third element of our creative spirit that we've been looking at recently. Check out the episodes on Sound and Noise if you haven't already done so. What do we mean when we talk about creative voice? Is it something we are born with or something we develop? https://youtu.be/cUpv9_mrik0 Character is inadvertently forged in our workshops of adversity.Performance is intentionally forged in our workshops of necessity.Voice is the taste we leave for others.Character can be flexible or brittle.Performance is a wall or a window.Voice is sweet or bitter. I intuitively wrote down those words when preparing and attempted to untangle their meaning during the episode. Other Things I Explore In The Episode: How art transcends anyone else's desire for it Ways we lose our voice in the pressure to fulfil, please, and satisfy an external demand Voice isn't easy to describe, and it can't be contrived Performance as shaping, forging, fabricating, embodying (and how performance can be a window or a wall - deepening or alienating our relationship with our voice) Mr Rogers described Voice as "something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person." Ways to find your voice after losing it What other people can tell us about the sound of our voice So, what does voice mean to you? I'd love to read your reflections. Share them in the comments or drop me a message. The Fireside Membership | Sound, Noise, Voice The Fireside Membership offers a unique opportunity to step back from life's distractions and disturbances. It's a place to reconnect with who you are and consider how you would love your life to look in the future. The membership materials, between session reflection questions, and personalised coaching calls are designed to support you in your endeavours. Whether you have a particular challenge you want to overcome, a project you would love to complete, or you're looking for a clear way forward. I designed the program to help you come home to your innate creative spirit and accomplish your aims on YOUR terms and in YOUR way.
55 | Making Sense Of The Distractions, Disturbances, and Noise
Apr 12 2024
55 | Making Sense Of The Distractions, Disturbances, and Noise
The noise we encounter can significantly impact how we perceive the world and what we believe about it. This can be multiplied tenfold for sensitive types who naturally absorb and respond to subtle environmental shifts and sensory disturbances. So, how do we learn to acknowledge and address the noise that can otherwise derail and distract us? I explore that question in this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, which follows from last week's exploration of personal sound and the idea of "coming to our senses." https://youtu.be/elTJHlIUslk The Difference Between Noise and Buzz Buzz is not a technical term, but it helps us differentiate different types of external stimulation. In the episode, I discuss how noise disturbs the senses, diminishing our capacity to enjoy while buzz enriches the experience, adding to the atmosphere and energy. Distinguishing between noise and buzz helps us gauge whether an environment supports our objectives and desires in any given moment. We might recognise how the same stimulation can be met differently by people. For example, some find silence distracting and seek sensory input to create a buzz to concentrate, while others lose focus if anything is happening around them. This highlights the subjective nature of these perceptions, which requires understanding and negotiation, especially in shared spaces like open-plan offices and living environments. Sources of Noise Noise reaches us through our senses, our thinking, and bodily sensations. We can perceive and feel disturbances in many ways and from various sources, some more overt than others. Sensory Noise Sensory noise is stimulation that directly enters our senses: noisy sounds, tastes, smells, touch, sights etc. Input becomes noisy when our ability to process sensory data or receive information through other senses is impaired. Cognitive Noise We might not notice how noisy our thoughts are when we are habituated to an overthinking mind. Thoughts might include the voice of the inner critic and the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, one another, and the state of the world. Digital Noise I wasn't sure where to put mobile technology but it certainly belongs on this list. In fact, we might find it under every item. But rather than being a direct noise source, it tends to act as an amplifier for many other noise sources. The phone brings sensory noise through the sights and sounds of relentless news feeds and reels. It can also amplify cognitive noise, triggering internal judgements based on comparisons as we glimpse images, videos, and updates flying past our eyes, not to mention exposure to the relentless flood of real-time information that we wouldn't get in such abundant volume without technology. Cultural Noise Current events, news stories, and social trends flow into our conscious awareness from outside. They take up capacity for thinking and feeling and become noise when we don't have a creative outlet to process and release them. Cultural noise also flows through the values and beliefs we absorb from society and judge ourselves by. Somatic/Physical Noise We might feel noisiness in our physical beings. It can be experienced as pain, tension, tightness, aches, throbs, tenderness, etc. On the one hand it is where we might hold unprocessed thoughts, emotions, and experiences. But on the other hand, it can also become a source of noise itself. Emotional Noise Unacknowledged and unprocessed emotional responses to environments, situations, encounters, and experiences can build up inside us as noise. The louder they get, the more they influence our perception of reality. What We Hear is How We See I use the role of music in film and TV to highlight this. There are some fantastic examples of how music can completely change what you believe you are seeing in front of you. Check out these examples: The Power of Music in Film Breaking Bad The Sitcom
54 | Coming To Your Senses (How To Find Your “Sound”)
Apr 5 2024
54 | Coming To Your Senses (How To Find Your “Sound”)
We can lose connection with our "sound" if we experience over-empathy, people-pleasing, and an "I'm OK if you're OK" filter. This can happen if the nervous system learns to perceive danger and safety by taking responsibility for the well-being and reactions of people (and things) it can't control. Our creative spirit gets stifled when these patterns settle into our systems. It gets harder to locate our preferences, opinions, and desires. And choices become filtered through their potential social consequences rather than their intrinsic value and importance to us. Creative spirit has three core elements: sound, noise, and voice. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we explore the role of sound in each of us and how we can find our way home if we're out of connection. What does it mean to have a personal sound? Why does it matter? How does it feel? Where is it? How do we find it? What causes us to lose connection with it? As thinking, feeling, and consciously self-aware creatures, creative spirit flows through our very beingness. It is the invitation to shift the trajectory from what would have happened without us into what COULD happen with us. It stems from the faintest aromas and grows through the slightest cracks of light. While voice is how we express ourselves in the world, our sound is how we perceive, sense, and notice the world. Sound is the intuitive, creative instincts that precede the interference and noise that clouds it out. In this episode, we will consider how to attune to this natural and personal part of our being as humans. Coming To Our Senses We often talk about someone coming to their senses when they return to sensible compliance and conformity with how they ought to act, think, and approach things. Sometimes, this is necessary, but often, it's a way to keep our sound hidden. It keeps our creative spirit squashed and unable to breathe. Truly coming to our senses is about recognising our first perceptions, noticing what we notice, including what we are drawn towards and away from before the noisy filters kick in. Filters like social pressures, expectations, and cultural injunctions leave us doing, chasing, and valuing things that don't matter to us and fearing, avoiding, and hiding from the things that do. If This Isn't Nice, I Don't Know What Is Kurt Vonnegut's uncle Alex had a saying: "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." He says, "What Uncle Alex found objectionable about so many human beings is that they would seldom notice when they were happy." Happiness is a fleeting encounter with something that catches the sleeve of our attention and brings us into harmony with the moment. The mind isn't caught up in rumination and worry. It is present, aware, and alive. It can't be experienced anywhere or anytime other than here and now. We connect with our sound when we pause to say, "If this isn't nice, I don't know what is." In her book Anchored, Deb Dana says that "glimmers are all around us, but from a state of protection, they are very hard to find." For many sensitive souls who have developed deep defensive patterns that seek safety by avoiding threats, it can be challenging to notice glimmers. When our nervous systems are stressed, busy, or numb, we are less attuned to the points of connection around us. Catching Our Sleeve On Our Sound In his book Several Short Sentences About Writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg writes: “Is it possible to practice noticing?I think so. But I also think it requires a suspension of yearning. And a pause in the desire to be pouring something out of yourself.Noticing is about letting yourself out into the world,Rather than siphoning the world into you…Noticing means thinking with all your senses.So what is noticing?A pinpoint of awareness,The detail that stands out amid all the details.It’s catching your sleeve on the thorn of the thing youNotice” What catches your sleeve?
53 | The Money Changed Everything
Mar 29 2024
53 | The Money Changed Everything
Where does your mind go when you read the phrase, "The money changed everything"? In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I want to share points from our recent Haven discussion when we used this prompt to chat and play. Where did the money come from? What difference did it make? Before our gathering, I stumbled on an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents called "Reward to Finder". The story is about Carl, who finds some money in a gutter on his way home from work. Instead of returning it to its rightful owner (in exchange for an unspecified reward), as he promised his wife, Anna, he keeps it hidden in his attic. Eventually, Anna discovers that he is counting the money and demands a share. She threatens to go to the police if Carl doesn't comply. As she spends the money, the situation escalates. Ultimately, they both decide to take action. This changes everything. It was like poison; it got into our bloodstream.Normal life became something obscene.We couldn’t see straight. I lost you in the haze.Neighbours hear banging through the walls of this doorless maze.A dark cloud hanging like a fur coat.In limbo, awaiting the verdict. Words inspired by Reward to Finder The story highlights a familiar scenario we may have encountered in various situations. The arrival of money can often trigger possessiveness, control, greed, and envy, causing relationships to crumble. This can happen dramatically, as depicted in the story, or gradually over time. Over time, resentments build up, stories take hold in the characters' minds, beliefs shift, values change, and people stop seeing people. Instead, they see obstacles, hindrances, opportunities, and gold mines. But perhaps, instead of bringing about fundamental changes, money reveals what was already there. But The Money Can Make a Positive Difference It was interesting to notice how my personal response to the prompt had a negative flavour. This attitude might be called "Why does money always ruin good things?" There are many examples of this. But I wanted to explore how money can positively change everything. That would be the first place people go in response to the prompt. An unexpected gift that took the pressure off or saved the day, approval for the loan that got the business off the ground, or the grant that transformed the community. What Would You Choose To Do If Money Wasn't an Obstacle? What Would You Choose To Do If Money Wasn't an Obstacle? is a classic coaching question. But it's also an interesting one to dissect. The responses seem to vary depending on whether having a vision precedes the availability of funds or vice versa. On one hand, we may ask, "What is something you would love to do but can't due to a lack of resources?" Perhaps there is a particular project you would love to undertake, a place you would like to visit, or changes you would like to make. In other words, if you had the money, you would know exactly what to spend it on. For me, it's finishing my album. Incidentally, if you have £5000 lying around (or know someone who does), gimme a shout! The other way of reading the question is, "If you suddenly came into a chunk of money, what would you do with it?" It's the "What would you do if you won the lottery?" question. Responses tend to be more vague. We would "probably" buy this or that, replace some stuff, give it away, or invest it. The possibilities are broader, but they are also potentially less focused. A Highly Sensitive Drive To Enable There was a thread in our discussion as we imagined the difference money could make in enabling desirable stuff to emerge in the world around us. Once the bills are taken care of and there's enough yarn to knit with, we might look beyond our personal situation and into families, neighbourhoods, and communities, where money could change things for good. Unconditional Giving This opened a conversation about gifts. Some people love giving but are uncomfortable receivi...
52 | Are You Suffering From Boreout?
Mar 22 2024
52 | Are You Suffering From Boreout?
Adam Grant explores how our practice can lead to boreout in Hidden Potential. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I dive into this idea and reflect on the role of playfulness in maintaining our motivation with the things that matter most. We consider the distinctions between burnout and boreout and delve into the contrast between obsession and passion. I ask how the demands and pace of hustle culture might lead to chronic boredom. We look at why we need not stress about discovering our purpose and passion despite the societal messages we are bombarded with. "It is neither work nor play, purpose nor purposelessness that satisfies us. It is the dance between." - Bernard de Koven Boreout is the emotional deadening you feel when you’re under-stimulated to the point of disconnection. But it might also occur when we are chronically overstimulated and unable to pause between life's ceaseless bombardment of noise. Practice and Boreout Boreout is a phenomenon that often arises when we lose our sense of purposeful connection and intrinsic joy with the task at hand. When it comes to practice, it can turn into an obsessive slog rather than a meaningful journey towards progress and growth. Deliberate play isn't about avoiding work. It's about shifting our mentality and seeing how potential can be reached sustainably by finding ways to playfully engage in practice, learning, and growth. "You're not supposed to enjoy it; it's piano practice!" We fall into a trap with certain endeavours. We believe that practice ought to feel like a slog. This leads us to stories of forbidden fun. Some things are meant to feel like punishment. However, Adam Grant refers to a study conducted on renowned concert pianists, which revealed most of them practised the piano for just an hour a day during their early years, and they weren't raised by controlling and dominating drill sergeants. Their passion ignited, and their parents and teachers gave them the conditions to maintain their motivation and enthusiasm. They practised, not because they had to, but because they were interested. They enjoyed working with teachers to explore the craft more; excited, engaged and wanted to learn, improve, and practice. When we treat it as something we've just got to repeat and repeat, practice can lead to boreout. It can also extinguish passion and cause us to resent things that used to be exciting and joyful. In the episode, I also explore: Harmonious passion vs obsessive passion and which is more useful How my drum teachers used deliberate play to keep me on track with my exams Why a lack of creative coaching led me to quit a football team Similarities between burnout and boreout How it can be more relaxing to create than to do nothing Why overstimulation can leave us bored and disconnected The way algorithms overstimulate our senses with sameness - and how variety and difference are sources of energy and inspiration Collective boreout through cultural drift How uncertainty gives rise to creativity, passion, and play (and the danger of trying to avoid it) And more... Over to You So, what resonated for you in this episode? Leave a comment below or get in touch via social media or through my contact page.
51 | Humour, Anxiety, and The Inner Critic (with Rox Alexandru and Neil Hughes)
Mar 15 2024
51 | Humour, Anxiety, and The Inner Critic (with Rox Alexandru and Neil Hughes)
Humour is a VERY important sense. Without it, we risk taking ourselves so seriously that we lose all perspective. Our sense of humour is a core part of gentleness (firm back, soft front) because it allows us to move through the world with greater flexibility and openness. We all have this sense! But it takes practice to remain humourously sensitised to the world around, within, and between us. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I share a Haven Courtyard conversation I had towards the end of 2023 with Roxana Alexandru and Neil Hughes. We explored how we might use humour to befriend anxiety and the inner critic in helpful and healthy ways. Rox helps people figure out ways to play with and change their relationship with debilitating social anxiety. She shares her experiments through Instagram and TikTok. Neil wrote the book Walking on Custard & the Meaning of Life: A Guide for Anxious Humans. It contains an inspiring ongoing meta dialogue with his inner critic throughout. Check out Neil’s website and watch his TEDx Talk (A new plan for anxious feelings: escape the custard!) I love how both Rox and Neil relate to the voice of their inner critics, which is why I thought it would be fun to have them both on the same call…and I was right; it was! In our conversation, they explained why they felt drawn to use humour to engage with their inner critic and what they've learned. We Discuss Humour, Anxiety, Inner Critics, and... How can we work on our relationship with the inner critic in light-hearted ways? When is it better to be amused than anxious? Experimental ideas to take control over the process so that the fear doesn't gain power over you. How Neil's goal was to reach a point where he no longer needed to think/talk about anxiety. We explore how engaging with inner work as a temporary process (perhaps even obsession) can lead you to a light on the other side. The link between custard and anxiety and how seeing it through this metaphor can help identify and reach more solid and desirable ground. Situations and environments where social anxiety increases (and how to prepare/recover to avoid feedback loops) The simple power of being interested (rather than worrying about being interesting) The derailing fear of being misunderstood. Why we can never be prepared enough for every potential eventuality and how Neil engages with that truth in creatively humorous ways How scripting can help give a set of mental tools to draw on and use during times when we most need it Creating deliberate awkward moments helps the brain lean into discomfort on our terms. Why are our post-situational inner narratives often worse than the situations themselves - and how do we choose more favourable (and evidenced) narratives to believe? The sound of our inner critic (is it a voice? A narrative? Or a flavour?) How to relate to impostor feelings (or impostor syndrome) in a helpful and humourous way The stories we tell ourselves about appearances and how judgements by those around us about those around us can become internalised How do we gauge and measure progress with anxiety and the inner critic? And how do we recognise ways we have grown and are growing? Over to You Did you relate to any of the areas we covered in this conversation? Is there something related to humour, anxiety, and the inner critic that you would like me to explore more in the future? Leave a comment below or send me a message.
50 | Is Life Coaching Really Just a Scam? (with Megan Malone)
Feb 23 2024
50 | Is Life Coaching Really Just a Scam? (with Megan Malone)
Life coaching can be shrouded in confusion. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I chat with Megan Malone, delving into the joys and challenges of coaching. Together, we dissect why some view it sceptically and explore avenues for life coaches to reverse the negative trends and misconceptions. Megan is an International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coach and has a Master's in Organisational Development. She sheds clear light on the nature of coaching and what to expect from working with a professionally accredited life coach. The Perception of Life Coaching Coaching is plagued by numerous misconceptions, fuelling doubts and suspicions regarding its validity. Particularly in the wake of controversial instances like Escaping Twin Flames, The Dream (Season Three), and The Conspirituality Podcast (186: Coaches Coaching Coaches), where self-proclaimed coaches have been exposed for questionable and, at times, harmful practices. It's imperative to address these misconceptions because each of us should be in a position to make informed assessments about what we're being sold in the name of coaching. For this we must foster greater awareness and comprehension of ethical practices. Navigating the life coaching industry can be confusing, primarily due to its lack of regulation. Anyone can call themselves a coach without adhering to any particular standards. This ambiguity has sparked discussions calling for industry regulation to delineate more precise professional and ethical practices. Nevertheless, organisations like the ICF provide clear guidance to affiliated practitioners. They mandate adherence to specific standards, ethics, and competencies. But for it to be truly effective, this type of voluntary self-regulation also requires a public awareness and understanding of what coaching is (and isn't). It is crucial to recognise how coaching differs from other helping interventions and understand its uniquely valuable purpose. The Difference Between Coaching, Therapy, Mentoring, and Consulting Coaching Coaching is a pathway to attaining a specific outcome or desired future state. A coach acts as a partner, guiding clients to make decisions for themselves and designing an intentional course for personal or professional growth. Therapy Therapy and counselling focus on aiding clients in mental health recovery, processing past trauma, and healing emotional distress. They explore and address past pain that is hindering present and future well-being. Mentoring Mentoring is guidance, teaching, and advice from someone more experienced in a particular field or role. Having traversed a similar path, a mentor imparts wisdom and support, focusing on skill and knowledge acquisition. Consulting Consulting addresses specific problems, challenges, or goals. A consultant will often observe and analyse a situation so they can offer expert suggestions, recommendations, and strategies for a person or organisation to implement. Why is Life Coaching Unregulated? Coaching operates under the premise that clients are inherently whole and capable of making sound life decisions. The coach facilitates self-awareness through questioning and active listening, aiding clients in identifying obstacles, envisioning future desires, and formulating strategies for progress. While regulated professions often require proven credentials, coaching's focus on client responsibility and self-directed growth means it's unlikely to become regulated. However, the rise of untrained coaches (and a wild west of coach training options) blurs the lines, with some assuming roles beyond their expertise, such as advising or diagnosing based solely on personal experience and interests. ICF-affiliated training programs emphasise a coach's role in guiding clients to find their own path rather than offering direct advice. This approach fosters motivation, reward, and confidence in clients' decisions,
48 | Red Flags to Look Out For If You’re Thinking of Working With a Coach
Jan 5 2024
48 | Red Flags to Look Out For If You’re Thinking of Working With a Coach
We're at the start of a new year. A time when many are thinking about projects, habits, and changes they want to focus on next. Whenever we seek advice on making a change, we're never far from a coach willing to help. But coaching has become a confusing and mysterious mixed bag. So I thought it might help to share some potential red flags to look out for if you're considering it this year. Growing Awareness of Bad Coaching Practices Have you noticed that everyone seems to be a "life coach" these days? Investigative documentaries, articles, and podcasts have started highlighting certain bad practices to look out for in the industry. Conspirituality released an episode examining emotional exploitation and parallels with multilevel marketing schemes of certain programs that train coaches to become coaches who coach coaches to be coaches. Season 3 of The Dream dives into similar topics in more depth. Online streaming platforms have an ever-growing library of shows exposing abuses in the name of coaching, such as "Escaping Twin Flames". The Closest Thing To Regulation in The Coaching Industry While still not perfect, reputable coaching bodies take great care to develop standards and core competencies that keep coaches and coachees as safe as possible amid the lack of official regulation. For coaches and coach training programs that are accountable to and assessed by associations like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), there is a level of professionalism and knowledge demanded of those who pursue accredited certifications. There are well-defined, concrete explanations about what you can expect from working with a coach. While every coach has a different personal and professional approach, and will develop the most effective ways of working with particular people, the basic scaffold of coaching is necessarily solid. But loose definitions and ambiguous understandings of coaching can confuse those exploring the field as a means of support. This can lead to misconceptions and a lack of awareness about what to look for and avoid when searching for a coach. What IS Coaching? Building on the ICF's definition, coaching is a thoughtful and creative partnership between coach and coachee that inspires them to explore the possibilities. It helps unlock sources of imagination and resourcefulness to overcome external challenges and inner obstacles to desired outcomes. It is focused on creating a practical pathway for a future-oriented objective. Coaching is not about fixing, advising, or training. Coaching is a specialist skill in and of itself. It's not about telling someone what to do or imparting knowledge. It's built on structured conversations that require trust and collaboration to serve an intentionally articulated purpose. The documentaries and exposés often highlight practices that insidiously and explicitly contradict these core coaching principles. Red Flags to Look Out For When Choosing a Coach If you're looking to make a change in your life and could use professional support to help you find focus, motivation, and the right path forward, working with a trained coach is a great option. However, not all coaches are equal, and I've compiled a list of red flags based on my observations and conversations with others who have horror stories from the so-called coaches they've encountered. Funnels, Systems, and Promises Be suspicious of any coach guaranteeing a specific result. "Get Rich Quick" is always tempting, especially when delivered in an attractive location with charisma and confidence. If it sounds too easy to be true, it almost certainly is. If their bio says "I'll Help You Grow a 7-figure Business", proceed with caution. The question to ask ourselves is, who wants me to believe this is easy? And what's in it for them if I buy the belief? Selling You a New Problem If you woke up today without the problem you are suddenly considering hiring a coach for or...
47 | High Sensitivity is Not a Superpower
Dec 29 2023
47 | High Sensitivity is Not a Superpower
I’ve always felt uneasy about the use of "superpower" to describe high sensitivity. In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, Scott Barry Kaufman and I talk about recent research indicating a shift in cultural frames around sensory processing sensitivity and potential issues with portraying high sensitivity as a superpower. Sensitivity is a "Beautiful and Complex Trait" Rather than being a “superpower”, Scott points out, sensory processing sensitivity is a beautiful and complex trait underpinning the survival strategy for 20%-30% of humans and has been found in over 100 species so far. There have been some interesting (and challenging) studies in the past couple of years looking at portrayals of sensitivity in Western culture. Last year, Scott wrote an article for Psychology Today responding to a study examining links between high sensitivity and vulnerable narcissism. Signalling Sensitivity He wrote another piece highlighting research into how some people misappropriate the trait of high sensitivity to seek certain benefits. This research found "zero correlation between sensory processing sensitivity and signalling high sensitivity." In other words, between those with the trait and those who make unreasonable demands using the trait as an excuse. This research found "zero correlation between sensory processing sensitivity and signalling high sensitivity." In other words, between those with the trait and those who make demands using the trait as an excuse. For example... Asking for privileges because of sensitivity Receiving special treatment because of sensitivity Requesting help because of sensitivity Avoiding penalties because of sensitivity Blaming mistakes on sensitivity Telling people how hard life is because of sensitivity Most of the highly sensitive people I've talked to about this list recoil in discomfort at the idea of using their sensitive trait in this way. Especially if it involves making a fuss, receiving special treatment, or requiring others to go above and beyond just for us. The Potential of Sensitivity Scott writes, "A beautiful and complex trait has become co-opted by some people as a victim-signalling strategy-- "a public and intentional expression of one's disadvantages, suffering, oppression, or personal limitations." Indeed, recent research suggests that victim signalling is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society and can be viewed as an expression of a "culture of victimhood" in which claiming to be a victim isn't in the service of receiving help and assistance for a genuine disadvantage but instead becomes something actually desirable and fashionable in itself." I believe highly sensitive people have a powerful role to play in the collective potential of humanity. When combined with genuine empathy and compassion, sensitivity senses what needs to be sensed. It feels deeply for the whole and seeks ways to connect rather than drive apart. About Scott Barry Kaufman Scott Barry Kaufman is a humanistic psychologist exploring the depths of human potential. He received his PhD in cognitive psychology from Yale University and an M.Phil in experimental psychology from Cambridge. He has taught courses on intelligence, creativity, and well-being at Columbia, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania. Scott is the author of Ungifted, Wired To Create, Transcend, and Choose Growth. He hosts The Psychology Podcast. In 2015, he was named one of "50 Groundbreaking Scientists who are changing the way we see the world" by Business Insider. Visit Scott's website to learn more.
46 | It Is (Not) a Christmas Song
Dec 25 2023
46 | It Is (Not) a Christmas Song
While it's not a "Christmas Song", I felt compelled to release Still Time during the festive season because there's just something about it. My friend Peter seems to agree: "Big-hearted and tender loveliness for a December evening (and probably other months and times of day too, but this feels like a particularly good time for it)". So this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast is (not) a festive bonus. When asked what they would do if tomorrow were their last day on Earth, many said they would hang out by a lake or up a mountain to view the sunrise alone or with loved ones. There is still time (and appetite) to play, write, and create. They are drawn to familiar places and sensory experiences (meaningful tastes, sounds, smells, sights, and physical touch). I was somewhat surprised at the lack of bucket list activities and final thrills. There was a real sense of “return” in the responses. I suppose there might be something about the imminence of finality that draws us toward simplicity. Grounded where we are. The reality we can reach out and touch. An invitation to look around us right now, where we are, and allowing this to be enough and recognising that this IS enough. Weirdly, no one said they would spend the day on social media arguing with, provoking, or showing off to strangers on the internet. It's almost as if that stuff isn’t that meaningful when push comes to shove. Not a Christmas Episode and Not a Christmas Song While Still Time is not a “Christmas song”, these themes certainly resonate with my understanding of this time of year. For many, there is a bittersweet melancholy associated with the festive season. There are reminders of what and who is no longer with us. We experience folded page memories that bring flavours of days gone into the present. We might reflect on another year gone and anticipate, wonder, hope, or dread the year to come. In this episode: I share some ideas I discussed in last week’s live Haven Courtyard. I explore the ways Rapid Response caught my attention and how I approached the piece I contributed to the exhibition. We unpack the creative process behind Still Time (including some embarrassing voice notes) I talk about why songwriting is such a magical, mysterious, and utterly normal thing for me.
45 | Art That Makes You Think (with Ben Cowan)
Dec 22 2023
45 | Art That Makes You Think (with Ben Cowan)
In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, I sit down with artist Ben Cowan who kindly invited me into his kitchen for a chat about "Art That Makes You Think". Through his visual satire, Ben adds dark and comedic twists to many of the familiar logos, brands, and packaging that have become part of our cultural furniture. I first encountered Ben earlier this year at the Spark-Ignite symposium at the Royal Spa Centre in Leamington. He appeared on a panel called "Creativity Against The Odds" and shared his fascinating artist origin story. His philosophical outlook grabbed my attention, so I was keen to follow up and invite him onto the podcast. About Ben Ben spent many years working as a disaster relief specialist in war-torn countries. He says that he found it hard to process what stood for ‘normal life’ when he returned. Without the urgent sense of physical threat, the threat of normal life took on a different form of existential threat. He describes this as a catalyst for him to create art that makes people think but also laugh. Art That Makes You Think (and Laugh) I often reflect on the role of art in our individual and collective lives. Sometimes, it needs to provoke and prod us out of numbing slumbers. It can teach us to feel, call us to action, and connect us with a deeper sense of meaning. In recent years, I've noticed a tendency towards people creating art that tries telling us WHAT to think. Ben holds up a mirror to the propagandistic properties of art with an agenda. He is inspired by Yuval Noah Harari, who talks about the Four C's. Collaborate, Communicate, Critical Thinking, and Creativity, are core characteristics of a successful society. Art is a crucial part of engaging us in HOW to think. It helps us explore WHY we think what we think. And gives us awareness of the influences (and noise) that contributes to our beliefs and opinions, so we can hold them to more cast-iron scrutiny. In our conversation, we discuss: The relationship between art and thought - what is "art that makes you think"? The role art plays in exploring ‘the good life’ Our cultural and creative "elders" (figures who have had a profound long-term influence on us as artists and human beings) AI, creativity, and human connection Doppelganger - Naomi Klein's book about the Mirror World The artist in each of us – the difference between the commercially viable self and the creatively curious self…is it possible to encounter ourselves outside of the capitalist system? Explore Ben’s work through his website: www.artthatmakesyouthink.com. Check out his ‘Ideas Worth Wearing’ shop on Redbubble. Ben also writes a regular blog: BEN TALKS – Ideas Worth Sharing. Follow him on Instagram. Links/Resources Mentioned in The Conversation: Sapiens (Yuval Noah Harari) Bill Hicks in London No Logo (Naomi Klein) Doppelganger (Naomi Klein) The Courage To Be Disliked (Kishimi and Koga) How This AI Image Won a Major Photography Competition The Big Issue: The brave new world of AI therapy Watch The Full Conversation https://youtu.be/6GrXAfPpVX8
43 | When Things Don’t Turn Out As You Hoped (with Cameron Airen)
Dec 8 2023
43 | When Things Don’t Turn Out As You Hoped (with Cameron Airen)
How do you respond when things don't turn out as you hoped they would? It was lovely to pause for a chat with my friend, Cameron Airen recently. It had been a while since our previous recorded conversation (back in 2018). A lot has changed for all of us since then! Cam is no exception. On this weeks episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, we discuss what happens when things don't turn out as hoped. We explore areas of work/business, relationships, and hobbies. How do we not take it personally when our endeavours don't turn out as we hoped? What tells us when it's time to cut our losses and let go? How do we get through it? How do we know where to go next? Cameron and I discussed how we rarely hear people discuss things going wrong, but it's refreshing to do so. It helps us feel less lonely and more connected. I want to amplify those people trying to muddle along, living meaningful lives in ordinary ways. This might also serve as a small antidote to the dehumanising effects of celebrity culture, where we focus on turning people we don't know into gods and monsters for entertainment. Role Models in Real Life I want to avoid Survivor Bias as much as possible by sharing incomplete stories that do not have neat endings that wind up at the destination of “All’s Well That Ends Well”. So it was strangely satisfying to talk about situations where things have not turned out as hoped, and how disappointing that has been for us at times. We need more role models who are learning to adapt to the ups and downs of everyday life. People who can roll with the punches and engage with creative spirit and purpose amid “ordinary unhappiness”. We connect with each other on the building sites of loss, in our collective grief, and through shared moments of bittersweet melancholy. From there, we can create a more meaningful and sustainable sense of hope for the future. Connect with Cameron's Instagram and website.
42 | Social Justice For The Sensitive Soul (with Dorcas Cheng-Tozen)
Dec 1 2023
42 | Social Justice For The Sensitive Soul (with Dorcas Cheng-Tozen)
In this episode of The Gentle Rebel Podcast, Dorcas Cheng-Tozen joins me to discuss her book, Social Justice for the Sensitive Soul. What draws highly sensitive people towards it, and how can we navigate and engage with the issues without burning out? I was particularly interested in considering how sensitive nervous systems are attuned to the needs of a community as a core response to the biological imperative for personal survival. Humans are not wired to connect with and care about the whole world. It's too big and heavy for any individual to carry alone. But the interconnected world shows us everything wrong, and we hear about tragedies almost instantly via social media and the twenty-four-hour news cycle. So, how do we sustain our nervous systems and maintain compassion and care in such difficult conditions? Moreover, how do we make peace with the fact we cannot care about everything without becoming desensitised and shutting down? In our conversation, we explore: The challenges that face highly sensitive and introverts who want to understand and engage with social issues How to approach urgent social problems without losing your ability to think critically and openly Approaches and attitudes that can be off-putting for sensitive people Letting go of an individual hero complex and trusting the bigger picture Causes for hope when the world feels bleak And much more About Dorcas and Social Justice For The Sensitive Soul Dorcas Cheng-Tozen is an award-winning writer, editor, speaker, and international communications consultant. She has nearly twenty years of experience working with nonprofits and social enterprises, living in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Kenya. Dorcas currently lives in California with her husband and two sons. Social justice work, we often assume, is raised voices and raised fists. It requires leading, advocating, fighting, and organizing wherever it takes place--in the streets, slums, villages, inner cities, halls of political power, and more. But what does social justice work look like for those of us who don't feel comfortable battling in the trenches? Social Justice For The Sensitive Soul addresses this question. Connect with Dorcas: Website: www.chengtozun.comSocial media: Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin