Thirty years ago, the direction of my life changed during a conversation in a doctor’s surgery. As I explained to my GP through my tears, my life was falling apart and I could no longer cope with my feelings. In what was probably a routine action for him, he referred me to the practice counsellor. For me, it felt like a lifeline to pull me out of the whirlpool of anxiety and depression that I was sinking into. That first visit to the counsellor make me start to reflect on me, my thinking, how I handled my emotions, and how I lived my life.
Like most therapists, an initial experience with counselling ignited a lifelong interest, which for me became a passion. It took me some time, and some twists and turns both in my career and in my private life, but 10 years later, nudging 50, I started my first tentative steps as a counsellor. Over the next 20 years I have become a psychotherapist, and I have completed training in family mediation, neuro-linguistic programming, business and executive coaching, and a Masters degree in Management and Leadership.
Somewhere along the way the emphasis of my learning and working with others shifted. I became less focused on the neurotic conditioning that we all carry with us from our early lives, and more focused on who we can grow into and what we may become. I became less focused on survival from the past and more focused on growth into the future.
There is probably a point in everyone’s life to reflect on progress and wonder if you can use your knowledge and experience to show the way for others. Let’s face it – we’ve all said, at sometime another, “I’m going to write a book”. The point came for me when I decided to write Evolution And You. In the past I’ve written a variety of documents, including three substantial dissertations. My earliest training, nearly 50 years ago, was focused very much on the scientific method, and was rooted in the detached, uninvolved style of pre-feminist thought. I really struggled to find a way to get out of my overeducated head and discover a voice that would speak to anyone who might pick my book up. I decided on a simple style based on a series of short articles encapsulating a core idea, my own experience, and the accumulated experience of my clients. These articles are the building blocks of Evolution And You.
I was surprised, as a man who has been a teacher for decades and a therapist for many more, and has delivered to a variety of audiences, just how frightening it is to reveal a book to the public. Presentations are always to a selected audience, who have generally chosen to come and listen to you. A book is open to everyone. Even though the book is built on widely applicable self-help and personal development, it contains a great deal of me. Showing a great deal of yourself to the wide world is a developmental challenge. However, I suspect it’s like the first day on the nudist beach – once you’ve got your clothes off there’s nothing else to show! Once the book was out here I had nothing left to hide, so here it is.
Evolution And You contains everything that I’ve done so far – or at least as much as I can get into a book – of growing beyond your childhood conditioning and into the future, and to be the best that you may be.
The book starts with getting to know yourself. I have described a variety of ways to start to understand yourself and your place in the world. I’ve included how to reflect on who you are and how you came to become who you have become.
In The Art Of Intimacy chapter, I cover everything I’ve learned and everything I’ve seen in hundreds of clients and many couples struggling to love and be loved. Like the rest of the book, it’s practical and supportive and removes some of the veils covering romantic love. Here I owe a huge debt to my wife, Grace Chatting, who is the author of Mend It Don’t End It, and is an accomplished and expert couples therapist.
The book moves on to connecting with others. Friendships, work relationships, meeting new people, finding points of connection, presenting to others, sticking to your values, and all aspects of person-to-person relationships outside of the intimate.
I then describe Maps To Evolution. This includes a number of ways to start seeing the world differently, beyond the usual filters. When we start thinking about thinking, the world is never quite the same again.
The conclusion is all about applying these new tools and ideas to yourself, your relationships, your growth and your world. This is where the full promise of the whole book focuses in on your personal development and your personal evolution.
The book is far from perfect, but evolution, yours or mine, doesn’t have a fixed point where it’s finished. The book is the best I can do from where I stand at the moment, and it can be helpful to you when you read it. If you’re reading this article on I’m Not Done Yet then you may well be a person at a crossroads. Crossroads are great places to have a map, and this book can be a map for you. As well as that, I hope you really enjoy it!
Alan Chatting is a psychotherapist, an author, a teacher and a coach. His first book, Evolution And You, is available on Amazon. He has two more books in preparation. To learn more about Alan, or to get in touch, visit http://alanchatting.com