So, I'm nearly ready to start putting together the companion course for the People Smarts book, and there are a few more decisions I need your help with, dear reader.
Firstly, I'm getting icons designed for the 4 personality building blocks of MOTIVATION, CONNECTION, PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING AND BUILDING. Olly, my talented designer, has come up with these, and they look pretty good, but still need.... something.
I don't know what, exactly, but something. Any ideas what tweaks are required? (You can email me or leave a comment.)
Then, I'm also trying to figure out the best way of putting all the stuff about how we can really understand ourselves and other people better, and stop over-reacting to stress, across in a way that people can grasp it. I'm kind of circling around the following 'focuses' at the moment:
Which, if any, of these topics most interests you? And which would you be happy and willing to learn more about, in-depth?
Please email me, or leave a comment, and I REALLY appreciate all the help and feedback I've been getting from readers, recently, thank you!
I'll stick up another notice here when I'm putting out the last call for people to join the beta testing of the course / program when I have a proper title, and we're all clear on what I'm actually trying to do with it.
BH, it will be good when it gets there!
One of the things I am LOVING about getting this People Smarts stuff out there is the feedback I'm getting from readers. Your input is helping me so much to sharpen this stuff up, so thank you to everyone who is taking the time to interact with this, I know how busy we all are.
I want to thank Nu for asking me this question over email:
"I'm curious how your work may compare to the countless other methods/tests"
It's a great question, and it prompted me to really think about it. Here's what I came up with so far:
Here’s some of the main differences:
While all of us have a dominant ‘personality’ mode, every person can still access the traits and characteristics contained in a different personality building block, albeit with a lot of self-awareness about how we really operate, as people, and a lot of commitment to trying to ‘balance’ our stress reactions out in an optimal way, while still developing our innate talents and abilities.
People Smarts recognizes that personality is fluid and changeable.
This is probably the single biggest difference between this system, and others. People Smarts doesn’t try to stick people into permanent boxes, and it doesn’t buy into the idea that we can’t change our unhelpful responses to stress etc ‘because that’s just how we are’. Over time, how we react to stress can change and ameliorate, especially once we understand what’s really causing the unhelpful reactions at the subconscious (physiological) level.
What this means in practice, is that personality can and does change over time – both for the best and also for the worse. For example, if someone is subject to tremendous stress like a serious illness, betrayal by someone who is close to them, great loss, or some other situation where their sense of the world being a safe place was shattered, this can and does have a severe impact on their personality.
For example, serious trauma that isn’t properly recognized and dealt with can trip off an out-of-control FIGHT stress response in an easy-going BUILDER personality that can cause them to become a manipulative, angry and determined to put themselves first at every opportunity.
At the other end of the spectrum, if someone makes a commitment to learning about how their personality is currently configured, they may decide that they want to consciously work on cultivating other traits, and a different way of doing things.
It’s easier to show what I’m talking about with a real-life example.
A few years ago, I would probably have come out as a very unbalanced MOTIVATOR-PHILOSOPHER personality who was constantly over-reacting to the enormous stress in my life by alternating between rage fits (FIGHT) and massive depressions (FREEZE).
The shrinks tried to label my physiological reactions to overwhelming stress with labels like ‘manic depression’ and ‘bipolar’. Really? I had some enormous, ongoing trauma going on from childhood, that I had never properly recognized and dealt with.
Once I started doing that work, and really understanding where all my negative and unhelpful ‘reactions’ were coming from, that meant I could start to make some choices about who I was spending my time with, and how my relationships were playing out. Again, that can be very hard work, as dysfunctional people tend to hang out with other dysfunctional people, which means the stress levels are usually through the roof, and everyone is sparking everyone else off.
But by the end of that ‘sorting’ process, I’d let go of a whole bunch of toxic people, and I was also far more aware of the toxic ‘elements’ in myself and in my remaining relationships, that needed to be acknowledged, and ultimately improved. As a result, my stress levels dropped radically, and the triggers that were causing my rage fits and depressions practically disappeared.
When I took the People Smarts quiz a couple of weeks ago, I was really interested to see that I’m now more of a PHILOSOPHER-MOTIVATOR instead. And the more I can handle my stress appropriately, the more the positive side of that personality typology will start to come out in the world.
People Smarts also showed me, though, that I need to do some serious work to strengthen my BUILDER side more, which is currently almost non-existent.
BUILDER traits like superficiality, making peace, and having an interest in the more practical and materialistic aspects of the world really don’t come easily to me. But after doing the quiz myself, I can see that I would benefit from having more of those aspects in my life, so I now recognize that BUILDING is something I need to work on, more.
People Smarts can teach people to identify how stressful experiences may be affecting their personality and relationships in a negative way – and then also give them clear guidance on how to channel that stress in a more positive direction, and to get back to a place of being more ‘balanced’ again.
Another difference with People Smarts is that it doesn’t make value judgments on which personality block is ‘better’ than any other.
Human beings need access to all four personality blocks, in order to function at their maximum potential, and each personality type has its unique strengths, as well as its particular challenges to deal with. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers with People Smarts, just useful information about where we’re holding now, and what might be standing in the way of us achieving our full potential in life.
The last point to make, for now, is that People Smarts is dynamic, and it’s about encouraging people to celebrate the good within themselves NOW, while still striving to grow and develop more. Personalities can and do transform, people can blossom, and beautiful regrowth is possible after even the most ravaging circumstances.
It’s this message of realistic hope and optimism about human potential that I think is probably the single biggest thing that differentiates the People Smarts system from the other personality typologies out there. We aren’t stuck, we aren’t ‘fixed’ in one category, or one personality. Balance is available to every single one of us. We just need to know that change is truly possible.
Take the People Smarts Quiz yourself, HERE.
I’m in the middle of trying to get a new book and course sorted out (very rough description below) which will hopefully help people to gain a lot of insight into their personalities, and how overwhelming stress can lead to a lot of our bad middot.
The idea is to help people gain the understanding, and then the tools they need to start fixing all the bad middot stuff, including rage fits, melt-downs and depressions (amongst other things…)
I’m at the stage where I’m beta-testing the quiz – what you’ll find below is a short version of it, that will lead you to a detailed description of your stress personality, your strengths, and also your (stress-induced) weaknesses.
It’s all based on Torah, but ‘wrapped up’ in secular clothing, and I will explain more about it soon, BH.
But in the meantime, I need to road test the quiz, so here it is. This is the short version, btw, only 15 questions long, and should take less than a minute and a half to complete.
(If it doesn’t load, you can also just go directly to the Riddle page and do the quiz there, by clicking THIS)
’d love your feedback on this, if you have any. Either leave a comment, or email me (my comment form doesn’t seem to be working any more, apologies to anyone who has tried to get hold of me that way.)
The People Smarts Book and Course is coming soon!!
The “People Smarts” system has been developed from a synthesis of 10 years of research combining cutting-edge research with ancient wisdom to create a unique personality typology based on the four main personality building blocks of: MOTIVATION, CONNECTION, PHILOSOPHICAL THINKING and BUILDING.
The People Smarts system will help you to identify why unhelpful reactions to stress are happening, and then give you an easy-to-follow blueprint to get things back under control. As part of that process, you’ll learn how to:
• Identify your main ‘People Smarts’ personality type
• Change your stress pattern over time, and defuse unhelpful stress build-ups
• Understand how and why you react to stressful situations the way you do
• Deal with other people’s over-reactions to stress
• Maximize your true personality potential; and
• Develop loving, balanced and healthy relationships in every area of your life.
It’s time to take back control of your life and relationships, and to stop stress from running the show! People Smarts unique, tried-and-tested approach will teach you how to:
• Choose to walk away instead of getting into a fight
• Boost your motivation levels to achieve your goals and dreams
• Create clear boundaries and fearlessly police them
• Defuse depressed feelings before they pull you under
• Learn how to communicate in a way that other people can relate to
• Understand what really makes you – and other people – tick.
*It’s time to get People Smarts.*
Things are quiet on the blog at the mo, as I’m beavering away here on the book, and I’m about to jump in to the companion course, too.
The book is probably going to be called:
People Smarts: How to understand yourself, relate to others, and stop over-reacting to stress.
I’m very happy to get any feedback on the title, feel free to either email me, or leave me a comment below.
Part of this book is a 16 ‘stress personality’ typology, which helps to explain how our personalities can be shaped by our reactions and over-reactions to stress.
The good news is that once we understand what’s sparking off an intense and often intensely-unpleasant and unhelpful reaction to stress, we can then learn how to spot our ‘stressors’ before they totally torpedo us, AND also start to learn how to balance out our default reactions to stress, so that they’re more appropriate and proportionate.
So, in terms of next steps, in the next few days I hope to put up a basic version of the personality quiz here, and again, I’m very happy to have your feedback.
And then I’m beginning the course, which will really focus-in on the HOW.
HOW to understand and like ourselves, even when we keep over-reacting, blowing up and melting down.
HOW to start relating to other people in a healthier way, which means we don’t bully them and ride roughshod over them; nor cling to and suffocate them; nor totally ignore them and disappear into our own world for weeks at a time; nor totally ignore OURSELVES and pretend that our needs and wants don’t matter.
And then the last thing we’re going to focus on in the course is:
HOW to stop over-reacting to stress in an unhelpful way.
If you’re interested in learning all this stuff (and in being my course guinea pig), please drop me a line and get in touch.
Man, I’m actually started to get a little excited about where all this stuff is going. I’ve been looking for a way to put all my knowledge across to other people helpfully and accessibly for years…. and it looks like finally, BH, I may be figuring it out!
Posting will be a little slow on this site at the moment, as I'm working on a new book setting out how the 4F stress is literally making us crazy - and easy ways to start fixing the problem!
I hope to have the draft done (enough....) by August 1, 2019, and I'd love to hear from you if you'd like to be one of my beta readers. You don't have to check any grammar or spelling, I just want to get some feedback about whether I'm covering the right areas, and also if you have any ideas on how to make the book even more useful to the reader.
If you're interested, please drop me an email.
What negative emotion is causing you the most problems in life, especially with your relationships? Vote below, as I'm planning to start a series of practical tips and hacks that will help you get control of your negative emotions, and help you (and the people around you...) feel much happier and calmer.
I'm lukewarm about vaccines - increasingly so, as I see how much effort is going into trying to kill the debate about them. I believe as much information should be put out there as possible, from both sides, and then people should be left to choose for themselves which path to follow.
A funny thing happened on my other site when I tried to put up this video from Physicians for Informed Consent on vaccines - it totally disappeared, and took half my blog post with it. Repeatedly. So, I'm doing an experiment to see if I was having an issue on my other website, or whether there is something happening with the video itself.
If you see it below, you'll know which one it was. And if you don't see it below, go to: physiciansforinformedconsent. org/videos, and take a look yourself.
I was talking to someone recently who is fiercely independent, and very resistant to asking anyone for help.
She knows how she got like this: She had a difficult, chaotic childhood when there was never a caring, mature adult around to help her out of the myriad problems, fears and challenges that each of us goes through as a child.
So she learned: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
And that’s served her pretty well, up until this stage of life, when to cut a long story short, she’s cracking at the seams, and she can’t do everything by herself anymore. These days, she really needs to start asking for help, at least within her immediate family – but she still can’t.
This situation is starting to cause a lot of problems and tensions between my friend and her husband and grown-up kids, because they got used to the version of her that never needs any help. So now, even when she does ask, they aren’t really taking her requests so seriously, they aren’t ‘trained’ to respond, they forget, they get busy with other people, other priorities.
Which is reinforcing the mother’s existing belief system, namely: don’t ask for help, because it’s not going to be given anyway.
But now, she really needs help, so the resentment is rising and rising in the home.
I suggested she take a look at the Connection book by Efim Svirsky, and she came across an exercise that really spoke to her, about trying to connect to the ‘child who can’t question’.
That kid is so overwhelmed by fear, it can’t even frame the problem into words.
She did the exercise, and came up with a stunning insight as to where that inability to ask for help actually came from, which I have her permission to share with you.
As mentioned, she had a very chaotic childhood.
There was a lot of absentee parenting, a lot of emotional neglect, and also a heavy dose of verbal abuse that sometimes turned violent. It wasn’t really bad enough for social services to get involved – but it could have been. And as a young teen, my friend was old enough to be worrying about what would happen if ‘outsiders’ find out how crazy it really is in my home?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, she was struggling in school. There was no-one to encourage her to do her homework, no-one to get her to show up on time. Yet, whenever she was hauled into the principal’s office for a talking to, she always concocted a fantastic web of lies, to provide a diversion to what was really going on behind closed doors.
The dog she didn’t have was always eating her homework, the train was always late, the bus always developed a flat tyre….
Of course, the principal didn’t buy all this, but as my friend didn’t back down from her lies, she had no choice but to ‘go along’ with the deceit, and to try to relate to her from that place.
So, my friend was going through the Connection exercise, when suddenly that scene with the principal popped into her head, and she suddenly realized why she could never ask for help:
Because she could never truthfully describe what the real problem was.
The real problem was not that she was disorganized, didn’t care about her school work, lacked motivation, kept losing her travelcard. The real problem is that she came from a totally dysfunctional family that sapped all her energy and organization as soon as she stepped over the threshold of her house. And she wasn’t about to open that can of worms up to anyone, in case social services got involved.
So, she lied about her homework, lied about what happened to her PE kit, lied about all the emotional dysfunction and chaos swirling around at home. And the help that was offered to her was always dealing with the ‘lie’ of what the problem actually was, as opposed to the truth – so it was essentially worthless.
It wouldn’t solve the real problem, because my friend couldn’t express it.
In the exercise, she went back to that time in the principal’s office, and for the first time in her life, she told the truth. She wasn’t lazy, disorganized, rebellious – anything but! She was struggling to keep things together in some very challenging circumstances.
And there was no ‘help’ that the principal could give her, because that help ran the risk of getting social services involved, which was a massive childhood fear for my friend.
After she completed the exercise, she told me she felt a huge weight roll off her. Now, she finally understood why she has such a hard time really asking for help – because she can’t truthfully articulate her needs.
Telling the truth about what’s going wrong, what’s overwhelming, has always been too scary for her. But now, just maybe, the door has creaked open for that to start to change.
For more on Efim Svirksy and his excellent book Connection, go HERE.
Twenty years ago, when I was a young woman working for Her Majesty’s British Government, I had a colleague who was two decades older than me, who joined the civil service press department the same time I did.
I mostly liked my job, at least at that point, she mostly hated hers.
So I asked her: “Why don’t you quit, then? And go and find a job that you’ll enjoy more?”
I found her answer shocking, even then. She told me:
“The pension is so good here, I’m just going to sit it out, until I retire.”
“But you aren’t going to retire for another 25 years!” I tried to argue.
Pointlessly, as it turned out, as no matter how bad the job was, how much it dragged her down and made her life feel soulless and empty, she was going to carry on doing it for a whole other half a lifetime, just to get a good pension.
In the meantime, I left the civil service – and all its fat perks and benefits – two years later, and my life has been anything but stable, safe and predictable since.
True, my friend probably has a much better pension than I do, at this stage (assuming the stress of being in a job she hated didn’t kill her a long time ago.)
But also true, that there is so much more to life than taking decisions just to stay safely embedded in the comfort zone.
Ah, the comfort zone.
So many of us think we’re striving for that, so many of us believe that the goal of life is to be comfortable.
I also had a bit of that going on still, until recently, when I had three months with no major drama, no major challenge, no big project to get my teeth into, nothing to exercise my brain cells or my praying abilities.
And you know what?
I was totally and utterly miserable.
I know, crazy isn’t it!
It took me a while to figure that out myself, because isn’t being ‘comfortable’ and having ‘stability’ what we’re all taught is the holy grail of being alive? Yet for me, as each stable, predictable, comfortable day passed on, I couldn’t get over the feeling that I’d somehow just flushed another 24 of my precious hours down the spiritual toilet, somehow.
Sure, I had nice chocolate to eat. A comfy bed to sleep in. Enough money to put petrol in the car and go somewhere, and enough time to actually do it.
But so what?
It was utterly and totally meaningless, and I didn’t come back from these days out feeling refreshed and happy. I came back feeling empty and pointless.
After a couple of weeks of this, I started to realise something profound:
It’s the comfort zone that’s killing us.
All of us, not just me.
How many of us are playing safe all the time, scared to offend, scared to step out of line, scared to try something different or be the person God really made us to be, because we’re scared of what comes next?
I.e., potentially being dragged out of comfort zone?
Maybe, if we stop playing it safe, we’ll end up having a real conversation for once, instead of all the fake, pointless inanity that passes for modern “discussion.”
How dangerous is that?!?
Maybe, we’ll discover that we hate our jobs, our lifestyle, certain people we hang out with, and that we really need to change things – in a big way – to start to feel happy and fulfilled again.
Again, that’s scary stuff, isn’t it?
But this is the actual fibre, the stuff of life. All those dangers, big and small, all those challenges, all those adventures, and discoveries and hard decisions.
This is what makes us really feel alive.
Sure, there’s a healthy balance to be achieved. No-one wants to be pinging from one self-induced crisis to another, like an Olympic bungee jumper.
But the other extreme, where we just wrap ourselves up in cotton wool, and make planning holidays and supper the most exciting part of our daily routine, is just as bad for us, it turns out.
It’s spiritual chloroform. It puts us to sleep slowly, slowly, until we spend so much time as screen- watching, comfort-craving zombies we don’t even realise how much life we’re really wasting.
The comfort zone is killing us.
I know it’s scary outside, but it’s also alive, and invigorating, and purposeful, and meaningful and real.
At least every now and then, we have to stick a foot out, and follow the path less travelled.
Otherwise, like my ex-colleague, we can spend the best part of three decades treading
water and wasting our time doing things we hate, living in places that don’t suit us, and trying to hide all our internal misery with ‘busy-ness’ and holidays to Marbella.
Your soul is calling you out of the comfort zone. That’s where you’ll really find yourself. That’s where you’ll really find God.
And that’s really where the pure stuff of life is located.
The last couple of weeks, I’ve been very ‘subliminally stressed’. There could be a lot of reasons for that, not least the space weather connection, which can cause us to feel mega-stressed physically even when our own life is going swimmingly.
But the ‘why’ is not the focus of this post, but rather, the problems it was causing me, and how I finally managed to start getting on top of it.
So, I was very stressed and tense, and that was causing a couple of the bones in my chest to start aching, and to feel very sore, whenever I pressed them. That low-level pain was in turn stressing me out, as I kept getting worried that something was going on, health-wise.
And so, a vicious circle started up, where the stress was causing the bones in my chest to ache, and the continuous aching was contributing quite a bit to my feeling stressed.
I tried using Sujok seed therapy, where I put some red lentils on the part of my hand that corresponded to the aching part of my body. When the pain is energetic in nature, this nearly always clears it up very fast – but not this time.
I tried it for 2-3 nights in a row, and while it took the immediate edge off the problem, it didn’t really shift it. So then, I tried some aromatherapy – some lemon, some lavender, something relaxing. Again, same result: it took the problem down by maybe 5%, but didn’t really touch it. Ditto with the Rescue Remedy. Ditto with taking some long walks, and doing some other stretching exercises to get the body’s energy to start moving around.
It all helped a little, but nothing was really solving the problem.
So over the weekend, on the Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, I was talking to God about what was going on with all the pain I was experiencing in my chest, when the ‘answer’ popped into my head that I should go and take a book called Connection off my shelf, and try that.
The more you talk to God on a regular basis, the more you’ll start to trust these otherwise random-seeming flashes of inspiration.
Connections is a book written by psychologist Efim Svirsky, and around six years ago, I used it, and the visualisations it contains, a great deal, and found them very helpful. Then, I moved on to other things, like Sujok, and energy medicine, and moved away from a lot of the visualizations stuff.
But there I was, with the book in my hands, and I opened it up ‘randomly’, and got to the page where Efim describes a hypothetical problem of someone having a recurrent pain in the chest (!) that just won’t go away. In his exercise called ‘The Inner Dialogue’, he basically describes how you first go into deep relaxation, and then address the ‘block’ or pain directly, along the following lines:
First, relax your body thoroughly – lie or sit comfortably, and preferably alone, in a safe space somewhere, and go through every part of your body, consciously relaxing it.
Next, imagine a pure beam of light from God – the light of the Creator of the World – shining down on you, and passing through your body. Make a note of any places where the light can’t pass through, where it is ‘blocked’ or ‘dark’.
If you have more than one block, you can ask God to give you a clue as to which one to work on first.
Go wherever your attention is drawn.
Now, you need to speak to this block / pain / darkness and ask it why it’s there, what it’s purpose is.
What color is it? What shape? What size?
Efim cautions that you shouldn’t try to censor your thoughts, or force the issue. The ‘answer’ will usually just pop into your brain naturally, all by itself. If you aren’t given a clear answer, you can keep talking to the block, asking for more information.
Once you realise this, ask yourself where this next ‘block’ is located – where is the darkness, the pain, the block that is stopping God’s light from passing through your body?
When you find that new block, repeat the process, and start asking it why it is there, and what it thinks its job is. Because those blocks come, because they think they are trying to ‘help’ us in someway, to deal with something that otherwise we would find overwhelming, painful, scary or upsetting in some way.
Once you start to get answers, you can then ask the block to leave.
Often, that’s enough to start the healing process off, but not always. So then, what do you do next?
In his book, Connection, Efim has many other exercises and visualisations, but after years of doing this stuff, I wanted to share with you what I call the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I’ll explain how this works by describing what happened to me, when I started doing this exercise on the energy ‘block’ / pain I was experiencing in my chest.
I asked the block why it was there, and it told me it had come to protect me from feelings of extreme anxiety. I’d had those feelings before, around 10 years ago, and they were so intense, I nearly went stark, raving bonkers.
So, Efim’s advice to ‘feel the feelings underneath’ wasn’t going to work for me in this situation.
I could visualize the block as a huge, black slab of anxiety that had kind of wedged itself across the full length of my thorax. But I didn’t know how to get rid of it myself, which is when I turned to the ‘Saintly Shortcut’.
I called up my saint, or Tzaddik, of choice (I like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, but use whoever speaks to you) – and asked him to deal with getting rid of the block.
He dislodged it in a second, smashed it into smithereens, then blew everything away with a gale force hurricane. A couple of hours after I did that visualization, I realized the pain is 90% gone. It’s still a little sore – mostly because I’ve been pressing that spot hard for a few weeks, to see if it still hurts – but the energetic pain that was causing the problem has disappeared.
So, if you have a pain or an ache that isn’t going away no matter what you try, I highly recommend trying this exercise. You can buy Efim’s book HERE, or come up with your own version of this visualization.
If you do it as part of your talking to God sessions, and you make use of the Saintly Shortcut, I’m sure you’ll see some sterling results, even if you’re not doing it exactly the way prescribed by Efim.
And yet again, the whole episode showed me how body, mind and soul are so totally intertwined when it comes to health, and how we need to tackle health problem across all three levels, to really find a lasting solution.
That’s the approach I advocate in my book Talk to God and Fix Your Health, and it’s good God decided to remind me about it this weekend!
Because it really does work.