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What is happening to hockey in Canada?

January 20, 2014

What is happening to hockey in Canada? As you know, this has been a question that has been asked for decades. As a high-performance coach, I have worked with business teams, sports teams, executives, individual athletes, dancers, and actors from around the world in multiple sports and business venues. I think I have a fairly good understanding of what happens when we move away from a developmental mode and prioritize winning. The clear distinction between a developmental model and a winning model is that winning is about performance now, short term gains, nearsightedness and performance based with high pressure, and of course short learning time that creates huge gaps in learning.

A good developmental model on the other hand looks at long-term gains, farsightedness, low pressure, and greater learning time so that transitions within skills, knowledge, and execution can be accomplished.


What is wrong in hockey or any sport is always the psychology behind it. Every generation is part of the same old problem because the grass roots of the game are not found in the principles of coaching but founded on principles of “Win at any cost”. This winning at any cost is the result of parents’ self interest and greed. We sacrifice their children’s fun, learning, skills and development because of the money investment in their child, getting a scholarship, making team Canada, and, if you have son, the ultimate: making the NHL.


Having two sons in the NHL, both played junior hockey, both decided to skip university or college and it has been a good choice for them. However, as a high-performance coach it has been an interesting ride doing damage control with both my sons from the external control coaching that is rampant in hockey where winning at any cost becomes the premise for competing.


I have spent the last 35 years of my life as a high-performance coach traveling the world, dealing with coaches, athletes, and administration on how to have a more effective and competitive culture. In all the countries that I’ve worked in, I find that Australia seems to be light-years ahead in the area of sport training and ethics by fully committing to a developmental model for athlete performance.


One of the most respected and decorated coaches in Canada is a track coach Andy Higgins. What makes Andy so successful and what makes the athletes around him so successful is he puts the developmental model of the person ahead of the athlete. I don’t believe Andy practices any external psychology when he works with athletes. It is the psychology of external control that creates the downfall in any sport worldwide. Unfortunately hockey uses the axioms of external control and I’m just one of the people that helps pick up the pieces in an environment that is sometimes torturous to our young men. Every year I deal with 40 to 60 young men who end up in some situational crisis because of the coaching they have seen that is unbelievably detrimental to the athlete as a human being.


I have worked with many players in the NHL, AHL, OHL, AAA, AA, A…all the way down to E levels, helping them recover from the brutal coaches who use external psychology as their modus operandi. If you are a coach or a GM and are reading this article, it might be a good idea if you consider what’s being said because this is the psychology that is poisoning your operation at every level it’s practiced. And what is more difficult to understand is that there is a different psychology of internal control that people can learn but it takes longer to learn it but the benefits and payoffs are enormous and extremely cost-effective.


The consequence of external coaching results in an atmosphere of win at any cost. Therefore in that attitude it makes the parents, coach, athlete focus on outcomes rather than the process of constant improvement. The outcome of winning outweighs the process of developing


Brent Sutter, who has a keen eye from his perch as owner, general manager and coach of the Red Deer Rebels said “There’s too much focus on winning and losing at such a young age.” I agree with Mr. Sutter and I believe this statement to be true. However, that difficulty arises because of the psychology that is practiced in the grass roots of hockey in our schools, work places, homes, and all the way up to the NHL, is external psychology and boss management.  We fail to understand that our brains are conditioned to external psychology and it is part of our evolution that it exists and if human beings are going to take the next leap in our development, we have to change our psychology.


Teams in Europe who are developing their hockey programs will naturally catch up to Canada as all nations catch up to other nations in sports when they pour money into programs. Easily put, it gets harder and harder to win as other teams learn and improve. It is the same as the BlackBerry company, who once lead the market share, others catch up and it gets hard to be successful unless you do something different that your competition isn’t. It is the same as in the free-market: the competition gets better and better until you have to learn to do things differently and produce a better product.


Human society in North America is suffering with affluence. Where there is affluence, there is greed! Look what this greed has done to hockey! Because only the rich can play the sport, we have cut off a huge cross-section of young children who have always been the backbone of Canadian hockey. These kids, who have to grow up with tremendous adversity and triumph over so much, developed character traits that deal with pressure more effectively. So now the question becomes: how do you get the best out of kids that are spoiled and can’t handle adversity? Don’t get me wrong here – I think every child should be spoiled. Most of the kids that I see in my private practice for counseling aren’t spoiled, but they definitely have been raised in external psychology environments.


External control psychology is the psychology that destroys every family, marriage, sports team, and business team – anything to do with human relationship. One of the biggest signs of external psychology are its practices of blame or fault finding.


There are people, teams, and organizations that have taken that leap and very little external psychology is practiced. Organizations that practice external control kill creativity and leadership. My example of this is BlackBerry. I have been a BlackBerry user for years but you can see that they slowly fell behind because they couldn’t keep pace with innovation and creativity and leadership because they probably practice most of the habits of external control when coaching their people within their organization. External psychology is always at the root of every human endeavor that fails; you can’t have people be creative if they are in fear of losing their job, their sense of well-being, or their meaning or purpose for existence.


The TSN analyst Bob McKenzie noted on Sunday, “My theory is that it’s between the ears, Canada is fearful of losing.”


External Psychology is driven by 5 basic conditions that affect everything we do! If any of these conditions dominates your thinking you are an external control maniac, and eventually you will destroy the environment for yourself and others to be a successful team. These five conditions of external control are psychological habits in human behavior that are real weapons of destruction because they maintain our glorified self-interest and give us the feeling that we are right and know what is best for other people.


Condition 1. Human beings are conditioned to believe that you can motivate somebody my external means. This means that we are basically stimulus response machines. And we are not! Just because someone yells at me or mistreats me, I don’t have to mistreat them back. The counter condition of internal psychology is: I am not responsible for how other people treat me. I am only responsible for how I treat others.


Condition 2. External psychology believes that whenever I am upset or unsuccessful it is always someone else’s or something else’s fault. Human beings are blamers and we avoid responsibility for our part. The counter internal psychology condition we need to learn is that whenever something goes wrong or I am unsuccessful, I must look at what I am doing or how I’m thinking and change that and take full responsibility for my part in things. Unhappy ineffective people blame other people. Happy effective people self-evaluate!


Condition 3. External psychology teaches that whenever things go wrong or I am upset, not only is it other people’s fault but I go around wanting other people to change. The counter in internal psychology condition is whenever things go wrong and I’m upset I should change myself.


Condition 4. External psychology teaches that by the time I am a teenager I’m beginning to know what’s best for me. I start to individuate and become my own person and begin to choose my own friends, my own music, the people I want to hang with, and my sense of individuality. That isn’t the problem. The problem of external psychology in the fourth premise happens when I get this major insight that tells me not only do I want to know what’s best for me, I also know what’s best for other people. This is probably the most damaging premise of all because once you know what is best for other people and you shove it down their throat, they learn to dislike you more and more, thus you end up destroying the relationship with them. The internal psychology counter to this premise is learning that you only know what’s best for you and back off trying to think you know what’s best for other people – let them self-determine.


Condition 5. External psychology teaches that you are the house you live in, the car you drive, the amount of money in your bank account, the letters after your name, and your particular religious or political belief system. Internal psychology teaches that all you are is a human being. You have a right to be happy, a right to be here, a right to live the way you want to live but you are by no means more important than anyone else.


How these five conditions are practiced in your organization or on your team is self-evident. Below are the habits of external control where most people live their lives.


The most damaging of the habits is called criticism. Most people believe that there is such thing as constructive criticism. You have only to ask yourself the last time some person gave you some of their constructive criticism and you said, ‘Gee, thank you that was wonderful. Now I feel terrific and highly motivated.’ Criticism is a real fun killer because one of a human’s basic needs is to learn and criticism kills learning because criticism kills fun. Bobby Orr, in an interview with the CBC, commented about minor hockey not allowing kids to have fun. He indicated that coaches today put their own kids first, as their main interest. There’s a high-level of truth to that because of the conditioning of external control psychology.


The counterbalance to criticism is praise and catching people doing things right and giving them feedback after asking them if they want some feedback. Giving people feedback without asking their permission is disrespectful.


The next external control habit that people use in relationship is blaming. Human beings are blamers. We blame every time we are unable to really look and self-evaluate and be part of the solution instead of escaping the problem. Brent Sutter, making the comment that it’s got nothing to do with coaching, is again practicing external psychology. Coaching is definitely a huge part of the game.


The next external control habit is humiliation. People use humiliation to control other people. This is the essence of racism, sexism, and any sense of discrimination. The counterbalance to this habit is learning acceptance, it’s celebrating differences and allowing people to feel comfortable with what they value. In hockey, humiliation is used all over the place. Old-school coaching is about tearing individuals down and then so-called putting them back together. This philosophy is Neanderthal.


The next external control habit it is punishment. If punishment worked on criminals, institutions would be empty. Punishment deters cooperation, insight, and intelligence. You see this in the hockey world were coaches punish for losses using the old bag skate. Most old-school coaches find this militant mentality works because it satisfies their need for power and diminishes everyone else’s need for empowerment. Internal psychology teaches this: let the players determine where they have to improve and where the team has to improve and take full responsibility by generating practices that are fulfilling to the athletes, through discussions. Yes, believe it or not, the kids playing the game know more about the game than the coaches behind the bench. This is a hard reality for coaches the face. The coach’s job is to get the players on the team to buy into the game plan that he believes in, and using his best research of the teams they are playing, show the players he has the way to succeed.


The next external control habit is rewarding. Rewarding people to control them is the essence of how most people parent and coaches use to motivate. Rewards are often used within the business world and what ends up happening is people may like the rewards but dislike the rewarder. People or athletes get the feeling that the coach/manager is always dangling a carrot in front of the person’s face. The internal control habit is helping people identify one’s qualities to manage and creating environments that are need satisfying to build people’s sense of autonomy and skill. Learning or improving your skill set is its own reward.


The next external control habit is guilting. This again is often used as a means to gain control of people by getting them to do what you want them to do regardless of if they want to do it or not. Using guilt as a means to gaining what you want in a relationship will always cripple the relationship. The internal control habit is practicing self-evaluation through open, honest discussion that creates meaning and purposeful relationships and work processes to develop the skills, product, or situation analysis.


The next two external control habits go together – nagging and complaining. These external control habits destroy relationship but people often put up with them because they see the person as venting, which never corrects or changes the situation. People just tend to hide from people who are always venting or nagging. Nagging and complaining are just mental states that reveal a person’s lack of skill in coaching to address the immediate pressure in the situation.



If Canada wants to build a dynasty in hockey or if a team wants to become a dynasty at any level there are certain things that are a must.


  1. Train all people in understanding what external psychology is, how it plays out in the relationships with other people and the organization, and teach them a new psychology of internal control. This must be taught to every person within the organization. The people within the organization must commit to removing all external psychology language that shows up in boss management as a means to how they govern their organization.


  1. The organization must create a caring, safe, supportive environment that has the best interest of the people within the organization in mind. This means that the longevity and security of the people within the organization take the priority. You must rid the environment of fear and coercion. The easiest thing to do when teams are not performing is to fire the coach, or when the team is not performing trade players. This creates within the team the feeling of insecurity, and where there is insecurity and the survival need of people is threatened, you cannot create a dynasty.


  1. Meaningful, purposeful work has to become the forefront of every operation within in the organization. Accountability and improved performance have to being drawn out of the people within the organization in a way that builds relationship, support, and cooperation. The only way this can be achieved is by the people who are doing the managing practice internal psychology and remove all external psychology language and conditions from their daily practices.



  1. That open and honest discussion about quality and what quality looks like becomes the central theme within the organization. Nothing is acceptable but quality, whatever quality can be determined by at that time. This means that CEOs, GMs, coaches, and managers are responsible to create environments with players and employees to discover what quality looks like and how it is best achieved by constant improvement of the systems in place. Quality management is when coaches and managers all work to improve the system, never the employee or an athlete.


  1. Everything done within the organization always feels purposeful and helpful and good for everyone within the organization. There are very few teams that operate on all these five conditions but some teams do come close. In 2013 I did some work with the Detroit Redwings and I believe that the people running the organization understand internal psychology though they haven’t fully seen its necessity but it is behind the success of the organization.


The other difficulty with internal psychology is that it means that change has to happen from the top down. People have to really look and evaluate not only what they’re doing but how they do what they do and that brings about a revolution within the organization. People are terrified of change especially when they have to share power and responsibility with other people. The bottom line is that people don’t give their full effort unless they have power and responsibility in anything they do.


Let’s take a look at Wayne Gretzky, probably the most brilliant hockey mind that ever was. Wayne couldn’t coach because he doesn’t understand internal psychology. He really doesn’t understand how he pulls out of himself what he does and how he did because no one has ever shown him. If Wayne Gretzky understood more internal psychology and brought internal psychology to an organization, he would build a dynasty that would dominate the National Hockey League for decades. I would not say he would win the Stanley Cup every time but what he would do is put his team in a position where they could win the Stanley Cup and that’s what a good organization does, puts their team in contention. Internal control psychology clearly helps people and organization understand the factors within their control and also helps them to perceive the factors that are outside of their control and manage them respectfully. It would take approximately three years to turn an organization around completely and get them headed in the right direction practicing internal psychology. One of the most important facets of internal psychology is the realization that you can buy people time and skill but they have to give you their work ethic, passion, and creativity. Learning internal psychology coaches these three main ingredients out of athletes and employees but fear keeps most owners, GM’s, coaches, and managers in the dark ages.


The Heart and Soul of Affairs

July 5, 2012

Affairs happen. They are a part of human behaviour. As painful as they are, they can be a catalyst for a better relationship and a deeper marriage. If we are at all serious about our lives, understanding is a prerequisite for a loving, intimate, and sexually charged marriage.

Most people have affairs because there is too much external psychology going on in the relationship. External psychology is about trying to control the other person by behaving in such a way using criticism, humiliation, guilt, bribes, fear, punishment, or any other of the controlling behaviors to get them under your control. When a person practices these behavior habits they are shooting themselves in the foot and eventually will kill any intimacy within the relationship. Intimacy is the key ingredient in any relationship. It is about being sensitive and respondent too another in a way that seeks understanding and quality for both people or things in relationship to each other.

Women tend to seek intimacy through the process of communication of feelings and emotions from and in a relationship. They then feel they are loved and belong with that person. Men tend to seek sex as a means to having that sense of loving and belonging. This difference between men and women leads to them choosing to be critical with each other, which in turn kills all passion between the couple. The problem then is compounded because a man’s need for sex is part of his survival need and he finds it easy to have sex without any intimacy at all. Men sexually are visual creatures, and that is why when a man has an orgasm, his eyes are open. He is hardwired for this and then within moment after his orgasm he slowly opens his eyes and heart to the being women is. With his eyes closed it is an internal experience – the release for him is seen as pressure removed and he can then relax and get more emotional. Women, on the other hand, orgasm with their eyes closed – a very internal process. Then as it descends her emotions release and come to the surface. Here the man and the women are two very different creatures yet make up one whole.

It is that wholeness through sex or other challenges that real intimacy between people, men and women, breaks out. Notice please that I used the word “breaks out” because you can’t fake intimacy!  Without it one feels a great sense of disconnection between you and your partner and then this leads to the practice of external psychology and the habits that cripple the relationship.


Coach bri

Coaching (Motivation, Punishment and Rewards) – External Control and the Poisoning of Team Culture

October 17, 2011

I often receive calls from coaches who, after being exposed to a workshop I have given or coaching with me, come to a point where they are pulling their hair out trying to either motivate some athlete or they can’t understand how players can be so individualistic and self-centered and choose not to play as a team.  What we don’t understand as coaches is how deeply we and the players are entrenched in the world’s psychology of external control. This psychology is the psychology of having power over other people as a means to cover up one’s deep personal insecurity. All throughout history, having power over other people has put humankind in a perpetual state of conflict and war.  External psychology, the hub of human misery in coaching, damages the team culture by slowly or sometimes quickly eroding the relationships between coach and players or players and teammates.

In any successful endeavor that human beings tackle, the ease and effectiveness of learning and succeeding is based on how well the people doing this endeavor get along. Players learn how to play together in supportive, caring environments at a rate that is ten times greater than in environments where coaches play head games, power trips, punish for poor performance, or reward for good performance.  This sounds strange in any culture to people who are external psychology people. They are lost when you tell them that honesty is the best policy, something they have known and have heard instinctively but is seldom practiced in their life. The exception would be for relationships in their lives that are very important to them where they tend to be more honest with themselves and the other person. Punishment is so ingrained into our psychology that whenever we don’t achieve what we want from ourselves or another person, we punish. If punishment were a method to correct behavior, our criminal institutions would be empty. But in fact most are full of repeat offenders.

Coaches have always asked me, without “bag skating” or doing “suicides” or other forms of punishment, how do you get a team to cooperate and play together?  When I ask them what they are doing now, they say the same thing they have been doing for years – bag skating (a horrible term for skating people to exhaustion), suicides (a horrible term for getting players to run till exhaustion), taking away their playing time (taking away the thing they love) – it makes no sense whatsoever.

Most GMs, except for a few, practice nothing but external control psychology on the coach because the common practice to achieve quality is misunderstood by most people trying to develop it. So coaches are often rewarded with bonuses for wins, which means that most people love the reward but hate the rewarder. Motivation is often very low for people you dislike. An external control coaching style often dangles carrots or gives incentives that destroy team culture because they often pit people against each other creating external pressure.  Most people feel this external pressure any time you feel that someone is trying to get you to care about something you don’t care about or see the value in. Then things become adversarial and one or both people practice the habits of external psychology.  These habits are always in the forefront of our minds because they are so well learned and we think they are part of our human nature. But they aren’t.

Below are descriptions of the habits in order to show you what I mean. Often when people get frustrated by other people they do one of the following external psychology habits. Remember these are well learned, not our nature.

1. Criticism. When you criticize another person you harm the relationship. This is the main habit that kills team culture.

2. Humiliation. Coaches often use this to center a person out and use them as an example. When teams use hazing as a means to build a team and you hear other athletes say that it does no harm and everyone goes through it, or “I made it through it!”, obviously they didn’t. If you asked them, “Well, why not haze in your family then, to increase your family bonding?”, Children’s Aid would take the children and they wouldn’t be allowed to parent. No loving parent that I know would willingly want his or her child to be humiliated.

3. Guilting. Coaches and parents often use this as a means to control the athlete or child and the damage it does it sets in motion the process of head games and the cycle of doubt, which destroys players’ and children’s confidence in themselves and others, which is one of the building blocks of trust.

4. Punishing or rewarding to control. This habit more the any other confuses the issue of how to get people to self-evaluate. Punishing allows and excuses the undesirable behavior because the person punished thinks, “Now that I have been punished, things are over and I don’t have to look any deeper at my behavior or take any responsibility for my attitude and effect on the team”. When the person gets a reward the same effect is created in a different way. It still becomes all about me and achieving my short-term goals and less about the how I achieve them. Therefore the person rewarded thinks “I can do a lot of damage and hurt the culture but I get the reward so I did what you asked so we are even, so go work on someone else”. Any time we focus on the outcome without deepening our understanding of the process, we move away from strengthening the culture.

5. Blaming. This external psychology habit is so pervasive in our culture we often don’t catch ourselves doing it. This is the habit shown when shit happens and players look at others or external things in the environment to excuse their poor behavioral performance. Coaches often use this habit in ways that blame player or bad calls by referees and don’t see how blaming anyone but himself or herself is acceptable. Blame is always about evaluating something you have no control over and therefore futile. Blame is an action that takes the pressure off in a way that harms the relationships and kills trust and collective responsibility. For a team to be a team, blame must be removed and when shit happens we all must see our part in it through self-evaluation. Blame is about evaluating others therefore killing the process of learning. Players that can learn a lot can perform better as a team than players who can’t learn.

6. Threatening. This is a habit that forces people to become defensive and instills fear. Fear is a quick motivator but a cultural cancer. It will only last a short time then the coach or GM places the player or coach’s job on the line and greater damage is done because when you attack a person’s livelihood you are messing with their means to survive and therefore strengthening fear.  Fear based environments create aggressiveness – not towards the other team but the players, coaches, and GMs that turn on each other.

I challenge any team at any level to learn internal psychology, teach it to your whole organization and within four years you will have not only a winning program but a team that is a contender for the cup on a regular basis.


My Husband Has Changed!

June 12, 2011

The rain had the ferocity of the wind behind it. It came in quickly and left the earth full and soaked with water. Many puddles had formed in the fields; the earth around the puddles was black and rich. The seeds planted beneath seem to grow before ones eyes as lightly green shoots spun to life.

She was very quiet and not sure why she had come.

You saw my husband and he is not the same man since and I really can’t figure him out. He’s stopped criticizing me and he’s dropped his constant demand for sex. So I have come to see you because I think you or him are up to something.

Like what?

Some plan! Whatever! I know my husband and since we’ve been married he has always demanded sex from me at the most inopportune times.

Yes he told me about that!

Well I wondered why he did that! He never really talks to me about anything. He just goes off and sulks. He behaves like another kid, for shits sake.

Yes he is aware of that as well. He told me that he sulks a lot when he doesn’t get his way.

He sure does! And I’m sick and tired of it. It’s another demand, a pressure, and between the kids, the house, and looking after some of my own needs I don’t need another person whining at me.

Yes he seems to know that!

Well that’s what he does. It is so unattractive that he’s so dependent on me. What’s wrong with you men! All my girlfriends say the same thing about their husbands. We laugh at you guys, you know!

I’m sure you do! But are any of your girlfriends divorced?

Yes they are.

Do they laugh at their husbands, now that they’re divorced?

No, they hate them!

Maybe your husband feels that divorce isn’t an option for you and he doesn’t want that to happen.

So what you’re telling me is that he thinks I’m having an affair?
Well no, I’m not.

I sure could have. That’s easy and with the way I look, men are always flirting with me. I seem to have that type of body that men like. They’re all the same! But one man for another man would be just another set of the same problems. I’m not interested in that.

So what kind of marriage are you interested in?

One that works!

Is it working now?

Well what did my husband say?

He said a lot! But none of which I can really discuss with you!

And why not??

I care about your marriage and I am willing to fight for your relationship for your marriage even when sometimes people don’t.

So you’re colluding with my husband?

No. Maybe I’m colluding with your marriage.

What the hell does that mean?

If you came to see me about your marriage to your husband and then he came to see me, would you want me telling you what you said in confidence to me?

Yes, why not? You’re supposed to tell us!

Well I don’t think doing that would help your marriage. Me telling you that your husband came to me and took responsibility for his behavior I feel is not breaking his trust. I think your husband won’t be upset about that he knows he’s made mistakes he doesn’t want to lose you. And I really think he is worried about that.

I know that in last two weeks I’ve been living with a different man and it’s really pissing me off.

So things are worse now?


Well why is that?

Now I feel so guilty for the way I’ve been treating him.

Well so that means you’re starting to do a little self-evaluation. Is that so bad?

Well I guess not but I did fool around on him. But I ended it yesterday.

Why yesterday?

Well I knew I was coming to see you and my husband has been treating me so different. The affair lost all its appeal I think! I don’t know. I guess I see him trying so hard … I don’t know guilt maybe.

Can I ask you a question? It may help you understand it if you answered it.

Yes sure!

When you noticed your husbands change, when did that start?

About four weeks ago, I think.

What happened?

I just gave up fighting him and just gave him sex. Let him do his thing and get off and be done with it.

How did you feel about that?

I felt depressed, lonely, sad, and guilty.

Did he have any response to this?

Yes he stopped having sex with me and asked me what was wrong.

Do you think he knew something was up?

Why do you say that?

Well, what did you do in the past with his demands?

Just refused him and made him wait till I was ready!

What would he do?

Whine and act like a child. Give me the silent treatment. Same old bullshit men do!

But he didn’t, did he? He saw you change and he didn’t like it!

I guess not!

Is it possible that he figured something out?

Like what?

That he finally heard you and he doesn’t want to lose you.

Yes but why now?

Because you did something differently that you have never done before.

Which is?

You gave in to him! You had an affair, you depressed! But more important, he surprised you. Didn’t he?

Yeah he did, I thought he would end the marriage as much as I thought he wanted to.

What made you think that?

Well I thought he was as miserable as I am. I turn him down a lot; I criticized him all the time. But since your session with him he’s talking to me more and I know he listened to you because he explained to me that when I criticize him like I do I sent him the message I don’t love him and therefore he tries to do what most men do – have sex to reconnect. He said it really hurts him when I criticize him and if I have sex with him there is still hope.

Do you think he’s right?

You mean do I think you’re right?

No! He’s the one that gave you that information; I’m not your husband. How I think or not doesn’t impact your marriage.

How do I know this is genuine?

You don’t, you have to find out. Your marriage can be saved if you are willing to start caring less about what he or you want and more about what is best for your marriage, your relationship.

Yes I guess our relationship is real … too right.

Yes – a living, breathing thing depends on how you treat each other.

I think we need your help!

Sure that’s what I do – deal with people who want out of their self-inflicted misery.

So you think this is self-inflicted.

Yes. All throughout history human beings refuse to evolve psychologically. We are still in conflict and refuse any other way of living. The world is becoming a more dangerous place.

That seems so sad!

Don’t you feel the sorrow of your life?

Yes I do! Thank you. I must come again.



The Four Premises of External Psychology

November 28, 2008

These four premises or conditions are embedded deep in our personal psychology and are the root cause of conflict and misery within all our relationships.

Premise One
Most people think that when we feel something the source of that feeling is outside ourselves. In our belief system we have been conditioned to think that a stimulus from outside forces us to think, feel or do something. In our language we use phrases like: “You make me so mad!”, “You hurt my feelings!”, “You pushed my buttons!” or “You make me angry!”. This first premise gets practiced the most when we take information personally. We seem to do this more when we are under pressure.

Premise Two
This premise is practiced when we don’t feel good and we blame that feeling on someone or something outside of ourselves. So people will say something like this: “I don’t feel good and it’s your fault”. These people are blamers.

Premise Three
In the third premise people often use language like, “Not only do I not feel good but I know how you should change”. This behavior is about taking one’s unhappiness and trying to change other people or other situations rather than change.

Premise Four
Premise four is practiced when, as we mature in our lives, we gather a sense of what we know is best for us. Then we get this tremendous insight that begins to be practiced in our relationships which is this: “Not only do I know what’s best for me, I also know what’s best for you”. Or, simply put, I know what’s best for everyone else. When this happens this is one of the greatest sources of human misery within a relationship. Knowing what one is best for people immediately creates disconnection. especially with teenagers.

I believe that anyone can take any relationship in their life that they are having problems in and see one or more of these premises being practiced. These premises are practiced in many sophisticated ways in our behaviors. Here are some of the ways that they are practiced:

Habit One
The most damaging habit of all is the habit of criticism. If you want to make your relationship better with anyone, stop criticizing.

Habit Two
The next habit that destroys relationship is humiliating people to control them. I think this speaks for itself.

Habit Three
The third habit is blaming other people for one’s mood. Often people that practice this habit are faultfinders.

Habit Four
The fourth habit is the habit of complaining. People love to complain to avoid self-evaluation.

Habit Five
The fifth habit is nagging. No one ever likes to be nagged about anything. Do it and it destroys connection.

Habit Six
The sixth habit is the silent treatment, which is not to be mistaken for planned ignoring. The silent treatment is the behavior that someone does in order to gain control of the situation and punish.

Habit Seven
Habit number seven is a combination of punishing and rewarding behavior. People often like the rewards but hate the rewarder. If punishments worked in deterring people’s behaviors our criminal institutions would be empty.

Habit eight
The eighth habit is the habit of guilting people. Guilting people into doing what you want them to do is manipulation. No one likes to be manipulated.

I’m stopping here although there are many more of these external control habits that we practice in our relationships. You only have to examine what you’re doing under pressure to reveal more ineffective behavioral choices you make. Good luck with that!

Coach bri

Students At Risk

October 7, 2008

I recently spent the three days at one of the local high schools in my county dealing with at-risk students. I am always amazed at how these students respond to straight up communication and no games. One of the elements of dealing with students at risk is that they have a great bullshit monitor. As soon as they hear it, they know it!

I am often asked by teachers, “What are some of the things that I can do to continue what you’re doing in my class?” This is a very difficult question to answer because they’re not me and I’m not them. But what each teacher has to do is to remove all coercion from the classroom. The emphasis of the teacher must be on building a comfortable environment and a healthy relationship with the students. At-risk students are at risk students because of unmet needs in their life. The unmet needs that they have experienced (which most are unaware of) flow out of the poor relationships in their lives with their parents and other adults. If you come from a family where mom and dad who didn’t have good parenting skills (for those lucky enough to have a mom and dad), then this sets the ground for trouble.

Many at-risk youth that I deal with are disconnected from the thoughts, feelings and behaviors in their relationships. Often the behaviors they use as a defense are the same ones practiced by their parents because of their ineffective relationships with their children. You often hear these students say that they are picked on; this sense of being picked on comes from a perception that the world is a hostile place. Because of this sense of hostility, they are just trying to survive and therefore are not really accountable for their behavior. The second defense used by kids is often blame. Blame is used so that a person doesn’t have to be responsible for their actions. Another popular defense mechanism for youth at-risk is criticism. Criticizing as a behavior gives the person using the behavior a chance to feel that they have some power in that situation. Therefore many at-risk students use criticism as a way of hurting others to protect themselves. Really it is the idea that “I will get you before you get me”. Another defense is the defense of the victim. Here the student uses what he does as a tool of revenge to justify his behavior. Keeping it as a justification prevents the person from self-evaluating their destructive behavior. Another defense these at risk students use is denial. This behavior is very difficult to deal with because it doesn’t allow the teacher to process with the student their involvement in the present situation. This prevents the setting of limits needed to keep everybody safe. Another tactic used by at risk youth is withdrawal. Here the person totally shuts down and tunes out and uses their tuning out to avoid the chance of looking at behavioral change or choices within a situation.

These disconnected students practice these external control behaviors and are masters at it. As a matter of fact, they’re so good at it it takes enormous strength and courage to deal with these behaviors in a group setting. All of these behaviors set up by at risk student to engage the teacher in a power struggle. If this is accomplished, conflict will be produced as well as the confirmation that all adults are useless. Teachers need to understand that these troubled students are experts at what they do. By perpetuating disconnected relationships, both the teacher and the student do not have to self-evaluate and look at the choices they are making in the relationship together to get along. What really is happening in the situation of conflict is people have moved away from behaviors that meet their needs. Conflict quickly comes to an end when one person gives up the fight and puts the relationship ahead of the conflict. To become emotional in a situation with a student renders the teacher helpless because they soon become part of the problem.

External control psychology practiced by students in a classroom has four basic premises. The first premise is reacting to information and convincing them that they have no choice. The second premise is when things go wrong, blame others for the miserable way they feel in the learning environment. The third is trying to change the learning environment so that success or ineffectiveness is not tied to the choices that the student is making but rather how the environment isn’t changing for the student. The fourth premise is worked out in the classroom when the teacher tries to use coercion, to tell the student that the teacher knows what’s best for them. The student practices back this fourth premise by trying to convince the teacher that what they’re teaching is useless to them and, more importantly, not worth knowing. When any of these four premises are practiced in the classroom (and I believe many times they are), the environment becomes a battleground. Teachers spend most of their time trying to put out fires in relationships and less time teaching.

What I was discussing was violence at school and we discussed the latest shooting in Finland, I asked the class how they felt about it. One young man replied he thought the whole thing was hysterical. He was quickly challenged by his peers and criticized heavily for saying what he said. This disconnected youth was a master at setting up conflicts within the classroom as a means to satisfy his need for power. Not taking the information personally, I asked this student to describe to me what was hysterical about the situation. As soon as he had the floor he used the behavior of withdrawing to set up the next power struggle. When the youth saw that I was interested in what he thought because he thought it and wasn’t interested in criticizing him for what he thought, he had a difficulty dealing with the information. He didn’t know where to go from there. In that situation I rescued the student by saying that in this classroom you can think what you want to think and say what you want to say. I also stated that I’m interested in how you think and also how you feel and whenever you want to share, please feel free to do so.

As I said earlier, these at-risk youth are way better at disconnecting then we are at connecting and that’s what the problem is. My advice to any teacher is to always ind new and better ways to connect with the student. Remove all external psychology from the classroom and create an atmosphere to satisfy the needs. And show kindness and compassion in the most difficult times. At the same time, let the student know what you stand for as a person and what you’re willing to live with, what you’re going to ask them to do and what you will not ask them to do. This is setting limits and boundaries for students. Structure allows the student to find themselves in the classroom, as long as the relationship comes first and the structure second.

Coach bri