This week I interview Dr Jack Pransky who is the author of several books including “Parenting from the Heart” and “Somebody Should Have Told Us”.
As well as discussing Jack’s background experiences to date, we cover:
– What the “inside out” vs “outside in” views of reality mean when applied to relationships
– Thoughts vs the power to have thoughts
– What is the true cause of our feelings of our partners
– How to weatherproof your relationship
– How to tell the difference between wisdom and a negative thought
– Where self-esteem comes from and it’s relationship to jealousy
You can contact Jack and find out more about him via his website – http://healthrealize.com/
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Full Transcript (Transcribed by Steve Fullerton):
>>ANKUSH: Welcome to episode twenty three of the Relationship Series. This week I’m joined by Dr Jack Pransky, who’s the founder and director of The Center for Inside Out Understanding. He’s the author of several books including ‘Parenting from the Heart’ and ‘Somebody Should Have Told Us’. And his book ‘Mordello’ received a Martin Luther King Storytellers Award for the book best exemplifying King’s vision of the beloved community. And in 2004, Jack won the Vermont Prevention Pioneers award. He’s been working (in) the field of prevention since 1968 so he’s got a huge, huge amount of experience and I’m really looking forward to interviewing him. So welcome Jack, glad to have you with us.
>>JACK: It’s a pleasure to be here.
>>ANKUSH: So Jack, some of the people I interview, I know personally and some we kind of meet through this series. You’re someone I’ve met through this series which is great cause I’m really curious to know more about you but could you give myself and the listeners a little bit of an overview of, you know, what you’ve been doing since 1968 in the world of prevention? And I guess what’s… what’s lead you to write these books and be… I guess a leader in the State of Mind field and an expert in that field?
>>JACK: Well its interesting because, I… I got into prevention originally through the… In the United States we have this thing called VISTA which is Volunteers in Service to America and it’s like the Peace Corps except within the United States. And what I was doing at that time was I got trained as a Community Organiser. And I didn’t realise at the time that I was in the field of prevention because there really wasn’t a field called prevention way back in 1968. But when we’re talking about prevention, we’re talking about the prevention of all kinds of bad things, such as delinquency. And alcohol & drug abuse. And child abuse. And neglect. And teenage pregnancy. And sexual abuse. And, you know, anything that people would like to prevent. So I worked in all those different fields in prevention. And I had gotten to the point that I got to be fairly well known in the field. I wrote a book about it called ‘Prevention the Critical Need’. And just as that book was about to go to press, I was invited to a conference that a fella named Roger Mills was the keynote speaker at. And I was immediately suspicious because I had just spent three years researching what worked in prevention and I had never heard of this guy. But he was talking about these amazing results that he had gotten in the Mordello and Homestead Gardens Housing Projects where he totally turned the place around using an approach that was pretty much backwards to everything that the rest of the field was talking about. So I was kind of curious and you couldn’t really turn away from the results that he was talking about because they were so incredible. But it wasn’t until two women that he brought with him from the housing projects got up to speak about the changes that happened in their lives that I got totally intrigued because these women, you could tell. They were, you know, involved in some very serious difficulties. And you could tell that their lives had changed so much that they would never be the same. They would never turn back. And.. yet the way that Roger Mills approached it was from the inside out. And everything else from the field of prevention that I knew was from the outside in. And so I ended up asking him if I could squeeze in a little something about this approach into the book. And then I just started studying it. And I went down to the Modello Housing Project and started writing a book about that, about the changes that had happened there. And in trying to figure out what was going on because I was really just trying to be an investigative reporter. I really got touched myself so my own life started to improve. And this wasn’t supposed to happen to me because I wasn’t looking for that. But my relationships got better, I was working with less stress in my life. It, just, everything was better. And so I was hooked.
>>ANKUSH: Thanks for that Jack and I’m just smiling because, not the same story, but I can relate to what you said about not looking for it and then your life starting to change because I felt exactly the same just a few years ago when I first came across this. And … how this is so radically different to everything I’d discovered in the field of self-help and personal growth.
>>JACK: Yeah, and it’s so amazing when that kind of thing happens when people aren’t looking for it because it just means that some truth resonates with us. And you can’t turn away from it when you hear the truth. The truth of how things work, how things really work. Like how our experience of life really gets created from the inside out instead of the way it looks, which is things happening to us in the world and we get effected by it, when we find out that isn’t the way it is at all. It’s always our thinking about whatever happens to us in the world and how that combines with consciousness to give us whatever experience we have of it. That’s what makes us have different experiences, our own thinking. It’s very humbling actually.
>>ANKUSH: You talked a little bit there and you mentioned previously as well this is an inside out approach as opposed to everything else being outside in. For someone who’s listening to this that has not come across that terminology who doesn’t know what that means, what would you describe or how would you describe what inside out is? What does that really mean?
>>JACK: Well inside out means two things to me. It, it… the first thing it means is that we have something within us that one could call our pure essence of our being. Or our spiritual essence, our pure consciousness… our…, It’s kind of indescribable, whatever the life-force is within us that comes to manifest in us. And that has certain qualities. It’s pure peace of mind, it’s pure love and it’s the pure incubator you could say of wisdom bubbling up from nothing, like from out of the blue. And so that’s what’s inside and the idea is for that to come out for everybody to see. Because that’s our true self you could say. Now, the only reason that it isn’t out there for everybody to see is because we use our creative power of thought to come up with thoughts that our consciousness then picks up. That…. inadvertently cover up or obscure this … pure health. Sometime we call it Innate Health. And… it’s very amazing to me that we are already everything that we’re looking for in life, but for our own thinking. And we’re the ones that have created it, created thinking that keeps us from knowing that we are this pure essence. So for example, in a relationship because this is about relationships, we think that our partner, our spouse, is …. driving us crazy, when it’s really our own creative power of thought that is taking a look at what our partner is doing and our own thinking is what’s driving us crazy. It’s not what that person is doing, it’s our own thinking and that’s the other aspect of the inside out world. We are the creators. Our feelings of … irritation, our bother, our worry, our… depression, anything that we feel in a relationship does not come from the other person, it comes from us, from inside of us, from what we happen to think about the other person. That’s what creates our feelings and ultimately creates what happens within a relationship.
>>ANKUSH: So the question I often get asked by people I speak to or by my clients at least at the start is, “But don’t other people”, if we’re talking about relationships for example, “Don’t other people impact how we think, don’t they impact our thinking about them”?
>>JACK: Well there is stuff that happens in the outside world and certainly our partner, our spouse is in the outside world. But we would never, we can never take the outside world into us purely. We can never take our partner our spouse into us purely. It is always filtered by our own thinking. So we never get a pure experience of our partner. We get an experience of what we think about our partner in any moment or what we think our partner is doing or what we think our partner is up to. That’s the experience we get of our partner.
>>ANKUSH: One thing I wanted to ask you is that you mentioned earlier on about this spiritual essence. And then you talked about thought which is to me psychology. And, how do you see spirituality and psychology coming together in what you help people with and what you teach?
>>JACK: Well thought might be psychology, our thoughts might be psychology but the power of us to have thought is spiritual. And it’s both spiritual and psychology, it’s the combination of the two of them. And, you know, this is our creative gift that we have. I, when I was touring through Europe last year, it occurred to me as I was standing in this amazing museum in Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum or something like that… that with these incredible paintings that these masters where… had created, that every single one of those paintings started with a blank canvas. And it was their creative power of thought that ended up creating what came out on that canvas. And that’s really the same thing with all of our lives. Like we are standing there with all possibilities before us. And we come along with our creative power of thought and come up with thoughts about the world and about ourselves and about our partners… and we inadvertently create what our lives become with our power of thought. So there’s nothing more spiritual than that. To me anyway.
>>ANKUSH: Yeah, I love that and that’s something I’ve been exploring myself recently is the connection and I’m seeing that more clearly between what some people would call the spiritual world and some people call the psychological world. And I don’t see any other… apart from the group of people I’m interviewing in this community talking about the two relating; they seem to be very separate elsewhere.
>>JACK: Just let me say something about that, like, you know there’s a lot of different schools of psychology. You know, some schools of psychology look back into the past, you know, and say that the past is the cause of problems. And some schools of psychology look very closely at behaviour, and you know, behaviour is everything. And some schools of psychology look at feelings and think feelings are everything. And some people or some schools of psychology look at thoughts and try to change thoughts. And none of that is what we call the Three Principles which is the inside out understanding that I’m talking about, is all about. The Three Principles are Universal Mind, Consciousness and Thought and its how they work together to create everything that we experience in life. So we’re looking beyond thoughts to this great power behind it. And to the pure essence behind that even that comes to us from Universal Mind coming into our pure consciousness. And then getting as I said before getting covered up or obscured by the way we use our power of thought, and that’s, that’s our experience of life. Anything that we can experience in life, that’s a fact, the same thing happens. We look at something in life, we get a thought about it, that thought combines with our consciousness and gives us a real feeling. Like we, a feeling so real that we would absolutely swear that’s real. And of out that, we behave (in a certain way). So out of that we think, feel and act and how we see it is ultimately, like in a relationship for example. How we see our partner is much more important than what we do with our partner. Because what however we see our partner that’s the feeling we’re gonna get. And that’s the experience we’re going to have of our partner. And what we do will come naturally out of that.
>>ANKUSH: That’s pretty profound.
>>JACK: I.. yeah it’s beyond me, it really is beyond me.
>>ANKUSH: I was reading your book today and I… one of your early chapters, I was quite struck by a story that you shared about a woman who was having an affair. And, and something that really struck was that you said in this story to this lady that “Do you want happiness or peace of mind?” And that was… that was… it struck me because it was different… because a lot of people talk about happiness and they just look for happiness. And what I heard was you were drawing a distinction between pleasure, desire and peace of mind. I wondered if you could talk about that in the context of relationships because I felt that was something really quite interesting to talk about today.
>>JACK: You know, it’s very interesting to me, why would we be in a relationship? And we would be… wouldn’t we want to be in a relationship to enhance our lives? As opposed to diminish our lives? Like it doesn’t even make sense to me, to be in a relationship if it’s going to diminish our lives. So… what do people really want? Both for themselves and in a relationship? People really want… to be at peace. Peace is such a… wonderful, incredible feeling. And people want the experience of love. Such an incredible feeling. Anybody who’s fallen in love knows what an incredible feeling love is. So… and, and as I was talking before about our spiritual essence, this is what the two people bring into their relationship. And when people are first getting together, and courting each other and feeling attracted to each other, at first and falling in love with each other. Like all other thoughts are out the window. They don’t even count. It’s just this feeling of love and exhilaration that comes with it. And it feels so good. And people in that state… really feel a feeling of peace. And then what starts to happen is… other thoughts start to creep in. You know, and suddenly we’re… whereas before we were totally open to this partner that, you know, we’re finding and we’re where just… we’re… allowing that inside essence of ourselves to come out toward them. Then other thoughts start creeping in and they create an inadvertent wall between our own essence and the other person’s essence. And suddenly we’re only seeing the wall, instead of what attracted us to each other in the first place and made us fall in love with each other in the first place. So, if we’re seeking anything else but love and peace and a relationship… and I would include happiness in that, we’re seeking happiness, it like, in the realm of peace and love, happiness takes care of itself. It just does, you know we’re much happier when we’re in the realm of peace and love. But there’s a lot of, I guess you could say… false idols of happiness that we can attach ourselves to and it makes it… diminish what pure happiness could be for ourselves.
>>ANKUSH: I’ve got a question from, from Henk whose one of the guys who helps me produce this podcast. And he says “In a relationship, it’s beneficial to know that our feelings have nothing to do with other the person. However who is responsible for that feeling? I can keep the feeling alive so to some extent I see one answer, I am. And he wants to know what your thoughts are on that.
>>JACK: You know it’s so easy to look at the other person and believe that they are the cause of our feelings. It’s like of course they’re the cause of our feelings. You know, they’re doing this, and this, and this, and I don’t like it and so of course I’m going feel bad about that or angry or irritated or concerned or anything like that. But if we really look at it, what they’re doing is just behaviour. Like we’re the ones that come along and take that behaviour, what the other person is doing and make it be something for ourselves. With our own thinking we do this. And, like for example, let’s take a child for example. A child loses himself in play and knocks over something that is very valuable to a parent. And it breaks. What’s that behaviour, what do we see of that behaviour? Do we see a child who’s up to no good or do we see a child who’s well-meaning and doing his best but just got lost in the moment? Now if we see up to no good, we are going to naturally react to the child as if they’re up to no good. That’s what… up to no good gives us a feeling of anger or despair. It’s not like the anger of despair is built into the knocking over the valuable thing. It’s that we have come up with ‘up to no good’, that’s what’s give us the feeling of anger or despair. If we saw well-meaning and doing his best, getting lost in the moment, we’re going to have a completely different feeling in ourselves about that child. So we get a different feeling depending upon how we see it. So if we put that into relationships with partners and spouses, it’s the same exact thing as I talked about with the kids, you know. And So we’re going to get a different feeling based upon not on what the partner is doing but based upon what we think about what the partner is doing. That’s what gives us that different feeling.
>>ANKUSH: Yeah and I know that you share in one of your books the story about exactly this about behaviours with your ex-wife and how you used to get annoyed at each other’s behaviours about cleaning counters and pulling the drain’s drainer out.
>>JACK: Yeah, I mean this is a typical thing in relationships. These little tiny things that… by themselves wouldn’t mean anything. So, so like, I would, in my former relationship, I would do the dishes and I would ignore the counters. Why would I ignore the counters? Because I did not have thinking in my head about cleaning counters. When I grew up I had a job doing the dishes, that was part of my consciousness. I did not have a job cleaning the counters. Cleaning counters was not in my consciousness. And so my ex-wife thought that I was incompetent when it came to cleaning counters. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do them, I even wanted to do them. But they didn’t cross my mind. At the same time when she would do the dishes or clean the sink, she grew up in a family where… everything had to be scoured and spotless. And she knew that she was done when she had taken the drainer, the stopper out of the drain and laid it on its side in the sink. To me that absolutely baffled me because when somebody came along and washed out a dish, all of a sudden the food would end up in the drain instead of in the strainer. So I could not wrap my head around why she wouldn’t put the strainer in the drain. So, she would get irritated at me for the counters, I’d get irritated at her for leaving the stopper out of the drain. This happens so often in relationships. Now when I realised the Three Principles, Mind, Consciousness and Thought, I realised, wait a minute, It’s just my thinking about this that is making me feel irritated. If I took a look at what was behind her doing it and knew the story of what made her be that way, all of a sudden I thought it was very cute. I thought it was endearing that she grew up that way and that’s why the stopper ended up in the sink the way that it did, you know. All of a sudden… so the same thing was happening but I was not irritated anymore. I thought, isn’t that interesting? How cute is that? And so that became a non-issue in the relationship. And she eventually caught onto this in terms of me and the counters too and the same thing happened. So two irritants that occurred in the relationship suddenly weren’t there anymore just because we realised different thinking about it. And it wasn’t like we went out of our way to think those different thoughts. It was just like when you open yourself up to the new, it’s new possibilities of thought can occur to you and that can change everything.
>>ANKUSH: Yeah, I can remember going to a seminar years ago before I came to this, this work. And the speaker whose a quite well known speaker said on stage that ‘Isn’t it funny that when we first fall in love with someone that everything seems wonderful and everything they do is endearing and cute and it’s not an issue. And it’s like ‘Oh honey you forgot to take the bins out, that’s okay, I’ll do it. And you‘ll skip gently out the door because you’re in love. And then a few years later it’s like, ‘YOU forgot to take the bins out’ and all of a sudden it’s this whole big issue and the behaviour’s not changed.
>>JACK: That’s right and what’s the difference? Only thought. We are thinking about that person differently than we did when we were falling in love. You know, and… I… my cousin George Pransky talks about this as weatherproofing. What he means is, if you have a draft in your house, like there’s cold air coming into your house. What you do is, you try to plug up the hole. And then you find another cold draft, and you try to plug up that hole, and you find another cold draft and you try to plug up that hole, and you find another cold draft and you try to plug up that hole. And he says the alternative is to put another log on the fire. Like we … to…. not try to fix the other person by plugging up all those holes in their personality or whatever they do but to know what it was that attracted us to that person in the first place. And recognise that, that is still there. It’s still there unless we truly no longer are in love with that person. And if that happens then it would be wisdom that would tell us whether we should still be there or not. But the more that we put another log on the fire in the relationship, the better off that relationship is gonna be instead of trying to fix the other person.
>>ANKUSH: So what’s the difference between wisdom and just thinking which isn’t wisdom?
>>JACK: Well, wisdom. Wisdom always comes to us through new insight. Comes to us from out of the blue. And there’s a knowing attached. So, we have this typical thinking that we bring into a relationship and wisdom comes out of a clear mind. So as long as we have that typical thinking on our minds and kind of like closing in our heads, becomes like a vice grip in our heads, you know, that’s how we are seeing the other person, there’s no wisdom that can come through at that time unless our mind inadvertently scrambles out of nowhere, just automatically suddenly clears, and boom, we get a flash of wisdom from out of nowhere. But it… more… more often than not, when our mind calms down… slows down… is more at peace, there will be more of a tendency to have insights that embody wisdom that come up to us. So if we’ve got a problem in a relationship, we don’t know what to do, it’s the first thing we want to do is admit that we don’t know what to do. So we want to go into I don’t know. Because I don’t know is a great head clearer. Cause up to that point we know something and that knowing is what’s blocking us from seeing new possibilities. And because we know that wisdom is part of our pure essence and comes through us when our mind is clear, the wise thing to do would be to take our problems off of our mind, forget about it, go about our business. And when our mind calms down on its own or clears on its own something will pop up to us about… how this issue can be solved. And that’s how to use wisdom in our relationships.
>>ANKUSH: We’re, we’re fastly approaching time but I want to ask you about self-esteem because again there was a story you shared in your book about a lady who found her self-esteem improved as she started understanding the inside out nature of reality, the inside out nature of life and how that really improved her relationship with her teenager.
>>JACK: Right… you know, the thing about self-esteem is that we don’t have to do anything to try to get it. You know, and… people often think the opposite. You know, we think we have to do something to get self-esteem if we don’t have it. But self-esteem is automatically built into us. It’s part of our essence. It’s who we are. You know, like you don’t see little babies having self-esteem problems. We are born with self-esteem. It’s part of who we are. And people can only have the illusion that we’re losing our self-esteem when we start thinking about ourselves. You know… and suddenly we’re evaluating how we’re doing and it looks like we’re losing our self-esteem. But that’s the only thing getting in our way… of having self-esteem and we can’t lose our self-esteem, it’s impossible to lose our self-esteem. Because it’s so much of a… it is who we are, it’s not part of who we are, it is who we are truly inside. And all we need to do is to get out of its way. Don’t allow our thinking to interfere.
>>ANKUSH: Yeah, that’s pretty incredible and it occurs to me if people just took that from this interview, if they could see that little bit clearer, that would have incredible consequence on their relationships.
>>JACK: Do I have time to say just one more thing… or not?
>>ANKUSH: Yeah, I…, I was just saying, I still wanted to, (ask) realise that we haven’t even asked you about Mordello, I still wanted to squeeze that in before we finish as well, but go ahead.
>>JACK: Well I’ve been thinking about this issue of jealousy lately. Because jealousy is a big thing that crops up in a lot of relationships and it really has to do with self-esteem. You know, it’s like jealousy is one thing that I just don’t grasp. I don’t get it. I… I… I understand how people can be envious of somebody else if they… if they think they’re… you know, somebody else is better looking or has a better body or has more money or… I… I… get how people can see that. But jealousy, it’s like… and not like envy is any good, you know, because its comparison thoughts, its comparison thoughts and that doesn’t do any good. But jealousy, it’s like, as if jealousy is going to change anything, as if jealousy is going to improve anything. Like if our partner starts… becoming at least appears to be interested in somebody else… what are we going to do? Are we going to try to corral that person… set up… what’s the word I want? Rules… tell em they can’t do something? As if that’s going to improve the situation. I mean, I’m of the mind that… if a relationship is meant to be, it’s meant to be. And there isn’t anything that we can do to… you know, except for allow that inner place within us to come out towards the other person. There really isn’t anything that we can do to corral that relationship in, to hold it together, if it is… if, the other person is going off in a different direction. It just doesn’t work, it’s a very pragmatic, it does not work. And people are wasting an awful lot of time and energy and effort. I mean, if that essence of ourselves comes out towards the other person, that’s going to be the best chance of our relationship being great. And them not being interested in anybody else at all. And when we go after somebody for what they’re doing it’s the exact opposite of that. That the difference between envy and jealousy, envy is something you keep within yourself, jealousy is something, like, you trust upon the other person.
>>ANKUSH: That makes a lot of sense. So we are desperately running out of time but I can’t let you go without asking you one question on Mordello. So the brief… the brief understanding that I have is, Modello was a pretty poor and disadvantaged neighbourhood with… it was a bad neighbourhood I think is probably the way to describe it. And Dr Roger Mills who you referred to at the start went in and basically transformed this place pretty remarkably. And we can’t go in depth although how much I’d like to, but could you just give us in your view… what… what was the essence of that? What really created the transformation there?
>>JACK: Because he went in seeing the health of those people. And by him seeing their health, they started to see their health. And they started to see that the only thing keeping them from experiencing it and being stuck in the horrible situations that they were in, was their own thinking. And they ultimately… once their heads got turned around about that, they ended up working together to improve the conditions in the housing project. And that’s why it’s called an inside out approach because it starts inside from people’s spiritual essence, and just seeing what gets in the way, and then before you know it, it has rippled out to effect an entire community. And that’s what happened in Modello.
>>ANKUSH: Thank you, that seems like a beautiful place for us to pause and stop. And I know that we could carry on talking probably for hours more but… thank you very much. If the guys who are listening, guys and girls who want to reach out to you, want to find out more, how might they do that, what’s the best way for them to get hold of you?
>>JACK: Well first they can… the book that you were talking about before Modello was ‘Somebody Should Have Told Us’, and I know it’s self-serving to say this but I would highly recommend that people read that. But people can contact me at my website which is www.healthrealize.com.
>>ANKUSH: Fantastic and I can echo that, great, great book that Dr Pransky has written. So it’s available at Amazon and all good bookshops no doubt. People can get hold of me as usual via my website which is www.ankushjain.co.uk and the links are there to my Facebook and my Twitter are in, you can subscribe to get all the future episodes which are also available on iTunes. So thanks very much again Jack and I’ll speak to the listeners next time.