I have been really lucky over the course of my therapeutic career to have been exposed and had access to some of the top teachers and therapists in the world. There have been numerous local and international teachers that have so generously shared their knowledge and stories with me, without asking anything in return. And in them doing so they have developed and guided my life’s creative expression.
I had a a teacher out this past weekend, to teach a course in Johannesburg, and as we chatted on our way to the airport, I asked him if he understood the concept of “the power of proximity”. I explained that learning new information is great but being around experienced therapists is where the real power of learning lies. He understood the concept and it was something that was first explained to me when I attended a conference in Croatia a few years back. A mentor explained that my clinic work would grow exponentially because I was spending a week with some of the best practitioners in the world. Not in a knowledge sense, of course I would be learning new techniques and ideas but just being around these people would create growth for me. It was a a concept I could accept but only when I got back and it played out in my life, did I really begin to understand it’s power.
I recently had a conversation in clinic with a client who explained that information and knowledge can inform people but only other people can help you transform. And so it got me thinking that our stories and human connection are what create change for people, not the information we are bombarded with daily. Culture of tribes has been passed down through history through myth, story and dance. People are not influenced by what we say but rather what we do. The subtle actions and behaviors are what really change people. We do as people do, not as they say😁
Our personalities, behaviors and preferences are all formed through the power of proximity before the age of seven. We have what’s called mirror neurons in our brains. These neurons allow us to learn through imitation. They allow us to reflect body language, emotions and behaviors. They are an essential part of our social life, relationships as well as development. We learn through what we observe and experience, not what we are told.
As children we spoke the language of energy before we learnt the semantics of speech. We were, through mirror neurons, reflecting back to the people around us the sensory information of our environment through our behavior. Our children do it today and until the AI machines take over it will probably continue to be part of our human development.
You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. The power of proximity. It has applications to just about any aspect of human development. Raising kids, overcoming addiction, destructive personal behavior, learning, success, failure, all of these are influenced by our interactions with the people and environment around us. To steal a few lines from my gran, you are the company you keep, birds of a feather flock together and you will be tarred with the same brush as the people around you. The power of proximity.