Peak Living Network

Information about the Denver chapter of the Peak Living Network (PLN)

Introduction

Having recently gone through (and continuing to go through) significant personal turmoil, I'm considering starting up what I would broadly characterize as a "mutual support group". I was inspired by Lundy Bancroft's Peak Living Network, which I learned about from his The Joyous Recovery.

Between 2019 and 2020, I invested heavily in learning more about psychological and emotional well-being for my own healing, and I find myself wanting to share that continuing journey with others. I feel that I have finally gotten to a place of enough stability to start a group.

Lundy Bancroft's PLN provides a good foundation and framework for pursuing this sort of broad goal of support and healing. And while based on and inspired by his work, I wish for my chapter of PLN to incorporate additional related resources and perspectives, providing a holistic context in which mutually consistent principles are applied to different areas of life and examined from different angles. I am interested here in integrating psychology and philosophy, the physiological and the experiential, romance and work, and more.

Activities

I have not yet organized anything. Frankly, despite my attraction to and being energized by exchange of ideas, I'm also going to have to overcome what feels like a lot of introvert inertia. Based on my creating this page, I'll be interested to gauge how much interest there is. If you are interested in my Denver chapter of PLN, please join the PLN Slack Workspace and then join the #group-denver channel.

Note on COVID-19: As we will likely be meeting in my home, I'll be following state, county, and city guidelines on size of gatherings. To ensure comfort and safety of all attendees, masks will be required, unless we are sitting outside and all agree to remove them.

Focus

Constituency

There is no particular "constituency" that I'm targeting. Everybody is welcome. While there are certainly cultural dynamics and specific experiences that may make connection and empathy easier for people who are similarly situated, I'm a firm believer that, while concrete circumstances and challenges may vary, we all have a capacity to understand and relate to one another on a more fundamental level, drawing on deeper aspects of the shared human experience. I do not believe that a straight man cannot understand the challenges more readily affecting a lesbian, nor that a white woman cannot understand the challenges that a black man might face. We are able and responsible for understanding others and to help make ourselves understood.

Issues

Similarly, there are no particular "issues" that I want to focus on. Many of our challenges are variations on a fundamental theme, equipping all of us to mutually support one another through any issue. With that said, a great deal of my own focus recently has been on relationship difficulties, interpersonal dynamics and compassion fatigue, change management, and anxiety and overwhelm generally. In terms of concrete helpfulness, I imagine I can also offer valuable insight into family dynamics and issues specifically confronting gay men.

Perspectives

I'm not sure exactly how to frame this section, but the idea is to give an indication of the different perspectives, angles, and approaches I want to integrate into our work. I'll give an indication of related resources (such as recommended reading/listening/watching) that might serve as the basis for group discussions. The point is that these all provide a wider context, integrating diverse and mutually consistent perspectives.

Statement of Principles

"Reprinted" from The Peak Living Network Statement of Principles:

  1. People have a profound and apparently limitless capacity for emotional healing and well-being. Therefore, we take an orientation toward ourselves and each other that assumes that we can all find ways to make our lives work better and that we will succeed in doing so. We are all healing and growing.
  2. Our potential for healing jumps dramatically when we form supportive relationships and develop a commitment to each other's well-being. Healing is, in some of its most important aspects, a collective process.
  3. We strive to create an atmosphere where people feel free to feel their feelings, talk about them, express them, and release them. We don't try to talk each other out of our feelings or tell people that they are feeling the wrong thing. Feelings are okay.
  4. Crying and laughter are the single most potent healing processes that we have access to. We strive to stop interfering with other people's attempts to cry or laugh, and with our own.
  5. Anything that anyone shares at a Peak Living gathering is to be kept confidential by everyone.
  6. All human beings are of equal value. Therefore, we choose to treat each other with respect at all times, even (or perhaps especially) when we are angry or when we have disagreements or conflicts.
  7. We strive for an orientation toward each other that is kind, loving, and supportive.
  8. People are naturally loving and caring. Our healing processes carry us back toward the people we truly are.
  9. Destructive behavior patterns are signs of things that have gone wrong in a person's life, and signs of a lack of opportunities to heal. As far as we know, no one is inherently bad, lazy, unintelligent, or selfish.
  10. Most of what we are all struggling with emotionally, and in how we treat ourselves, has its roots in trauma.
  11. There is nothing to be gained from blaming people for their own difficulties.
  12. We assume that people are telling the truth about what has happened to them. Our world is rife with mistreatment, so there is no reason to jump to the conclusion that people are exaggerating the wrongs that have they have endured.
  13. People are their own ultimate authorities on what will best help them to heal and move forward at any given time in life. There are many paths to healing, and what works well for one person may not work for another.
  14. Our focus is on providing support, not on trying to solve other people's difficulties or impose our solutions on them. Therefore we keep advice and suggestions to a minimum and make sure that it's wanted before it's given.
  15. Time spent speaking needs to be shared equally. Everyone has the equal right, and the equal need, to be heard. Even when we're in crisis, we need to listen well to others.
  16. Listening well to others not only contributes to the healing of people around us, but is also crucial to our own healing. We work to constantly improve our listening skills.
  17. We strive to think about each other well and to do so all the time.
  18. We take an orientation toward each other that sees each person as smart and capable. Everyone has skills and insights that other people can benefit from, so we need everybody's best thinking to be brought into everything we do.
  19. You have a tremendous amount to offer others. Your love, support, caring, and thinking can make a large difference in people's lives.
  20. We gather for the purpose of supporting each other's healing. It is not acceptable to attend PLN activities toward a goal of finding a dating or sexual partner, networking for your business, or any purpose other than the stated one.
  21. We strive to make sure that all touch and affection between participants occurs awarely, respects boundaries, and is wanted.
  22. Each of us has the capacity to live at a higher level of satisfaction, energy, and connection than we are currently experiencing. To reach for peak living makes sense.

In addition, please be mindful of how your use of language affects your own thinking and feeling, as well as that of others. You may want to consider some of these reframings.