Our conversation today is about dysfunctional relationships. It’s about self sabotage and living with faulty relationship models that lead to unhealthy connections. It is why the world is filled with so many psychopaths and narcissists. But bear with me, this story does have a happy ending.

Unfocused & Unsupported

Growing up my guest, John Kenny had no idea what he wanted to be or do. The careers support in school was not very helpful and there was very little life guidance or support at home. No one was to blame for this, it is just how it was for many families growing up in 1970’s Britain. John’s parents did their best, but they had a lot of unresolved issues of their own and did not have the life tools to support themselves let alone their children. Consequently John left school without much direction.

That said, he did have one passion, Athletics, and he was good at it. 

“At 16 I discovered athletics and I wanted to become a full time athlete. I ended up running for Great Britain as a sprinter.”

So upon leaving school, athletics seemed like the best route and it led to a ten year career that included competing at international level. His events were the 100m and 200m and the 4×4 relay. His best time being 10.4 seconds in the 100m. (If you are not a runner, I can tell you that this is bloody fast.)

Sadly UK Sports of that time was not there for him. Things have changed now, but in the 80’s there was no support or funding and you had to work to earn a living whilst training. Added to this John had a poor self image and constant self doubt. He would not allow himself to be successful and would sabotage with drink, women and clubbing.

“When I was focused and running well. I would then do something that would sabotage my own success. That has carried on until a few years ago to be honest.”

The Lure of Foreign Lands

While on holiday in Australia, John decided he would like to live there. But to get there he needed a VISA and a professional skill. Athletics did not meet the mark, so he sold his flat, packed in his job and enrolled into University with a plan to become a teacher. But once at Uni, he discovered he did not like teaching, but did enjoy psychology and counselling. He looked to see if he could transfer, but that was not an option.

It was then that his brother suggested the fire service was another route to the Australian Visa. So he joined the London Fire brigade. But for a sensitive guy with self image problems, this was always going to be a difficult environment for him. 

“There are a lot of strong characters, people fighting for dominance, lots of male energy, one-upmanship and tricking each other.” 

Whilst he enjoyed driving the Fire Engine, this clearly wasn’t the place he wanted to be. Which was just as well as Australia changed the rules and Firefighters were dropped from the visa list.

On considering his next options John’s interest in psychology and counselling re-surfaced and he started training in this area, whilst continuing to work in the fire service. The skills he learned helped him find resources to deal with his dysfunctional working environment and he ended up staying in the job for 12 years. 

Shifting Perspective

Once his therapist training was complete he started a private counselling practice and later became a full time counsellor for the NHS. But even with all that training and working in a job he was passionate about he could not find happiness. It was a life coach that woke him up to the reality of his life. John finally realised his life had been defined by toxic relationships and abuse, and he was living these patterns on repeat.

“I spent my whole life dating my Dad, and ended up marrying my Mum”

John recognised that he was repeating the relationships he had with his parents in the women he was choosing to date and eventually marry. This revelation has enabled him to turn his life around.

Our conversation looks at attachment styles, and how we build meaningful relationships. When you realise that research indicates 40% of the world have an insecure attachment style caused by circumstance and trauma, it is not surprising that relationships are difficult and the chances are you are in the 40% that are struggling or in the 60% learning how to deal with them.

Finding The Right Niche

John’s is a fascinating journey. He had a habit of picking the dysfunctional relationships that fitted his own picture of himself, and once he was able to rewrite that picture, his life began to work differently.

Today John is a relationship coach, fusing together his life experience, counselling, coaching and NLP skills to create his own coaching model (IRC) for relationships. He is passionate about this work, it feeds his soul.

“I love it. It is my passion to understand people and to help people to understand themselves and others so they can live the kind of life they choose.”  

He has written a book “The P.E.O.P.L.E. Programme” through this was invited to film a documentary and recently launched a podcast The Relationship Guy.

I enjoyed this conversation with John Kenny and we did well to contain it within the time, I hope you discover something useful by it and if you are interested in working with John or finding out more about him, all the usual links are available below. 

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