Needing vs What It Takes: Insights from Experimenting with Extraordinary Partnership

Nicole Hartley Bradford
8 min readNov 23, 2021


I have learned a lot about what it takes to create extraordinary, evolutionary partnership from inadvertently doing what prevents it from happening.

My 11 year marriage ended in a train wreck of chilling proportions. As I lay metaphorically bleeding in the aftermath, I vowed that I would make sure to heal and learn all there was to heal and learn from, so as to do my darndest to make up for the pain and agony happening.

I have been a slow learner. I can, however, claim to have been a thorough learner.

There is a lot to learn about creating extraoridinary partnership. More than most books and articles in Modern Culture even begin touch on. (I know! I have read heaps of them!)

By now, partnership has now become a rapid learning enviroment for me. For this I have my characteristic determination to thank, and the distinctions, tools, maps and processes of Possibility Management (PM). It took one to find the other!

One PM map is, in fact, named the Map of Pressure Rapid Learning. This Map describes how the Universe, through people or happenings, gives constant and reliable feedback. Feedback can have the effect of putting us in “the Swamp” where we can become stuck in blame, fault finding, victim stories, and self pity. I know the Swamp well, having spent a great part of my life in it.

The upside is: I know the Swamp well! I have the energetic distinction of what it is to be in the Swamp, and what it is to NOT be in it. For anyone reading who is relating to the “problem” of ending up in the Swamp a lot, take heart, you are getting essential information from your experiences there.

Once one has felt enough pain from being in the Swamp, a decision tends to arise to get serious about getting out, and damn well staying out. Or at lease to get better at getting out!

The Map of Rapid Learning uses the distinction BEEP! to denote feedback. The possibility is to learn to take BEEP!s and use them to create a SHIFTs. And then: GO!

GO! denotes the beginning of the Map, since if one is alive, one is still going: there is still chance to get feedback from the Universe! Sometimes feedback is ‘more GO’, as you apply the wisdom of having made many SHIFTs, and you get rolling.

this map is generously available copy left from Clinton Callahan and Possibility Management

Conscious awareness is built through experience, through building what’s called (using another PM distinction), Matrix. Matrix is the stuff upon which consciousness is draped. Matrix is made of distinctions, of clarity, of having noticed, experientially, that This is not That, and vice versa.

All my distastrous partnership experiences gave me a lot of clarity. This was not that, that being extraordinary partnership. Of course it was easiest for me to notice when it was my partner who was not doing, saying, relating in ways condusive to extrarodinary partnership! It was a turning point day when I became determined to be the source of change for my own life, and began to seriously focus on how I was not creating partnership.

Still, it took a while to curb my Swamp-landing ways, and become a person who welcomes, even asks for feedback.

Modern Culture entrains kids in families and schools everywhere to become feedback-adverse. I have a personal theory that when pain from feedback happens, a child’s natural capacity to unconsciously notice that the feedback could have been delivered else wise creates a certain kind of experience that takes healing to recover from.

Without clean and ongoing feedback and coaching that lands into a child’s natural capacity, children unconsciously develop strategies to survive and make life bearable.

Acting is my main Survival Strategy. As a grown person, though, acting as if I am okay, as if I know what is happening, as if I am an adult rather than a sad, scared child or an angry adolescent inside, is how I ended up avoiding being authentically in contact with life, and with others. This was how I made extraordinary partnership impossible for myself. The pain of this is how I became determined to change.

It would be easy (and common) to put things in terms of ‘needing to change’.

That I ‘needed’ to learn, I ‘needed’ to take responsibility, I ‘needed’ to feel the pain enough to want to change and take responsibility.

I am not saying these things are not true, but what I want to say is that saying them didn’t really work. It was more child acting!

What it took was what it took.

What it took was wanting to take responsibility. What it took was wanting to feel the pain and wanting to say, “ENOUGH! I am taking back my life!”

What it took was a shift from ‘needing’ to ‘wanting’.

As long as I ‘needed’ love, I could not become the source of it.

As long as I ‘needed’ support, I couldn’t become empowered to create it.

What it took for me to make the shift was anger.

I needed my anger.

Once I saw that I needed my anger, I wanted it.

It might seem strange to speak as if I ‘did not have’ my anger.

Clearly anger had been happening in my life, this was why the train wreck had occurred. I had exploded on more than one occasion, like a volcano.

But in a way, it happened because I did NOT have my anger. At least not consciously.

I had been on the Old Map of Anger, where anger is bad and wrong, where anger means you are crazy, uncivilized, probably stupid, a danger and not okay.

The shift to the New Map of Anger occurred for me in a few ways. I read Clinton Callahan’s book, Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings, and participated in Rage Clubs with Amanda Killen and Scott East. I was so hooked that I trained to hold space for Rage Club myself with Anne-Chloe Destremau. I am so turned on to do this work, and I think you might be picking up on why that might be so.

My Rage gave me energy for life and clarity. Being able to use it at low levels of intensity to handle things, to say ‘stop’, ‘wait’, and ‘no’, meant that circumstances (and anger) no longer build up like they used to. No more surprise volcanos.

I almost wrote, “no more volcanoes” there, but had to add the “surprise” part because it would be misleading to give the impression that high intensity anger doesn't happen any more.

It does.

As Dragon Speaking, for one.

My favourite passage from the Rage Club Handbook goes like this:

“We are doing Rage Club ​so that the dreams in us, the visions, the projects, and the inner motivations, can erupt into aliveness. Rage Club empowers us and helps us learn to remove blocks, reorganize the Box, and hooks us into an inexhaustible energy loop for being our Destiny in action.”

Sometimes my inner motivations erupt into aliveness, like a beautiful and extraordinary volcano, hurting no one, (including myself), part of the evolution happening on Earth.

They say that “Hell hath no wrath like a woman scorned” and I have lived that.

I am sure glad to now be living out, “Earth hath no wrath like a woman jacked-in to her Destiny.”

I’ve matured as a force of nature.

I no longer need a partner. Not to save me, not to complete me nor to make my life extraordinary.

But I sure as Hell want one!

I see that I am moving in ways that bring me encounters with different kinds of men. And I am having different kinds of encounters with men I have long known, respected and appreciated.

In the past, I engaged with such men from a place of need. Unconsciously and sometimes semi-consciously, I pulled on them, manipulated them, using my ‘womanly wiles’ to try to get what I needed. Often while simultaneously acting like I didn’t need anyone!

This needy part of me was immature. The neediness came from incomplete childhood experiences, from parts of me that hadn't yet got what it took to grow up. Including the part that would say, “I can do it MYSELF!”

In the last 20 moths, I figure I have done something like 120 Emotional Healing Process (EHP), resulting in some significant inner growing up. EHP’s use Vaccuum Rapid Learning, which includes opening space for a person to use anger consciously. Emotional anger can be used as a dooorway to a process, and during processes becomes a source of information and energy. This makes it possible for new decisions to be made, and thus old, unconscious decisions, discovered under layers of old emotion, become options rather than being what is driving behaviour.

Once old emotional anger has served its purpose, it goes away, never to fuel a surprise volcano again.

I’m not saying I’ll never have a surpsire volcano occurance ever again but the chances sure are reduced! Emotional Healing Processes have become a part of my everyday life. Not because I need them. I want them!

What this means for my partnerships, I trust you can imagine.

Not just my romantic partnerships.

My relationships with my friends and with my family can now become partnerships. Partnerships about creating extraordinary adventures, high level fun work and life-changing discovery.

I can even have partnership with a stranger that last only minutes, as we collaborate to accomplish a mission as simple as me using some low level anger to ask for directions (who doesn't feel a bit angry when they don't know their way to a place they want to go?!) I don't need directions, I could figure things out, eventually, myself, but I want them! A bit of anger alongside some joy of collaboration brings an aliveness to everyone involved.

As I continue to experiment with creating alive and extraordinary partnership, my needy child ego state behaviours become possibilities I can consciously choose to employ, rather than continuing as old patterns of behaviour and self identity I so often used to slide into. These old pathways were, I can see in retrospect, mudlside entry points into the Swamp.

As my inner child continues to mature, and become distinct from my adult ego state, I find more joy than I’d have ever thought possible about asking for and receiving feedback.

What might be possible for YOU?


Love, Nicole

PS If you have any feedabck for me about this article, I would love to hear it. You can say something like, “What worked for me was…; what didn’t work was….; as a next step, you could try…..!” You can email me at



Nicole Hartley Bradford

Nicole is a catalyst on the “Help Gaia’s Risky Human Experiment Succeed” Team.