A Problem Shared

Saturday 19 May, 2001

The men’s group started with a look at the games we have been playing. I concentrated on my exchange with Aubrey from yesterday morning. Talking about it, initially with Sunil and then with the group, allowed my worries to resurface about the fact that I had not been straight with Aubrey. These were to stay with me for most of the day as I remained subdued and quiet.

Together with the feedback from the group the following issues arose:

  • I still have a problem with Aubrey’s generosity.
  • I created confusion with mixed messages.
  • I expect people to read my mind.
  • I am playing the role of victim and looking to Aubrey to rescue me.
  • I have a problem with being rejected – if I ask a straight question I am worried he will say ‘no’, and if he does, I take it personally.
  • Be straight with people – be a man.

There were instances now and again, throughout the day, where my mind produced the scenario of Aubrey wanting me out of the house because I couldn’t be straight with him. I did not raise this with the group because I considered it to be pathetic and I imagined that the response of the others would be exasperation and ultimate rescue through reassurance which, I felt, would make me feel worse. This is a vitally important lesson to learn and one which cannot be overemphasised – DON’T KEEP THINGS TO MYSELF. I eventually raised it, only because Karaj asked me how I was feeling, and we talked about it. He told me that by keeping things to myself I am insulting the group by assuming they cannot help me.

Three Simple Rules

Leon talked about his girlfriend. She wants total devotion and, after only a few weeks, is serious about their relationship. As with any scenario it is important to recognise the process and be able to predict what will happen. Initially, he will give her what she wants, but as she demands more and more of his time he will become resentful and the relationship will flounder. What can he do in order to set out his boundaries and get the message across in a way which will not be harmful to the relationship? There are three things he has to do:

  • Write things down – in order to be clear in his own mind
  • Verbalise – communicate his boundaries
  • Negotiate – talk about how they can work together

This is not just relevant to personal relationships – it is the way forward in any situation. Therefore, I need to be clear about my goals and my boundaries and once I am, I can be straight and communicate them to those who need to know. After this we can negotiate in an adult fashion and ultimately create a win-win situation. That way people then have the choice to be with me or not, but I will not deviate from who I am.

Raise Your Issues

After lunch we sat outside and Calvin managed to bring himself to mention two work issues which needed dealing with – an appraisal and an induction program. Karaj reinforced a common message that if we have issues, no matter what we may think about them and the group’s ability to help us, we need to raise them. Calvin needed to leave the group early to pick up his kids so time was of the essence. Karaj gave us all an hour to come up with an induction plan for Calvin for his new colleague’s arrival on Monday morning – we did it in 20 minutes.

Moving inside, Leon took charge of the flip chart and wrote down everything people said to him in a 10-minute brainstorming session. As he wrote I typed the points into the computer and after we had checked everything off Leon’s list, Calvin and I sat and tidied it all up. It was a very dynamic and enjoyable piece of work. Not just for me but for all concerned. Calvin expressed surprise and gratitude that we had helped him out. The thing is, it had cost us nothing, we all enjoyed ourselves and together we had helped to make Calvin’s life easier – that is the essence of what happens when we raise issues in the group. This is a big lesson for me – raise my issues, verbalise my feelings and they will be dealt with to the benefit of myself and all others in the group.

A Sad Situation

Another group member raised the issue of his divorce – whether to sell the house or hand it over to his wife for the sake of his children’s stability. As he talked the atmosphere in the room went down and Karaj sent us out to do some exercises in order to wake up again. We returned and resumed the discussion, only for the energy in the room to once again fade away. Karaj sent us out again to work out why. We spent 30 mins trying to figure it out but in the end Karaj had to tell us. The person was (and is) like a helpless child with his divorce issue. We are looking on, seeing and feeling his pain and we are, in turn, also helpless. There is nothing we can do for him. It is a sad situation but, just as any child suffers pain and heartache whilst growing up, he has to go through it. We can support him but we cannot take away his pain.

Learning Points

After such a serious issue Sunil and George were dispatched to purchase a dart board so that we could have some fun. We played darts until the sun went down. The lessons which emerged from the fun we had were:

  • I can forget my worries when I have something to focus on.
  • When I am defocused I need to focus on something.
  • Don’t show off, don’t get cocky.

At the end of the session Karaj made some very important comments to me about my need to raise and verbalise things quickly.

  • Don’t wait for people to guess what I want
  • Other people (in the group) don’t have my script and, therefore, don’t have the same thoughts about my issues – so they can help me
  • I have come to work with Karaj because I want things to move quickly
  • I have no time to waste – I need to get myself sorted quickly – so, raise things immediately
  • The others in the group, because of my association with Karaj, look to me for help
  • They need me to be on form

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