A Missed Opportunity

Saturday 18 August, 2001

I felt very good this morning and on the way to the group I recognised the similar excitable attitude to the last group during which I had become progressively more cocky. This time however I kept control over myself and remained firmly on the ground. Unfortunately, my pride in this achievement sent me back up into the air where I got cocky again. Fortunately Karaj picked me up on it when I asked him for the butter from the fridge.

Got Cocky

He had removed it to defrost the fridge and hadn’t put it back. I started off by explaining my situation: ‘You remember the butter that had been in the fridge…’. Karaj and Sunil both picked me up on this and told me that all I needed to do was ask for some butter. Sunil later said that it had sounded as if I was rescuing Karaj from the start and persecuting him at the same time for not putting the butter back in the fridge. I had just wanted to save time because as I said to Karaj, if I’d have said, ‘Can I have the butter?’ he would have said ‘What butter?’ Karaj told me that with this remark I was being cocky. I felt admonished, but it was then I realised that I need to be constantly vigilant with my attitude. It is not enough to ground myself and be done with it. I must keep a constant eye on myself to ensure that I stay grounded and don’t get excited and cocky.

Missed Opportunity

We started the group with the project surrounding Sunil’s flat. We paired up to discuss just how George had been undermined in his job as co-ordinator of the project. I had not contacted George or in any way offered my support. I had not wanted to get involved. I had used my back as a justification for staying out of it but the truth had more to do with the fact that I just didn’t want to help out. I was enormously reluctant. Moreover, I did not verbalise this reluctance. When the idea had been originally raised, I had felt a negativity in the room whereas Earl had felt a positive atmosphere. This was due to our personal feelings and we had projected those feelings onto the group; we had assumed and, again, we had both failed to verbalise; we had both failed to check those assumptions.

Throughout the discussion of the flat project, I felt as though I had missed out on an opportunity to spend time with men. The learning points which came out were:

  • Always check assumptions
  • See the therapeutic aspects of such opportunities
  • It had been a chance to work well and have good fun in good company
  • Enjoy it
  • Be more positive
  • Don’t be so selfish
    [Karaj: You have to be 100% selfish. What are you going to get out of it?]
  • Be clear
  • Be straight

How Can I Contribute? How Can I Grow?

We moved on to defining what we would gain by helping out in Sunil’s flat. This touches on a vital point which Karaj never ceases to stress. When undertaking anything, always look at it from a therapeutic standpoint. What can I gain? How can I contribute? How can I relate to others? How can I grow? How can I make full use of this opportunity? For instance, it has to be George who is sorting out Sunil’s flat because that’s the way it works. George has trouble giving unconditionally and Sunil gives too much. Together they can contribute something valuable to each other.

My list included:

  • Satisfaction of contributing to Sunil’s flat
  • More quality time with men
  • Physical work – I know I benefit from this both physically and mentally
  • Mutual support

Criteria For Assessment

We were all progressing well when Karaj appeared and asked us to look at our lists and define our criteria for assessment. How can we assess whether we have achieved our goals? How can I assess my satisfaction? This stumped us all and we struggled to answer the question. What came out for me during the subsequent discussion was that by looking for satisfaction I am in Child ego state, whereas assessment, analysis and evaluation are Parent ego state. Karaj put it into perspective for me by saying that if I can assess I do not need to compare. This seemed music to my ears, and was all the incentive I needed to learn how to assess. Karaj even went on to say that my back pain is exacerbated by my lack of analysis.

In my assessment I need to ask a simple question: do I meet the minimum criteria? Furthermore, my personal criteria need to be rigid, consistent and clear. Calvin and Ishwar are very good examples of this, and Karaj told them both that all they need to do now is to verbalise their criteria instead of waiting for people to guess. (See ‘A Quiet Man’ for an example of this.) Today’s work was very much concentrated on the Parent ego state and somehow I felt that we had all moved on to a subject which we are now more capable of understanding and adopting.

Meditation & Positive Feedback

Sunil led us in a meditative evening prayer. I felt irritated towards the end and my skin started to itch. In the feedback Karaj told me it is no surprise, given that our entire physical being is made up off vibrating particles. Such sensations as I experienced are, therefore, only natural. They become noticeable when we are quiet and still, and the important point is to resist the urge to scratch or fidget or move. To achieve this takes a strong Parent ego state. Most of us went out into the garden following the meditation and nobody said a word. Leon would later sum up the atmosphere by saying that the silence was stunning – it was. Everybody had gone deeply into themselves during the meditation and we were all content to stay there, in silence.

Later, we spent some time giving Leon some positive feedback. I tried to stress the advantage of accepting Karaj’s comments that he has many skills and that he impacts people’s lives in a very positive way, but he didn’t seem to hear me. It was very hard work because he blocked every comment we made. Eventually he did seem touched by what we had said to him.

Why Don’t We Utilise Each Other?

The day finished with the question, ‘Why don’t we utilise each other?’ I picked up on something that Ishwar said about relating to George. He said that having spent time with George he could see that, in contrast to 10 years ago, he can now relate in a mature fashion with his elders. I found this encouraging because for me it meant that I will also see the day when I can relate in a grown-up manner (yesterday’s episode with Arun was still fresh in my memory). Karaj told me that I am undermining myself because I already do engage in an adult manner. My relationship with Karaj is evidence of that. I listened to what he said and realised for myself that despite what standards I set for myself, I am doing a very good job of meeting them; I am doing better than I give myself credit for. I continued with my reasons for why I don’t make the most of the support of the other group members.

  • I think I can I do it alone (mind fucking)
  • I get it into my head that my achievement will be lessened if I enlist help (mind fucking)
  • Despite all my evidence, I tell myself that ‘this time it’s different’ (mind fucking)
  • It mostly occurs to me to ring the men when I am down, but when I am down I don’t feel like calling (mind fucking)
  • I don’t want to bother others with my problems (mind fucking)
  • I rely too much on Karaj

The group finished at midnight and we made it home in time to watch the last of the football. This was a lovely end to a wonderful two days. Tomorrow it continues.


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