A More Cohesive Group

Saturday 10 November, 2001

Men’s Group. Before we started Leon and George said that I am looking and sounding well. In the group I shared more of my Child ego state awareness. I had woken up tired and feeling a little negative but again I talked myself out of it. However, I must also be careful not to go too far the other way. As I came downstairs I noticed that I had become excited about the prospect of getting together with the men. This is also Child ego state and again I had to talk to myself, calm myself down and find my centre, my balance. Again it worked. George complimented my comments with his own self-parenting story. On the way to the house this morning he had felt hurried and was driving too fast until he realised and talked himself out of his rushed state.

Earl had to submit two sentences about himself for a paper he has written. He gave us a short list of what skills and attributes he wanted included and, under instruction from Karaj, he let us do the rest.

All The Information Is There

Leon was next and he talked in an upbeat manner about a meeting with his boss. Afterwards Karaj did what he does best – he caught us all off guard with the question, ‘What has Leon just said?’ It took us a while and many promptings and clues from Karaj before we hit upon what was happening. Leon had said that his boss was having fun making the decisions before landing everything predictably on Leon’s desk. Those who heard the word ‘fun’ saw it as a conflictual comment from Leon, meaning that Leon was not at all happy about his boss’s behaviour. But the truth was that it was just that – fun. Rather than a conflict, Leon was actually having fun too – and why not? All the information was there. I did not hear the word ‘fun’ but I did sense Leon’s positivity and others noticed his body language. All the information is always there.

Karaj re-iterated during this exercise the importance of having somebody’s script next to them when interacting. Robert had said on Thursday that Leon is a sharp and truthful person, yet undermined those words and undermined Leon by offering a conflictual solution which dismissed Leon’s ability to deal expertly with any task he is given.

It’s We Who Attach Meaning

Calvin followed with an account of his day yesterday which he had seen as a negative one. Having returned home after the group on Thursday feeling alive and awake and not at all anxious, his mood dipped the following day as a result of his own perceptions of events. As Karaj said, because he was okay on Thursday, we can assume that what follows is okay too. At work Calvin had spent 10 minutes trying to fix the photocopier such that he missed his boss who came to see him during this time. He interpreted this as a bad thing because she left an acerbic note on his desk. However, Karaj said that his attitude from the previous night had helped him to create that diversion so that he did not have to speak to his boss who would definitely have ruined his day. So, it is all down to how we perceive what happens to us. It is we who attach meaning to things.

Sunil was next and he passed round some lovely pictures of him and his family in India from his last visit there. I was touched by a very powerful image of Sunil dressed as a Sikh complete with Turban. There was such a serene silence in another picture of him with his brothers. They all seemed so comfortable with each other and with themselves. They were at peace with themselves because they were in touch with their roots, with their core.

Learning Points

We spent the next 15 minutes coming up with learning points from the morning’s session. I struggled a little with mine and started to yawn. Dev picked up on this and refused to accept my excuse that I needed more sleep. He pressed me until I came up with a satisfactory and significant answer. I realised that I was looking to create fireworks with my learning points rather than keeping it simple. This was the biggest learning point of all. I always try to impress with my contributions rather than just contributing. Keep it simple. Other learning points included:

  • know people – have their scripts to hand
  • know myself (Sunil’s photos) – be comfortable with who I am
  • life is simple – don’t complicate it
  • see the positive (Calvin’s photocopier incident)
  • just because something does not happen, does not mean it is bad
  • create relationships, not conflict
  • listen to my body and observe others’ bodies – all the information is there
  • if I’m okay what follows will be okay – don’t assume otherwise
  • don’t try to create fireworks – keep it simple

Before we broke for lunch George made comment on the openness of the group and how we are reacting to each other quicker and talking to each other more, receiving each other and feeding back better than ever before. Karaj confirmed this saying that we are beyond the ‘I’m better than you’ stage, and the cohesion of the group is being allowed to grow. We are moving closer together and at the same time we are becoming more individual. We are each finding ourselves and the group is benefiting as a result of the support we give to each other.

When we returned we took ten minutes in three groups to sort out Earl’s sentences. The work was achieved quickly and with a high-energy intensity which are the hallmarks of good work. There followed a chat about Sunil’s flat during which Karaj challenged us to tell him in the next group why he had come up with such an intervention as the group decorating the whole flat while Sunil takes a back seat.

A Review & A Realisation

For the next hour we reviewed what has happened to us since the start of the year. So many things have gone on and Robert began to take notes for a special Newsletter which will highlight the progress the group has made. As all the events were recalled and Robert scribbled furiously I felt challenged by Robert’s involvement at the level of the newsletter which is usually my role. I began to feel invaded but realised this for the Child Ego State it was and began to relax. As I did so I realised that this is how I have always wanted it – people getting involved at all levels, making contributions from the start and allowing me to supervise proceedings. Lovely.

During the review Karaj told me that while I was in hospital he nearly produced a newsletter and that had he done so, my column would not have been included and I would have left the group – that’s how close to the brink of leaving I was. He also stated that I still have a long way to go before I separate from women and football. I remained calm because I know how well I am doing and I see such comments as positive challenges. We also talked about the nature of confrontation – I will be confronted within the group on the basis of my achievements.

Past, Present & Future

Following prayers Karaj asked us all to tell a story about how we are a link in the chain from our past to our future. I expressed uncertainty and he told me I had made links hundreds of times in my office. I was still unsure and would learn a valuable lesson from this exercise – one that was evident in Sicily: it doesn’t matter what my perception of the question is because it is my perception which is important not the ‘correct’ answer. When Dev went first, for instance, I thought to myself, ‘Uh oh, that’s not how I’ve answered the question’. Mind fucking.

I paired up with Robert and we chatted for half an hour during the course of which we both found our links. They were similar in that they were both links with ourselves. Robert’s recent experience has connected him with the 17-year-old boy he used to be and his planned trip to the place he grew up will take him back to the four-year-old boy he once was. My experience of the prayers from last Sunday is showing me the person I’ve never seen before – my true self.

When it came to summing up the day I did not look to create fireworks with my feedback but kept it simple and enjoyed doing so. I took Sunil’s comment to me on the irony of one atheist (Sunil) having converted another (me), as a sign that anything is possible in life. On the back of this Karaj invited people, to attend his wife’s church tomorrow morning. All of the usual Sunday group said ‘yes’, including me.


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