One of the hardest things for me when i was learning to be a ZEGG forum facilitator was to avoid the temptation to use this powerful introspective tool for therapeutic purposes. It seemed like a natural. This dynamic theater tool used for symbolic and direct self expression was a powerful force in looking into yourself and if you could see into yourself why wouldn’t you want to tweak yourself to improve yourself. Like most white males i like to think of myself as a problem solving get stuff done kind of guy. So if you have tools and you can see things are messed up, then you are somewhat obligated to try to improve things.
What it is supposed to be used for is self expression and self reflection. These are quite different things. Self expression can be all manner of transparent revelation, What i learned to the forum and now thru its evolving sister group Not Forum is that being transparent has tremendous value in and of itself and this is why it makes sense to practice, even if you do not have a goal towards self improvement work.
At the top of the list is self knowledge and trust building. IF you are doing these exercises you are looking in and trying to figure out what it is that you are doing and how you show up, even if you cant fully capture the whys. And by going thru this work with others, you are learning how to be open to sharing aspects and elements of yourself which are generally kept secret oft even from yourself. The honesty in these groups weave trust and deepens relationships.
The title of this post relates to this side effect of transparency work. There is a therapeutic gravity which kicks up and on when these tools are practiced seriously. While transparency alone wont heal you, if you are not actively resisting it, it will push you that way.
So it was with some glee that Thomas told me today that the FEC would likely fund the tiny grant i submitted for a transparency Fingerbook. The money is so small that i really submitted the application to force the project off my “this is what i want to do” list and onto my “this is what i need to do” list. Because now it is a deliverable from someone else.
One of the several things that i am excited these days is the tiny Mutual Aid grant to fund the creation of a transparency group fingerbook*. This would cover how to start a group and what are some useful tools to work with. Fingerbooks are typically less than 40 pages and 1/3 graphics and cartoons. I am guessing this collection of tools has the potential to do as much for improving emotional communication between individuals in groups as the consensus model has done for collective decision making.
There are a pair of sister tools for voicing under expressed discordant emotions or judgements toward someone in your group. The first tool is for when the unexpressed topic is hard to say and you might be fearful of the other persons immediate response to hearing it.
Withholds: If there is someone you are not communicating smoothly in your group you may have a withhold – a story you need to tell to this person to let you start communicating with them more openly and honestly. There is a format to withholds which runs like this:
Hawina: Paxus, i have a withhold for you
Paxus: Okay, i am up to hear it
Hawina: [Explains the issue which she feels or believes is in our/her way, from her perspective. The thing that she needs to explain to feel like their is a common understanding between us. This is likely based on her interaction or observation of me where she felt judgemental or otherwise under expressed.]
Paxus: Thank you.
And then you wait. If Hawina brings up something that is emotionally charged for her and she does not want to have to deal with my response for 24 hours, then this is the right tool.
Unsaids are for smaller disconnecting experiences where you can use the same format as above (saying “unsaid” in place of “withhold”), only you dont have to wait to talk about it. If the person hearing the unsaid wants to discuss what happened that caused this distancing experience and you are up for having it right now.
So when you are working in a transparency group and you need to clear something with another person in the group, then you need to chose which of these tools feel right. If it will help you feel safe/relaxed/open enuf to express yourself more to have the issue not discussed for a day, then withhold away. But if you are not feeling very worried about communicating about the disconnect, perhaps because it is so small or you are open to more talk immediately, for any of many reasons, then the Unsaid format is preferable. What i have recently experience in my groups is given the option to respond to Unsaids, most listeners do not do so and just let the clearing statement stand uncommented on.
*Mutual Aid is the small grant program from the FEC. We are only asking for $50 for the distribution of the physical transparency fingerbooks to the FEC communities, but what is more important is having an online copy of the fingerbook masters so people can print their own. The larger part of this grants is for$350 is to subsidize travel to the communities conference of prospective Chubby Squirrels, esp families.