Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Day of the Family

an entry submitted by Dianne.....

Our check in for today inspired Roger to relate to us how he has seen conflict work in small claims court. He has noticed how people will persist in their complaint long after the case has been settled. It's not the substance of the agreement that REALLY matters. The persistence is about the withheld conversation, which is more often than not, an apology. Roger pointed out that this is not like a family dispute that has many layers. It is a simple recognition from the other side that cannot be satisfied with a material settlement. If you can believe it, Roger says that we all engage in conflict as a way to relate to another other person in order to generate feedback from them. We have some need or desire to have a relationship with someone and if it can't be positive, negative will do. Case in point is the dynamic of ex-spouses, but extends to ties of lesser strength as well.

For example, Roger told the story of a couple where the man held his wife accountable for getting in the way of everything he wanted in life. Inexplicably, the dynamic remained long after the two were de-tangled. For him, everything was win or lose. For her, there was self doubt about being a loser. The woman eventually realized the dynamic, and took concrete steps to interrupt the cycle. He may have still thought he was winning, but now she wasn't being dragged into it. Sounds easy, but isn’t.

You sense reality cognitively, felt, or as emotionality. These sensing modes are interrelated, but you can make a distinction for yourself if you pay attention. For example, which of these might you be doing at a work related meeting? Adrienne can tell the difference, she has seen both. She recalls relating emotionally at one point, but communicated cognitively in another. Would that we all could differentiate our reality that well.

And thus we began the day of the family....

Jean Francois, Adrienne, Luanne and Roger all have family members they don't understand. Without much of a stretch we could add Dianne and Patricia to the list. These family members are inconsiderate, dominating, selfish or hypocritical, or all of the above. Family harmony is illusive, family members are annoying. Even where to hold the family Christmas gathering has conflict all over it. Roger asked us to examine if the conflict is cyclic. We might be engaging in it because it has strategic value to us if it remains. It’s a way of connecting, at the very least, and could have other valuable qualities as well. For example, it totally allows you to continually blame others for your problems. Isn’t that great? Oops.

Patricia brought up that the intent of our words is not the same as the impact of our words. You can apologize for the intent, but hey, what the heck do you do about the impact? There is a big difference between saying “I’m sorry” versus “Forgive me”. It’s the difference between regret and repentance.

Brittany demonstrated passive aggressive behavior she has seen. Don’t worry, you’ve seen it too. "It makes me feel .... when you say that" is passive in its structure (couched in an “I” statement) but aggressive in that they now know you don't like what they said. It’s a conflict veiled in a pleasantry.

I’m sorry that I forgot who said this, but in response to why some people annoy us and others don’t, here’s the best line ever:


For homework, try to identify yourself by what you're not, in other words, identify one of your inadequacies. Since Jean Francois didn't seem to have any, I can lend him some of mine, I have plenty to spare. For example "everyone is out to get me", "I'm stupid", "I never get it right", "no one likes me", “no one loves me”, "way too ugly", “I’m not strong enough”, “why can’t I just be…”, are all good options. Watch the tape loop that you play in your head and look for behaviors that manifest. Fast this for one hour. Caution, be gentle with yourself, it is possible that much of your identity is tied up in one of these inadequacies, which is absolutely true for me, and you’ll end up saying "who am I if I’m not this." Whoever is still standing should come to class on Friday for a debriefing. See you then, Dianne

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dianne, thanks so much for doing this. I hope it went well today too. I miss you all.