November 1, 2007

Focus on Facilitation: Being Deleted

What my clients bring to sessions of The Work of Byron Katie is as much for me as it is for them, if not more so. If I experience clients or their issues as challenging in any way, I can get very confused and tired if I'm not actively working on my thoughts about them...or if I'm not tuning into where their work is my work.

As a facilitator, it is not my job to impose my beliefs and values onto my clients; I'm here to ask questions, and hold the space for them to find their own answers. It is also my job to take my thoughts about the client to inquiry after our session. For example, if I think my client is a liar, how do I treat him, and where do I lie (in my life, or to him)? If I believe he is a womanizer, how am I a "manizer?" If the client is a "tough case," am I being a tough case with her? Where am I not seeing that I am just like the one in front of me? Where do I not want to let her be as she is?

Years ago at an event with Byron Katie, a wonderful couple who were new to The Work and reluctant to air their laundry in public asked Katie to hook them up with a facilitator who would work with them privately, out of the main hall. For reasons I couldn't fathom at the time, and which I now see as perfect, Katie directed them to little ol' me.

This was my first time working with a couple. Their story was...well, for the sake of total confidentiality, let's say they were living in a way that was counter to my sense, at the time, of "normal."

The session was intense. I found myself inwardly siding with one of the spouses, especially since the other one did not seem terribly interested in inquiry; s/he was there for the sake of the other partner, s/he said. It wasn't easy for me to muzzle myself, or to stick to the questions...but I did.

We proceeded in the classic way of mediation or partner work: each client writes and then reads their Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet to the other. The one being read to takes in what the partner is saying, and whether or not they agree with what they're hearing, they respond with "thank you." The facilitator then takes each client through their worksheet in turn, while the other listens.

We were together for at least two hours, and for most of that time, there was a lot of strong emotion in the room. Admittedly, my attention was more on my judgments about the couple than it was on the process, and I worked hard to quell my urges to lead them, agree, or disagree.

They didn't seem to notice, thank goodness; no thanks to me, The Work worked! The more recalcitrant partner really got into the process after all. Each spouse had wonderful realizations. As a couple, they were hearing and communicating with each other about their issues in ways they had been unable to before, when each believed s/he was right. Both were grateful to tap back into their love for each other, and they were very enthusiastic about continuing with The Work when they got home.

As for me, I was exhausted.

The next day, Katie, with what I projected to be a knowing twinkle in her eye, asked me, "How did it go with that amazing couple?"

"Oh my God!" I exclaimed. "How do you do this day in and day out, and not get depleted?"

"I don't get depleted," Katie answered, "because I'm deleted."

Sometimes as facilitators, we may experience clients who live or think in ways that are diametrically opposed to our own ways. They may not share our values (she doesn't believe in toilet training or weaning her children before the age of five; he works for Internal Revenue, the CIA, Amway; they practice polyamory, or celibacy, or they believe in marriage, or they don't believe in marriage; he belongs to a sect you don't like or understand, or the same church as your parents, or no church at all), or they do or have done something that goes against our personal integrity (for example, a woman with three lovers, none of whom know about the others; a man who, at age 40, doesn't work and lives off his parents; someone who feels she is underpaid and therefore justified in stealing supplies from the office or sneaking out of work early). If you work in prisons or treatment centers, you will certainly encounter differences (and similarities) with those who have broken the laws of the land; and if you don't work with these populations, you will certainly encounter differences and similiarities with people who do not live according to your personal laws of "people should..."

Our clients are here before us for our sake, for our freedom, and so that we can become better facilitators. Any judgment we hold about them—any separation we experience between them and us—is going to be uncomfortable, and the discomfort means there's attachment to an uninvestigated story. This is wonderful to notice, and a great opportunity to cleanly and clearly delete any "I" thoughts that are not true...stressful thoughts that, when we are in session, get in the way of our ability to be be present, open, available, in service, and always a student in the presence of the master.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

1 comment:

Marianne said...

Oh my God! How do you do this all day and not punch someone in the nose?

You go, girl. That's why you are a facilitator and I'm not.