July 15, 2008

Be Your Own "Spin" Doctor

"down and down I go,
round and round I go,
like a leaf that's caught in a tide...
In a spin, loving the spin I'm in..."
—from the song "That Old Black Magic"

What does it mean to "spin" when you facilitate The Work or answer the questions? Spinning is moving away from inquiring into the original statement in favor of something tangential.

Spinning During Facilitation

A facilitator's spinning looks like this:

Client: "My mother doesn't respect my choices in life."
Facilitator: Your mother doesn't respect your choices in life; is that true?
Client: No.
Facilitator: How do you react when you believe that thought, what happens?
Client: I feel depressed, and I get angry with my mother. I blame her for all the unhappiness in my life. I don't want to see her or share my life with her...
Facilitator: You don't want to share your life with her; is that true?

Believe it or not, this happens; I've even experienced facilitators spinning me several times before getting back to the original statement, at which point I'm dizzy!

Why do facilitators spin? Usually it's well-meaning; they hear something come up in the course of inquiry that seems "juicier" to them than the original statement. Or, they think that going off on the tangent will be more helpful to the client.

How to stop spinning your client:
make a note of the client's underlying beliefs as they answer question 3, "How do you react when you believe this thought?" You can facilitate the client on these later, or assign them as "homework: for the client to work on alone. (In the example above, "I don't want to share my life with my mother" is an underlying belief. "My mother is to blame for my unhappiness" is another.)

Spinning Around Instead of Turning Around

Spinning a turnaround means veering away from the original statement, often in order to make it into a positive. When we spin a turnaround, we are in effect turning around the turnaround, which then loses its power to open the mind.

Here's what spinning looks like in a turnaround:

Original statement: "My mother doesn't respect my choices."

Possible turnarounds:

To the opposite: "My mother does respect my choices."
To the other: "I don't respect my mother's choices."
To the self: "I don't respect my choices."

Spins: "I do respect my mother's choices." "I respect my choices." The spirit of the original statement has been lost.

Why do facilitators spin turnarounds?
Sometimes they want the client to feel better. This is facilitation with a motive, and it's good to notice.

Why do clients spin turnarounds? They, too, would like to feel better. They may also feel pressure to come up with lots of turnarounds, believing that "more is better." Also, both clients and facilitators who are new to inquiry may misunderstand the purpose of turnarounds, which are neither self-flagellations nor affirmations. They are simply awareness-expanders.

How to stop spinning the turnarounds: remember that you don't get extra points for extra turnarounds; use the ones the make sense to you. Also, repeat the original statement to yourself; that way you'll be less likely to veer far off course. Sit with each turnaround, let it enlighten you, and come up with three genuine examples of how that turnaround could be as true or truer.

The Work's efficacy lies in its simplicity.
You'll find you have more than enough with simple turnarounds, without having to get creative and clever with them.

©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.

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