Q: I've been apprehensive to share this experience and ask this question as on the surface I interpret it as quite cold. I used to make myself available to facilitate my friends anytime, and it was almost always a deep and meaningful joy. I love the turnarounds, I love the Truth, Peace, and Love on the other side of our stories, but as I have lost more and more of my interest in my stories and the accompanying emotions, I'm having the same experience with my facilitation partners. I have little interest in their lengthy responses to "How do you react when you believe that thought?" I find myself wanting to move us more quickly through question three.
How do you handle "the endless three?"
A: After all these years, I continue to be very interested in question three. If you have no interest in those answers, perhaps what you're hearing (or saying) are not answers at all, but stories. I'm not interested in backstory, "yeahbuts," "becauses" either—mine or anyone else's. I am very interested in observing how I live life, how we all live life, out of beliefs rather than out of reality. The answers to question three are observation of my past behavior: how I treat people, how I treat myself, how it feels in my body and brain when I believe a thought that's not true for me. This is the setting that affords me a contrast for question four and for the turnarounds.
For me, without the education of the four questions, the turnarounds are empty; either unsubstantiated affirmations, or sticks with which to beat myself. I want more than that: I want solid realizations that will not leave me, so that the next time I think I see a snake, I can know without a doubt that it's a rope.
Combined with the observations of question three, question four and the turnarounds give me a personal prescription for how to live more happily, peacefully and authentically. Without question three, the turnarounds can leave me feeling disconnected when "real life" kicks in and I find myself in the same situation with the same feelings as before. I will stay stuck there if I haven't given myself all that's available to me through thorough, fearless, honest inquiry.
If question three veers off into a story that takes the client away from inquiry, I point it out: "Let's go back to the question [I ask it again], and see if you can give some specifics of ____ [for instance, how you treat other people] whe you believe this thought." Or, "Let's stop here for a moment. I notice that you stopped answering the question and moved into an explanation (story, defense, justification, made it about them and not about your reaction, etc.)" Or you can simply ask the next question.
Sometimes question three takes awhile because there really is a lot to say about it; what the client is saying may not be a story. After awhile, as a faciliator (as a client also), you learn to tell the difference.
I also err on the side of letting a client ramble on a bit sometimes, particularly if they are new to The Work and very confused about what's troubling them. Everyone wants and deserves to be heard. Also, if I am listening closely, I may identify some good core beliefs out of their stories to give to the client later for further investigation.
©2009 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.