— Harvey Jackins

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This is a summary of a report to the 1981 World Conference published in The Reclaiming of Power

Our experience indicates that we must wage at least three struggles at the same time, that every RC meeting needs to contain at least three elements. One is the review of the theory which we already know, but which continually becomes occluded by restimulation. Two is the keeping up-to-date with the emerging theory. Three is the actual participation in the re-emergence process.

This morning I am going to list and comment on the basic RC concepts which we have absorbed and integrated partially but the forgetting of which seems to be behind almost every serious difficulty that our Community experiences.

The first insight is not limited to RC. We share it in common with all sciences and with all useful philosophies. This is the assumption or realization that an objective universe exists. We assume that it would exist or does exist independently of our observation of it, at least on the macroscopic level, at least on the level of large bodies and more-than-nuclear distances. There is some question whether our observation of it does not become an integral part of it on the level of very, very small distances and sub-atomic relationships, but on the level of relationships with which we ordinarily deal, our assumption is that the universe exists independently of our thinking about it.

Now, to the particular insights of RC. The first is that the distress experience is the source of and the explanation for human irrationality. Most of us have integrated this, but we sometimes don’t act as if we had. We still blame and reproach people. This is the key insight into the (up-until-now, and outside of RC) unsolved problem of human irrationality that threatens every other phase of human existence.

The recorded distress experience is the sole source of human irrationality. The only thing wrong with people is the result of mistreatment. (I am not saying deliberate mistreatment, because most of it is not.)

The second is that the process which we call discharge, the complex process or set of processes dependably characterized by tears; trembling; yawning; many kinds of laughter; live, righteous storming; interested, non-repetitive talk (or in some cases, thinking enhanced by the expectation of eventual talk, which is the case with “rapid review”); this set of processes that we familiarly refer to as “discharge,” is the recovery process from irrationality, from distress. Our great respect for discharge is justified. We act in many counseling circumstances as if discharge were our goal. We even tell students in fundamentals classes that “all you are after is discharge,” which is not quite true and has to be corrected in later classes by reminding the students that the real goal is re-emergence, not discharge. Because discharge has been so inhibited and the inhibitions on it are a principal obstacle to re-emergence, we often treat discharge as if it were the principal goal of our Co-Counseling activity.

Third is the concept, the understanding, that re-evaluation occurs spontaneously following discharge. All the notions that still circulate in the society and in the educational systems—that a counselor or teacher must replace the “bad” ideas with “good” ideas—are false. Only a person’s own thinking is good enough to guide that person, and that thinking takes place spontaneously following discharge. This does not mean that we don’t share experiences and information. It doesn’t mean that we don’t find inspiration in each other’s ideas, but it does mean that the person’s own thinking is the crux of the matter and that thinking occurs spontaneously. Our assistance to each other is not in “helping each other think,” even though we use that phrase carelessly sometimes. Our assistance to each other is in helping each other discharge so that we can each think for ourselves.

Four: Any distress can be completely discharged. This real possibility of the complete discharge of any distress is little realized and less practiced in our Communities until now. It was demonstrated many times in the early days of RC, in Seattle, when we followed one-way clients for a long time and made it a practice with many of them to clean up distress completely. The possibility of the complete discharge of distress is very important even though it has been neglected in the “half-hour each way” sessions which dominated Co-Counseling in the early years of the Communities.

Following from this, and right alongside of it, is the complete recoverability of the human capacity which the distress has occluded. One’s occluded abilities and capacities can be completely recovered.

Next is the fundamental difference between the pattern and the person. They are two separate entities even though one is sitting at the back of the other’s head and often manipulating its voice, even though one follows the other around and appears to speak for it. There is a fundamental distinction between the human being and the distress pattern. They are two completely separate kinds of entities. I doubt if there is any confusion that is more widespread or one that creates more difficulty in the wide-world activities of human beings than just exactly this, confusing the pattern with the person and the person with the pattern. We slip into this confusion often. Whenever we argue with distress, we have slipped into this. Whenever we blame or reproach the person, we have slipped into this. It is not yet so well understood or so well remembered that we do not need to repeat it again and again. The distress pattern is of a completely different character than the human being.

Next is the integral, wholesome goodness of the human being. In this insight we reject thousands of years of cultural mistakes and hundreds and hundreds of religions and theories which assume, for understandable reasons, that the human being is a mixture of good and evil. We reject this. It is crucial and important that the human being, as a human being, is integral, is wholesome, is good. The patterns may be of great variety, including some pseudo-survival varieties, but the human being, as distinct from the pattern, is one-piece, is consistent, is wholesome, is good. The human being, as a human being, distinct from the distress patterns which parasite on it and infest it, is completely “upward trend.”

The next important concept is our rejection of any cultural standards of “normality,” our refusal to accept any cultural definitions of what is a fully-functioning person. We are not opposed to any temporary goals for improvement, but we refuse to accept any of the present limits which cultures place upon the flowering of human beings. We insist that the boldest and freest definition of a human being is misleading, that the capacity of a human being is limitless and cannot be defined. We haven’t any notion of what any real limits for a human being might be. Any goal that we set, once attained, immediately projects a further, loftier goal. We refuse to accept any cultural definition of normality or goodness that puts limits on the human being.

Feelings are not a reliable guide to action. This seems familiar to most of us by now, doesn’t it? We remember it, we tell it to other people, we even act on it ourselves part of the time; but isn’t it hard to remember all the time? Isn’t this a continual struggle that we wage, to not act on our feelings, no matter how righteous they sometimes seem?

Only logic is a reliable guide to action. If we have good feelings, fine, enjoy them, but do not act on them. If we have terrible feelings, contradict them and discharge them, but do not act on them. Act on logic and logic alone (or the best approximation of logic that we can make in sometimes confusing conditions).

Logic is the way the human mind works in the absence of distress. It has also been defined in workable, useful ways by logicians starting with Aristotle. Aristotle and his successors and, more recently, Goedel and Church and a number of other people, have been able to get outside the confusion and distress and state the rules of logic very concisely and very accurately. One of these rules is that a statement cannot be true and untrue at the same time in the same situation. Another is that if statement A means that statement B is true, and statement B means that statement C is true, then statement A means that statement C is true. Others are a little more complicated.

Patterns are addictive in their actions. Patterns tend to force their victim through a re-enactment of the original hurt that caused the pattern. It is an important insight that a pattern tends to force its victim through a repetition, as far as possible, of the original hurt. What are called addictions in ordinary usage are the effects of patterns. Patterns are addictive in the sense that yielding to the compelling feelings embodied in patterns is the necessary and sufficient explanation of addiction. Understanding this opens the way to freeing people from addictions.

A pattern tends always to force its victim through as close a repetition as possible of the original hurt experience. What are ordinarily called addictions, i.e., addictions to poisonous chemical substances, operate on exactly this basis. Patterns are addictive in themselves. Chemical addictions operate only through patterns. With these insights, addictions can be removed and the victim can become free from them by applying what we know about counseling.

(The withdrawal period for an addict coming off a chemical addiction is described in the usual literature as a terrible experience. Such people are locked up in steel cells alone because nobody “can stand to be around them” as they go through withdrawal. This is exactly wrong. Withdrawal is just the thawing out from numbness of the feelings of hurt of the original poisoning. The feeling is felt as it thaws out, and discharge accompanies it. The withdrawal procedure can be greatly expedited by giving counseling attention to the person. D.T.’s, [delirium tremens], the wild clamoring and the wild shaking traditional to alcoholics sobering up, is exactly discharge taking place. It can be greatly accelerated and expedited and completed by giving counseling attention to the person doing it.)

Complete self-appreciation is possible. It is justified by reality, and attempting it is very productive. Complete self-appreciation is a reasonable and useful goal. Realizing this was one of the great turning points in the practice of Re-evaluation Counseling. Complete self-appreciation, no reservations.

This next crucial insight is the content of the first scroll we ever produced. It continues to out-sell all the others. What it says is, “Every single human being at every moment of the past, if the entire situation is taken into account, has always done the very best he or she could do and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone, including self. This, in particular, is true of you.” It is still just as fresh as it ever was, isn’t it? It is one of our key insights, often forgotten temporarily but returned to, over and over.

Our past is determined. Our future is free choice. Just incidentally, this resolves one of the great philosophical dilemmas that had persisted for thousands of years—the controversy between determinism and free will. It resolves when you run the line of present time between the past and the future. The two halves of the dilemma fall open and there is no longer any contradiction.

The insight arose out of our practical work, and it has great practical significance. As counselors, we can clearly, without hesitation, throw all our influence to contradict the client’s regrets and self-reproaches about the past or his or her powerlessness or apathy about the future.

The past is determined. Waste no regrets. Waste no remorse. You cannot bring father back to life by wishing you had told him to take the train instead of the plane. You can only say your goodbye to him and shed your tears thoroughly. But, on the other hand, “I never could” doesn’t mean “I can’t.” The future is free.

How can you be a successful counselor and always help your client achieve discharge? Any distress discharges when it is contradicted sufficiently.

We can now state a four-step rule for successful counseling. Applying it may stretch you a little bit occasionally, but it is a dependable rule. Step zero, review the counselor’s goal as seeing to it that the client re-emerges decisively, remembering that the client is inherently a person of great intelligence, value, decisiveness, and power as well as needing assistance with emergence from distress, and, in particular, noticing and remembering where this particular client is capable, treasurable, and already functioning, or close to functioning, elegantly and well. Step one, pay enough attention to the client to see clearly what his or her distresses are. This includes, of course, asking him or her questions and listening to him or her, as well as observing him or her. Step two is to think; to think of all possible ways those distresses can be contradicted. Step three is to contradict them sufficiently. If you do these four things, discharge will always come.

The most common mistake that we make in our counseling is that we contradict the distress a little bit and if we don’t get discharge, we conclude we are on the wrong track. We stop short. We fail to put our confidence into the situation. The words “enough” or “sufficiently” are important here.

There is no rational conflict of interest between human beings. Contrary to almost everything you have been told, contrary to the appearances of much of what you see going on in this society, this insight breaks through to reality. There is no rational conflict of interest between any human beings.

There is an ancient story: While still alive, a man is taken to visit Hell and then Heaven as a special dispensation to guide him on his behavior. When he comes to Hell, he hears behind closed doors great wailing and reproaching and gnashing of teeth. When the doors open, the condemned souls are sitting at tables where a great feast is spread. It is lovely food, but the condemned souls are starving. Out of their hands grow long spoons and forks, so long that they cannot reach their mouths with them, and they are starving in the midst of plenty, unable to reach the food, in despair, suffering terribly. The visitor is then taken to Heaven, to an identical building. Happy sounds are coming from the closed doors. There are murmurs of laughter, of joy. When the doors open, the blessed souls are sitting at tables spread with a succulent feast. Out of their arms also grow spoons and forks too long to reach their mouths, but the blessed souls are contentedly feeding each other.

There is no rational conflict of interest between human beings. This is a very important touchstone to refer to since most of people’s effort, most of people’s energy, most of people’s time is enlisted by the irrational, oppressive society in irrational conflicts.

A great part of the effort of wide-world liberation forces gets turned to mass mailings, to billboards, to thundering from pulpits, to leafletting, to mass meetings. These are not generally effective. For important ideas, one-to-one communication is necessary.

It is always possible for any individual to take the initiative in any situation. Because of the early conditioning to be helpless and powerless, this has been a difficult concept to comprehend. Sometimes the initiative might simply be to yell for help although one has been conditioned not to do that. This idea is very close to the freedom to choose one’s viewpoint, which is one of our more recent insights, but this one has been with us some time. It is part of the Postulates. In any situation, it is always possible for an individual to take the initiative and to take charge of the situation by doing so.

The next concept is that complete responsibility is the natural attitude of each human being. The almost universal helpless, irresponsible, hopeless, dragged out, bewildered attitudes are all conditioning, all stuck on by hurts. The attitude of complete responsibility was the inherent one.

Love is the way people naturally feel about each other. Our loving attitude to others is waiting there to be uncovered as the distress is removed. It is not something to be beaten into a child with punishment. It is not something to be attained by the restimulation of sexual feelings. It is the way people naturally feel about each other.

Goals can be awarely chosen at all levels of responsibility and future time. There is a goals chart in the back of our Fundamentals Manual. We drew it up about twenty-eight years ago. When a teacher focuses attention on the importance of this, students begin to clarify whole areas of their lives.

One can set one’s own goals. It is possible. One does not have to have goals set for one by anyone else. This is itself a revolutionary concept. One can set goals for all of the different concentric spheres of one’s responsibility. One can set goals for oneself. One can set goals to achieve in relation to one’s close intimate loved ones, for one’s extended family, for one’s various groups, for one’s city, county, state, nation, province, for one’s continent, for one’s species, for the world of living things, and for the universe as a whole. Not only can one set goals at all these levels, but setting them at all levels greatly reinforces the power of the goals. Every level of goals becomes more workable if integrated with all other levels.

One can also set goals at all levels of time. In fact, one needs to set goals for all levels of time. One needs to plan at least what one will accomplish today, this week, this month, this year, and in ten years. One needs a clear picture of what one wants to do before one climbs the ladder to the spaceship to colonize the next planet. To set these goals for all these times and at all these levels and integrate them makes immediate goals much more easily achievable. Our practical experience is that if a person sets only an immediate goal, she or he will mill around indefinitely and discharge on that goal without achieving it, but that if a farther goal is set, he or she will discharge while achieving the immediate one and will tackle the next one.

An upward trend exists in the universe counter to the entropy trend, but compatible with it. Our position in the universe is on the rising point, the advanced point of the upward trend. The upward trend exists everywhere. I have been thinking lately about the great adventure stories that have thrilled generations of people. Almost always the climax of the story is at a point when the hero or heroine has done his or her best, has been confused and bewildered, but has struggled onward. Then the upward trend appears from out of its occlusion. The upward trend appears and buoys up the hero’s or heroine’s efforts, and triumph takes place. No wonder these stories thrilled us. The writer intuitively reached for this great insight.

Leadership functions must be performed if a group is to function well. An operating leaderless group is a fiction. A leaderless, collapsing group is, of course, common. At least one person must think about the group as a whole rather than just her or his role in it. This is the key leadership function. The leadership functions must be filled for any group to operate well.

We are getting past one-person leadership. When we said “at least one person must think about the group as a whole,” and we put key responsibility on the Area Reference Person, it sometimes came to be distorted in practice to mean only one person was encouraged to think of the group as a whole. We are learning to push ahead the realization that every person in a group can share the general leadership function of thinking about the group as a whole and can handle the specific leadership tasks by a division of responsibility.

It is possible for a rational group discussion to take place. It astounds some of our wide-world friends when they first run into the simple concepts of an RC topic group or discussion group. They are simple concepts, but they work well if you take them into the wide world. “No person speaks twice before everyone speaks once.” “No one speaks four times before everyone speaks twice.” “Discussions shall involve issues but not personalities.” “Everyone shall be listened to with respect.” “A summary of the important things said in a subgroup shall be prepared for the larger group, oral and/or written.” Just these simple guidelines have unleashed a tremendous flood of excellent thinking of which we have been able to capture just a portion in our journals.

Individual thinking is greatly enhanced by attentive, non-responsive listening. One of the brightest jewels in our crown of innovations is the Think and Listen Group where each person has the opportunity to be listened to with attention, and no response or comment on any other speaker’s thoughts is permitted. There is no assignment of topic. To have such an experience tremendously enhances a person’s thinking and gives one a clear view of how much our thinking and our speaking are usually inhibited by fear of the response of the person listening. When we set up a real Think and Listen Group, and our thinking is protected by this crystal chalice of non-intervention, our minds flower and brilliant thoughts come forth. Think and Listens have often been misrepresented by calling groups by this name in which people take turns speaking on a common or assigned topic; Think and Listens are not like this at all.

It is possible to deliberately create oases of safety for thinking, for discharge, and for re-evaluation. In our sessions we have certain agreements that are supposed to be followed. This is true also in our topic groups, in our Think and Listens, in our classes, in our Communities, in our workshops. When these agreements are followed, it becomes possible to achieve things because of the safety that we cannot achieve under other circumstances. Violation of these agreements makes progress difficult and leads to some disappointing situations. Awarely facing and keeping these agreements enhance our functioning greatly.

What is so wonderful about a session? The counselor and client are agreed on how each is to behave. If the counselor gives her or his opinion, or reproaches the client, or allows an upset look on her or his face when the client is trying to get at some sticky material, the safety is destroyed. You know what happens in a workshop when someone is laboriously trying to say something important about his or her oppression and somebody from the oppressor group’s guilt flames and he or she gets up and interrupts and “corrects” the speaker. The safety is gone.

Those of you who were at Liberation I and II remember the great turning point in that long afternoon when no whites were allowed to speak until all people of color had spoken as much as they wanted to. That made the difference. The workshop got safer and safer and safer, and the people of color thought better and spoke more clearly, and our liberation work was splendidly launched. We create atmospheres of safety.

I have tried to think of analogies. The best one I have thought of so far is of those Middle Ages cultures where everybody went around in armor. What do we create in the session, in the support group, in the class, in the workshop, in the Community? We create an environment where it is possible to risk taking off your armor so you can wash your underwear. If you have to wear your armor, it is pretty hard to wash your underwear. In a good session, a good workshop, a good support group, where the rules are not forgotten for anybody, we can flourish.

Every once in a while at a teachers’ and leaders’ workshop, everything falls together and people take huge strides forward. There are other times when people are not that responsible. Sometimes we still accomplish something, but we accomplish it on bruised, scraped knees and with gritted teeth. Bring this concept up into awareness, that our RC environments, wherever we can set them up, are basically oases of safety, and the more deliberately and carefully we can create them, the cleaner our underwear will be. Also, we’ll be able to get by with lighter-weight armor for the times in between because we will be so confident. Our oases can grow bigger. Everyone can take the safety of a workshop home and extend it to his or her family and neighborhood.

Oppression exists universally in present societies. Every person in our societies is locked into both oppressed and oppressor roles. I sometimes get the impression that we have gotten used to this concept very quickly. Then I hear discussions that completely ignore it and get way off track as a result. Out in the wide world this is still almost unknown and unfaced—this realization that everyone in our societies has been forced into operating within both oppressor and oppressed roles.

Oppression only operates, and can only operate, through distress patterns. This, again, is one of the most powerful insights about oppression. It has been useful to us but is desperately needed by oppression fighters and liberation movements in the wide world. It is useful, in part, because otherwise the disheartening appearance of human beings, who we assume are good and wholesome, acting in such oppressive, unwholesome ways tends to destroy our morale and blight our spirit over and over again. No person would ever agree to or submit to being oppressed unless a pattern of oppression had first been installed, in the first place by young people’s oppression in his or her early childhood. The oppression of young people, and the installation of patterns of oppression through the oppression of young people, is the foundation that allows other oppressions to be installed.

Only the distress patterns left by the oppression of young people allow other oppressions to be accepted. Only the installation of oppressed patterns makes it possible to force a person to continue to function as oppressed. No one would agree to or submit to being oppressed for more than an instant except for the installation of distress patterns. A victim of oppressive forces might bide his or her time and keep a submissive facial expression while the gun was pointed at him or her, but the oppressor would be overthrown very quickly if the distress patterns of being oppressed were not internalized to enforce the person.

More than that, no person would agree to function as an oppressor for an instant if the patterns of oppression had not first been installed (by that person being oppressed) and the person then manipulated into the oppressor role in the pattern. The oppressor, the person who functions as an oppressor, has always first been oppressed and then manipulated into the other end of the oppression pattern. The great breakthrough insight here came from England at an Arundel workshop when the first “born to rule” caucus met. About six people were hanging onto each other and shaking wildly as several of their number reported on what it was like to be ruling class in England. I remember one describing the extra oppression of preparation for being “presented to the Queen.” Others told of how they were taken from their parents at an early age and sent to special schools called “public schools” and there systematically tortured and degraded in the most inhumane ways. They were then manipulated in later years into the other end of the pattern, forced to give the same vicious treatment to the younger boys in preparation for their “ruling” role.

This realization, this principle, is at first met with indignation by victims of oppression. “You’re trying to tell me that those were innocent humans, those people who tortured and shot, and gouged out my family’s eyes? You are going to tell me that Hitler was a human being?” Yes. It is of great support to us to realize that the most viciously functioning person in the world was a human being underneath the distress and functioned so viciously only because of the distress. This empowers us and emboldens us to seek allies much more widely, to keep up our own morale and our strength. We have a scroll saying that, “If a distress pattern attacks you (and nothing else ever does), help is always close at hand. This is the human being locked inside the distress pattern, the pattern’s victim and your best ally, who can be reached in ways that we are learning to do.”

The person who functions as an oppressor does so always and only because he or she has first been oppressed, and the pattern of oppression thus installed, and has then been manipulated into the other end of the pattern in order to function as an oppressor. If we can help the person acting out an oppressor role in a pattern to discharge that pattern, or manipulate the person out of it, that person will gladly cease functioning as an oppressor and will become an ally.

Oppression can be and is internalized. The realization that oppression is usually internalized, if we can communicate it widely enough, will make a great difference in our work. If we can reach the liberation forces of the world with our understanding of internalized oppression, we will redouble their strength several times. People are eager and willing to understand this.

Most damage done by oppression is done by its internalized form. To realize this is of importance in eliminating oppression, in discharging oppression patterns. The blows from outside came early, they will still come occasionally, they come viciously sometimes when the struggle is joined; but almost all the damage done by oppression is done by its internalized persistence, by the self-invalidation, self-attack, attacks upon each other by the members of the oppressed group and by the fierce attacks and competition between different oppressed groups that otherwise would be, and can become, each other’s supportive allies.

A classical example, spotted by sociologists long ago, is the game, “The Dozens,” played by young U.S. black men, in which the object is to remain “cool” and “calm” while insulting each other and degrading each other in the most vicious possible ways. The game continues on and on. Each new generation of young black men is expected to participate in this cruel, cruel invalidation procedure. It has been traced to its origins in the necessity for black mothers under slavery to humiliate their male children into submissiveness in order that they could remain alive. Under slavery, if male black children showed any trace of spirit or rebellion, this so severely frightened the slave owner that they were subject to instant execution. Black mothers deliberately kept their black sons alive by humiliating them and degrading them and forcing them into submissive patterns of behavior in which they were expected to endure without resistance. This did keep them alive. The tactic was successful, but the internalizing of the oppression has carried on generation after generation to this day (with some reinforcement, of course, from new oppression) with the persistence and contagion which we have recognized that patterns can have.

The person outside a particular oppression can be powerfully effective against the internalized form of the oppression. Contrary to what seems to be the reality (and, of course, is actually our fears), when black people invalidate each other, compete with each other, pool their discouragement and hopelessness, and the white person draws back and doesn’t dare say anything about black oppression (because the white person is “of course not an expert and doesn’t want to intrude and make a fool of himself or herself”), contrary to that is the reality that an aware white person in a group of black people can be decisively effective in interrupting the internalized oppression simply by seeing the viciousness of it and speaking clearly from the outside. At the first Latino workshop the Chicana women were speaking out of their internalized oppression about how ugly they felt and how they longed for long, blonde, straight hair all the time they were growing up. I felt sincerely indignant because these were beautiful women, all of them, without exception, and I spoke from my heart and said, “How can you talk that way? You are the most beautiful women in the world.” At first they felt that I was being sarcastic and wanted to fight with me, but then they heard that I meant it, and heavy discharge took place, just enormous discharge on this material. Up to that point they could only be sarcastic with each other. The person outside the oppression can be very effective against the internalized oppression.

This is nearly an exact analog of the intelligence of the counselor speaking from outside the individual distress pattern. If the counselor sees the client’s distress as it is going on, and acts to contradict it, what a great lift it gives one, as client. How heavily we discharge! It is almost an exact analog of this, that the person outside the oppression can contradict the internalized oppression effectively.

For some time we men stood around bewildered and timid and fumble-footed while we watched the struggle of women to liberate themselves. Just now we are beginning to find out that we don’t have to stand back, ashamed of our sexism and apologizing for it forever. We can move in and be of great assistance to the emergence of women from the internalized oppression.

Liberation from oppression requires a three-point program: one, a clear liberation policy; two, unity of the group around that policy; and three, the winning of allies. The members of the oppressed group should participate in the working out of the policy. Working out the policy can help to achieve unity among the oppressed group. You will achieve the policy and the unity at the same time. The third step is the winning of allies. This has been known intuitively (outside of RC) in a very few quarters, but almost all liberation movements have neglected it, almost entirely. Almost all the liberation activities of the past have floundered and wasted their resources for lack of that third action, the winning of allies.

People need separate discussions within each particular liberation group before they can hope to communicate well to, or unite with, the other groups. Whenever this principle has been applied, it has been very powerful. Where it has not been applied, such as in the drift into having an oppressed group and its allies in the same mixed support group or workshop, we have inevitably developed difficulties that take time and trouble to sort out. Each group must caucus separately first in spite of their fears of segregation and their eager desire for unity. They must have a time to get themselves together in the safety of their similarities, their commonalities, or their homogeneity. People having the same backgrounds need to first discuss and agree on what they want the other groups to hear from them. Once that is accomplished, they can come together and listen to each other with respect, and achieve the real unity that they would otherwise seek too quickly or too simplistically.

This principle has been forgotten over and over. Working-class support groups, for example, have started enthusiastically and then many times tended to wither because of the considerable differences in backgrounds among the twenty or thirty people that enthusiastically come out at first. They have one or two good meetings and then, unsafety. Individual members complain bitterly about “the things they had to listen to.” The underlying unity is obscured by the differences.

Recently, we had the first workshop restricted just to industrial workers, and it was so fine and free. Everyone there knew what everyone else was talking about. Discussions quickly came to agreement. It was delightfully different from past workshops. Yet in the future when we have a workshop where the industrial workers who have been working separately come together with the medical workers who have been working separately and the clerical workers who have been working separately, we have enough experience to say confidently that the different groups will understand each other and come to a fine unity. This principle of the necessity of preliminary separations whenever there are differences—in order to communicate well towards a wider unity later—deserves to be dusted off and proclaimed over and over again.

Each particular oppression has certain features in common with all other oppressions. Every oppression, for example, includes a lack of respect for members of the oppressed group. There are many other such elements which are common to every oppression.

Each oppression is also unique and needs to be understood in its uniqueness. RCers need to master the knowledge of these particular characteristics. Some examples would be the “settling for less” conditioning of women by sexist oppression or the denial of education and information to U.S. black people by white racism. It is desirable for an RCer to become an expert on the oppression of every group of which she or he is not a member (in order to be of decisive assistance against the internalized oppression of members of the group) and to become an expert on combatting the internalized oppression of her or his own group.

Some particular oppressions play key roles in the overall structure of the oppressive society and in relationship to the other oppressions.

The oppression of the working classes, which is, in its foundations and at its core, economic exploitation, is the fundamental oppression in this society. The taking of the value they produce from the working persons who produce it by the persons who “own” is what the whole society is “all about.” All other oppressions were developed as means of enforcing class oppression, as means of dividing the economically-oppressed against each other so as to secure their submission to and compliance with their economic exploitation. This began in the first slave societies and continues to the present day. Working people are divided on lines of gender, on lines of age, on lines of race, physical ability, size, presence or absence of physical disability, sexual preference, religion, nationality, culture, and language, and are turned to oppressing each other and thus discouraged from uniting against the economic exploitation.

In this period, racism is the oppression that most widely interferes with human progress. Racism confuses and complicates efforts to overcome other oppressions: sexism, economic discrimination, religious intolerance, and so on. Because of this, the elimination of racism is the key struggle in this period. Ending racism will release enormous initiative for progress.

The oppression of young people by adults is the “training ground” for all other oppressions. If adults did not install powerlessness patterns early in the life of each young person, if the young person’s submission was not enforced during this early time of physical smallness, insufficient information, dependence on others, and naive expectations of good treatment from surrounding humans, then later oppressions would be difficult or impossible to install. The patterns laid in by the mistreatment of young people by adults are used as a foundation for the installation of all the other patterns of oppression.

Oppression of Jews (anti-Semitism) in the Western and Arab countries plays the role of a “precedent-setter” or an “entering wedge,” for the use of violence against all oppressed groups in times of social crisis. The oppression of Chinese in Southeast Asia and of East Indians in the countries of East Africa is very similar.

Classically, Jews have been a visible, distinct minority population in the countries of their exile with a highly developed culture and skills of survival. They, or their leaders, have been required to function as a tool of the ruling groups of the majority population as a condition of the Jews as a whole being tolerated. At the same time a continual low-level, “unofficial” campaign of anti-Jewish propaganda is carried out among the oppressed majority population. In times of threatened revolt by the oppressed people of the majority population, this unofficial campaign is replaced with violent official anti-Jewish propaganda. Pogroms, massacres, and expulsions are organized to turn the resentments of the oppressed majority population, which was on the point of rising against the oppressors, against the Jews (or Chinese or East Indians), using them as scapegoats. This tactic has been used over and over and over again in the last two thousand years. When the oppressors have diverted the revolutionary fervor of the oppressed into such shameful activity, it leaves the people who threatened rebellion ashamed of themselves and discouraged, and the Jews dispersed and plundered. Later the Jews are forced to be re-instated back into the role of visible agents of the oppressors, either in the country of the violence or in the place to which they’ve emigrated.

This scapegoating imposed upon Jews (and upon East Indians and Chinese in the other sections of the world) has been possible in the past in part because there was no homeland nation with power to support the Jewish populations in other countries, and the homeland nations of the Chinese and East Indians were under colonial domination and so almost powerless to protect their émigrés on the world scene.

Ending one oppression requires ending all oppressions. Eliminating any one oppression—thoroughly, completely—requires eliminating all oppressions. No one is free as long as there is one person oppressed. This appeals to our intuition, but it is also very practical. Any example of oppression going on with another group of people drags down and fetters our own struggle repeatedly. The white male working-class movement has continually floundered and weakened itself, in every practical sense, by going along with sexism, by going along with racism.

In the feudal society of the southern United States between the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and the Second World War, the enmities assiduously cultivated between the white sharecroppers and the black sharecroppers (the serfs of this feudal economy) kept both groups viciously and perpetually oppressed. Neither group could move out of the bondage as long as they tolerated the bondage of the others.

Any phenomenon can be understood better if it is examined from a variety of viewpoints. This has been recognized, at least partially, in a number of places besides RC. Start with the trivial example that it is better to walk around a house that is white on your side before you say confidently that “the house is white.” Another side may very well be painted red. In the development of science, of mathematics, of literature and art, it happens over and over again that the knowledge about a certain subject is pronounced “complete.” Then someone looks at the subject from an entirely new viewpoint and there is great excitement in the field as tremendous quantities of knowledge proceed to develop from the new viewpoint.

Looking back, we have looked at Re-evaluation Counseling from many different viewpoints as it has progressed and evolved. An early view, and still a beginning view for many people who come into Co-Counseling, is that RC is something that will make one feel better. This has certainly motivated many of us to have our first session or kept us going until we had our first good session. Later, when we tackle a chronic distress recording, we discover a new viewpoint and think of counseling as a way to help us think better and function better but not necessarily to feel better immediately.

We have moved through a number of viewpoints. The important viewpoint of the last couple of years is that RC theory and practice is the uncovering and revealing of reality. RC acts to strip the pseudo-reality from reality, rolls back the false reality which has occluded reality for us almost all our lives. The pseudo- reality has accumulated from the falsehoods, the invalidations, the pain, the unwarranted assumptions, which have been presented to us as reality, assumptions that we are helpless, that white people are smarter than people of color, that women’s place is behind the kitchen stove, that working people are dumb, and so on. There are also much more subtle ones, such as the great foundation of liberal philosophy that “it is all hopeless but we must still do our best.” From one viewpoint, Re-evaluation Counseling is the stripping off of the false reality which has been imposed by patterns, oppression, and mis-information and the revealing of the actual nature of the reality in which we function.

The attitude of powerlessness is almost universal. Even our RCers who have been raised to be “owning class” or to “rule” have a very limited concept of power. It may seem to those of us “raised poor” that owning-class people feel very powerful in their patterns compared to the way we feel in the patterns we wear, but theirs is a very limited concept of power. The attitude of powerlessness conditioned on all humans is a fraud, imposed by distress and concealing an actuality of total power for any individual or rational group.

Our power can be reclaimed. We are pointing at it as a goal, and we are coming closer in practice. Just the insight, just grasping the concept of total power immediately strengthened a whole number of other work fronts. Commitments began to work much better with the concept of the reality of reclaimable total power in the background. Our work against oppression got stronger. It is as if reaching for power “put lead in the pencil” of a lot of our previously discovered concepts. To actually reach for power itself leads to a much more effective scorning and discharging of fear. Reaching for power has not been well demonstrated, as yet. I have been trying to sound powerful before workshops and to get other people to at least sound powerful.

If any one individual reclaims her or his power and moves, that one individual can guarantee the future of the world. One such example will undoubtedly bring everyone else out of the timid bushes to fall in behind, ready to take charge of things.

It is always good if we can find a little gleam of light in the culture, a little crack in the pseudo-reality toward these concepts of reality that we are uncovering. The fact that even one individual acting out of confidence in her power will draw the necessary forces to her automatically is exemplified for me, at least a little bit, by a scene in a Charlie Chaplin movie (I think Modern Times). Unemployed Charlie, good-hearted, earnest, stands bewildered in a street filled with unemployed people. A truck comes by with a red cloth fastened to a stick protruding from the back, warning of a long load. The truck hits a bump and the stick with the red cloth falls off. Charlie notices it, rushes out onto the street, grabs the stick with the red cloth on it, and runs after the truck to return it, but they don’t hear him and the truck goes off. The little tramp puts the stick over his shoulder and walks on disconsolately. The camera shows him walking on and on, but a sound begins and gets louder, and finally you recognize it as the tramp of feet, and the camera swings past Charlie, and thousands of people are marching behind him, following him and his flag.

These other concepts about reality lead to the big one. Reality is benign. In these efforts toward uncovering reality that we call RC we have drilled test wells through the grubby pseudo-reality in a number of places. RC began with one little piece of pseudo-reality being challenged. My first client was, fortunately, balanced just right between deep distress, classified as hopeless by professionals, and an eagerness to discharge, so that, in spite of my misguided efforts (misguided by the pseudo-reality that I, too, had accepted that if people are crying the most helpful thing you can do for them is to stop them), no matter how many times I stopped him and he agreed to stop, if I took any initiative he started crying again. From underneath the pseudo-reality, that said that to assist someone who is crying is to stop him or her from crying came the gleam of reality that if people are crying it is good for them to let them cry.

We drilled holes in the pseudo-reality in other areas. How can you motivate children to learn? There were some “enlightened” theories from wide-world attempts in this field that you praise them for “good” results. You criticize them not too unkindly when they don’t shape their letters right, but you praise them if they get them facing the right way; you encourage them to do art as long as it is “reasonable” and “really means something,” but you encourage them not to waste their time with “scrawls” you don’t like. That got challenged. People thought a little beyond that. Praise everything they do. Don’t pay much attention to it, just praise it with glassy eyes. That was a little better. Thinking crept on. Finally, we drilled all the way and the concept arose that if you just make the information available, children will themselves decide what they want to learn, how they want to learn it, and what is exciting for them. Everything fell into place—reality recognized at last, although not yet widely practiced.

Wherever we drilled a test hole in the pseudo-reality by challenging it, and wherever we dared punch the hole deep enough, sunshine, fresh air, bright colors, flowers, good sense drifted through. There was apparently something different on the other side. It was much better than the globby guck we were used to living with.

Any of the non-benign appearances of the pseudo-reality that hides reality, including the most threatening, the most horrifying, can be faced clearly, can be contradicted, can be discharged on, and can be eliminated. We do not have to wall off from our attention or thinking any of the negative concepts or the negative appearances of the pseudo-reality even though we have been trained or conditioned to avoid them.

I think this is quite important. Consider death. We have already done some work towards challenging this. The phenomenon of death can be faced clearly, and the fears of death can be discharged. Consider the Nazi holocaust—the genocidal holocaust of the Gay people, the gypsies, the Jews, the militant trade unionists. Too horrible to be thought about? No. In practice we have found that this horror can be contradicted, that discharge can be obtained, and that it can be thorough. Any particular clump of pseudo-reality, including the most threatening, such as terror of nuclear holocaust, can be faced, can be contradicted, can be discharged, and can be eliminated.

We do not need to avoid facing the most threatening clumps of the pseudo-reality by turning instead to ones we can face more easily, either as a priority or as a comfort or avoidance of the severe ones. We have the resources at this point. (We did not have them in the past or we would have come to this point earlier.) We have the resources, both in insights and in the advanced emergence of large numbers of people, so that we can now face the most threatening aspects of the patterns. If we do this, we can then relate to the more localized, not-quite-as-intimidating aspects and deal with those at the same time with even greater power.

The conclusion we reached was that we have to deal with everything. We must deal with where our next meal is coming from and we must prevent nuclear holocaust. We have a whole spectrum of issues that have to be dealt with. Even for the person who has starvation staring him or her in the face, the issue of eliminating nuclear weapons must be faced when there is slack to do so.

We have slack. We have an opportunity to think, an opportunity to work out policy that can mean a lot to all the people of the world, that can perhaps be crucial. We must not allow one concern to reject the others. We must not allow our concern for one situation and our need to do something about it to allow us to, in effect, reject thinking about nuclear holocaust and discharging our fears of that.

Now to the concepts relating to counseling itself. Discharge and thinking can and should take place simultaneously. If we fully grasp this, it can revolutionize the practical work of our counseling. Passive counseling (by which I mean only listening) may be a necessary stage in a counselor learning not to make patterned interventions into the counseling relationship, but this is only a learning stage.

The possibilities became clear with the exchange of commitments. Those of you who have seen two people exchange their commitments well have noticed that as the roles of client and counselor shift back and forth, the counseling gets sharper and sharper. Generally, the person who is counselor is shaking, too, while the one in the client role cries, shakes, and laughs with an occasional yawn. As soon as the roles switch, however, the new counselor keeps shaking (and crying a little bit perhaps) but pays very keen attention. As the roles shift back and forth, the relationship obviously works better and better the more they do it, because they are thinking better and are getting more attention from each other. This seems to be because we have developed a situation where thinking and discharge can take place simultaneously, and this allows us to realize that they always should.

Actively thinking, and intervening, within the correct role of the counselor, is necessary for the counselor or the counseling to be fully effective. We correctly say that when you are in trouble, when you don’t know what to do, go back to just listening and most of the time if you really listen, the client will find a way to get to the discharge. All this has been correct. But it is not the fundamental role of the counselor to be passive.

The actual relationship between the client and the counselor includes two fully active, fully thinking, fully participating people.

We will continue to lay emphasis in the early stages of learning to counsel on the counselor “shutting up” and listening and paying attention, because almost all of us come to learn counseling with very bad habits of “shooting our faces off,” offering opinions, intervening thoughtlessly, taking the client’s role away from our client by “remembering” an experience like the one she or he is telling about and interrupting the client’s narrative with our own. (All of these can be viewed as unaware and disruptive attempts to force some clienting for oneself.) When we start out to be a counselor, we’re so conditioned and so desperate that we continually interrupt, intervene, make comments, and pass judgments, and do other unworkable things. So, in the early stages of learning to counsel, it has been correct to be fiercely insistent that the counselor only listen, and be interested, and pay as much attention as she or he can, at that point.

In later practice, however, we must move more and more toward an active role for a counselor as we become more experienced and better counselors. I give support from the expression on my face, from the tone of my voice, by the way I’m holding the person, by my cheek against his or hers, by the bit of poetry I remember to quote that will contradict the distress. I do a great array of things, actively. We need to say clearly that the passive role of the counselor is a learning stage—a powerful, effective one to be reverted to in many situations, especially when we have not yet paid enough attention to the client to know accurately what the distress is.

These are the full roles of Co-Counseling: a very active, thinking-all-the-time-as-well-as-discharging client, a very active, thinking-all-the-time and actively-intervening-against-the-distress, skillful counselor.

The word from outside the pattern, or outside the oppression, can have great, almost unlimited effectiveness in contradicting distress.

I’ve used the sketch at workshops of a long lever arm, with a weight representing a load of distress sitting on one end of the lever. The client stands underneath the weight, pushing up against it with no leverage. The fulcrum or balance point of the lever is very near to that weight.

The carefree, untrammeled counselor stands at the other end of the lever, with great leverage for dealing with and contradicting the weight of the client’s distress.

The client is always a perfect client. We have advanced this statement in recent times, and I think it’s been helpful. It has interrupted the sneaky practice of blaming the client for poor counseling. As counselors, we had best assume that if the client could do any better, he or she would be doing it, but that our intervention from the freedom of the counselor’s role always has many more possibilities and opportunities than we have used at any time.

Any intelligence always has freedom to operate from a different viewpoint than any previously adopted, or than is suggested by others, or than is attempted to be enforced on the person by any force outside the person’s intelligence. Viewpoint always remains the free choice of the individual. This always-present freedom to choose one’s viewpoint places the reclaiming of power within reach of any individual in any situation.

We always have freedom to choose our viewpoint. This freedom cannot be denied to us, no matter how much the pseudo-reality tries to insist that it can. Thought control never worked, even with huge secret police forces. It never worked. “Die Gedanken sind frei.” Thinking is free. You may tie me up, blindfold me and gag me, encompass me with irons and sink me in the depths of the deepest sea, but as long as I’m thinking, you cannot tell me what to think. In particular, you cannot take away my freedom to choose my own viewpoint.

A quick inspiration from the first faculty workshop has become a small classic. It’s been repeated many times. Suppose you’re on a jet plane. You’re sitting near the emergency exit. It fails. The pressure in the cabin blows you out at 41,000 feet. Will you despair? You may, if you wish, but what good will that do? You still have freedom to choose a different viewpoint. You can unzip your jacket, spread it for a pair of wings, look for the nearest body of water, steer toward it, enjoy the unusual view you have of the world during the next five minutes, and calculate the best angle of approach to the surface of that water. It may not work, but what have you lost? If you choose despair, what have you gained? At the very least you’ll have a much more interesting five minutes.

Beyond its philosophical support, this is a powerful counseling tool. Insistence on a change of viewpoint for the client by the counselor can heave the great bulk of distress up out of the mud.

Any client’s fear can be scorned effectively by the counselor, and this will lead to its discharge by the client. “Scorning fear” has become a slogan. By this we mean not respecting fear, treating fear with contempt, with amused derision. Workable practice consists of the counselor taking an unafraid attitude toward the client’s fear.

As in most counseling, tone of voice, facial expression, and the communication of relaxed confidence is very important.

To get started, we’re going to have to be a little daring. When the client says, “I’m afraid of death,” we can say in a relaxed way, “That’s interesting. Do you think you’ll ever die?” and if the client says mumble, mumble, we can happily say, “Well, you probably will,” and the tension will get contradicted and the client will begin discharging. In order to get restimulated by our client’s fear, we have to identify our fear with the client’s fear. This takes a lot of work. We have to make a great effort to restimulate our fear by our client’s fear. We think it’s automatic, but that isn’t so. It takes a lot of effort.

To use “opposite” words to contradict a pattern seems an obvious thing to do, but it works in general only with the most eager or with the most shut-down clients. The reason why it doesn’t work most of the time is that the client has been trying to do this for years, and the whole area has become calloused. “I am no good,” “I am good,” “I am no good,” goes the internal argument with the pattern. This has been going on for years, and the entire area is numb. All the pattern’s defenses are over here resisting this approach. If you ask the person to say, “I am good,” the pattern’s voice will say, “Aw, to heck with that; I’m no good and I know it.” However, if you ask, “Would you say, ‘Once upon a time I had a small, good intention, even though I couldn’t carry it out’?” the pattern isn’t set for that, the slight contradiction slips in, and the client begins to discharge.

E— was set to lead a group of women feeling that they weren’t good looking anymore when they got older, and she did a great job of exhorting them to resist those feelings: “What has been your big experience against it? I think we should just take a stand against this!” There wasn’t a lot of discharge, so I butted in. I asked her to admit that she was ugly. I didn’t look at her like I thought she was ugly, and I had enough of a relationship with her that she knows I don’t think she’s ugly. However, the idea of lightheartedly counting the wrinkles and the crow’s feet became very, very funny, and she got more and more beautiful by the minute. The only thing that was threatening her with ugliness was the strain on her face from defensively insisting that she wasn’t ugly. She looks just wonderful this morning.

If we get rigid as we try to contradict the client’s pattern, and we think, “Ah ha, here it is, a brick wall in plain sight. How does one contradict that brick wall? Ah ha, client, lower your head and butt that wall,” we wind up blaming the client because the client looks at the contradiction we suggest and says, “Uh uh. No thank you.” If we insist that the client does it, he or she does it numbly, unawarely. He or she is mainly occupied with thoughts about how stupidly we’re counseling him or her. We forget that a pattern cannot bear any contradiction. If the pattern says, “I’m no good,” and you can, instead, offer the suggestion that you had a vague report that they were one millionth of one percent not bad, the pattern will begin to discharge. Once you get discharge started, you can add more contradiction, and keep piling it on, but keep them believable contradictions.

This is what’s wrong with the heavy-handed contradiction. It isn’t believable. A client says, “I’m no good,” and you say, “I want you to say, ‘I’m the most wonderful person that ever lived,’” and he or she looks at you like you’re out of your mind. It’s impossible for the client to get any belief through the heaviness.

Question: It’s not clear how what you said contradicted “ugly.”

HJ: The pattern was not, by this time, “feeling ugly.” It was “defending against the possibility of being ugly”—a defensive posture. That was the pattern. If, when you look at it, you conclude that the pattern was one of “feeling ugly,” you miss the boat. All her dramatizations were a defense against considering the possibility of ugliness, see? So I got her to quit defending. I asked, “How’s your ugliness this morning?”— and discharge started. Now, a week or two later, I may drop by and say, “I’ve always thought you were beautiful,” just to remove any lingering invalidation that might have stuck in there. But the point is that you contradict the actual distress.

E—: You did say afterwards that I was good-looking.

HJ: A little bit. (E— laughs; group laughter.) Now she laughed much harder at that than if I had passionately insisted that she was beautiful, because my tone of voice indicates that I do not share her tension about her looks. That’s the big thing. When I tell J— I don’t care if she dies or not, there may be a little wince (“My God, Harvey, I thought you were my buddy”), but the main thing is, somebody in the situation doesn’t share her worries about dying. That’s why she laughed a little bit, and if we’d kept on with it, there’d be shakes.

“A commitment” is a serious promise to act at all times against a particular distress. Such a commitment accelerates re-emergence. That’s a short description, but it touches the heart of the meaning of the very powerful commitment. It is a promise to take the direction of one’s life away from the pattern, a promise made to be kept, not just used in session, but to be kept all the time.

To exchange commitments between two counselors in a session or series of sessions is to simultaneously enhance thinking and discharging by both parties and continually increase the safety in the relationship. I’m talking now about the exchanged commitment. It’s extremely powerful. How can one refrain from doing it all the time? I don’t know, but I forget to do it!

The goal of immortality, taken seriously, contradicts and permits the discharge of important distress for every client. It will certainly enhance the possibility of, and may possibly lead to, immortality, to living indefinitely. (See the journal Forever and Ever No. 1 for more details.)

The explosively restimulating character of sexual distress in our present cultures may be safely defused (that is, the restimulating propensity may be contained), and the distress discharged, through persistent counseling restricted to the earliest sexual memories, the earliest memories connected to sex in any way at all. This is the safe path through one of the stickiest swamps that we have to traverse.

Relationship expectations between humans need to be carefully defined by each person in the relationship, with each one’s separate expectations clearly stated by each party, and the subset of those that can be agreed upon clearly defined in order for the relationship to operate well. Each of us brings his or her own definition of what he or she expects from the relationship to the other person, and assumes, without the slightest shred of evidence, that this is what the other person expects and agrees to. Often the two sets of expectations have very little in common. Carefully spelling out each set and finding out which expectations are in common, and agreeing upon those and agreeing not to agree on the others, not to try to fulfill the others, is crucial to a good relationship.

Rational close friendships with many members of the other gender are desirable and possible of attainment for any woman or any man. (Beginning theory on this is in The Reclaiming of Power, p. 161, “Close Friendships Between Women and Men.” I refer you to that article for expansion of this point.)

A clear statement, written in the first place by the counselor, of the reality of the client’s life history, goals, and relationship to the total environment, written from a position of triumphant appreciation and eager expectation (a framework), will enhance and stabilize the re-emergence of the client.

The “panel” presentation greatly enhances communication across oppression barriers. This is an arrangement for representatives of oppressed groups to speak directly to the general population and to each other on six points: (1) What’s been positive about being Wygelian, a member of the group from which you speak? (I say “Wygelian” to mean a member of any oppressed group.) Inside the oppression which you have endured, what’s been positive about being a Wygelian? (2) What’s been hard about being a Wygelian?

(3) Why are you proud of being a Wygelian? (4) What do Wygelians wish other people understood about them? (5) What do Wygelians want other people never to say or do again? (6) What do Wygelians require of others if they’re to be effective allies for Wygelians?

Any person’s functioning in any job will improve if the person can be listened to with attention by fellow workers while she or he speaks to (a) her or his strong points in the job and (b) needed improvements, and then hears the others’ comments on the same two points. Self-estimation is a very powerful process. We have shown this to be true with RC leaders for years and have it in our Guidelines. It is also a tool that people will eagerly use in work situations in the wide world. To use your counseling skills during a lunch hour chat, to bring out how each one is a good worker, and how each one does a good job and how it could be improved, is to unleash great forces for unity, communication, and self-esteem among workers.

To blame another human for one’s distresses or troubles is to accept powerlessness for oneself. Essentially, I have noticed that, among thousands of clients, the ones who blame and reproach others for their distress, even if their blames and reproaches are restricted to the actual agents of the hurts that were put on them or the ones who actually perpetrated the hurts on them, are in trouble. They sometimes seem to have an easier life, they seem to be comfortable blaming others, they seem to be carefree compared to the rest of us. Yet they pay a very, very heavy price for it in powerlessness.

Those, on the other hand, who decided not to put reproaches or blame on anyone else, not to pass on the hurt, but to accept the responsibility for dealing with it, even though they sometimes mistakenly blame themselves a lot in the process and sometimes seem to have tougher lives, live longer and everybody likes them better. They’re much closer to re-emergence. I don’t know what to suggest that you do with this, except perhaps to recommend that you and your Co-Counselors examine any points in your life where you decided your difficulties were someone else’s fault and direct special attention to discharging those, so that you get your full integrity back a little faster.

A good theory arouses much greater expectations than its practice currently satisfies, and this is desirable for the growth of both the theory and the practice. The gap between the expectations which our theory arouses, and the achievements which our practice furnishes, has been the excuse for a great deal of expressed disappointment, inactivity, and even hostility from some former or present Co-Counselors. Perhaps this disappointment can be avoided by clear communication in the beginning that this gap exists and that as our practice improves, our theory is also going to improve and stay ahead of the practice. Trying to close that gap is what improves the practice of counseling, but this is the responsibility of the person, himself or herself, and it is not the responsibility of the Community or other Co-Counselors to do it for him or her without the person’s own efforts. Such disappointment is not realistic.

There are no “shoulds” in the universe—no obligations. You do not “owe” anyone anything. Your own fresh thinking will always lead you to do a better job for yourself and others than any “shoulds” which you try to live up to. This is very close to your freedom to choose your own viewpoint. People seem able to hear and act upon the insight that “There are no shoulds in the universe.”

Trust your own thinking. No one else’s thinking about you and your affairs can possibly be accurate enough and well-informed enough about you to be a guide for your decisions. (The only situations in which you should ever follow someone else’s thinking about you is in accepting a direction to contradict a chronic pattern; and even here the direction should bring discharge in a reasonable amount of time to continue to be accepted.)

Trust your own thinking. It will take thoughtful examination of your thinking to distinguish between your thinking and your patterned compulsions or assumptions, but you will always be able to tell the difference if you check.

Trust your own thinking. You will make mistakes if you do anything meaningful at all, but if you are acting on your own thinking, the results will quickly be noticed by you and you will correct the mistake promptly. If you have accepted someone else’s thinking as your guide, you have already stopped thinking for yourself, and the mistakes will go uncorrected much longer.

Trust your own thinking. Trust your intuitions. Check on, but respect, your hunches, your “gut feelings.”

Trust your own thinking.

Last modified: 2023-04-15 09:24:12+00