Pointing Attention Away From and Against a Pattern [1]

by Harvey Jackins

Effective discharge of our old distresses requires, under all conditions, that a large amount of our attention be outside the distress recording, while only part of our attention is in contact with the distress, aware of it, feeling it. This condition always tends to produce discharge.

If we do not have a major share of our attention away from the distress, we become “numb” with distress, appear “calm,” and fail to discharge.

This means that under almost all conditions of Co-Counseling, our major effort must be to keep our attention from being swallowed up by the distress. It usually takes effort during sustained discharge to maintain enough attention away from the distress, or contradicting the distress, to let the discharge continue.

This is the role of the positive direction, the anti-pattern direction. Our distress material acts as a sponge or a magnet tending to soak up and engulf our attention in all kinds of confusing ways. Frequently our trapped minds will rationalize that the direction into the pattern or with the pattern is the correct thing to do, and we will spend time being confused and ineffective in our counseling.

At many workshops inexperienced people are discharging very well the first day or so. Then after two or three days many will approach the leader of the workshop with a common complaint: “I haven’t been able to discharge. I’m still talking about the same material with no discharge. Have I cleaned it up? It doesn’t feel good yet.”

In these cases the person has become preoccupied with the distress material. Urging them to take a contradictory direction often meets strong resistance. They will insist, “But it is my distress about my father that has spoiled my life. I need to talk about him"; or perhaps they will say “I want to get to the bottom of this material"; or “I’ve got to get this stuff out.”

These rationalizations on behalf of the reactive pull of the material sound very reasonable. They have one quality in common, however: they don’t work. More accurately, the counseling doesn’t work when these directions are taken. When such a person can be convinced to try a direction such as “Daddy was always a joy” uttered in a bright tone of voice, discharge begins immediately.

The fear that if we don’t keep our head immersed in the distress material we won’t succeed in discharging is just a fear. If we take a direction against the distress material, such as “All is well” or “That happened long ago,” we need not worry that we are abandoning serious discharge. The distress material will follow us out into the positive sunlight and will melt (discharge) under the proper conditions.

Finding, following and holding a positive direction in words, tone of voice, facial expression, and posture is a dependable, and the only dependable, mode for ensuring that our discharge continues and we stay in good contact with the real world in between our sessions.

[1]  Appeared in Present Time No. 8, July 1972

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