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Reclaiming Our Intelligence
Marilyn Robb

November 11 & 12

Knowing our

December 2 & 3

Give Up False Expectations and "Disappointment"

From College and University Faculty Leaders' Conference, June 5, 1988. Appeared in Present Time No. 72, July 1988

In private conversations and occasionally in open question evenings, I hear some expectations about, and disappointments with, Re-evaluation Counseling that I think are getting in the way of your best use of RC. I would like to try to clarify again, in the light of our increasing understanding, what Re-evaluation Counseling is and what it isn't.

Such expectations and disappointments are not limited to people in your professions. Some of the mail I receive expresses similar sentiments and every variety of the people involved in RC participate in this to some extent. I hear questions: "Where can I get good counseling?" "Why can't the Community handle my problems?" There are many statements: "I am disappointed in ________ ___ (a leader)." "I had expected . . . ." "RC offers such a beautiful vision of reality, but then it doesn't live up to it." "Why don't RCers act like RC?"


I'm quite sure Re-evaluation Counseling will never become some of the things it is often expected to be. The Re-evaluation Counseling Community is not the perfect family that you failed to have in real life, for example. Re-evaluation Counseling is not the mother that you deserved, but didn't get. Re-evaluation Counseling is not the religious body that you longed for when you became disappointed in other religious bodies, not the church which will offer inspiration, but also be rational and powerful. Re-evaluation Counseling is not a place you come to have somebody solve your problems. Re-evaluation Counseling is not a therapy or a source of therapy (although many therapists do a better job with the insights and skills which they can acquire by using Re-evaluation Counseling). A Re-evaluation Counselor is not a perfect lover. Re-evaluation Counselors are not a group of people who will always understand you, always be supportive of you, always be a counselor to you under all conditions. Re-evaluation Counseling is not that great milk cow in the sky whose capacious udder will spray cleansing, healing streams of warm emotional milk over you and wash your sins and your patterns away, if you will just bunt her udder hard enough (by complaining and projecting expectations and rehearsing your remaining patterns at her).


Can I say what Re-evaluation Counseling is? I can try. It is changing all the time and is not the same as it was even a short while ago. Re-evaluation Counseling is a group of useful insights, useful glimpses of reality in areas where reality has been largely occluded for all of us growing up in these societies and these cultures. Re-evaluation Counseling is also a set of proposed relationships between a group of people trying to ally themselves with each other to use these insights to emerge from the great mess of patterns and unreality which we find ourselves born into and surrounded by as we grow up.


I think it's important for us to face, however uncomfortable it makes us feel, that all human beings that we have any knowledge of at the present time are still thoroughly enmeshed in a great heap of patterns, irrational beliefs, lack of information, misinformation, oppressions, and cultural patterns which are a mixture of useful lore and foolish nonsense repeated and repeated from generation to generation. All human beings are still caught in an enormous web of confusion that has been generated by distress patterns, by oppressive societies, by misinformation, and by accident over a long period of time. It's as if we're still up to our noses, or our shoulders, or our waists in this sticky mud. Our relations with each other are continually assaulted by the mud, or rigidified by crude scaffolding that we have built to try to lift us part way out of the mud. All human beings are still caught in this mess, deeply. This includes all the human beings who have heard about Re-evaluation Counseling and have associated themselves together in some of the ways that we collectively call the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.

Our expressing disappointment with each other because we are not free of this mud is very understandable, but not productive. It tends to keep us caught in not taking initiative or in rehearsing powerlessness. It interferes with our seeing the situation around us accurately and it tends to inhibit us from taking initiatives that could move us farther out of the mud, instead of grievancing around and around in a particular mudhole.

All RCers at the present are still contaminated by this great mess of patterns, oppression, and misinformation, just like all the other human beings in the world. Some RCers have used the insights of RC to get farther out of this mud in some particulars, but the percentage of our re-emergence, even though it's much higher than that of people who have not used these insights and information, is still far from complete. When you criticize an RC leader or complain that she or he has not provided for your quick and easy re-emergence, you are making life difficult for someone who is still waging at least as complex a struggle as you are. This person has perhaps, in some ways at least, made more effort than you have to date and so deserves your admiration and support and cooperation, but never your unreasonable expectations or your disappointments or your criticism or your complaints. The most experienced of us are still struggling in the big mudhole. If some of us have made decisions and discharged to the point that we splash less mud less wildly and manage to breathe un-muddy air a little more of the time, the main contribution we can make to others is the example, the indication that it is possible. Such people cannot furnish magic, never-ending assistance that will take you out of your mud without your having to make the same kind of effort as they did.


It is true that "experienced" (still meaning "not very experienced") RCers will often offer considerable effort and energy in counseling a person who is new to RC and helping the person get a good start. These first big, good steps that are often made can be very inspiring if it is understood that they are demonstrations of what is possible, rather than any commitment to go on providing such unselfish assistance. It needs to be understood that comparable assistance is expected to be given back or extended to newer people or support to the whole project in other ways offered to make the relationship rewarding to the first donor of assistance.

No matter how hard we look at the present period, we will not find anyone in the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities (including myself) who "lives up to" the picture of what human beings are really like that we have been able to get clear enough to look at and be inspired by. We need to keep these precious insights and goals clear without pretending that they are already accomplished actuality.

We have said to new RC teachers that they should teach RC correctly and rigorously but in their own way. We remind them that the way they were taught RC is not the way RC should be taught because, of necessity, the teacher who taught them taught some of the insights and valuable information that constitute RC but also taught, at least by example, some of her own distress patterns. If the new teacher copies these patterns and, unwittingly, adds her own additional distress, the insights of RC will become diluted and distorted to an additional degree for her students. There is no person in RC who can yet be an all-round model for you except yourself. If you will use the frontier commitment, "From now on, the real John Doe, and this means..." over and over, you will find that, as the discharge occurs, an image of yourself as a complete human comes to mind and you can pursue this.

There are many RCers who can be models for the rest of us in limited ways, of course. I personally treasure and take great pleasure in them (when I do not fall into the patterns which I am warning against here, of being disappointed in them or having unreasonable expectations of them).


What we do have in RC is extremely valuable. Let's look at a few of these precious insights, just a small sample of them. (1) There is a qualitative difference between the pattern and the person and the pattern is a dispensable parasitic phenomenon detachable from the real person. (2) All people are good except in the way the patterns drive them to act otherwise. (3) All forms of discharge are to be encouraged, not repressed. (4) Feelings are not as good a guide to action as is logic. (5) "Every single human being at every moment of the past, if the entire situation is taken into account, has always done the very best that she or he could do and so deserves neither blame nor reproach from anyone including self. This in particular is true of you." (6) "There is at least one elegant solution to any real problem."

We have organizational forms which we have found useful in keeping us from patterned, "muddy" behavior with each other: the session, the support group, the class, the topic group, the workshop, the "think-and-listen," the Wygelian leaders' group. These are very useful, but it takes real decision, determination, and work to make them function fully in our interests. If we are not aware and responsible with each other, the patterns will creep in and the organizational forms will not work. If we allow our patterned behavior to intrude into our relations with other RCers when we are seeking to cooperate for each other's benefit, we do ourselves harm, but we also make it difficult for the other RCers.


The re-emergence of ourselves, the recovery of our real natures and our real functioning is very much an individual responsibility. The process works much better if we are cooperative about it, but responsible cooperation is necessary. The amount of dependency that we can usefully lean on another person is very strictly limited by what the rules for being a good client in a session allow. Any less responsible behavior arises out of our distress patterns themselves and will not work.

Distress patterns come from at least three kinds of hurts. (1) Accidents: an accident hurt us and, if we did not get a chance to discharge thoroughly, it left a rigid pattern of irrational behavior and feelings upon us. (2) Contagion: as a child, frightened or hurt by the patterned behavior of parents, teachers, ministers, police officers, or employers, we acquired a distress recording that includes the patterned behavior of the perpetrator. We can be restimulated into acting out the perpetrator's role in the pattern, rather than our own victim's role in the pattern, as a seemingly "more comfortable" way of enduring it, and so hurt someone else. (3) Oppression: the oppressive society systematically installs hurts, fears, abuses upon us in an effort to require us to fit the rigid roles in the society demanded by its own rigid, oppressive nature.

We do have many insights on how to relate to each other in ways that make our cooperative behavior helpful. We can use these and help each other emerge from the mud, rather than sinking each other or taking advantage of each other or splashing mud in each other's faces. Some of these insights are assembled in the Guidelines. These are not rigid rules, not a "constitution" or "by-laws." They are exactly a summary of what we have learned will work well in our relationship of being "Community members."


We also have a fairly rigorous, carefully-filtered picture of what RC is and what a re-emergent person can be like in one place. This is in the literature. You can get a fairly clear picture of how a re-emergent person can function by reading the fifteen books, the more than one hundred issues of the journals, the more than thirty pamphlets, and the more than forty video-cassettes and audio-cassettes that are available for observing and listening. The written word or the recorded image can be examined and edited repetitively. Applying this process with a great deal of care has succeeded in producing a workable, trustable picture of what "being an RCer" can be like.

This literature needs far more systematic use, far more persistent absorption. Because of its contradiction of patterns, RC literature needs to be not just read, heard, and viewed, but re-read, re-heard, and re-viewed.

It also needs far more systematic distribution, including to non-RCers. The failure of most RCers to regularly sell Present Time subscriptions to their friends is a ridiculous weakness in our work to date (but it can be corrected).

We also need to publish more literature more often. We need to somehow find the resources to translate much more of the literature into the twenty-two non-English languages into which translation has begun, as well as the 600 or so languages into which we have not yet begun to translate.

To English-speakers, the printed literature and the audio and videocassettes already constitute a treasure trove to which you can make persistent application to your benefit. Here are the models of what RC is, of what RC can be like, of how RC works when it is systematically applied.

Here are the answers to your disappointments at the muddy failures and weaknesses of those of us who have tried to play a leading role in the Community so far. Forgive us our failures. Don't waste time reproaching us. Take the insights that are available and begin modeling them for us.

Give up your understandable, but completely unrealistic expectations of "RC" and "RCers." Take these valuable insights that do exist, one of which is your complete freedom of decision and another of which is your complete power to have the universe respond to you in the way you wish it, and be a model for me. Be a model for the rest of the world, which is yearning to break out of the great mudbath of patterns, confusion, and oppression into which it has been diverted.

Harvey Jackins

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00