Guidelines for Middle-Class Co-Counselors in Thinking About Working-Class People

When talking about working-class and middle-class people, I mainly refer to the patterns that people from these different class groups carry. The inherent goodness is the same for both groups. It is important that we as Co-Counselors know our internalized class patterns well in order to keep working-class people in RC and to increase their numbers to more accurately reflect the class ratio in our society. We have a majority of middle-class people in RC, and it is essential for them to understand working-class oppression and to work on and discharge their class patterns.

While counseling working-class people, remember to give special attention to the following:

MISUSE OF BODY

We workers misuse our bodies in our work. To accept this we tend to misuse our minds, too. We work long and irregular hours, under bad conditions, for little money, with insufficient responsibilities and not enough care for health and education. Many patterns which are not discharged lodge themselves in the body. They become frozen and cause pain. We are used to not paying attention to these pains. Help us to not ignore them.

NOT FEELING

We are encouraged to use a lot of stimulating and repressing food, drink, and drugs in order not to feel the feelings that want to come up. Help us think about getting information about any substances that are harmful to our minds and bodies. Give us time and opportunity to discharge about not needing these things.

We are not used to talking about our feelings. We are more used to showing them in "acceptable" ways, such as joking on the job. Ask about our language and our ways. Practice using our language and our ways. This feels supportive, and we can discharge more easily. You will discharge, too, while practicing.

Our feelings of powerlessness about the changes we want make it hard for us to face the oppression. Drugs and alcohol and distracting ourselves with "having fun" keep us from really looking at the information about working-class liberation. We do know what is going on, but we have had to accept so much mistreatment for such a long time. Help us face the pain of the mistreatment, and keep reminding us that we are at the front in the war against classism. Encourage us to see that we care about the situation and that we very much want to change the world.

PRACTICAL TIPS

We can be tired from overwork, drugs, illness, or whatever. Always invite us to come to class or support group. Suggest to us that we can sleep or rest in the middle of the group. We will wake up feeling better and with more trust in ourselves and others.

To get to discharging we may use a lot of aggression. This can help us not to freeze up or have to talk too much. Stay relaxed. It helps us to notice that you are not scared and can handle our distresses. Underneath the toughness is a lot of fear that will discharge when we see that we don't have to fight or defend ourselves.

Encourage us to talk about ourselves - who we are, where we come from, our families, what kind of work we do, what we are interested in, and what we think. Don't push us to talk about our problems. It may be hard for us to talk in a group. We have patterns of feeling dumb and stupid, and we are not used to "intellectual" talk. It is important not to hurry as a counselor.

We hugely undervalue ourselves and other workers. Contradictions in the form of validations to get us in touch with what's really true about ourselves can easily feel fake and pretentious. Be thoughtful, and take your time.

Blaming others for our bad treatment and situation, especially when done constantly and without discharge, is a pattern. We use it as a way to try to get support from non-working-class people and to try to show how hard our lives are. Middle-class patterns ignore the reality of these hardships. Agree with all the blaming (don't be defensive). When it makes sense, ask us to say good things about ourselves and say what we are proud of. Invite us to speak our minds about our disagreements, and encourage us not to be afraid to be "different," even if we think we are just dramatizing.

We are often not well-organized, and in groups we behave in ways middle-class people are not used to. We are more chaotic and loud, we may laugh hard, and we don't mind if people do the everyday things they need to do (like going to the bathroom, feeding the baby, or paying attention to a child). I think our behavior is something middle-class people can discharge on and learn about. We have a relaxed and natural way of being together, and there can be discharge about what is going on in the present.

Ways of making groups and workshops more accessible to workers:

 • Accept people who have done at least two one-day Co-Counseling classes into groups and workshops.

 • Include a fundamentals program for new people at a workshop, making sure the introduction is without pretense and with attention on benign reality.

 • Flexibility is very important. Don't hold on too strongly to organization and program rules (such as time schedules). Think flexibly about someone needing to bring a child. This will help middle-class people discharge their patterns about how things should be and will stimulate workers to attend.

Other things middle-class Co-Counselors need to be aware of:

Middle-class people have often been confronted with similar mistreatment and oppression as working-class people but have figured out a different way to live with it. In the Co-Counseling Communities, middle-class patterns (e.g., isolation patterns) are more "accepted" than working-class patterns. Working-class people who show our patterns openly, get in conflict with the non-working-class surroundings and are pushed to take on middle-class patterns. This is very restimulating to us and contributes to working-class Co-Counselors leaving Co-Counseling more than other-class people.

For workers, it is important not to pretend and to spend time in the present, to notice how we are here together in this group before we jump in and discharge. For middle-class people this can feel like spending too much time "hanging out" and not getting to the goals of the group.

Middle-class leaders sometimes use their roles and the rules of the organization to hide their patterns behind. This can cause difficulties when working-class Co-Counselors confront these patterns. Leaders need to be counseled by both middle-class and working-class Co-Counselors on these patterns, with directness and an attitude of love, trust, and practical support.

All my love to everybody.

Wijnand Vosse
Amsterdam, The Netherlands


Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07