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Choosing a Perspective

Tim Jackins, at the Southwest USA Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop, November 2004

Perspective is an important part of the theory of Re-evaluation Counseling. There are lots of different ways to think about counseling, lots of different ways to look at it. We can look at things from many different angles, and each look can be helpful to us. We don't have to think that one look gives us all the information we need about anything.

One way of looking at RC is that there are two important pieces.

One piece is the discharge process. We have to discharge to get over the ways we got hurt. We have to do that. Nothing else removes distress from our minds except this inherent process that we’ve always had. It is part of us. It’s not something anyone taught us. It’s there, and we try to create the conditions in which we can rediscover that it is already there in our minds. It’s part of being human, and it’s vital. Nothing replaces it.

My father’s longing estimate was that he needed four hours a day of discharge. Boy,1 that would be nice. Most of us can’t figure out ten minutes a day. We might figure out one or two sessions a week. In general, we get too restimulated to remember the benefits of discharging and how it makes everything flow faster and easier in our lives. It would make sense to have a ten-minute mini-session every morning, if we could figure out how to do that. Nothing replaces discharge.

Then there is a second piece—that our minds are still good even if we haven’t been able to unload the distresses. We have good functional minds, and we can keep perspective about the world in spite of the noises our distresses make that give us a weird picture of the world.

Many of you have been Co-Counseling for quite a while. Can you remember how you made sense of the world before you understood RC? How did you make sense of all the irrationality that was going on2? How did you understand it without understanding how distresses affect minds? Perhaps you put blind faith in something. Maybe you hung on to some group, or some religion or other set of ideas, and wished that what it was saying was true, and didn’t look at how it didn’t quite fit. You just hung on to it and tried to hope. That may be enough to keep a person from getting wildly confused, but it’s difficult.

We can think about the world in spite of the confusions that pull at us from the things that happened to us that we haven’t yet discharged. We always have the ability to function thoughtfully and rationally, no matter how hurt we have been and no matter how much restimulation pulls at us. The more hurt we carry, the harder this is to do. It’s like probabilities: the heavier the distresses are, the more the odds are tilted against us. But we always have a chance. It may be one chance out of five, but there is always one. Getting the idea that we always have a chance is important. The idea that we can stand against the pull of restimulation is very useful.

Few things in society tell us that we have the chance to be brave, the chance to stand against our feelings. Society at this point is trying to discourage people from being brave. It is working at corrupting people, at making us dishonest, making us feel like we have to take advantage in the same way that we have been taken advantage of. This is a corrupting period in society. There were earlier periods in which people were encouraged to be brave, but that’s not what’s happening at this point.

We can choose a perspective and stand against the pulls of distress. Of course the more we discharge, the more the odds start tilting in our favor. We walk into situations that used to be restimulating, and they are not—and we are a little surprised. We go home, and we don’t automatically turn into a four-year-old when we walk in the door and hear our mom’s voice. We see her as a dear person struggling with her distresses—it’s not about us anymore. The odds have tilted the other way; they are in our favor now. But we can choose a rational perspective even before that point.

We always have the ability to choose a perspective in tune with the reality of the situation rather than reacting out of our distresses. We need to think about the fact that we are wonderful, beautiful, intelligent, capable creatures, and that distresses happened to us and so we have some confusion.

Sometimes we walk down the hall bouncing off the walls, because we can’t quite keep everything straight. The restimulations pull us in different ways. When we work on those restimulations, we may feel like it is us against large forces. It felt like that when we got hurt, and it can still feel like that. But the struggle against our distresses is not, at this moment, about anything outside of our minds. Whatever happened to us is over; it’s done. We carry the damage in our minds; it’s ours now. No one outside of us is making that hurt persist in our minds. No one is causing it now. I find this a useful perspective.

In sessions when I battle my distresses, I am not often battling what happened to me. I am battling on the basis that I do not choose to stay hurt, that I refuse to let this damage stay in my mind. I do not want to live this confused, this alone, this sad. I want more than that.

 There is nobody out there who opposes me in this battle. The battle is here, against the damage I carry, not against anybody else. I don’t cater to the feelings that make something powerful over my life. That may have been true when I got hurt, but it is not true now. What I have to battle is right here in my mind. It’s my mind, and I get my choices about it. Knowing what we know, having the support of each other in using the discharge process, there is nothing stopping us except our confusions, our lack of perspective.

Our distresses tell us that we are helpless because of what happened to us in the past—as if the unawareness, the damage, the oppression, is being aimed at us at this moment in some way that we can’t handle. We’ve known for a long time (I can remember my father’s voice saying this to people thirty years ago) that the main force of oppression is not outside of us acting on us with physical force. That does happen, but the main force of oppression, and the main thing that keeps oppressive societies going, is the distress that the oppression has installed in our minds. Restimulation of that hurt pushes us to not think, to not stand against the distress, and to not discharge it. We often don’t figure out how to discharge it, because the distress and its effect on us seem so real.

Oppression is real. But distress—which shuts down our thinking, which was caused by oppression—is not the same as oppression. A distress recording is a distress recording is a distress recording—and nothing else. It has no power if we keep it in perspective and discharge on it consistently. To give our distress more power than that, to leave it attached to past situations as if those situations remain real right now, leaves us confused and slow in pushing against it, makes us feel like we are still the small, helpless one, and we are not.

As we battle the distress in our minds, we are the powerful entity. We can refuse to let it go on in the same way it has played in our minds all these years. We can refuse to believe that false picture of reality. In particular, we can decide that we are important enough to fight against it, that we will no longer tolerate that parasite in our minds. We don’t have to tolerate any distress, and nothing outside ourselves stops us from getting rid of it.

It takes time, it takes work—especially when we have accumulated decades of hurt. But there is no reason to believe it can’t be done. All our experience indicates that all distress can be discharged. When we put resource to it and take the time for it, it starts to move.

We need a reminder to shift our perspective from “suffering all these horrible distresses” to one of understanding that there is simply work to be done. Anything that makes us feel small or powerless, or even upset or distracted, is just an indication of the work we have to do. It is nothing more than that. In some sense, there is nothing wrong. Many of us feel like there is something wrong almost all the time, like there is something wrong in our lives—we don’t know what it is, and we don’t know how to fix it, but it’s wrong. That’s all a distress recording. There is nothing wrong in that sense. There is only work to do to shift that distress.

The reason for having RC Communities, and one of the main reasons we have workshops, isn’t just to discharge. It’s also about perspective. As a workshop leader, I don’t have to tell you anything new about RC for a workshop to work well. Our getting together reminds us about the world and changes our perspective. Being with people who are fighting the same battles, moving in the same directions, reminds us of what we are capable of and who we are. Our perspective shifts, and then we can more easily go on and accomplish things. Could we have done those things before the workshop? Maybe, if we could have found that perspective. But in the oppressive society irrational things are coming at us all the time, every day, to destroy our perspective. We don’t have enough reminders of reality in our worlds—and we’re so used to trying to do everything by ourselves that we often don’t even look for reminders.

For anyone’s counseling to go well, he or she can’t do it alone. And it’s not enough to have a good Co-Counselor, or even three good Co-Counselors. If we don’t get together with a clump of us every so often, we don’t have enough reminders about the world. This is why we need to have RC classes going all the time, so that everybody has a place to go be in a clump. Support groups can help. We need constant access to places where we get to work together—so that we, ourselves, get to work, but also so that we can see other people working in the same direction. Each of our counseling goes better if we have that clump to go to, often. That’s why classes accelerate the progress of Communities and why it gets confusing when, for whatever reason, classes aren’t happening.

We need constant contact with enough of us in order to contradict what’s happening in society around us every day, and to keep a perspective about reality.


1 Boy is an expression that adds emphasis.
2 Going on means happening.


Last modified: 2020-07-01 09:06:00+00