We Have the Resources to Recover from Everything

From a talk by Tim Jackins1 at the East Coast North America Leaders’ Workshop, in Warwick, New York, USA, December 2014

Society’s collapse continues, accelerates, and is out in the open enough that there are fewer and fewer loud arguments about it. There is lots of defensiveness, and lots of denial in different forms, but nobody can really argue against it.

Having it out in the open gives us opportunities to help people focus on the issues rather than their distresses about the issues. But for us to do that effectively, we have to keep going back to our own early distresses. These are two sides of the work we do in RC—going out into the world and helping people see that there are things we all can do to move the situation forward according to everyone’s best thinking, and continuing to work to get all of us in better shape2 to do that.


We have to go back and discharge the distresses that we have not had the resource to work on before now. It turns out3 that we each have a large collection of early hurtful incidents that defeated us and from which we didn’t get a chance to recover.

Our past defeats are not the problem. Defeat is not a problem. We can recover from defeat. We can get back all our thinking ability, gain more information about how to go on, and try again in a sharper, more effective way. It’s when we don’t get to discharge the defeat that we live defeated.

We have seldom had the circumstances in which to challenge our defeats, so they have piled up. Over and over again, good, adventurous revolutionary minds slowly get frozen in undischarged distress and turn reactionary.

We have to be pleased but not satisfied with what we have been able to do. It appears to be the most that any large group of people has ever managed to do in the area of freeing human minds. If we never move past this point, we will have pushed things forward a significant amount. But our distresses pull us to stay here, to stay at this level and not push for more.

Also, so much clearly needs to be done out in the world that it can feel like what’s called for is putting ourselves aside. But I think there are very few circumstances in which a sacrifice of ourselves is the best move. Not that sacrificing oneself hasn’t made good things happen, but I doubt that it is the best move very often. The best move is our going forward more clearly, more forcefully, more fully, and more alive. People seeing us function better and better has more of an effect than any memory they have of our making extreme efforts. Somebody continuing to flourish and push forward is what we all look for. We admire those who pushed forward in the past, but seeing somebody in the present who hasn’t given up on continuing forward is what wakes us up to all the possibilities.

And so I want us to look at those early defeats that we simply live with, that we feel we can’t go past, that we resign ourselves to (“I am doing well enough”), that feel unbearable to face. They feel unbearable because we suffered them alone in some profound sense. We had no chance to communicate about them or discharge them. There was no one else to understand them. They happened to us in a very private, personal way, over and over again, until a big part of life got sucked out of us. We figured out how to go on with what we had left; it seemed like we couldn’t ever fully recover everything.

I recovered an early memory of when a distress went chronic. Up until that point, no matter what happened, if I could play hard enough or get a good night’s sleep the feeling of distress would leave me. I would get back some slack. And then that didn’t happen. I was stuck there. It’s those things that build up to the point where we lose perspective, where we believe the defeat is final, that we need to go back and challenge.

I think the perspective has to be that nothing is out of our reach, that everything that ever happened to us can be discharged and resolved in the sense that the distress can be entirely drained from it and we can make sense of what happened and not suffer from it. We can now gain back what we could have regained, if the conditions had been right, at the moment the hurt happened.

We all carry these defeats. That we have them is not the result of a personal error, or an accident of our condition, or a mistake of our family, or some odd cosmic ray hitting us at the wrong angle. The conditions were such that they had to happen to all of us. No one had the conditions in which it could have been any other way. We all wouldn’t be living with these defeats if there had been a chance. Somebody would have seized the chance. But the conditions for that didn’t exist then.


It still feels as bad as it did back then, but we have changed the conditions. We have changed them. There is a high probability now that we have the resources to undo any damage that happened to us. This includes any damage that happened to our families and our peoples and was passed on to us. No generation has had a chance to escape.

I think the assumption has to be that everything is within our grasp, every single thing. Whether we ever get the time to take care of everything is a different question. I don’t think it’s the important question. The important thing is that we do not accept a limitation on what we can do. I don’t think there is a theoretical limitation. There are always limitations in practice, in what we have the resource to do at any particular time. We get to make choices about that—about what we go after,4 how consistently we work on early distresses, and how we organize our minds and our counseling resources to work on them. We may not get through everything, but that isn’t what’s important. What’s important is that we have the ability to get through anything we choose to.

My standard answer to pessimism—you know, “you can’t do that”—is simply, “We’ll see.” The future will tell us, not the past. We get to make efforts and see what we can do. It doesn’t have to be decided by anybody’s recording5 now. We have the chance now that didn’t exist before. That means that we have to suffer. (laughter) In a sense it does. It means that we have to go back and grieve about what we didn’t get to grieve about when it happened—not just take a direction against it.

There are some perspectives to develop: How do we work on early heavy things that stopped our mind and not forget that it is different in the present? How do we draw the distinction evermore clearly? I suspect that we can work on the worst things that happened to us, and that we didn’t get to discharge, and not lose track of the present.

This is about fighting for what we think is true. We think it is true because of the evidence we all have gathered. In this room there are thousands of years of experience with RC. We have learned a tremendous amount because of the work we have done. What we have done has built this possibility. It is a real thing that did not exist when we got hurt. It has changed the world in a very significant way. We are still timid about saying this and counting on it. What will happen if we stake our life on it?6


At some point, as society collapses, there will be big decisions to make about committing our lives to making something happen. We need some practice. The things that would stop us are the things that we haven’t been able to face, the distresses that have seemed like too much. They were too much. We need to say that over and over again. They were too much. And when our clients say, “It’s horrible, I can’t bear it,” what we can say is, “Yes, that’s the way it was. That’s exactly what happened to you. It was that bad. And maybe it’s not like that now.” We don’t have to argue too heavily. We have to state the possibility. Their mind needs to entertain the possibility that conditions have changed, and we can find a thousand different ways to make that happen without screaming at them (though sometimes screaming at them works). They need someone to hold the position that they can’t yet hold by themselves. We will have to do that as their counselor, until they dare to try.


Okay, just a bit more repetition. The conditions under which we came into existence as humans were such that we had to be defeated. There wasn’t another possibility then and there. No mind gives up prematurely. People keep a shred of hope alive for a long time. But the conditions have consistently been such that at some point it was too much. It was finally just too much, and we got frozen in distress because we didn’t get the chance to recover. We were defeated by the conditions of an oppressive society, and that same society didn’t allow us to recover. So there are places where we have all given up and figured out the best way to simply go on, undischarged, with our lives.

We have been successful. We have great lives. Even having to build on top of the defeats, we have made great lives. So it’s hard to go back and face things that feel unbearable, to imagine that we could have more of life if we could fight those battles. Still, we must go back and look at where we gave up, stopped fighting, adapted to that set of recordings, and just went on. It happened to all of us, in many different ways. We don’t remember a lot of it. It was just the way life always was.

We get to go back now and look at where we gave up, talk about it, and talk about how unimaginable it is to think of challenging it. It’s unimaginable even when we have decided to do it. There’s a strange way that we can intellectually make decisions but not act on them. I think we have a lot of grief to discharge about having lived hurt for all these years. And I think we need to discharge it before our mind can get back in full control of those places where we gave up. There is a kind of discharging that has to happen, and as it happens we will get more of our mind functioning again in those areas and begin to make up our mind7 not just in an intellectual way.

We have the idea intellectually, but we are not committed to it. And without making the commitment, we run when we are in battle. We begin to face the defeats, but then we take off.8 The distress has locked our mind so heavily in those areas that we can’t quite force it open.

Some amount of discharge has to happen, and some amount of seeing the possibility of changing things by getting the discharge, before we can commit ourselves to what we know is true. “I know it’s true, I know it’s true, and I won’t do it.” That sounds contradictory, but I think there is a way to understand it.

I want us to do what we have never been able to do before. That’s what I want us to do everywhere. This is not a small exception. I want us to do things that we have never been able to do before, that nobody has been able to do. It’s part of the whole package of getting back what we think is being human: doing new, fresh things forever, including finishing old battles that have never been finished. It’s part of us to be able to do these things. And now we have to do it.


Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.
2 “Shape” means condition.
3 “It turns out” means it has been shown to be true.
4 “Go after” means pursue.
5 Distress recording
6 “Stake our life on it” means risk our life in believing it.
7 “Make up our mind” means decide.
8 “Take off” means leave.

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