Changing Our Minds

From a talk by Tim jackins at the International Jewish Leaders' Conference in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA, June 2015

You’ve been in Co-Counseling a long time—some of you, a looong time. (laughter) You’ve understood counseling and used it well. You know how much change you have made in your lives. We are unlikely to lose many of you. You do get that restimulated, but the recovery time has shortened. (laughter)

You’ve changed many things—and yet some early struggles persist. Every time you see each other, you look better—and yet you look the same. The things you’ve been able to work on shift, and the things you haven’t figured out, or haven’t had the resource to figure out, don’t. Distresses are confusing. The more resource we have around us, the faster we recover. That’s one of the important reasons we build community. It keeps us intact.

Our old discouragement makes it hard to work on the things we haven’t already worked on—on the places where we got more heavily hurt. We were more alone and less powerful in those early times, and often we just gave up and decided to go our own way. We decided that we would continue to exist in the best way we could figure out. It made life bearable, but it was not like the full life we thought was possible when we were small.

Our perspective has been twisted. This shows up when we try to work on early hard things. We are almost unwilling to do it. We feel like we are going to be defeated again so we stop trying. It is difficult to hold perspective in the places where we were defeated so soundly and couldn’t discharge. So I am asking you to do things that never worked before. “I did this over and over and over again. It never worked. Every time I got stepped on, and you want me to what? You want me to do that? You say it will work. It never worked.”

All those things are true. (laughter) They are exactly true. The effort I am talking about must be based on the fact that things are different now.

If we can’t make this transition, our prospective and our counseling stay “reformist.” It’s not our intention, but we end up simply making things a little better and more livable. We don’t make the big changes, personally and beyond, that are clearly going to be necessary.

We work around the edges. We make the distress a little more understandable. We take another step. However, at some point something more than that is going to be required. Society is collapsing. (Some people used to be in a hurry for it to collapse. They wanted it to happen in their lifetime. Now they are afraid that it will and can’t bear to think about it.) We are approaching some big shift. For us to think and function well, we are going to have to face some big early struggles. We are going to have to decide that no matter what happened in the past, no matter how bad or hard it was, the future can still be ours.

We have to learn how to face unbearable things and see if they’re really unbearable. We don’t yet know how to do that very well. Somebody needs to know. I think that RCers have a better chance at it than anyone.

What a great chance! I mean, really, what a great chance. No one before us has had the opportunity to overcome how hard life has been. We have the chance to overcome it, and to make that possible for people ever after. But it takes our minds. It takes decision. It takes changing our minds, and in some way that’s different than making a decision.

The first piece of it is facing the things that we can’t bear to face—in our pasts, in our family’s past, in our people’s past. We can’t move forward well to change the world until we do this. We have made good progress, which gives us the possibility of doing something very different.

There is a branch of mathematics called catastrophe theory. It comes from the fact that many things gradually change, slowly bend, and then snap. Not all change is a continuous process. There are revelations. Oh! And suddenly your picture of the world changes. I think we have done well with gradual change. It’s what we have known how to do. We’ve gained ground and space and relationships. But maybe we don’t continue to do the same things forever. Maybe there’s a snap. Can we dare to see if that is true? Can you change your mind? No matter what happened to you? No matter what the past was? It’s still your mind. There are still possibilities. What would you let stop you? You wouldn’t want anything to stop you. As a child you didn’t think anything could, until the adults stopped you. (laughter)

I think all of us hope that we could do that—snap. We hope that if the situation were clear enough to us, we could move. Most people think that they would do anything if their child or grandchild were in danger. They wouldn’t worry about the effects around them; they wouldn’t care that they didn’t know if they would succeed. That wouldn’t matter. What would matter is that they moved, that they didn’t wait to try.

Wouldn’t it be nice to every day have something you could rise up and throw yourself at? To not care if you made it [succeeded]—to only care that you tried and then to just see what happened? I think that’s the attitude each of us has to take toward those old pieces of material [distress]—toward the places where we were so defeated that we stopped trying to discharge them.

It’s time to turn around and walk back. We were defeated. That’s all right. The defeats didn’t kill us. It wouldn’t have been all right if they had. But it’s all right that the defeats happened. What’s not all right is for them to affect us forever. That they make us timid, make us avoid the old battles so that we can’t clearly fight new battles, is not okay.

There is a shift we have to make in our minds. I don’t know how to make you do it. I want to. I want to make you do it. But more than that I want you to decide you want to do it, and then do it. My fears and impatience make me want to make you do it. I’m afraid you won’t. That’s part of my distress. I’m afraid you won’t get the chance. We’ve had how many billion people who’ve never had the chance? How do I make sure you get the chance?

How do I impress on you that I am sure it is possible? I don’t know if I’ll be able to make this change. I don’t even care that much if I can. I care that somebody does it. I care that we go forward. If it’s me, fine. I’m the one that I have the most command of, so I’m working hard at it. But it would be better to have ten thousand of us at a time. We move faster and further together than any of us could ever move alone. To know that we’re not the only one daring to try that hard changes our perspective very nicely.

That’s all I can tell you. That’s all I can show you. I dare you. Let’s see what we can do.

There are many different tendencies in the world right now. Human minds are figuring out more and more. On the one hand, this is wonderful. On the other hand, it gives distresses more and more power to be acted out more widely. We humans are not in worse shape [condition] than we were three centuries ago. But we couldn’t destroy the environment back then. Now we can.

So we have these tendencies happening. And we have us—fighting through the cloud of distress. It’s all headed toward some point. Who gets there first (laughter) with enough intelligence to do what? We’ll see. Let’s see.

We can do this. The question is how quickly and how consistently. In my experience it works best collectively. We lose heart when we get separated from each other, when we don’t see each other’s battles, when we don’t hear another’s voice daring us to take a big chance.

Someone needs to put the issue out as fully as they can and then have everyone try—right then. The longer the pause, the less successful we are.

We won’t always have the right circumstances. When we don’t, our sessions squeeze down to smaller and smaller things. Don’t blame yourself. It takes resource to make this happen. So gather four people now and take a shot at it [try it].

Tim Jackins

International Reference Person

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

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