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Committing Ourselves Fully

Tim Jackins,1 at a teachers’ and leaders’ workshop in Warwick, New York, USA, December 2015

A question from a workshop participant: You’ve talked about discouragement. You’ve mentioned deciding to stand in opposition to the distress recording. It reminds me of Harvey2 talking about not surrendering to chronic patterns—how the loss of integrity takes your legs out from under you.

As an RC teacher, how do you explain to people about deciding to face the hardest spot? Sometimes people have no understanding of where they have settled for the recording or how to wage a battle there. I have twenty-eight years of RC under my belt,3 and I still can’t do this a lot of the time. I’m still not sharp here. How do we talk about it? How do we help each other decide to stay and feel and discharge whatever is necessary?

Tim Jackins: I think we all got so defeated in our earliest days that we feel like we can’t try again, like it’s pointless to try because it won’t work. There’s that set of recorded defeats and confusions, and we associate it with our present lives. There’s a way we have difficulty committing ourselves fully to anything. What would you commit yourself to unboundedly?

The main loophole in this impasse is our children. Those of us who have children or grandchildren get to see what a fresh mind looks like. We get to remember the importance of that mind and can decide to be committed to it, whether we can pull that off4 or not. Our children are valuable enough, matter enough, that we can again try everything, even if we fail.

Commitment is not about success. We can be committed and fail. Commitment means that we won’t abandon something, we won’t give in to feeling hopeless. In my mind, I don’t care if it’s hopeless; I don’t care if I fail. That’s not what’s important to me. What’s important is that there be something, somebody, someplace that stands against restimulations and hopelessness, regardless of what happens—that decides to commit, in this case to being fully human. Somebody has to say, “That’s possible. I want that to happen.” I am committed to someone being able to do this, and to my facing whatever stands in my way of doing it.

An example is when I had my shoulder operation. Lying alone in the hospital as the local anesthesia wore off, it hurt—and then it hurt, and then it hurt—and I would watch my mind handle it. “Okay, I can do this. Can I do the next level of pain? Can I do the next level?” I was watching this interesting battle and making a decision about it. The thing I struggled with was if I couldn’t handle the next level of pain, if I needed some drug to interrupt it, should I take it now? I had to decide at each step, “I am still here; let’s see what the next step is,” knowing that I could be defeated but being unwilling to give in.

I’ve decided that I will have to be defeated by something external; I will not defeat myself. I have that commitment in my mind. I’m willing to try anything. In one sense, I know that I can’t do everything. But I am willing, and I think that I have a shot5 at it. I am willing to take a shot at it, especially for people.

It’s a decision. It’s deciding that your mind is still good, still valuable, and that it could be essentially invulnerable—invulnerable to distress. We can be defeated by superior forces, but I don’t think we have to be defeated by distress. Once we get enough discharge and perspective, we can make a decision and commit ourselves to it. We can make up our minds about6 what we want our life to be.

As a counselor I have to go through my material,7 battle my distresses, in order to battle for my client. I can’t isolate myself and fully fight for them. If I put all of my mind toward them, I have to be standing in opposition to my material simultaneously. I may have to be discharging it to keep my mind on them. So a lot of the time when I’m up here, there are tears in my eyes. I’m trying to keep my mind where my client can see it, and that means I can’t be back inside in my distress material. No client sees us well enough through our material. We have to be making an effort out of it.

People can see our effort to get to them and recognize it as part of what was missing back when they got hurt. That’s what they can use—somebody who will try in spite of his or her distress. Being committed to doing that in somebody’s direction, whether or not it works, whether or not it’s recognized, I think is possible and really useful.

We have to be willing to try without success. Most of us can’t try without some sort of guarantee of success. We can’t bear the old recorded feeling of failure. But if we’re avoiding feelings of hopelessness about the effort, then we’re throttling our effort; we don’t try everything we could, because the defeat would be too hard. We hold back.

Everybody is waiting for someone who will move without limiting their intentions, without hedging their bets,8 without playing it safe, without holding something back to make life a little more comfortable for themselves—someone who is willing to put everything out and go as far as they can. Whether or not it works is a different question—maybe an important one, but secondary. At this point we get stuck because we don’t dare try hard. We often don’t dare make that effort as counselor, or as client. In both roles we struggle in the same place. In some ways it’s easier as counselor. We can often try for someone else more wholeheartedly than we can try for ourselves.

There are so few examples to look to in our society of people fully trying. An example I’ve found is in the movie Heart and Souls, from the early nineties. One of the characters has wanted to sing all his life. However, each time he has tried to audition for something, he has given up before he’s sung. Another character creates another chance for him to sing, and when the first character falters again, the second one talks directly to him, saying in effect, “It hasn’t been this way because you can’t do it; it’s been this way because you haven’t tried doing it.” So the would-be singer pushes himself forward, through his lifelong hesitation and defeat, and sings. The movie shows the effort involved in changing his behavior, and the results of having done it.

We have been so badly hurt that it’s been hard to get a grasp of daring to fully try for ourselves, or to communicate about it to each other. But every time people do it, something shifts in their mind—even if they can’t quite make it work the way they’d like to. It’s about battling with the reality of the struggles, rather than avoiding them.

(Present Time 183, April 2016)


1 Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the RC Communities. 
2 Harvey Jackins, the founder and first International Reference Person of the RC Communities
3 “Under my belt” means behind me.
4 “Pull that off” means succeed at that.
5 “Shot” means chance.
6 “Make up our minds about” means decide.
7 “Material” means distress.
8 “Hedging their bets” means protecting themselves from making a wrong choice.


Last modified: 2020-07-17 20:50:52+00