Copyright ©1999 All
Commercial use of this material is prohibited .
By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.
Our first task in approaching another culture is to take off our shoes, for the ground we
are approaching is holy.
As I said in Honoring the Old...Nurturing the Young:
Part 1, welcoming a new person into your group can be an overwhelming experience fraught
with many obstacles. In part 1, I discussed with you how to safely and successfully
integrate a new member into your group.
key to your success? How congruent you act with the Group Therapy Contract. Congruency is
the single most important determinant of your success with group therapy in general and
welcoming a new group member in particular. Why is that so? The Group Therapy Contract is
the internal compass of the group process. The Group Therapy Contract always points in one
direction, due North. The needle of the compass never strays, never deviates from
its due North direction. When youre incongruent with the Group Therapy Contract, you
can conclude one very simple fact--youre not headed due North. And if youre
not headed due North, its unlikely that youre going to get to where you claim
you want to go. Theres only one reason why you would not be heading due North at any
time in your group therapy experience. That reason would be because you havent fully
embraced and incorporated the backbone of the Group Therapy Contract, the foundational
value system into every choice you make.
told you in Honoring the Old, Nurturing the Young: Part 1, the foundational value system
is the backbone of the Group Therapy Contract. Again, just as a reminder, weve
already established that foundational is a made up word. But dont underestimate the
importance of what this made up word means to the success of everybodys therapy.
Because the success of your therapy is so dependent on understanding, embracing, and
incorporating the five values of the foundational value system into your weekly practice,
I want to take some time to discuss with you the other four values of the foundational
To remind you, the five values of the foundational value system are: 1.) reciprocity; 2.)
presence; 3.) beginners mind; 4.) reverence; 5.) honoring the old...nurturing the
young. Participating in the group without embracing the five values of the foundational
value system is like trying to steer a ship at sea without a rudder. Because I already
discussed in part 1, honoring the old... nurturing the young, Ill be discussing only
the four other values of the foundational value system below. Please read the following
material carefully, thoughtfully, and thoroughly so that you can begin to incorporate the
five values into your group experience.
first value I want to discuss with you is reciprocity. Because the focus of
this group is unique in its specificity, it requires specific actions from each group
member so that the group can function as effectively as it is capable of functioning. Let
me repeat what I say so often. This is not just your therapy for you are an important part
of everybody elses therapy. Your emotional, cognitive, behavioral, physical, and
spiritual presence that is expressed through your active participation is the sole source
of material from which other group members do their therapy. If you do not attend a
session or if you attend but do not participate in a meaningful way as outlined in the
Group Therapy Contract or if you do not participate at all, youll severely dilute
the potency of not only your therapy, but every other group members therapy as well.
its critical that you attend every group session. Its critical that you
punctually attend every group session. Its critical that you stay to the very end of
every group session. Its critical that youre not only physically present but
emotionally, cognitively, behaviorally, and spiritually present for every group session as
well. To do so means that youll actively be engaged in the unfolding group process.
That means that youre not only actively listening to and processing whats
going on, but youre also contributing to the unfolding process of the group. How can
you best contribute, how does reciprocity manifest itself in the group process?
phrase I use is active participation. Active participation means that youre
congruent with the Group Therapy Contract when you reveal to the rest of the group
whats being stimulated within yourself by the here-and-now process of the group. Let
me remind you. Heres the Aspirational Contract that youve agreed to honor in
your group sessions. Each group member contracts to share with every other group member
their experience of the present moment. To do so means that you agree to examine within
yourself and express to the other group members your awareness of what the present moment
stimulates in your thoughts, feelings, and actions about your present and past. You agree
to examine within yourself and express your experience of each group member in the present
moment. You agree to examine within yourself and express your awareness of your
relationship with the Group Therapy Contract. You agree to examine within yourself and
express your awareness of the underlying meaning of any and all deviations from all terms
of the Group Therapy Contract.
can infer from the following part of my above statement, you agree to examine within
yourself and express your awareness of the underlying meaning of any and all deviations
from all terms of the Group Therapy Contract that I fully expect you to deviate from
the Group Therapy Contract. Deviating from the Group Therapy Contract is as much a part of
your therapy as actually following the Group Therapy Contract.
want to emphasize the following. Although deviating from the Group Therapy Contract is
expected, an important part of your therapy is examining your deviations from the Group
Therapy Contract. You can infer from that statement that I believe that theres
profoundly important psychological information about who you are at play whenever you
deviate from the contract. Because group therapy is a psychological investigation, I
insist on treating your deviations from the contract as explainable only in terms of who
you are, only in terms of unconscious or conscious motivations, only in terms of choices
that you made to set up the situation you find yourself in. By no means do I view your
deviations from the contract as you being the victim of unforeseen, out of control, or
random circumstances. Arguments anyone?
are three specific styles of active participation that you will utilize in the group. Each
style supports different styles of participation and different goals of your involvement
in the group. The first style of active participation is compliance. The second style of
active participation is defiance. The third style of active participation is
important that youre able to distinguish between the three different styles of
active participation. As youre better able to distinguish what style of active
participation youre using, youll have better insight into the type of
involvement youre creating for yourself in the group. Let me emphasize that I fully
expect that you will use all three styles of active participation throughout the entire
course of your membership in the group. Although the aspirational goal of each group
member is to exclusively participate through the active participation style of
self-examination, youll discover that youll frequently use both compliance and
defiance as well. Again let me emphasize, as important as the style of active
participation is that youre using, its equally important that you continually
examine whats being revealed about you, no matter what style of active participation
me give you some specific information about each of these three styles of active
participation. First, Ill discuss compliance. Compliance is a style of active
participation that enables the group member to create the appearance of being actively
involved in the group process without actually becoming emotionally connected with
themself and/or with the other group members. Compliance, as a behavioral strategy,
enables the compliant group member to limit and control access to them even as they appear
to be courageously, actively participating. The goal of the compliant group member is to
emotionally distance themselves from the group, all the while creating the impression that
theyre a well-meaning, well-intended person whos above reproach. The compliant
group member works very hard to appear as if theyre doing group therapy the right
way, but their unspoken intention is to keep everybody off their backs. The compliant
group member resists becoming emotionally involved in the group process but resists in
such a way that (s)he does not appear that (s)he is being resistant. The reason why the
compliant group member has their own unique style of interacting with other group members
is because they need a style of relating to the other group members that constructs an
image for themself rather than deconstructs the layers of masks behind which they hide
their authentic Self.
are two types of active participation that the compliant group members uses. I refer to
the first type of compliance as Speechifying and the second type as Groupspeak.
first type of compliance is Speechifying. Speechifying is a type of active participation
whereby the compliant group member gives long-winded speeches. These long-winded speeches
are designed to exclude rather than include the listener in the conversation. These
long-winded speeches provide window dressing for the image that the compliant group member
is attempting to construct of themself. If you listen carefully to the compliant group
member who is Speechifying, youll notice that (s)he is not so much self-disclosing
purpose of the filibuster is to demonstrate that the compliant group member is
participating without having to ever reveal their authentic Self. The filibuster also
prevents other group members from connecting with the compliant group member because the
group members are blocked from responding. Not only are the group members blocked from
responding to the compliant group member, theyre bored into submission by the
endless recitation of the same old tired information about their good intentions, their
protestations, their declarations, and inevitably how misunderstood they are. Any remnant
of emotions that existed prior to the beginning of the speech are wrung out of the room,
early on, once the filibuster begins. Once the room has been put to sleep by the endless
litany of aspirations that never will be met and promises that never will be kept, the
compliant group member completes their speech, satisfied in knowing that they have wiggled
off the hook one more time.
persons stated objective in belonging to the group is self-examination for the
purpose of transforming and growing, why does the compliant group member Speechify? As I
said above, the compliant group members sole goal of active participation is to
create the appearance of actively participating in the relationships of the group without
taking on the inherent risk of actually connecting with anybody. Speechifying separates
the speechgiver from the rest of the group, enables the speechgiver to successfully
control the group members thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and regulates the
amount of access that any one individual can have to the speechgiver. How does
Speechifying accomplish such an end?
creates the appearance of active participation without any of the inherent risk and
exposure that goes with being involved in the process of connecting with another human
being. Speechifying serves as a barrier that the speechgiver erects in order to avoid the
intensity and intimacy of a one-on-one interaction. Speechifying is a way of pleading
ones case without having to thoughtfully and courageously self-examine what the
speechgiver is experiencing in the moment. Speechifying is a device that enables the
speechgiver to present themself as a well-intended person whos really, really
trying, and one day soon, any day now, is going to get all of this stuff right.
second type of compliance is Groupspeak. More than just a style of participation,
Groupspeak is actually the solution to a problem that all compliant group members must
solve. The problem that they have to solve is how to appear to be actively involved in the
relationships of the group without actually establishing any kind of authentic connection
with the other group members.
solution that the compliant group member invents is to create the illusion that
theyre emotionally involved with the other group members. The way the compliant
group member creates such an illusion is by learning the vocabulary of the group process
and hiding their authentic Self behind empty phrases that dont accurately portray a
congruence between the compliant members behavior and their expressed sentiment.
first example of Groupspeak is empty words or phrases. Empty words or phrases have
two goals. Goal number one is to articulate what the compliant group member believes
should be said in a given situation, even if what is said doesnt expresses a
sentiment or emotion that reflects how the compliant group member actually feels about the
receiver of their communication. Goal number two is to do and/or say something right
regardless of whether it reflects the truth about who you are and how you feel towards
another group member. Theres a very simple reason that the compliant group member
relies on Groupspeak as their dominant means of participating in the group. They do so
because the compliant group member values doing and/or saying something that is right over
authentic connection with the other group members. Examples of this type of Groupspeak
include but are not limited to: I care about you; I feel your pain; I just want to check
in with you; I know you had a hard time in group last week and I was worried about you so
I wanted to see how you were doing; I miss you; You mean a lot to me; I dont want to
keep doing all of those things that I keep doing. Afterall, thats why Im here,
second example of Groupspeak is providing the same standard, tried-and-true psychological
explanation(s) for every question you explore, every action you take, every thought that
you express in the group. Its as if the compliant group member creates a mental
checklist of psychological explanations that they have learned in their therapy and apply
those explanations to any and all circumstances that they encounter in the group. For
example, I keep treating you this way because you remind me of my mother, father,
brother, sister, lover, boss, fill in the blank (as if your past is the sole reason for
why you do everything). Or, I keep doing this because Im afraid (as if fear is the
sole explanation for all that you do, think, and feel). Or, I continually dishonor the
Group Therapy Contract because Im a controlling person (as if control is the sole
explanation for all that you do, think, or feel). Or, I dont know why I keep doing
this, Im not consciously doing it on purpose (as if the only thing that motivates
your behavior is your conscious reasoning). Or, I dont want to control you.
Thats what Im here for to change all of that (as if your good intentions are
the sole explanation for why you do, dont do, or say something).
The third example of Groupspeak is participating in the group by exclusively
addressing the group as a whole rather than engage individual group members one-on-one.
The explanation for this is no different than those that I have already stated for other
examples of Groupspeak. By solely addressing the group as a whole, the compliant group
member is able to control the intensity of their participation, lessen the level of their
exposure, and maintain the anonymity of their authentic Self.
first cousin of addressing the group as a whole is the infamous redirection play.
Youll oftentimes notice that a group member has been engaged by another group member
in conversation. As a means of escaping that interaction, the compliant group member will
slip out of the other group members grasp by responding to the group as a whole,
redirecting their response to another group member, or include the therapist in the
conversation. All of these strategies are attempts to sever rather than maintain the
one-on-one connection with the group member who initiated the conversation.
be sure, there are times when a group member very appropriately addresses the group as a
whole, but as with anything else, its all about proportion and the underlying
fourth example of Groupspeak is providing the answer that you believe your therapist or
fellow group member wants from you. The compliant group member is a sneaky wascal of a
wabbitt. Instead of focusing on themselves and how the present moment is impacting their
own being, the compliant group member meticulously and methodically expends all of their
mental energies collecting data on what responses will satisfy what group member and what
response will provoke their ire. Not only does the compliant group member collect this
particular data about each group member, the compliant group member develops an exhaustive
data base of responses that the group therapist finds acceptable, insightful, and speaks
to whatever point the therapist is making.
of participating in a therapy of meaningful self-examination and thoughtful
self-disclosure, the compliant group member creates their own style of therapy, a style of
therapy I refer to as therapy by the numbers. Therapy by the numbers is a style of therapy
whereby the compliant group member simply inserts the response they believe is expected
from them in the appropriate slot. If the compliant group member doesnt
provide the response expected from them then they provide the response they believe to be
most pleasing. If its neither of those two choices, then the compliant group member
provides the response that makes them appear to be the most psychologically sophisticated
in their understanding of who they are. Of course if the situation doesnt call for
any of those types of responses, the compliant group member will offer the response they
know will bring an abrupt end to the ongoing inquisition. Please note that even as our
compliant group member excels at providing what they believe others want to hear them say,
our compliant group member is in no way closer to mastering the art of being connected to
the present moment, connected to their authentic Self, connected with the other group
members, connected to their spiritual centers nor any more able to reveal their authentic
Self to the rest of the group, all of which, I hasten to add, is the sole purpose of
participating in the group.
compliance isnt the only style of active participation that youll run up
against or even rely upon in your group experience. Another style of active participation
that youll encounter is defiance. There are several reasons why a group member
adopts defiance as a style of active participation. For starters, the defiant group member
uses defiance as a way of opposing both the prescriptive rules and the aspirational goals
of the Group Therapy Contract. Why? Oppositional be thy name!
as a style of active participation, provides the group member a way to release all of
their unacknowledged, unexpressed feelings by acting out their feelings rather than
expressing them. But more than a release for unacknowledged, unexpressed feelings,
defiance enables the defiant group member to maintain their sense of autonomy and
independence. You see, whereas the sole concern of the compliant group member is to do and
say the right thing, the defiant group members sole concern is to be in control,
vigilantly protecting their autonomy, rigorously maintaining their sense of independence,
and unyieldingly remaining separate rather than a part of the group.
first style of defiance is not honoring the prescriptive rules of the Group Therapy
Contract. Specific examples of that would be missed sessions, coming late for sessions,
having outside contact with other group members, dating and/or sexing with other group
members, not paying for your sessions at the beginning of each group, coming to group
under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not turning off your pager or cell phone. I
consider any one or any combination of these activities a SERIOUS breach of the
Group Therapy Contract.
breach of the prescriptive rules of the group should be treated lightly. When theres
a breach of the prescriptive rules, its the responsibility of the offending group
member to use their individual and group therapy to examine the underlying meaning of the
second style of defiance is using group time to discuss people or events that are
totally unrelated and/or external to the group. I refer to that as talking about outside
business. To interact dominantly about people and events external to the group is a way of
avoiding creating relationships with people in the group.
To be sure, there will be times when the present moment stimulates a period of
self-examination and discussion about your past or outside business. However, that type of
self-disclosure is appropriate only when done in the context of something stimulated by
the business of the group.
third style of defiance is repeated discussions about past events and past interactions
that has occurred between you and other members of the group. Dont get me wrong.
Its critical that you continually examine and discuss the past and present aspects
of your unfolding relationships with the people in the group. However, if a group member
refers back to past events in the group as the dominant way they participate in the group,
theyre avoiding connecting with the members of the group in the present moment.
fourth style of defiance is not participating in the group at all. I know that may sound
paradoxical. Afterall, how can you actively participate without participating? Simply put,
active participation takes place non-verbally as well as verbally. So the defiant group
member uses non-participation as a form of communication--Me and my two friends,
Smith and Wesson, are doing this group my way, not yours, buddy.
one last style of active participation I want to discuss with you. Its the style of
active participation that each group member should aspire to use. Its the style that
every group member has contracted to use. I refer to this style as self-examination. I
call the style of active participation that the self-examining group member uses
self-disclosure. Self-disclosure is a style of active participation whose sole purpose is
to reveal yourself to each group member. Emphasis on reveal, not explain, not justify, not
rationalize, not litigate, not storytell, not problem solve, not rehash, but reveal.
do you self-disclose to the group? You self-disclose information thats
relevant to the focus of your group. The focus of your group is the material that arises
in the eighty minutes that the group is in session, the material from your past that is
stimulated by the eighty minutes that the group is in session, material that has been
activated from past sessions, material stimulated by your relationship with the Group
Therapy Contract and the underlying material that is embedded in your deviations from the
Group Therapy Contract.
can infer from what I just said that the focus of the group is not the problems in your
life external to the group, not the people in your life external to the group, not the
circumstances in your life external to the group, and not topics of general interest
external to the group. Therefore your self-disclosures should exclude problems, people,
circumstances, and topical interests. Those are all appropriate subject matters for your
individual therapy and/or different styles of group therapy.
is done in one-on-one interactions with each group member about the stuff that exists
between you and the present moment, the stuff that exists between you and a particular
group member, the stuff that is awakened from your historical past by the present moment,
the stuff that exists between you and your relationship to the culture of the group, the
stuff that exists between you and the Group Therapy Contract.
stuff that Im referring to includes but is not limited to: 1.) the material that the
present moment has stimulated between you and another group member; 2.) the material that
the present moment has stimulated within yourself by observing and experiencing other
group members interact between themselves; 3.) the evolving material from your expanded
and deepening awareness of historical interactions between you and another group member;
4.) historical material that is stimulated by the present moment experiences in the group;
5.) incongruencies you experience in observing yourself and the other group members; 6.)
incongruencies between you and the Group Therapy Contract.
more you discipline yourself to use self-disclosure rather than the tools of compliance
and defiance, the more youll get out of your group experience. At the same time, you
need to be aware of and accept that the more you use self-disclosure, the more vulnerable
youll feel. The more vulnerable you feel, the more tempted youll be to slip
back into using the tools of compliance and defiance.
second value I want to discuss with you is presence. What do I mean by presence? Presence
is the emotional, cognitive, physiological, behavioral, and spiritual connection you have
to the present moment. There are three aspects of presence that I want to review with you.
first aspect of presence I want to discuss with you is being mindful of the Aspirational
Contract that youve agreed to honor as a member of the group. Each group member
contracts to share with every other group member their experience of the present moment.
To do so means that you agree to examine within yourself and express to the other group
members your awareness of what the present moment stimulates in your thoughts, feelings,
and actions about your present and past. You agree to examine within yourself and express
your experience of each group member in the present moment. You agree to examine within
yourself and express your awareness of your relationship with the Group Therapy Contract.
You agree to examine within yourself and express your awareness of the underlying meaning
of any and all deviations from all terms of the Group Therapy Contract.
being mindful of what youve contracted to do, an important aspect of your
self-examination is to be aware of whether or not your actions are congruent with what
youve contracted to do. The point is not to shame you when you deviate from the
Group Therapy Contract. Rather, its important to examine what those deviations
reveal about who you are, what the underlying motivation is for your deviations, and what
obstacles you create that prevent you from being congruent with the Group Therapy
Contract. Please note and incorporate into your active participation that its fully
expected that youll deviate from the Group Therapy Contract. However, its your
responsibility to explore the underlying meaning of your deviations from the Group Therapy
Contract in your individual and group therapy sessions.
second aspect of presence that I want to discuss with you is your emotional, cognitive,
physical, behavioral, and spiritual state before the group begins. Because of the unique
focus of your group, youll be challenged to unplug from the day-to-day influences of
your life in order that you may attend to the eighty minutes that the group meets.
Its very difficult to leave the stresses, concerns, and responsibilities of your
life at the door of my office, but thats exactly what you need to do in order to
most fully benefit from your group experience.
practical terms, that means you should be mindful of the following. Although no one has
ever missed a session because they couldnt find a parking space, finding a parking
space can be at times difficult and stressful. Although theres ample parking in the
neighborhood in which my office is located, its unlikely that youll be able to
pull into the neighborhood five minutes prior to your group starting and find a space
immediately in front of my office. Also, you need to know that whatever parking spaces are
available, virtually none of them are legal parking spots. So leave plenty of time to find
a parking space. Do not plan on walking into the group right as it begins, huffing and
puffing from running three blocks. Leave yourself enough time to distance yourself from
the stress of parking as well as from the stress of your day-to-day life. Take a few
moments prior to the beginning of your group to collect yourself. Make some time for quiet
reflection. Mentally put away the emotional armor that you wear throughout the day. Get
yourself grounded in your body, in your emotions, and in your thoughts as it relates to
group therapy. Review in your mind where youre at in the group, where youre at
in your unfolding relationships with the other group members, and where youre headed
with each group member. If youre asked to do a specific assignment for the group, do
it, bring it, review it, and present it! Finally, I ask that each group member turn
off your cell phone and/or pager while in the group room. It would be preferable that you
leave your cell phone and/or pager at home, in your car, or in Steves office.
Whatever you choose to do, its your responsibility to insure that the group is not
interrupted by your cell phone and/or pager. Your group therapy can be a very powerful
experience, but only if you prepare properly for it so you can be absolutely present to
each unfolding moment of the group.
third aspect of presence that I want to discuss with you is your emotional, cognitive,
physical, behavioral, and spiritual state during the group. Its only natural for you
to mentally, physically, and emotionally drift in and out of the group during the course
of the eighty minutes that the group is in session. Things will be done and said in the
group that will trigger memories of past experiences. Things will be done and said in the
group that will trigger your own tangential path of self-examination. Things will be done
and said in the group that will trigger the activation of your self-defense mechanisms
that inevitably disconnect you from the immediacy of the present moment. Things will be
done and said in the group that will bore you to tears and as a result, trigger your
flight by thinking about the pattern on the rug or the spiders web hanging from the
ceiling. A more reasonable goal than never disconnecting from the group process
emotionally, cognitively, and physically while the group is in progress is to identify all
the ways that you do disconnect from the present moment and find a way to get yourself
reconnected to the group process once you notice your disconnect.
the underlying principle of this group is to examine what the here-and-now stimulates
within you. To do so, you must examine how youre impacted by your connection to the
present moment, examine how you respond emotionally, behaviorally, physiologically,
cognitively, and spiritually to the stimulations of the present moment, examine what the
present moment awakens within you from your past, and examine how you disconnect from the
present moment. Because these are the underlying fundamentals of the group, its
critical that you become an expert on how to attend to the present moment, how you
disconnect from the present moment, and how you can best return to the present moment.
third value I want to discuss with you is beginners mind. Theres only one
obstacle that will sabotage any effort you make over the course of your entire group
experience. Whether it be welcoming a new group member, developing relationships,
addressing the unfolding issues that arise in the group, wrestling with the Group Therapy
Contract, no matter the issue, no matter the task, you and only you will be your only
obstacle to succeeding in the group. Stop worrying about what you dont know, there
is no need to fret about the unexpected, stop being so anxious about how all your
shortcomings will do you in, because they wont. Theres only one thing that you
need to be protected from and that one thing would be you.
your entire group experience, youll have many opportunities to learn, to grow, and
ultimately, transform. However, very little transformative learning can take place until
you recognize how you get in your own way. Once you recognize how you get in your way, the
next thing for you to do is unlearn what you do that gets you in your own way. Why?
Because if you dont unlearn what you do that gets you in your own way then how much
room can there be for you to make room for new experiences and new ways of seeing yourself
and the world at large? The following story is a good example of how people get in their
way to the point that they cant possibly be open to new experiences and new visions.
learned professor once went to visit a Zen master to debate the finer points of Zen. The
professor came armed with his credentials and his many accomplishments in the field of
comparative religion. Included in his introduction to the Zen master was the mentioning of
the many awards that had been bestowed upon him during his long and distinguished career.
listening to the professor, the Zen master offered tea to his guest. As the learned
professor continued presenting his credentials of expertise in the field of comparative
religion, the Zen master began to fill the professors tea cup. While the professor
went on and on about the level of expertise he had achieved, the Zen master continued
pouring tea into the learned professors cup until it was overflowing. Even as the
cup overflowed, the Zen master continued pouring and pouring.
professor protested, thinking the Zen master a madman. The professor pointed out that the
cup was overflowing and had become too full to hold any more tea.
You are like this cup, the Zen master told his guest, too full of your
own opinions to receive anything else.
too are too full of your opinions and ideas to receive what your experience in the group
has to offer you. Until you approach every week with an empty cup and a beginners
mind, youll continue to be blinded by your opinions, your judgments, and your
self-serving belief system. How can you develop a beginners mind?
I tell people that they need to do is to not fall in love with their story. What
do I mean by their story? Everybody has a story, a way they explain to themselves who they
are, a way they explain to themselves who other people are, a way they explain to
themselves what motivates their choices, a way to explain to themselves the circumstances
of their lives, a way to explain to themselves how they fit into this world. For each and
every aspect of your life, you have a story that explains that aspect to yourself.
Inevitably, these stories are self-serving, Ego-dominated, biased, narrowly constructed
accounts of what youre experiencing and perceiving in your life. The themes of these
stories are easily recognized: 1.) Im a hero; 2.) Im well intended; 3.)
Im unique; 4.) Im a victim; 5.) Im misunderstood; 6.) Im not
responsible; 7.) Im helpless; 8.) Im entitled to...; 9.) I need; 10.) I want;
11.) I must have; 12.) the worlds unfair.
stories are very important to you. You use these stories as the rationalizations,
justifications, and explanations for all that you see, think, feel, and do. However, just
because your story is your story, just because your story is the product of your own life
experiences, just because your story is the sum total of how you understand the world and
your place in it, doesnt mean that your stories are necessarily accurate accounts of
who you and other people are, what motivates you and other people to do what you do, nor
do these stories necessarily serve your highest good.
In fact, about the only thing that your stories do serve is Ego. More times than not, the
stories that you construct are ghost written by Ego. The stories serve Ego by keeping the
voice of Ego in the foreground and the voice of your authentic Self muffled in the
Its simple for me to exhort you to merely let go of how
you view the world. The reality is thats not going to happen so easily. You just
dont give up those things because I suggest that you should. First you need to see
the wisdom for yourself in giving up your viewpoints about yourself, the people in your
life, and the circumstances of your life. If you decide that its time to do away
with parts of how you see things, youll need other ways of viewing the world.
As you empty your cup and let go of many of your self-serving stories, youll start
the creation of a beginners mind. Once your cup empties, youll start to fill
another cup with stories that have been created by your beginners mind. Some of
those themes are: 1.) Im ordinarily human; 2.) Im an unindicted co-conspirator
in all that happens in my life; 3.) I attract to my world all that I put out into my
world; 4.) my higher power and I are the active co-creators of my emotional and spiritual
well-being; 5.) my choices serve my highest good; 6.) my obstacles are my teachers; 7.)
the challenges in my life are gifts that enable me to grow.
you approach each group session open to questioning the veracity of your stories, until
you approach each group session open to rewriting the stories of Ego from the voice of
your authentic Self and Essence, youll continue to participate in your life in all
the same ways that you currently do. Until you empty your cup, until you approach group
with a beginners mind emptied of judgment, opinion, and Ego dominated beliefs,
youll continue to be not only your biggest obstacle in group, but your biggest
obstacle in your life.
fourth value I want to discuss with you is reverence. Joining a group, starting new
relationships with the current group members, actively participating in those
relationships, awakening emotional wounds from your past, and experiencing new wounds in
the here-and-now is an emotionally provocative experience for anybody. The tensions
created by those experiences can be overwhelming. Just as in any other area of your life,
youll experience the need to protect yourself from the inevitable emotional
discomfort aroused by opening yourself up to other people and letting them enter your
world. Youll protect yourself in the group the way you protect yourself in every
other aspect of your life--by disconnecting from the present moment, initiating avoidance
behaviors, donning the many masks of Ego, and activating the Ego created personal energy,
already discussed with you disconnecting from the present moment in the section on
presence. Ive already discussed with you some of the avoidance behaviors youll
utilize in the group in the section on reciprocity. Let me take some time here to provide
you an overview of two aspects of your personal energy, pride and reverence. Pride is that
aspect of your personal energy thats created by Ego. Reverence is that aspect of
your personal energy thats created by your spiritual center, Essence. An important
focus of the work youll be undertaking in the group is how to transform pride into
reverence. For a more detailed explanation of pride, Ego, reverence, and Essence read the
following pamphlets, Mirror Mirror on the Wall..., Parts 1&2, [Re]Connecting With
Essence: Giving Birth to a Life of Joy, Love, and Prosperity and The Art of Living
Consciously: How to Create A Life of Love, Authenticity, and Grace.
As I said, reverence is that aspect of your personal energy thats created by
Essence. Reverence is made up of three elements. The three elements of reverence are
surrender, humility, and gratitude. The three elements of reverence are antidotes for the
four elements of pride. Those four elements are willfulness, shame, grandiosity, and
you explore who you are in the group, as you examine the choices you make, as you develop
a deeper and more expanded awareness of what parts of yourself are activated by what
circumstances in the group, youll be confronted with one unavoidable Truth. The
unavoidable Truth that youll be confronted with is that Ego and its energy,
pride, is embedded in every level of your being--your thoughts, feelings, choices, and
is it so important for you to embrace this unavoidable Truth as well as understand the
implications of this Truth for your personal transformation? No matter how many books you
read, no matter how many workshops you attend, no matter how many audio tapes you listen
to, no matter how many twelve-step meetings you attend, no matter how much time you spend
in individual therapy, no matter how many mistaken beliefs you correct, no matter how many
emotional wounds you heal, no matter how many psychodynamics you have interpreted to you,
no matter how able you are to embrace your inner child, no matter how many developmental
stages you are able to work through, if you dont identify, examine, acknowledge, and
take ownership of Ego at the very cellular level of who you are as well as how Ego
manifests itself into every one of your thoughts, feelings, and actions, your journey of
personal transformation will remain horribly incomplete. Until you grapple with Ego, until
you give yourself permission to claim Ego as part of who you are, until you embrace
reverence, as a way of life to be lived, not an abstract concept to be learned,
youll merely be treading water, putting off until the very end the most unpleasant
of all jobs of constructing your personal and spiritual transformation--surrender,
humility, and gratitude.
focus of much of your examination in the group will be not only on how Ego is embedded in
all that you do, think, and feel, but how Ego is the creator of the energy that stops you
cold in your tracks, sabotages your best intentions, fans the flames of drama and chaos in
every aspect of your life, and poisons your relationships.
me emphasize the following point. Ego will live and breathe in all that you do in group,
from your first moment in group until your very last. The point of your therapy is not to
eradicate Ego, that will never happen, nor should it! The point of your therapy is to
identify, examine, acknowledge, and take ownership of how Ego manifests itself at the very
cellular level of thoughts, feelings, and actions in order that you may transform pride
reverence into your group experience means that you acknowledge to yourself that every
present moment in the group offers you a choice. The choice is between Ego authored and
Essence authored thoughts and actions. Because of that, you need to develop the following
awareness. Are the thoughts that Im thinking, are the feelings that Im
experiencing, are the words that Im saying, are the behaviors that Im choosing
Ego sponsored or Essence sponsored?
sponsored choices are choices that have embedded in those choices aspects of one of the
following or any combination of willfulness, shame, grandiosity, and/or entitlement.
Essence sponsored choices are choices that have embedded in them aspects of one of the
following or any combination of surrender, humility, and/or gratitude. Ego sponsored
choices sole purpose is to bring you temporary relief from emotional discomfort.
Essence sponsored choices sole purpose is to serve your highest good. Ego sponsored
choices are little self inspired. Essence dominated choices are Divine inspired.
Lets be very clear here. You must make the distinction between aspiration and doing
the right thing. Do not assume that Essence authored choices are the right way to
do group therapy. The only right way to do group therapy is to acknowledge whats
unfolding within you in the present moment and make whatever choice you want to make at
that point. You may aspire to create Essence authored choices, but, that doesnt mean
that Ego authored choices are wrong choices. Ego authored choices are merely choices that
bring you momentary relief to your emotional discomfort rather than serve your highest
reverence, as an aspect of your personal energy, is manufactured by your spiritual center,
Essence. Reverence, as a value of group therapy, is manufactured by your Essence
sponsored choices. Essence sponsored choices have at their core surrender, humility,
and/or gratitude. That distinguishes them from Ego sponsored choices, which have at their
core, willfulness, shame, grandiosity, and/or entitlement. Get it? Youre not a
prisoner to your reactions. Youre not a slave to the script. You dont have to
spend a lifetime being oppositional to all that comes into your path. You have a choice of
how you want to respond to any given moment in the group and in your life. You can always
choose surrender over willfulness, humility over grandiosity and/or shame, and gratitude
over entitlement. Or not!
make such choices requires that you be connected to the present moment, your feelings,
your thoughts, and your physical being. You must be willing to thoughtfully examine how
pride is embedded in your moment-to-moment experiences. Ultimately, you must make a choice
between the momentary comfort that pride seemingly provides for you and a choice, authored
by reverence, that serves your highest good.
are the other four values of the foundational value system of the Group
Therapy Contract. Embracing the five values of the foundational value system will
not guarantee your success in the group. However, to turn your back on them and continue
to embrace your own old tired ways will guarantee you only one thing. That one thing? In
the words of the late, great Stanley Phillips, If you choose to always think what
youve always thought, and if you choose to always do what youve always done,
then you will always get what youve always got.
chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your
children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs
free. Learn how
to in Dr. Frischs, Psy.D. Recovery book series.