On Line Workshops: Situational Change

The on line workshops are designed for individuals, couples, families and work groups who find themselves in problematic situations that seem to repeat themselves and that feel too confusing to resolve. They are designed to assist in the growth and development of more effective relationships.

What follow is an introduction to the fundamental thinking and structure of these workshops. From time to time they may also be offered on site. If you are interested in finding out more about the programs, e-mail:  stansmith1@me.com with your questions.

The Paradox: Habits, Spontaneity, and Judgement

The paradox that bedevils us in its simplest form is this: we need habits in order to move quickly to solve problems and once learned, habits trap us into repeating behaviors that no longer fit the new situations that we find ourselves in.

J.L. Moreno, the founder of Psychodrama  said spontaneity  summoning the right role for the situation we face, or, lacking that role, having access to our creativity which would allow us to create  a new and appropriate role for a new situation.

Deciding whether or not to continue using a habitual response or to create a new one is a matter of judgement, and depends upon a dispassionate examination of the situation we find ourselves in.

The examination begins with the recognition that we feel stuck  and that we don’t know how to get un-stuck. Something comes up, or someone says something at work, or at home, or in a social  situation and we go into automatic response mode.

Sometimes that automatic comes from our inferential thinking systems designed for evolutionary survival (see Pascal Boyer), sometimes it’s something we learned for our personal survival  growing up. Either way, the response doesn’t serve the purpose that     it was intended for, and works against us.

To the extent that we identify our habitual patterns as “just who we are” we undermine our opportunity to change. Descartes had it backwards: it is not, “I think, therefore I am” it is existentially ,              “I am, therefore I think.”  And if we think a situation that we find ourselves in requires adjustment, than we need to find a way to       make that adjustment.

But how? How do we free ourselves from the automatic behaviors with which we identify, behaviors that upon reflection feel scripted  and lead us into pain and confusion.

The bridge from habit to choice is meditation; that is a gradual learning to observe our thoughts as they occur without judgement,   and with no need to take action. The paradox of habit re-enters our   life as we learn to depend upon a process that shows us how to be     less dependent.

One way to think about this process and all the other processes that engage us, is to think of our lives as a drama, one that a        combination of DNA, temperament, and experience has scripted        for us. Meditation is the bridge to learning how to free ourselves     from that script in order to re-write it. We can learn to be  a  thoughtful author, director and star of that drama. We can learn to reclaim our self in the service of our self. That is what these    workshops are designed to do:                                                                         to teach you how to re-write your life’s drama.

Work shop study sequence:

1. Who am I? Temperament study via David Kiersey’s work

2. How do habits happen?: Skinner and stimulus-response brain patterns

3. How do I know I can change?  Introduction to Brain Plasticity

4. How do I change? Substitute new responses to old stimuli

5. How do I do that?  Put space between the stimulus and the   response

6. What tool do I use? Meditation

7. What do I put in that space? Judgement

8. How do I talk about this? Use the language of Drama: cues,       scripts and roles

9. How do I learn to make these changes? Use the “role manager”     role

10.What’s the payoff? You learn to be the writer, director, and  producer of your life drama

To find out more about the on-line workshop opportunities       E-mail: stansmith1@me.com

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