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Don't shove me around!

June 28, 2011

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It's like fighting over the remote control. One might call it "stealing front" like someone grabs the remote to change the channel. This "grabbing the remote" is the opposite of "sharing the remote."

This may or may not come with "losing time" — a blackout that occurs due to a lack of co-consciousness and can take place alongside switching. Makes it sound like time just "went away". No, it didn't go away, you weren't aware of it because for a variety of reasons your system is not set up to share front.

I'm trying to describe a type of switching that happens when someone slips into Front without explicit agreement or permission to take over. This is different from someone taking over if someone abandons Front which I think is okay although who takes over and what they do may be another story. I won't be addressing that directly right now -- if it's problematic then it might fall under the "grabbing the remote" category anyway.

There are many ways that switching can work, and a few in which switching is a definite problem. Most of what I'm referring to as "stealing front" or "grabbing the remote" is a case where the person who is fronting is shoved aside and another person takes over. Hence the title of the article. I'm not addressing why it happens, and I address why time is often lost when someone steals front in "Where am I and what time is it" -- let's address why this is a problem.

In this case when someone takes over, they don't have permission. This increases system anxiety, distrust, drives a wedge in between communication channels, makes people uncomfortable or even frightened, and puts people in adversarial positions regarding each other. In other words, the result of grabbing the remote or stealing front is the exact opposite of what we need to build more trust, co-awareness, co-consciousness and responsibility in our system. You could be working on building internal relationships for months and then someone grabs front at the wrong time, does things that harm trust and you take 3 steps back.

Sometimes there's not much to do about switching -- system communication isn't ready for asking for permission, or a guardian is triggered to do their job and defend you. I suggest you allow slack for folks grabbing front until everyone learns other ways of stepping into Front in a more courteous manner. You could make a house rule that puts emphasis on being courteous about coming front, and trust for a time that residents (those who agree to the rules) will attempt to do so, and guests (those who have not yet agreed to the rules, maybe because they aren't even aware they're living there) will continue to inadvertently take over in their usual ways. Once you have a good percent of buy-in on the agreements, then you could start ramping up the courtesy requirements. Courtesy and ease in switching fronts might also happen spontaneously with building internal communication, especially if you continue to call it "stealing front" or "grabbing the remote" which has a negative connotation that at minimum registers as "rude" and "unacceptable" and at best to "something I wouldn't want to do." Generally speaking, our internals aren't interested in being rude to one another. Often it's just that there's anarchy inside and no one knows how to behave any better towards each other.

Is it possible to steal something when it's freely given to them? No! So there we go, if you want to immediately lose the idea of someone stealing front, give it to them! Let's just say we call this "sharing front." It's the equivalent of someone reaching for the TV remote and you just pass it to them. It's not always a matter of who is front or not. I personally feel that the higher your communication level, internal trust, internal respect, co-consciousness & co-awareness, the less you'll risk someone "stealing front." When someone asks, we usually just give them Front. Because we have high system trust. So the problem wasn't whether someone reached for the remote, it was whether or not I felt safe enough to just complete the pass and let them have it, or whether I felt a need to keep control of it.

Working on System Trust Issues New is incredibly important. Sometimes it can help resolve these types of issues in and of itself.

Once it's possible, I highly recommend "sharing front" with your other residents so that it's no longer necessary to steal it. See "Is this a home or a prison?" for other thoughts on this.

Other Posts in June 2011

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We have a rule that I (Kat) am the only one who's supposed to drive. Jordan, a defiant teenage boy (below driving age) came out while we were driving and ran a red light. How do you guys enforce rules?

Comment by Kat ^ Travelers on January 29, 2012, at 09:30 PM

Hi, Kat ^ Travelers,

That sounds like a scary situation! Here's things I recommend:

First, have you read the other entries? There are ways to increase compliance, co-awareness, etc. in the entries in this blog.

Find things you can agree on that are acceptable outlets for him. Like going to a laser tag game, or other treats that he can have (intermittently!) as long as he's being a good citizen. That gives him privileges that can be taken away if he misbehaves. If there's nothing good about him being a good citizen, then he'll find ways to be naughty and defiant.

Figure out what his needs are. We all have different needs. Find ways to address his needs -- does he need to have more control? Does he need to feel better protected? (Funny how teens can act out of control because they actually want to have someone else take more control for them...) Try reading some standard articles on out-of-control teens. You never know, you might find things that help.

Ask him whether he'd like to take more responsibility for himself -- if you can communicate with him in some way.

Offer to teach him how to drive (in a parking lot or somewhere safe) if he becomes a better citizen. Put a firm date on when you will teach him. "On X date not to be rescheduled more than 2 weeks later if we can't make that day." and MAKE SURE you keep the date if he is good. But if he takes over while you're driving and violates the traffic rules, then the deal is off.

Those are some of the ideas I've had. Most internals want to be treated like decent people. They need safety, love, respect, trust, etc. to feed them. If they are missing any of those necessary ingredients they act out -- often in ways directly counter to their needs. If he's a very young teen he may not be ready for responsibilities and finding himself in the drivers' seat (literally) might have scared him as much as it scared you! If he's a mid-teen, he's ready to take SOME responsibilities, but too much will make him feel out-of-control (like mowing the lawn vs. driving the car). If he's an older teen, withholding adult-like responsibilities will drive them nuts and make them act out.

Oh, here's a neat idea: Take a drivers' safety class and invite him to watch "over your shoulder"? He might learn something, and you get a discount on your insurance. Might be a nice "group outing".

Feel free to combine suggestions in any way you'd like, but don't make it complicated or you won't follow-up on it.


Comment by Crisses on January 30, 2012, at 01:43 PM

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