We're so glad you could join us!
June 29, 2011, at 10:06 AM
Often we'll have sets of feelings and we don't realize they're coming from guests that are tucked away in the background of our minds, and they're equally unaware that we're a multiple, that their hardship situation is over, and that living in the now is waiting for them just a few mental feet or yards away.
If you have an internal atmosphere that is conducive to building trust, respect, responsibility, and welcomes guests as new residents, then you have built a situation that is ready to begin the rough but unusually rewarding work of bringing stuck guests become co-aware.
It can take a lot of patience, time, hand-holding, persuasion, and reassurance to get the stuck guest to lower their guard and get beyond the events they are stuck replaying. Everything is filtered through this emotional filter that was created from where they are stuck. If they're reactive, they'll see the worst side of everything, the side where trust is threatened, the side where everything becomes an attack or a problem. So it's all the more important to approach them as trustworthy, upholding good values, with good integrity, with tons and heaps of patience, and with plenty of time on your hands.
In our internal landscape, this becomes a visual art. Our welcoming committee would agree on which guest might be ready to become a full-fledged resident, and then we would send an envoy to approach them. We would pick either someone closer to the stuck resident in some way -- someone more directly related to the stuck resident or send our most patient & trustworthy person on the welcoming committee to parley with the stuck guest. In terms of our mental landscape, this might mean making progress by feet and inches into the guest's "personal space," spending time talking to them and attempting to cut through the filters into a glimmering of reality. We would employ all of our means of communication in the attempt to make headway (funny word), so it might involve artwork, writing, journaling, singing, dancing, etc. It might be silly, but who sings, dances, plays when there's a threat to their life? Not many people. So these things are signs that things are OK now.
With few exceptions, eventually the guest gained more means to communicate. First they'd usually communicate their misery, or their memories, their flashbacks, or their filtered interpretations of events. This is a very very tough time, because without a sense of self-control, these emotion-filled outbursts can be difficult to manage. Do your best to keep them from affecting the system's total atmosphere that you've been building, but also recognize how much better off you are than you could be if you didn't start with a good internal atmosphere. We then bring this guest new ways to communicate their stuck emotions: art, poetry, singing, writing, journaling, etc. and hope that they pick a means to channel the emotions and control them better, while all the time reassuring them that the situation was over a long time ago, and start bringing them stories of our lives since becoming an empowered system -- the truthful trials and triumphs of becoming a real family.
Once they are able to accept that things have changed, but not necessarily waiting until they're fully in control of themselves, we'd present the opportunity to become a resident and sign the lease, take part in meetings, have a full voting share, etc. We'd acquaint them with the rules as they currently stand, explain that they'd get to share the responsibility for changing the rules, or making and removing rules from the list.
We have found that accepting the lease helps our new resident already feel included and more stable and safe. Our rules govern internal behavior including safety, so our residents are also under obligation to stay out of abusive situations and to govern group safety -- the formerly stuck guest is relieved that they don't have to be vigilant alone, that there are guardians and clearly written "This is unacceptable" rules for internal and external people. It becomes easier to gauge what is really "wrong" behavior from oneself and others.
The new resident may still be triggering, abreacting, etc. but we help them learn what their triggers are and to diffuse the triggers over time. We help them monitor their behavior, help them stick to the rules, and coach them on how to improve their participation in life. You might decide to space out these forays into increasing co-awareness to allow some time for the system to deal with helping this new resident with the problems they may still be facing emotionally. If you have enough healthier residents, though, you might get good enough at rehabilitating guests that you choose to overlap some of this work and trade off which members of the welcoming committee work with which guest/new resident.
We've gone through this process dozens of times. We now only have 2 stuck guests that we're aware of, and as I've mentioned before we've decided that they're not ready to go through this process yet, and they might never be ready. Since they aren't fronting and stealing front, or having extreme outbursts of any type that we can detect, we're OK with them staying stuck -- if that's what they want to do. We never force people to become co-aware or co-conscious.
We even used this method to deal with our suicidal thoughts by finding the suicidal guest, bringing them to co-awareness and then helping them pretty much the way you might help a friend with a problem: patience, hugs, lots of talking, recommending good books, etc. It worked extremely well, and now she's one of our residents and helps on the welcoming committee, too. She's now named "Hawthorn" and she's very sweet and extremely helpful and no longer has suicidal thoughts.
A word of caution: You should not work on suicidal guests on your own. Please seek professional assistance and advice when you're working with matters of internal security, health, personal or outside safety, etc. This is not a way to replace therapy, it's a method for looking at the headwork multiples need to do from a more life-coaching and holistic standpoint and should be used in conjunction with therapy, if you have any.