39 Comments

  1. Susan Garvin on June 14, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    Thinking about the issue of guilt and shaming reminded me of something which happened to me some years ago now . I can see clearly now how i was sucked into taking on guilt for something which was absolutely not my fault, in fact quite the opposite. I can see that if I had had the benefit of this book then, I would have managed the whole thing differently.
    In brief, I was sharing a house with two friends (a couple) who were not at all horsey. I will call the woman M and the man K. I wanted to attend a friend’s wedding in a distant town, and M offered to look after my horse while I was gone. I gave her full instructions including safety rules. The most important was, when you go to let the horse out of the daytime paddock into the night-time paddock (GRASS!) do NOT take the dog with you (they gas each other up) and stand well back BEHIND the gate as you open it, as the horse will come barrelling through and often kicks up as he does so. Just open the gate and stand behind it and all will be well. We discussed it thoroughly, she watched me dealing with this situation, and I had even written this into the notes I left her. But in the event, she took the dog, and then opened the gate, leaned out around it calling the horse. And literally got her teeth kicked in. What happened then was that K managed to lay all the moral blame on me somehow. Naturally I felt dreadful and so horrified by what had happened. I was fully insured so that side of things was not an issue. However I was unable to manage my strong sense that the ‘fault’ was M’s because she had totally ignored my careful instructions. I mean by this that I felt so awful about what had happened, and she was in such pain, that I couldn’t find a way to say so to K, to talk it over, and so it went from day to day spiralling out of my control because I suppose I accepted the label of ‘guilty’ and therefore had to proceed as if I were. . Had I been prepared by PotH, I could have made the necessary distinctions and been firm about the fact that while I was horrified about what had happened and while I would of course claim on the insurance for M, I was not in fact actually ‘to blame’. In the event I therefore behaved like the guilty party but with an enormous sense of injustice and resentment. I still recall how there, in the middle of it all, it was so hard to know how to understand – in order to handle – all the messages behind the emotions.



  2. Susan Garvin on June 12, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    This really has helped me, it made a lot of things I had already understood click into place. Especially this sentence “Your friend may continue to try to make you feel guilty in the hopes of changing your decision. (This is the way the shame and guilt are used as archaic power tools to influence others.) If she senses that you are taking on this guilt, even slightly, she will continue to try to work it to break through your resistence and create the outcome she desires. ” What I find very difficult is being empathetic and sympathetic with such a person without giving them that crack-in-the-door – and I wonder too if such a person would interpret empathy with guilt, do you think that might happen? in which case one starts out being empathetic/sympathetic, gets misinterpreted, gets suspected of feeling guilt, and then it goes on from there. I wonder if there is a point at which we can realise what is going on and somehow disabuse the person of that misinterpretation…..?
    the other very valuable reminder in your response here to Erin is about backing off and giving positive feedback…I find this so hard to do with one particular person I know, I feel myself shutting her out and not being able to relax my guard in anything because I am wary of her trying to manipulate me the minute I ‘open the door’ even a crack, so this is something I clearly need to look into more…..



    • LindaKohanov on June 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      The questions you ask about empathy, sympathy and guilt are reasons why it’s so important to master the messages behind the various emotions, and learn what constructive action to take in response. The more you work the emotional message chart, the more clear and confident you become in these situations, especially when you relate to others in addressing the message behind the emotion and not speaking about the emotions themselves. (See Guiding Principle Three).

      This is the one element I noticed was missing during the early years of Epona when people would, in the name of authenticity, speak out loud WHAT they were feeling, without getting to the message behind it and addressing the message, not the feeling. A number of people told me that they were using a technique called non-violent communication, which recommends using the phrase “When you do this, I feel this.” I have only seen this technique lead to people becoming defensive, in some cases creating situations where people come after you even stronger, requiring you to hold even stronger boundaries or cut off communication all together. The most inflammatory versions include “when you do this, I feel betrayed, hurt, shamed, disrespected, etc.” When you speak your feelings in this fashion, you actually aren’t problem solving as it turns out. It took me YEARS to figure out what to do instead.

      Please re-read GP3 and GP4 to see examples of inflammatory ways of speaking versus the more calming, focusing problem solving alternatives in working/negotiating/relating to others. I’ve put numerous examples in these two guiding principles, and I will discuss this technqiue in even more detail in the GP about difficult conversations.

      Yes, the technique of setting a boundary and giving the person immediate positive feedback when HE or SHE backs off is absolutely critical and completely counterintuitive. It requires self control, emotional heroism, and sometimes forgiveness, rather than grudge holding and self righteousness. It takes practice to do this, and the good news is that in relating to people out in the world, plenty of practice is what we get!



  3. Erin on June 5, 2012 at 2:42 am

    Very enlightening, but I am not sure how to act in response to when someone is trying to use guilt to bend me to their will. I lost my Haflinger mare a month ago due to age related illness at 22. After her death, I asked a friend/acquaintance if she knew of anyone who had a mini available as a companion as I have another mare who’s now alone. She knows someone who has an older Haflinger who has some minor issues, and the owner is trying to give the pony away since they can’t take care of this pony. If not, the owner is going to put her down. I feel bad, knowing about this, but at this point the last thing I want is another old mare. It’s just way too triggering and painful, especially when I’m still grieving for my mare. She was more than a friend and riding partner, she was my mom. My human mother was abusive, and my mare was more a mother to me than the human ever was. My mare pushed me to stand up for myself, but I knew she would never let me get hurt. I’ve already refused this other old pony once, but this ‘friend’ hasn’t respected this. And she’s more of an old school, ‘horses are living farm equipment’ type. She would not understand the depth of my feelings. I know I need to reinforce the setting of my boundary with this, I’m just having a hard time with it since this is so emotionally charged for me.

    This is a situation where the crescendo and setting my boundary is necessary, correct? I function pretty close to normal on a daily basis, but I am still very much grieving the death of my mare and I have very little emotional reserves for dealing with this situation. Think I’m at about 5% before I start crying. Really wish I had a human mom I could talk to……



    • Susan Garvin on June 5, 2012 at 7:29 am

      Hi Erin, I am truly sorry you are having to deal with this. it is doubly hard when our friends make it worse not better. Many people are very far from being capable of true empathy. However, if it will be of any use to you, I would suggest that you might try accepting that this is the case, that you know best what is best for you, that this other person is using your situation to resolve that of another person, and that she is being more than reprehensible by using the very emotional blackmail which can touch you in your very raw spot. I will leave it to Linda to show you – and us – how to tackle reinforcing boundaries when we are so emotionally devastated.
      Is there a way you could join in finding a home for the pony you do not want to take on? this might channel your guilt into a useful and worthwhile direction. meanwhile you could look for a rescue horse that would fulfill your own purpose, and would have the double pleasure of finding a companion for your mare while also giving a loving home to another horse? Just ideas, just a way of trying to be with you in this.



      • Ianrowcliffe on June 5, 2012 at 9:28 am

        Hi Erin

        I think Susan has offered you the best possible solution:

        “Is there a way you could join in finding a home for the pony you do not want to take on?

        My daughter was in a very similar situation with respect to a stray dog that had found her. Together with my wife and help from the dog itself, they found the perfect owner – against all the odds. The joy the dog and new owner have found together was remarkably gratifying for my daughter who couldn’t live with the dog herself.

        Clearly, in your case, this is not easy, but your own unique experience with your horse may give you the insights and inspiration to discover the person that horse needs so much. There must be someone around who needs the type of connection you found with your horse. Get the word out and you will see. Remember Linda’s advice is to use emotion as information and act on it.

        Let the spirit of your horse guide you… for she will always be a part of you

        Ian



        • Susan Garvin on June 5, 2012 at 9:36 am

          that’s a lovely story and lesson about the dog, Ian. we do so always feel that WE have to take on the animal in such cases but – as in your daughter’s experience – often we do better to be a conduit, a catalyst or just a messenger, in finding THE best solution. I suppose we need to step back from our emotions, see them as a message as you remind us here, and then do whatever we can to find the best solution all round. There really is no point taking on an animal that you know you will find it hard to deal with, especially when in an emotionally shattered state. For someone somewhere this pony might be just what they are looking for!



          • Ian Rowcliffe on June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm

            Yes, it was a lovely story, Susan. Afterwards, I commented to Stephanie, that no-one would really believe that ‘and then they lived happily ever after’ … was the true outcome.

            Nevertheless, the dog was incredibly intelligent. It found Stephanie and refused to leave her as she was walking back from university. You could see it had ‘good manners’ and had been cared for, so Stephanie tried to locate his owner, but to no avail. In the meantime, the dog behaved immaculately in our flat in Porto, allowing itself to be taken outside as needed. It had rather sophisticated eating habits (wouldn’t touch dog food), suggesting that it had kept an old person company and shared in meals. The strange thing about it was that the dog never barked and was always quiet and obedient, which made life easier for Stephanie at the time.

            And so it was that we heard of a lady who said she would love to have such a dog but it must be able to bark as she wanted to feel secure at night and that is should be able to raise the alarm should anything unusual be taking place.

            Hence, when the lady appeared for the dog, Stephanie and Victoria were still a little concerned about whether the dog would really be acceptable. But the first thing it did when it saw the woman was to bark! It was love at first sight and the lonely lady found the perfect company to share her meals with.



          • Susan Garvin on June 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm

            oh the extra details complete the story!!!!!



        • LarryPucci on June 21, 2012 at 4:46 am

          right on Ian..But in another sense ,the fact that Erin’s mare is with her and always will be, could it be this mare knows this other pony is in need of a good loving home and knows that Erin can provide that and this pushyness is happening as a message from her mare? Does everything not happen for a reason?



          • Ianrowcliffe on June 21, 2012 at 12:07 pm

            Well, let’s say nothing happens by chance, but we do have the right to choose what is best for us; that is, what will enable us to grow and share our gift(s) to the best of our abilities.



    • LindaKohanov on June 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Hello Erin,

      Yes, this is a situation involving the need to set a boundary, but the first boundary involves refusing to take on the guilt that is being sent your way. If there is guilt involved, it belongs to the person who is having trouble taking care of her older mare, and is considering putting her down after whatever years of service this mare has given her. The obligation to find this mare a good home, (or to perhaps try to raise temporary funds for her care if dire financial circumstances are indeed involved) rests with the current owner.

      Your friend may continue to try to make you feel guilty in the hopes of changing your decision. (This is the way the shame and guilt are used as archaic power tools to influence others.) If she senses that you are taking on this guilt, even slightly, she will continue to try to work it to break through your resistence and create the outcome she desires.

      Make it clear that the guilt of not taking care of this elderly mare does not rest with you. It rests with the owner, and if the owner does indeed feel guilt, it is a signal the owner knows that putting this mare down is a dubious decision. You can encourage your friend and the owner to explore other options before making such an extreme decision. Perhaps you can be part of the efforts to find this mare a good home or raise some funds for her care to stay with the owner. (I have done this before in cases where there reallly is true financial crisis.)

      I would also relieve your friend of looking for a mini horse or any other horse for you. As you described your friend, she does not understand your emotional needs in this case, so why court continued misunderstanding and disappointment by continuing this conversation? However, when your friend backs off, even for one second, give her positive feedback in continuing to connect with her on areas where you do have rapport, without shaming her or punishing her for not understanding your emotional needs in this area.

      When my mare Rasa died, I needed time before I decided to bring in more horses. I was lucky to have friends and trainers who understood this and gave me space. However, it was also important to spend time with the living members of my herd who were also depressed and grieiving. Spending more time with your remaining mare, asking her for a sense of what kind of companion she would like will be helpful. Crying with your remaining mare may be essential to her healing. Horses can release a tear or two but cannot engage in the cathartic sobbing that we humans can. Our ability to cry is a gift. It clears the air like a summer storm, creating an oasis for new growth. I’ve found that many horses who’ve experienced a significant loss are attracted to people on the verge of a good cry. (See my essay on The Master of Sadness in the Way of the Horse book/wisdom card deck.) It is as if their grief can catch a ride on our tears, helping them to let go and heal through the act of standing next to someone who is crying. I’ve seen this many times.

      Sending heartfelt condolences for the loss of your precious mare. What was her name? What is the name of your remaining mare? What is the name of the mare who needs a new home?

      May your grief include not just tears, but warmth and appreciation for the many wonderful years you shared, and the special relationship you enjoyed.



      • Erin on June 10, 2012 at 8:37 pm

        Thank you so much Linda!

        I initially asked for help in finding a new companion for Bella, my black Welsh/Arab mare because at the time I was too overwhelmed to deal with it myself, but I knew Bella needs a herd. I did know at the time I wanted a young mini mare or filly, so that’s what I tried to find.

        It’s been a month since Anke’s passing, but I have found new herd mates for Bella. 2 young black mini mares. Full sisters raised together in a family herd where a stallion lives with his mares and foals, while young females and males live in separate herds.

        I informed my “friend” that the mare she wants me to take isn’t going to work and she hurt me tremendously in attempting to guilt me into bowing to her will. This is after I initially refused this mare the first time. I communicated via text message, since I cannot deal with her in person. Then I got bombarded with text messages (18 and counting before my phone crashed from the onslaught). I had to delete everything just to get the phone functional again. I tried to be communicate my feelings with honesty and integrity. The extreme nature of this response is probably because the manipulation isn’t working on me?

        I have empathy for the owner of the old mare, but I refuse to take on any guilt. It’s not my job and it’s not my fault.

        At this point, I am willing to continue a business relationship with this now former friend, since she has skills and experience suited to the job. And as long as I don’t have to be in the same room as her and can handle communication in writing, then I can handle a business relationship.

        I have sat with Bella, and we did have a good cry together. Her shaking and trembling, with a small tear in her eyes. Me feeling her grief, mingling it with mine, and letting both flow through me…meeting her with love. She also had the chance to say goodbye to Anke.



        • LindaKohanov on June 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm

          Congratulations on your new mini mare sisters. Black no less. I’m sure they will bring you and Bella much joy!

          And your description of having a good cry with Bella warmed my heart, as I have been there many times with my own horses in times of loss, and it has always been transformational.

          As for your friend’s response, this is classic defensiveness to using any conversational technique that involves the “when you did this, I felt this” model, which has been widely taught and accepted worldwide as an emotionally intelligent way of expressing our feelings. As you experienced, it really doesn’t work so well. Particularly with people who use shame and guilt as archaic power tools to influence others’ behavior, these people have learned this through being shame and guilt tripped themselves. They immediately feel shamed when you tell them that their actions hurt you, and then they lash out.

          This is a very tricky situation, mind you. The priority is definitely to set your own boundaries. But the languaging can be more constructive, causing you a lot less trouble in the long run (18 messages Yikes!). Please re-read Guiding Principles three and four for conversational examples of speaking the message behind the emotion rather than speaking about the emotion itself.

          Bravo for setting the boundary and not taking on the guilt that belonged to someone else. Now the learning curve involves setting boundaries even more effecitvely (we’re talking ADVANCED emotional/social intelligence here).

          So let me give you an example of what to do in similar situations in the future. This is a classic situation for any compassionate horse person who has a barn with a few empty stalls. (People are ALWAYS trying to give me free horses. They are always older or lame or have recently thrown people, so I face this all the time. Sometimes I do take on a new horse, if I have the space and funds. Sometimes I simply can’t or I will go bankrupt and will then have to find homes for all of my other horses.)

          Let’s say a friend named Amy tries to guilt trip you into taking her horse that’s old, saying she will have to put him down if you don’t take him. Let’s say you can’t or don’t want to, for whatever reason and you need to set a boundary. First of all, set a boundary with the guilt itself. The guilt belongs to the person who doesn’t want to take care of a horse she already committed to. (You can even imagine creating a shield of light around your body, that also acts more like a membrane than a wall.) Imagine that this “light shield/membrane” will let information through about the other person’s emotional state, but not the feeling charge of guilt, which will bounce off the shield. Keep this nonverbal if at all possible.

          Don’t say out loud, “That guilt belongs to you Amy.” She already feels guilty and is trying to transfer it to you. She will become overwhelmed, probably defensive, perhaps even aggressive in trying to make you the bad guy because she REALLY can’t stand the guilt now. Instead, just say that you cannot take this horse, but you are willing to help her EXPLORE her options and problem solve. (This is essentially setting another boundary. You are NOT willing to solve the problem for her; you are willing to talk with her about various options, perhaps offer ideas she hasn’t thought of, or maybe connections to others who can help.)

          This extra effort may be a bit irritating; you didn’t ask for this “trouble.” However, the problem solving effort is for the HORSE. We cannot always save every last horse, just as we cannot feed every hungry child in our community this weekend. But we can see a problem and begin to rally others to solve it over time. Perhaps these efforts will create an internet network for finding homes for horses, or raising funds for people who need temporary support in keeping their horses during a personal financial crisis. Sometimes, however, an older horse is in quite a bit of pain, and the best option actually is euthanasia, but the owner doesn’t want to face that pain either. I’ve found that helping someone prepare for this difficult option, to even be there for people when they must put a horse down can be the greatest act of kindness and support for the horse and his owner.

          All the while, you are setting constructive boundaries while offering support, and the more we model this, the more others will start to do this, holding people accountable for their actions (or in this case responsbility to the horses they take on), offering constructive options without over-functioning for people.

          Hope this provides a bit of insight into a complex and incomfortable emotional challenge. It would be great to hear about problem solving ideas from other POH participants about how to face this common challenge!



          • Erin on June 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm

            Thanks Linda,

            I was able to communicate with both of these people, say what I needed to say without using the ‘when you do this, I feel this’ and without naming the emotions.

            Had to use quite a bit of energy to finally get them to back off.

            Thing is, I’m still very angry with them. To the point where I’m avoiding them, since I am so angry I don’t want to say something I’ll end up regretting. Even though I don’t particularly like either one of these people, I don’t want to hurt them. I also don’t feel safe with either one of them, since manipulation/domination are big triggers for me. I know saying “I don’t trust you. I’m angry at you. I don’t feel safe with you”, aren’t constructive things to say, but its how I feel and I’m not sure what would be constructive to do/say.



          • Susan Garvin on June 24, 2012 at 9:51 am

            yes Erin, thanks for raising this issue, I find these feelings happen to me too. While one can relatively easily avoid trusting people without making an open issue of it (i.e. by just not doing it and not getting into situations where it is necessary), it is not easy to stop being angry with people, especially when you don’t actually like them. If you absolutely have to work with them or have something to do with them especially. So I am interested to see what Linda recommends here too!
            good for you for what you have achieved so far, no mean feat actually!



          • LindaKohanov on June 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm

            Here’s where it really does help to be more horse-like and exercise the ability to “go back to grazing,” letting the story go and the emotions behind it and getting back to enjoying life. This is INCREDIBLY hard to humans to do. It takes practice. But it’s even more difficult when the current situation reminds us of past interactions when we were perhaps in a less powerful position (childhood, for instance, or a romantic relationship where we really can be manilupated and betrayed because we’ve let someone so far in).

            It’s helpful to take a few notes on what aspects of the anger remain from the current situation, and what aspects involve anger that really belongs to the past. (When you said, Erin, that “manipulation and domination are big triggers for me” this tends to point back to some past situations that were activated by a similar situation in the present.) To keep from being triggered in the future, it’s helpful to explore what is unresolved in the past that fuels this trigger. Here’s where counseling or coaching can be advantageous.

            At the same time, I’ve found that people who consider themselves “low energy” or “mild mannered” have a whole lot of trouble dialing their power up past a “4 or 5” let’s say, unless they engage rage. See Guiding Principle Four, in the section toward the end about the judge who really wasn’t used to using actual power. Learning to dial our power up as high as we need to , without using rage to energize us (which makes us feel raw and overstimulated afterward, and resentful that we “had to get that big”) takes practice once again. In the meantime, if there’s no need to interact with these people for a while, this is obviously best.

            Quite often, we tend to hold grudges and completely mistrust people as a result of having to get this big in our energy. Over time, this becomes less necessary. I find it helpful to treat people who challenge me in extreme ways more like an abused or mal-socialized stallion. Merlin, my stallion, literally threatened my life many times. Most people would have destroyed him for this dangerous behavior. However, he truly is the one who taught me to dial my power up big time, and give him immediate positive feedback (without punishment or holding a grduge when he backed off for a split second even). This didn’t mean I had to trust him, but I could still work with him, and trust him increasingly over time. Rather than think of mistrust or trust as black and white opposites, I saw it as situational and as a continuum. In that way, I didn’t have to make him hopelessy defective, bad or wrong, in order to have some appropriate vigilance in our work together.



      • LarryPucci on June 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm

        Linda, I agree with everything youve said here. Ive fiquired out more and more how people are using guilt as a way of manipulation to get what is best for them not necessarily whats best for you. I got a huge dose of that when i took in those addidional 5 horses. these people didnt give a damn about my siruation but only how it would solve theirs..so they could go back to their lazy city way of life. However through the way of the horse i have found some of the best, loving horses i could have ever hoped for.



        • LindaKohanov on June 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm

          Thanks Larry. Love to hear more details about how things are going with these new horses. Glad to hear that they are turning out to be wonderful additions to you herd, despite what surely must have been a troublesome yet clearly devotional act on your part to take on this extra expense and difficulty.



  4. Susan Garvin on June 1, 2012 at 7:21 am

    bang on cue, see Carolyn Resnick’s latest blog and watch the second video in particular, by Nicole. hear her words of apology to her horse, and to all horses. she recognised her guilt, expressed it in an apology, then moved on and really did something positive about it, to better the world…..
    http://www.carolynresnickblog.com/whats-new-with-robin-gates/



  5. Susan Garvin on June 1, 2012 at 6:29 am

    I was thinking about Linda’s points when speaking about how we deal with our own shame/guilt once we ‘see the light’ and she mentioned the situation in the USA regarding slavery. A book I read a while ago sprang to mind – Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ which is a wonderful examination of both sides of the story, both the ‘recovery of self’ of the black women involved, and the white woman’s journey both on her own and with them. It deals with so many of the aspects of the shame/guilt topic that Linda has dealt with. Also a darn good read! I am seeing more and more the role of good literature in (re)educating humanity along the lines that Linda is exploring in PotH. I was looking for the Anger discussion but as I have started now on literature, let me quote here what I wanted to post there….it’s from Muriel Barbery’ “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” (English translation, which is superb btw). 12 year old Paloma is reflecting on why young people in the city suburbs are burning cars: is it, she muses “a gesture of frustration and anger and maybe the greatest anger and frustration come not from unemployment or poverty or the lack of a future but from the feeling that you have no culture, because you’ve been torn between cultures, between incompatible systems….”. She goes on to think about immigrants and their children who perhaps came from conservative cultures with very different values who suddenly find themselves plonked in the middle of a totally different cultural story…they maybe fled the original culture but don’t feel at home in the new one. Nothing new here, but beautifully treated in this excellent book. This in turn made me think back to ‘Lost in Translation’ by Eva Hoffman. Now, given that reading isn’t a very ‘cool’ activity these days, and given that even if people do read they are not necessarily going to ‘see’ the points raised in a lot of books, doesn’t this put a whole new light on the concept of ‘adult literacy’???? Linda, when I retire and have glorious blessed time at my disposal I might set myself a project to link what you write about around the Guiding Principles with this sort of literature…… 🙂 sorry if I have rambled off topic here, thanks for patience if you’ve read this far!



  6. Susan Garvin on June 1, 2012 at 6:17 am

    help cannot find the conversations and comments on the discussion about anger, and wanted to add something to it, can someone help me? I do sometimes find it hard to locate conversations ….. thanks!



    • Anonymous on June 10, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Hi Susan,

      See Guiding Principle One; In addition to the Emotional Message Chart with the questions to ask of anger, there’s a conversation recording on that page about anger and frustration. Also, anger is a part of GP Four’s chapter (lesson four) and its conversation. This is about the difference between anger and frustration in the call to set boundaries versus being assertive. Lesson Four might be the best place to comment on anger. Thanks!



      • Linda Kohanov on June 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

        Note the comment above is from Linda Kohanov



      • Susan Garvin on June 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm

        yes I will go back to all that, one needs constantly to revise, thanks!



  7. Susan Garvin on May 31, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    great call as ever, thanks LInda and Mark. agree with Mark that going through it all orally does help it sink in and bits of it fall into place or come into strong relief etc etc. I so enjoy these calls!
    thanks too Linda for going through our discussion points. I do see the efficacy of the route you suggest taking, much more positive and empowered than anything that could run the risk of being aggressive-back or confrontational.
    One question raised itself as I listened. resentment. when you were discussing envy/jealousy and being aware of one’s feelings in order to make them useful and instructive…..I wonder if sometimes envy/jealousy can be felt as resentment? Or is resentment a separate issue? I was trying to map what you both were saying about envy and jealousy onto my own life experiences and this popped up as something that I might feel and then when I ‘unpack’ it there often lurks jealousy or envy. I find a lot of resentment about. Some of it ties in with becoming a victim, sometimes it seems more like jealousy (why should HE have such an easy life/fancy car/clever children? what did she ever do to deserve….. etc etc) sometimes like not taking responsibility (why should I do that? THEY should do this…) So – your thoughts on resentment????



    • LindaKohanov on May 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      Yes, I just finished adding jealousy/envy to the revised emotional message chart, which we’ll post soon, and I have resentment as an intensification of jealousy and envy, so we are on the same page! Glad the call was useful, and thanks for the inspiration!



      • Susan Garvin on May 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm

        of course! I’d forgotten about the intensification aspect, and that slots in nicely!



  8. Susan Garvin on May 24, 2012 at 6:47 am

    I much appreciated the lessons, thanks Linda. And thanks for your message re this being tied into my comments on personal responsibility, indeed I wriggled with delight when I saw it! I have a request to go deeper into a couple of aspects of the shame/guilt lesson, please. I see what you are saying about needing to set boundaries, to be aware of what the shamers are doing and why. This is very clear in the lesson. What I am interested in is how can the ‘targets’ of shaming behaviour deal with it on-the-spot now, i.e. before a general shift has taken place both in the shamers and the potentially shamed? Example, at work here we have a person in a very powerful position who uses this tactic constantly in dealing with pretty well everybody. If I am aware of what is going on, and am bold enough – how can I react/respond to instances of this person trying out his tactics on me – without falling into another trap myself? It would be useful to have some ideas to start with. I have thought perhaps of just asking ‘why are you trying to make me feel shame?’ or stating ‘I do not feel ashamed of my behaviour/feelings even though you seem to find them shameful’. What other ways can one challenge or refute the shamer without entering into slanging matches or overstepping other imporrtant and worthwhile boundaries? This applies too to behaviour in meetings where one person is targetted and the others normally remain silent for various reasons. Is there a(n ‘elìnlightened’) way that the behaviour can be dealt with/challenged there and then?
    Second question (which you may well answer when answering the first question, I do see that) – could you explain, ‘unpack’, the concept which crops up several times in this lesson – ‘hold people accountable’ and ‘it’s clear that we’re dealing with a skill set that most people simply don’t have……’. I would like to hear what this ‘accountability’ looks like, HOW does one hold people accountable, how is it actually done? can you role play it for us?
    Comment – the paragraph on people (and I am one of those, oh yes) who make the shift of consciousness about animals, in our case horses, and their spirit and wisdom, and thereafter feel utterly mortified and ashamed of how they have treated horses up to that point. I hear what you say ‘recognising that we were operating from a more narrow state of consciousness’ but it is very hard to move through that into acceptance and self-forgiveness. This shame then prods one into guilt because one reacts more strongly against those who have not yet made the shift and are doing the very things one now feels ashamed of having done (I can see I could disappear up my own exhaust pipe here so I will stop at this point!!!!!). Can you offer any channels available in books or on the web to coach and guide me on this one? I still struggle with it, on my own.
    A lot of comments in one gasp, thanks for reading this far if you did!!!!



    • LindaKohanov on May 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm

      Some great comments, reflections, and questions here, as usual Susan and Ian! So much fun to interact with this material. Wish we all lived nearby so we could have “salons” to discuss invigorating ideas, but the web brings us together nonetheless!

      I will address your question about what to do with shame during the talk with Mark. He had to go to UK and was rushed, so we put off the recording until next Tuesday, which is helpful because getting your questions up front from the printed material is useful.

      One thing I can say, is that people who use shaming language usually have this same kind of inner dialgue with themselves, and likely learned this approach to power from a parent or other significant adult. As a result, they can be hyper-sensitive to criticism in public, and can become incredibly aggressive and vengeful if you address this issue directly, especially in front of other people. These people tend to do into fight mode when they feel shamed by others, and in that state, they can’t take in what you’re saying anyway.

      In this regard, I highly recommend re-reading GP3 and GP4. The crescendo into immediate positive feedback element of setting boundaries, combined with GP3’s advice for speaking to the issue at hand, not the emotions expressed, are essential in dealing with aggressive shaming people, who usually feel tremendous shame themselves that they are projecting outward into the world.

      As for moving through the shame and guilt we feel as by-products of transformation, forgiveness of self and others is essential, but this must be engaged while changing the unproductive or hurtful behavior (that will continue to make us feel ashamed from this expanded state of consciousness if we don’t do something different). One without the other is not effective. We also need a hefty dose of emotional heroism, combined with compassion, to face the shame, disapointment, and vulnerability we feel when we suddenly access an expanded state of self awareness, personal responsibility and accountability. In the previous limited state, we truly “knew not” what we were doing. But once we DO know, we must act differently as we are being held to a higher standard of conduct.



      • Ianrowcliffe on May 25, 2012 at 8:00 am

        This IS making me think. I had thought people weren’t that sensitive to shame as outwardly they don’t appear to be. Yet, when you address unproductive behavior personally, the reaction doesn’t tend to promote positive change so it is likely the person is feeling shame. Hence, I am reminded how I was taught to address issues in a detached manner. And when you think of it, one person’s problem is the whole group’s problem and once it is viewed in this way, the ‘power of the herd’ comes into play.

        Nevertheless, accountability is specific to the individual, which I now see is why you suggest dealing with this apart from the group situation. Of course, the more rapport you ‘feel’, the easier this is going to get. Hmmm….



      • Susan Garvin on May 25, 2012 at 9:50 am

        yes WOULDN’T it be great to be able to discuss all this together! I have always envied (yoo hoo! envy again!) those Salons in times of great literary/artistic change where all the ‘weirdos’ could get together and say outrageous things and be understood and supported!
        Re the emotional heroism needed both in dealing with the shamers and with one’s own shame…..hastens off to iron her mother teresa costume…… 🙂



  9. Ianrowcliffe on May 23, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I think the distinction between envy and jealousy is useful. Although viewed from far one looks like a macro problem whereas the other is micro. The response most seen to envy is backstabbing rather than emulation to a desired position. This is part of the problem as politicians are viewed in such a bad light that few people really want the job but just the salary and perks, playing a type of hit and run game in this part of the world. With respect to accountability, basically there is none, as if there are any really, really serious messes, they just rotate the party members. It is not as though anyone resigns or anything…

    Personally, I am not sure if I am envious of anyone – possibly, Linda a little for her success but knowing something of what it has cost her and is costing, the envy tends to evaporate quickly. But jealousy may be different. Being put out of a job that you did well isn’t very nice and doesn’t make you feel very generous toward those holding their jobs with little merit other than being part of the club. But being out of a backstabbing environment also has its merits – I don’t envy anyone that.

    I suppose it is very important not to talk generally but work with these concepts in specific situation. For example, recently I have had to work on boundaries and accountability with some teenagers I am working with rather than just needing to focus on objectives. In fact, I had to impose zero tolerance for backstabbing.

    Anyway, as you can witness, I am turning all this over in my head:-)



  10. Ianrowcliffe on May 23, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Not much evidence of shame and shaming in this part of the world. Nevertheless, envy and jealousy are central as is the overriding belief that corruption pays and what you can get away with is ‘fair’ game. There is no sense of wrong doing should you get caught, but only a sense of unfairness in relation to others who haven’t been caught and probably won’t ever be – yes, no sense of accountability what so ever.

    Of course, the tone was set and became the status quo with really available subsidies controlled by those who happen to be in power. The new phase is control via debts and interest to pay, resulting in taxes on everything including income. Traditionally, you could ‘vote’ with your feet but today there is nowhere to run to. Hence, things must change; the choice is to sink or swim, given there is enough air to breath.



    • Ianrowcliffe on May 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

      really: readily



    • Susan Garvin on May 24, 2012 at 7:12 am

      Ian – I am responding to both your comments. I agree re the distinction between jealousy and envy and also the way both can be constructive. It is a great relief to me to read this lesson because it lays to rest ghosts of past jealousies that I felt ashamed of and yet understood for what they were (as Linda expresses them here) but without support for my ‘analysis’ so it was hard to stick to my guns then, as I now might be able to do. I do feel envy for people for example with enough money to get things done while most of us are caught up in the daily grind of making enough to survive…transposing to another situation what Linda quotes as ‘….too tired to carry through’! But then I have never acted on that and gone all-out to make more money….I envy people who found a career where they were able to really do something about their beliefs – I could have become a lawyer fighting for animal rights/poor people’s rights etc. Or a veterinary with the Brooke Hospital. I always come back to tutoring/guidance, it’s hard to find your way when you are floundering about trying to find yourself and work out how to survive etc. What you are doing with your teenagers is a blessing, I wish I had had a mentor like you in my youth! And so we come to education….putting back into education the values and concepts that Linda is illustrating in this book. And here we come to what you said – ‘not much evidence of shame and shaming in this part of the world….’. However I notice in UK that ‘naming and shaming’ has become a bit of a hobby. but not in a healthy way. People are very strong on their rights and very weak on responsbilities. Very strong on finding someone to blame and point the finger at. It is easy to bay for the blood of politicians but the politicians we have reflect only ourselves, our abdication of effort, and our inability to discern quality and stick out for it. Education is one of the first victims of economic crunches, so with the impoverishment of our education we spiral away from consciousness and accountability. At least with politicians and bankers we are being presented with an opportunity to raise the concepts of responsibility and accountability in a context that is getting the attention and approval of millions….speaking to them in a way other, less tangible, concepts don’t. You can avoid the issue of moral responsibility towards the weak, for example, but you cannot avoid the issue of losing all your savings, or your job, to irresponsible and greedy behaviour by bankers etc etc etc. Got to start somewhere …
      Linda, what about starting a cult of G.W??? I see a cartoon series, comics, video games….. 🙂



      • Ian Rowcliffe on May 24, 2012 at 1:01 pm

        Thanks for your interesting and kind reply.

        Here in Portugal, people don’t actually receive much feedback and guidance about their actions: you are left to sort everything out yourself for the most part – hence, children are treated like adults but are not prepared for this. Hence, using the boundary approach of ‘tough love’ is something quite unknown to them in general. Nevertheless, once I had made it explicit that I would tolerate no ‘backstabbing’, they all behaved appropriately … although I still felt the need to be hyper-vigilant. Of course, in many ways it seems so artificial but with time, I think, when people begin to notice the obvious benefits, they will themselves maintain the principle. For as Linda points out, suddenly you have so much extra energy to achieve the mutual rewards of the desired objectives.



        • Susan Garvin on May 25, 2012 at 9:46 am

          I think this sort of guidance has been withering away pretty well everywhere except for isolated pockets. Many years ago when I was teaching in a rather poor area of Bradford, UK, the Asian kids were clearly receiving cultural and social education at home whereas the others – both other, non-Asian – i.e. second generation immigrant and native white – were clearly not. I wonder if this has changed now….must try to find out. So the difference in their behaviour and their achievement in school was clear to see. With the ‘dumbing down’ of society in general (we’ve already discussed, I think, the advantages this holds for the power-lusty politician) neither tutor nor receptive-tutee are very numerous or in evidence. What people then experience when entering EFL-type situations is new to them, whereas in the educational world implicit in PotH they would have been getting those lessons and perspectives all along. It’s back to the old story of Rudolph Steiner’s (and a host of others) Threefold Society i.e. putting the cultural back into the equation, and separating economics from politics. PotH would provide a whole new curriculum!