16 Jul Communication Patterns | Part C’ (V. Satir)
It’s anything but easy to break old habit patterns and become a leveler. One way you might help yourself achieve this goal is to learn what some of your fears are that keep you from leveling. To thwart the rejection we so fear, we tend to threaten ourselves in the following ways:
1. I might make a mistake.
2. Someone might not like it.
3. Someone will criticize me.
4. I might impose.
5. She will think I am no good.
6. People might think me imperfect.
7. He might leave.
When you can tell yourself the following answers to the foregoing statements, you will have achieved real growth:
1. I am sure to make mistakes if I take any action, especially new action.
2. I can be quite sure that there will be someone who doesn’t like what I do. Not everyone likes the same things.
3. Yes, someone will criticize me. I really am not perfect. Some criticism is useful.
4. Sure! Every time I speak and interrupt in the presence of another person, I impose!
5. So maybe she will think I’m no good. Can I live through that? Maybe sometimes I’m not so hot. Sometimes the other person is “laying a trip on me.” Can I tell the difference?
6. If I think of myself as needing to be perfect, chances are I will always be able to find imperfection.
7. So he leaves. Maybe he should leave, and anyway, I’ll live through it.
These attitudes will give you a good opportunity to stand on your own two feet. It won’t be easy and it won’t be painless. If we can laugh at ourselves, the journey will be easier. You can grow and feel good about yourself. The outcome will be worth the effort.
With no intention of being flippant, I think most of the things we use to threaten ourselves and that affect our self-worth turn out to be tempests in teapots. This is an opportunity to see the joke in how we treat ourselves.
Another way I helped myself through these threats was to ask myself if I would still be alive if all the imagined threats came true. If I could answer yes, then I was okay. I can answer yes to all of them now.
I will never forget the impact of discovering other people worried about these same silly threats. I had thought for years I was the only one, and I kept myself busy trying to outwit them, simultaneously doing my best to conceal my anxiety. My fear was, “What if somebody found out?” Well, what if somebody did? Now I know we all use same kinds of things to threaten ourselves.
By now you realize this leveling response isn’t some kind of magical recipe. It’s a way of responding to real people in real situations that permits you to agree you really do, not because you want to make points. Leveling allows you to use your brain freely but not at the expense of your feelings or your spirit. It also enables you to change course, not to get you off the hook but because you want to and need to.
The leveling response makes it possible for you to live as a whole person: real, in touch with your head. your hearts your feelings, and your body. Being a leveler enables you to have integrity, commitment, honesty, intimacy, competence, creativity, and the ability to work with real problems in a real way. The four other communication patterns result in doubtful integrity, commitment by bargain, dishonesty, loneliness, shoddy performance, strangulation by tradition, and dealing in a destructive way with fantasy problems.
It takes guts, courage, some new beliefs, and some new skills to become a leveling responder. You can’t fake it.
People are hungry for straightness, honesty, and trust. When they become aware of it and are courageous enough to try it, they diminish their distance from other people.
I came to this awareness in a tough, trial-and-error way, trying to help people who had serious life problems, I found that people healed by finding their hearts, their feelings, their bodies, and their brains; this process once more brought them to their souls and thus their humanity. They could then express themselves as whole people, which in turn helped them to greater feelings of self-worth, nurturing relationships, and satisfying outcomes. None of these results is possible through the use of the four crippling ways of communications.
From what i have seen I’ve made some tentative conclusions about what to expect when i meet new groups of people. In general, 50 percent will say yes, no matter what they feel or think (placate), 30% will say no, no matter what they feel or think (blame); 15 percent will say neither yes nor no and will give no hint of their feelings (compute); and 0.5 percent will behave as if yes, no, or any feeling did not exist (distract). That leaves only 4.5 percent who will be real, who will level. My colleagues tell me I am optimistic, saying the leveling response is probably found in only 1 percent of our population. (Again, this is not validated research. It’s only a clinical hunch.)
In the vercanular, it would seem we are a bunch of emotional crooks, hiding ourselves, playing dangerous games with one another, and calling it society, If we want to make our bodies sick, become disconnected our beautiful brainpower, and mute, deaf, and blind, we can continue using only crippling ways of communication.
I feel very strongly as I write this. For me, isolation, helplessness, and feeling unloved, low-pot, or incompetent comprise the real human evils of this world. Certain kinds of communication perpetuate this, other kinds Of communication can change it. If we can understand and recognize the leveling response, we can also learn to use it.
I would like to see each human being value and appreciate himself or herself, and feel whole, creative, competent, healthy, flexible, beautiful, and loving.
Despite my exaggerations of the first four ways of communication (they may even seem amusing) I am deadly serious about their killing nature. In the next chapter, when you play the games I have invented, you will experience exactly what these communication styles are like. You will quickly understand the toll they take on your body, the distrust that forms in your relationships, and the blah, disappointing, and many times disastrous outcomes that ensue.
The New Peoplemaking