Tolerance Exercise

In principle a process facilitator should be able to tolerate just about anything. You can't really predict everything that clients will come and present you with, so you better be prepared for an assortment of situations. And you better retain your balance no matter what.

Clients are mostly just going to sit in front of you and talk. But just within that framework there might be a lot of possibilities you might need some practice in tolerating. You need to be able to not react to the subject matter that is brought up, to the client's opinions about it, and the way she says it, and the way she looks when she says it.

In processing we will often talk about stuff that is otherwise being kept secret. Your client might have killed somebody and it might be appropriate to go over all the details of it. Or he might have very unusual sexual fantasies you might never have dreamed of. And he might have them about you for that matter. You need to be able to remain neutral, regardless. Just being there, centered, interested in the other person, still knowing what to do and say.

The facilitator must per definition be prepared for tolerating anything that is being processed. That is by decree. The facilitator must agree to do that, and must aim for a high degree of tolerance.

But then there is the matter of what the facilitator reacts to unwillingly. She might have the best of intentions to stay neutral, but when the client tells about one of his sexual experiences, she blushes. Or, the client just looks very funny and she can't help laughing.

We could give the facilitator some transformational processing on each thing she reacts to, finding out why and changing it. But really, the most straightforward method is to repeatedly subject her to whatever triggers a reaction, until she succeeds in tolerating it while remaining centered.

Another student or a trainer would pretty much at random try out different things the student facilitator might react to. Such as saying funny things, looking really crazy, bringing up embarrassing subjects, and so forth. The student might twitch, move back in the chair, look away, smile, or anything. The trainer would call attention to what the reaction was, and then she would do the same behavior again that triggered the reaction. Saying the same word, looking the same way. She would do that repeatedly until there is no longer any reaction from the student. In other words, the trainer finds a button to push, and keeps pushing it until there is no longer any result from it. And then she looks for another button.

This kind of exercise is one of the most valuable ways of increasing your comfort and skill in being a facilitator. These exercises can be done for a long time, or on a regular basis, as much as what is desirable or needed. The result should be that you can stay relaxed and attentive, with a clear vision, aware of the whole space you are in, with no need to react, fully in the present -- under any conditions. That is of course not only useful in session, but also in life.


- The student and a trainer sit opposite of each other in chairs. First exercise is simply for the student to sit there comfortably and look at the trainer, without doing anything. The trainer will not do anything yet. The student just sits still and looks directly at the trainer, probably in her eyes. Probably she will react to having to do that somehow. She might get watery eyes, her face might twitch, she might get spots in her vision, she might get sleepy and so forth. The exercise needs to continue until these things no longer happen and she can sit comfortably and look at another person not doing anything. If it is helpful, the trainer can stop the student whenever there is a visible reaction and call her attention to what it was. "Your eyebrow twitched."

- Now the student still needs to sit there relaxed and look at the trainer. But now the trainer will do something. Mostly she will talk to the student, but she might also move around, touch the student, make gestures, and so forth. The trainer shouldn't leave the student's field of vision, but can otherwise move around any which way. This is with the focused purpose of finding something that the student reacts to and then work through that specific reaction. The trainer will stay with the behavior that triggered the reaction until the student no longer reacts. The trainer will call attention to each reaction until it has subsided. The trainer will start this exercise gradually, so that the student always has a good chance of getting through it. But gradually the trainer will do and say more and more bizarre things, until the student can handle any of it without reacting.

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