The title of this post was the first on a list Sunnyhill made when attempting heal a deep brokenness within the congregation. It is a foundational piece of my world view. I have been laughed at many times for it, rarely disappointed by it, occasionally screwed over because of it. It has served me well in spite of a few less than lovely experiences.
So I was quite amused to find the second cornerstone of Diana’s Grove to be pretty much that – assume good intentions. Part of the essay is below, with the full text at the link:
"Thinking Well of the Group begins as simply as Choice. If you choose to be in a group or community, you choose it because you think well of it. If you chose to be in Diana’s Grove Mystery School, I assume that you assume that what happens here is done by well-meaning people who are committed to personal growth, empowerment, spiritual development and building a healthy, respectful relationship with you. I can only assume this if I believe that you are all here due to your own choice.
At times, you may have an experience that is not empowering, that is not healthy and respectful. When that happens, if you think well of the group, you can say, "Wow, that was off. What happened there?" And the person who hurt you or disappointed you can answer you.
Each of us comes into a group with a history. We have experiences of exclusion, of not fitting in, of being hurt by hierarchical structures. We have all been discounted, unheard, and unseen. At times we have been seen and still were rejected or excluded. And we are fairly sophisticated people with psychological savvy. We can assign motivation to an action, we can diagnose the actor. "That was a power play." "She is just so insecure."
We are smart enough to look for the undercurrent in a group. We can find the dynamic. Who is in power? What does the group really want from you? What do you need to know or say to fit in? Who gets the best bed and how did they get it?
Everything isn’t really all peace and harmony, and if it is, what will happen if you disagree? What will you do if you just don’t like someone? What will happen if someone doesn’t like you? What if you’re too friendly and someone thinks your attempt to connect is a sexual violation? What if you are too self-contained and everyone thinks you are unfriendly? What if you ask the wrong question and everyone thinks you are dumb? What if you have the answer and the group thinks you are arrogant? How can you really be safe in a new group? Don’t trust the surface or the obvious. Watch for clues. Discover the feelings beneath the surface. Become highly sensitive to subtle indications of rejection, of inclusion, of boundaries and expectations.
And the minute that your old dis-empowering patterns appear, then you will know the truth. Then you will know what this group is really like.
……I leave this concept, this cornerstone, wondering why when we close our eyes to the sincerely good intentions of others, it is rarely called denial. When we choose to see well-meaning intentions rather than pathology, it is."
It appears I will quoting from the cornerstones of Diana’s Grove all week. Lovely stuff. *smile*
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I have fought this battle my entire life. Every morning it’s a game of convincing myself I’m worthy, pretty, good, and smart. Some days, I win; other day, The Voices (TM) do. Bastards.
The Universe works in the most amazing ways. I just discussed this very topic in length with a colleague yesterday. He noted a line in a recent communication “be prepared to speak intelligently on the call.” The phrase apparently offended someone and they called his manager about it to complain. Seriously. This poor man wouldn’t hurt a flea.
The world today seems so quick to be offended. And if they can’t be offended, themselves, they are offended on someone else’s behalf.
I felt bad for him as he was very hurt by the action.
Best intensions–assume them.
this was lovely, and helped me realize that this is really a good way to think about (most*) things.
*im really pissed off right now
It is a really good way to approach all things. Some things need a bat for emphasis.