Challenging & Growing

Men’s group. The day was all about challenges. There were challenges to individuals about commitment, and about avoiding being challenged by questioning instead of listening. And there were challenges from the younger members of the group to the elders to connect and contribute more, and to share their invaluable experience of life.

The group had been going on for 14 hours when George challenged me about a comment I had made at the last Thursday group. He told me I had made a cheap comment which got a cheap laugh and demanded an explanation. I immediately began to dive in and justify and explain myself when Karaj intervened. He split us up into the two groups. The elders needed to come up with another way of putting the question to me which did not bash me up and I needed to work out how I could answer it without rising to the bait of an argument.

My adrenaline was flowing and I was still looking for a ‘fight’ when the elders returned. Karaj asked me if I was relaxed. I replied that I wasn’t relaxed but that I was prepared. At this point Ishwar put his head in his hands expecting a fight but I knew that it wouldn’t happen even though I was finding it very difficult to relax. George rephrased his question, ‘What did you mean by…?’.

I told him, but neither he nor any of the other elders understood my explanation. I felt it was me against them as I repeated my words. [Karaj: You expect fights when there are none.] This time the other three understood but George did not. Karaj asked Earl to explain to George what I had said – I relaxed a little. Earl was being used very effectively as an interpreter. Eventually George understood why I had said what I had said and we resolved the issue.

It was the first time I had ever resolved a potentially explosive issue in such a calm fashion. This was not lost on Earl who sighed with obvious admiration at how possible it is to avoid angry and damaging confrontations like the ones he has always had in his life. This stayed with me for the rest of the night and I am very grateful for the opportunity to prove to myself that I can create the world I want – one where conflicts and differences are resolved peaceably and without harm to either party. Thank you George.

George’s use of the word ‘cheap’ had got to me immediately without me realising that it was that which had riled me so. He was using it to bash me up. The problem was all his and if he wanted to know why I had said it then there are other ways to ask me which are non-confrontational. I need to be aware of this.

At the end Karaj made the point that we should continue to challenge the elders. Don’t give up just because they don’t like it. It was midnight and we had been going for 15 hours. I was exhausted but had made an important breakthrough. With George’s help I proved to myself that the world I wish to create for myself – one of harmony and maturity – is possible and it’s happening.

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