Appraisal: Jonny to Jonathan

Men’s group. Karaj left Leon in charge for an hour and we spent the time appraising the progress I have made over the last 17 months. The time we spent was full of positivity as the men gave their impressions on how I have changed since my work with Karaj began. At first I thought I would struggle to cope with all the positive feedback and the strokes I was getting, but my new-found calmness was there, and I had no problems at all. The main reason I felt calm was because everything they said was true. Every point the men raised simply highlighted all that I have internalised about my learning over the last year or so.

  • I am more confident
  • I am more affirmative of myself
  • I am able to spot games more easily
  • My disciplined writing of appraisals, every day, is an inspiration to others
  • My disciplined exercise and diet have led to improvements in my back
  • I have achieved a great deal in the house and garden
  • I helped make the newsletter a reality
  • I have written inspiring pieces in the newsletter
  • I have provided support for Karaj and for everyone else
  • I have been a catalyst for the group
  • I am good and enjoyable company
  • I have become more Parental
  • I extol the virtues of a simple life – and I live a simple life
  • I am clearer about what I can do regarding Germany and England
  • I now understand that I can have my dream
  • I am willing to learn from every situation. ‘I’d like to emulate that’ – George
  • I have brought an energy to my truth seeking. ‘It’s woken me up’ – Earl
  • I have stayed very focused all along – ‘Don’t get cocky’ – Ishwar
  • I have pulled the group together into a very effective unit
  • I allow Karaj to be more focused on what he does best
  • I make sharp observations of myself and others’ behaviour
  • I make pertinent comments
  • I am inspirational – I have led by example
  • I am a beacon
  • There is a clarity and simplicity of observations in my appraisals
  • My written work is superb
  • I have attained equality with others
  • I have a wicked and much-appreciated sense of humour
  • I provide consistency for Karaj
  • I have developed a synergy with Karaj – a A Doer & A Perfectionist
  • I have come a long way as a fellow traveller
  • I have developed my own authority
  • I have a very different view of life – no longer a kid complaining about the world
  • I rejoice more in life
  • I have enthusiasm for the process
  • I put time and effort in with others
  • My mood swings are less – I don’t get so high and I don’t get so down
  • I am living independently – separation from mum
  • I have successfully stayed away from women
  • I have developed my practical skills and I have enjoyed the activities
  • I am becoming a ‘Doer’
  • I am better at saying goodbye
  • I am better at pastiming
  • I am better at protecting myself
  • I cope better with the unexpected
  • I am more in touch with my body and my intuition
  • Being able to cope with Karaj has set me up for life
  • I have the focus, the energy, the will, and the spirit to succeed
  • I am more mature
  • I have gained enormous respect from the group
  • I can identify the truth in complexity – seeing simplicity in complicated transactions
  • My ability to take feedback has improved
  • I have moved into the group from the periphery
  • My attitude to health has influenced others
  • I don’t complain
  • I have achieved a calmness

Everybody Learns

The learning points for others from this were many and varied. Leon, who did a fine job of facilitating, learned what it means to appreciate another person, but was strongly reminded that he must first learn to appreciate himself and cut out the facetious comments.

For Calvin the main lessons were to remain calm and focused and that anything is possible.

Robert revealed his keen interest in the appraisal process, counteracted by his strong urge to revert to negativity in the midst of all the positivity. He also noticed his jealousy that I was getting all the attention. As Karaj said to him, ‘That’s lovely because now you are not covering it up and you will do something about it, and now I have something to work with.

Dev noticed my calmness in light of all the praise I received. He related it to his habit of becoming excited when praised. He needs to remain calm and keep his feet firmly on the ground as he progresses.

Sunil was able to appreciate how much he too has changed. He reflected, quite rightly, that if I can do it so can he.

Kuldip was initially embarrassed because he’d had a similar opportunity to work closely with Karaj but he lost it. That subsided as he realised he has another opportunity now. He went on to point out that it was clear from my feedback that I have already internalised every point the men raised. This signified to Kuldip my own faith in the process – something which he needs to discover in himself.

Ishwar felt proud to have been involved in the appraisal process because it was such a good piece of work. He highlighted the focus as his main learning point. Moreover, that focus should be centred on the self. Nothing external can help us achieve peace. True peace comes from within and the internal work is the most important. Get in touch with the self and be with the self.

Earl simply realised that he is not alone anymore. He realised that he is part of the community of the group and a wider community too.

George enjoyed spending an hour being so positive, because it reaffirms his own general trend towards a more positive life.

Pair Work

After a break we spent half an hour in pairs writing an appraisal of one personal issue from our week. I saw the need to get together with someone who does not write appraisals and so joined up with Ishwar. We spent the first 15 minutes discussing his issue – that of sending his nephew, who he has cared for over the last 10 months, to nursery – and then I encouraged him to write it down. He soon discovered that, as he wrote, there was so much more he could write and he was still writing as we rejoined the group.

My own issue was today’s insight into the effect Arun has had on me and my back. This is what I wrote:

When we had lunch together I felt that my attitude towards Arun has matured – from an anxious child afraid of her disapproval, to a grown-up individual unaffected by her judgements. I am no longer looking for approval, I am not bothered by her attitude, in short, I don’t care.

However, in the light of my back scare and the talk with Karaj, I have become aware that there is more to my I-don’t-care attitude, because I want her to know that I don’t care; which means that at some level I do care, but for all the wrong reasons. It’s as if I am trying to prove something: that she doesn’t affect me anymore, which means that she does; or that she doesn’t get to me anymore, except that she does.

I am also annoyed with myself because ultimately I am putting my health at risk here. This tension within me – caused by my assumptions about being okay with Arun when the truth is that I’m not – is affecting my back in ways which concern me deeply. The truth is that she bothers me when Karaj talks about her. She says things to him like ‘You don’t treat Jonathan like this’, or ‘You don’t talk to Jonathan this way’. I am not here to compete with her but I get the impression she thinks otherwise.

The feedback from the group was very interesting because they seemed to feel a greater significance with my raising of this issue than I did – particularly Karaj and Kuldip. Also, they confirmed Robert’s feelings that, from what I had said about Arun, I was clearly attracted to her. I didn’t really dispute this because I was obviously outnumbered and I respect the opinions and feelings of the other men, but I maintained quietly that I do not have feelings for Arun. However, the more I considered this possibility, the more I felt relaxed. I cannot explain why but it makes me feel much better about the whole situation. Karaj reassured me saying that now I am becoming aware of the situation, he will help me with it. I am in a safe place.

Everybody Benefits

Leon received a familiar message with regard to his girlfriend. Don’t get sucked into any games, don’t take things seriously, relax and have fun.

Sunil has been, and is still, very concerned about what he should tell his sons about his divorce. The advice was that, when he is with his kids, he should be with them fully; be positive with them and love them totally. That way, they will not be concerned about any other issues.

Kuldip simply confirmed that he is having to learn to relax. He is beginning to see that through physical work he can relax his mind, lessen his intensity and allow his natural creativity to flow.

Robert’s discomfort at all the positivity from the beginning of the group highlighted his preference for negativity. He is negative about himself when there is no need. He has many positives, and has even said that his negatives, highlighted in his poem “I am a loser’, are in some way positive. As Karaj said to him, ‘Be positive about yourself – there’s nothing wrong with you.

Dev needs to take things seriously and stop being cocky. He is set to go far in his professional career but he needs to be less frivolous, more positive about his abilities, and more serious about himself.

George is starting to realise how he introduces frivolity into his class. By being sarcastic himself, he is inviting his pupils to be sarcastic. Karaj told him to be curious about what works. To observe how Karaj handles and facilitates the group is a source of great insight for George. This made a lot of sense to me because all we need is a simple curiosity to learn what works and we will learn so much.

Calvin had a similar situation to Robert. At work he was being blamed for something he had not done. It can be difficult to maintain some equilibrium when accused, and our faith in ourselves can waver. Calvin received similar advice to Robert: Relax, you’ve done nothing wrong.

Earl missed the last group because he was presenting a paper at a seminar. During this group he did not share his experiences of the seminar. By doing this he shut the rest of us out and also missed out himself on an opportunity to celebrate an achievement for which he has worked so hard.

Karaj gave us homework for the next session – to write a story about any one event in our lives – as another record-breaking session finally came to a close at 02.30.

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