Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

On Creating Space

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

October 22, 2013

This essay, On Creating Space, is the thirteenth in a group of fifteen on Creating: I am indebted to my daughter Alexandra Lindsey Platt who inspired this conversation.

It was just another ordinary conversation among friends - ordinary, that is, in its content but definitely not ordinary in its result ie it was extra-ordinary in its result. We were taking the time to catch up with what's been going on in each others' lives since we spoke last. Catching up is something we do regularly and look forward to. At some point she shared something (exactly what she shared isn't relevant here - repeating it would be gratuitous) which was going on with her which confused her, something she didn't know how to manage. By the end of the conversation, it was no longer confusing for her. She now has a way of managing it (which is to say she now has a way of being  with it) which works. She also noticed its grip  on her has vanished.

She asked me "How do you do  that?". "How do I do what?"  I replied, caught off guard. "Whenever I talk with you" she continued, "you don't tell me what to do. Yet if something was a concern for me before, it's suddenly no longer a concern. The thing (whatever it was) stays the same, yet it stops being a concern for me, and I can manage it. How do you do that?".

Then I knew what she was talking about, and one thing about it is clear to me: what it is which causes this count-on-able phenomenon, happens most effectively in the context of conversation. Conversation is a miracle medium. No, we don't ordinarily think of conversation this way. That's because we're so close to it every day. It's so in our face  without let up - like water to a fish, like air to a bird, all the time. We take it so much for granted that its miraculous leverages get overlooked, barely noticed, and almost never clearly distinguished.

What I've done here is I've written some of them down, having looked at her question ("How do you do that?"), having looked at what accounts for the clearing she experiences in our conversations ie having looked at what accounts for the space  our conversations create for her, and then having isolated what I do to forward this happening.

In hers, as well as in all situations actually, these are useful conversational implements  - if you will.

 1)  Get out of the way:

Allow her to have her own experience. Anything you add by way of your opinions, bon mots, even by your own concerns becomes just one more thing she has to manage, interfering with her experiencing fully whatever it is she's concerned about. Miracles happen when we experience our concerns fully.

2)  Listen:

Just listen. Intently. Don't interrupt. The opportunity for her to be heard (to be really  heard) by someone else, provides a rich opportunity for her to hear herself  - possibly for the first time. She isn't stoopid. She'll manage almost all of her own concerns simply by hearing herself describing them.

3)  Recreate:

When she's finished speaking, and only  when she's finished speaking, summarize back to her what you heard her say. Simply echo what she said. No interpreting. Allow her to correct you until both of you are certain you heard her accurately. Create the certainty for her that what she said was heard.

4)  You're great / I love you.

Hold her greatness and your love for her, paramount in your listening. This is where you listen from. Given this context to speak to and within which to speak, she'll see clearly. You're not giving answers or solutions. You're providing a listening for her greatness in which she'll resolve things for herself.

5)  I trust your judgement:

The idea of resolving things for herself without "help" or advice may be unfamiliar - at first. Keep trusting her judgement as you listen. No rescuing!  Defer to her judgement as trustworthy, as count-on-able. Soon she'll also get her judgement is trustworthy and count-on-able, and make good calls.

6)  Nothing's wrong:

Whatever she says is going on, listen that there's nothing wrong. It's not merely good Zen. It's the foundation for a listening in which problems can't get a foothold. "Nothing's wrong" isn't an interpretation. It isn't a denial of facts, whatever they are. It's a context for support, a platform for listening.

7)  It's OK the way it is:

"It's OK the way it is" is the next layer of listening  (if you will) up from "nothing's wrong". Given the listening "it's OK the way it is", she can choose freely from all available future options, rather than dither endlessly in morality  ie in the already always listening  for the conceptual right thing to do.

8)  Anything's possible:

Having established an open, unintrusive platform for listening, introduce "anything's possible"  as an idea - not  as "the truth" (which only gets in the way). "Anything's possible" allows future choices to to be considered without prejudice on their own merits. Moving on, moving forward can now begin.

9)  What's next?:

Having established the listening "anything's possible" on a platform of "it's OK the way it is", "What's next?" is more than mere conjecture. She can now freely choose a stand for her future, and design actions consistent with it. She's now empowered by who she really is, not by being right or by winning.

10)  Investment:

Investing in her is arguably the one contribution I make which requires my stake in the matter. I express interest in any  direction she chooses. I ask to be updated with how it goes. I tell her (again) I trust her judgement, that I know how powerful she is. It's a reminder, one she may no longer need.

"So" I say to her, "that's how I do it. I get out of your way so you can get it for yourself.". Then, to be completely authentic (since this approach isn't something I dreamed up myself), I remind her of something I got from Werner Erhard (and it's easy to share my relationship with Werner with her because she knows my relationship with Werner) which is "There are certain things you can only know by creating them for yourself.".

"Indeed" I continue "you can tell me what concerns you, and I can give you my opinion. Hey! I can even give you my advice  - for what it's worth. But the way I really want to support you is by creating the space  (using conversational implements) for you  to create what you want to know, for yourself.".

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