Voice Dialogue in Relationships
When we acknowledge our own vulnerability in the interaction and adopt a curiosity about the other's vulnerability, our emotional ears are open again. When we hold an intention of extending our compassion to the other, it usually results in a much more fulfilling exchange than arguing defensively in a way that just reinforces a negative bonding pattern, damaging trust and understanding.
Voice Dialogue facilitation skill enables us to realize that our partner is presently "possessed" by a wound-protecting self. We can avoid taking their behavior as a personal attack. And we can see through their self-deceptions. Instead, we can see their behavior for what it really is -- a cry for help from a position of isolation. Taking the facilitator's point of view enables us to become curious and compassionate rather than being triggered and reactive in response to a triggered partner.
One of the primary benefits from Voice Dialogue is to practice holding our own vulnerability in an accepting way. In doing so, we neither project that responsibility onto our partner nor push our vulnerability out of our awareness. By holding the presence of our vulnerability, we create a safer space for our partner. We enable more compassionate, less defensive responses from them, too.
The experience of falling in love is built in part on the unconscious agreement between the partners that they will always take care of each other's vulnerable inner-child selves. Since nobody can consistently fulfill this responsibility for another, the result is usually bitter disappointment without fully understanding the dynamic. Many couples (most couples?) never overcome such a fall from grace.
Voice Dialogue enables us to take 100% responsibility for attending to the needs of our own inner child as a conscious, compassionate, skillful listener and protector. It also enables us to provide the strong and nurturing parenting that enables our inner child to come out safely at the right times and the right places to play with others. So we don't need to project that responsibility onto hapless (if unconsciously willing) partners, one after another ... after another.
Voice Dialogue offers a process that frees the individual from the snares of ego identification. We're enabled to reclaim our own self-responsibility in a playful, supportive, empowering way.
For more, visit The Voice Dialogue Institute.
And there's a social network for people interested in Voice Dialogue at http://VoiceDialogue.ning.com.
© 2005 Dan Webb. All rights reserved.
The Hindu Goddess,
Kali -- a Not-so-Gentle
There have been a great many periods of excitement in our adventures together as we've developed this body of work. Certainly one of the most profound and most gratifying has been the energetics of Voice Dialogue and the Psychology of Selves. Hal was first introduced to the world of energy by the work of William Brugh Joy in 1974 when he made his first public appearance at the Center for the Healing Arts summer conference. It was a truly seminal moment in the world of consciousness because large numbers of students flocked to Brugh and were introduced to the body's energy fields and shown how to work with them.
At that time the energy had to do with healing. Hal was not interested in becoming a healer per se, but the world of energy was opened to him by Brugh and, over the next few years, he developed his own style of energy work that he called field clearing. It has always been a significant part of our lives and our work and has helped us move through difficult physical challenges in the course of our lives and travels.
It was only after we met that we began to consider the world of healing as it applies to personal relationship. Early on in our explorations together, we began to notice that different selves actually felt different from other selves. Being with a vulnerable child or a loving parent felt like being in the room with an energy machine that gave off a warm glow that could be sensed and that made a palpable connection. We called that "personal energy". Facilitating the mind was totally different. The mind generally gave off no energy and we did not feel a connection. We called that "impersonal energy". One was warm and connected, the other cool with clear, crisp boundaries. These are two very different ways of meeting the world.
We paid more and more attention to what we began to call "the energetics" of Voice Dialogue. Other selves had other energies connected to them. If we were facilitating sensual energy (which we then called Aphrodite energy), we could sense a tingling in the skin of our whole body. If we were facilitating the higher self, we could feel a powerful sensation in the top of our head, the crown energy. Though Hal had learned about energetic reality through the work at the Center, Sidra seemed to have a totally natural connection to it. We began to see that some of the difficulties of our interactions were based on energetic realities we hadn't previously known. Sidra's primary self was personal in those early years and Hal's primary self was impersonal.
We began to recognize that some of our most impassioned judgments towards each other were based on this difference. When we first starting teaching together this was a real problem. Sidra said of Hal that if someone in the front row of the audience fainted and fell to the floor, Hal wouldn't notice it. Hal said of Sidra that if someone in the last row of the audience got up to go to the bathroom, Sidra would be upset because she felt abandoned or judged.
One time we were teaching, and at the end of the first hour at the break, Sidra asked Hal if he had seen the couple in the front row right in front of him. Hal didn't know what she was talking about. She then pointed them out to him and it was a couple that was apparently involved in S&M practices. The girl was wearing a very large metal collar around her neck and metal bands around her ankles embedded with metal rings for bondage. Hal was quite sure that he was the only one in the room that had missed seeing that.
Another time Sidra and Hal were walking on the beach near Santa Barbara and Hal was very immersed in the ideas they were addressing in full impersonal energy. Sidra stopped walking and asked Hal to stop and said to him: “Hal, would you mind looking around and seeing where you are?” To his great astonishment he discovered that they were in the middle of a nude beach and that all around him there were naked sun worshippers. It was not only impersonal energy that creates this diminished perception, but impersonal was certainly a good part of it. His basic primary selves were impersonal and he did not make an energetic connection with the world around him.
In more recent years, we have begun to use the word "linkage" or "energetic linkage" when talking about this energetic connection. When we got into negative bonding patterns, when judgments took over, we lost our linkage. Things felt hopeless between us. Then we did our work with each other. Maybe Hal discovered he had been holding back his reactions. Maybe Sidra discovered she was pushing too hard. Whatever the case, by doing our work with each other we got back our linkage. We felt energetically connected again. We felt like newlyweds. This happened over and over again. We were beginning to see with absolute clarity that it wasn't marriage that destroyed love and intimacy. It was the development of negative bonding patterns (See the article below.) and the ensuing loss of linkage.
This happened over and over again. Hal's feelings would get hurt. Maybe he was jealous of Sidra at a party when she was energetically connecting with other men. If he didn't share his jealousy, his vulnerability -- whatever forms that sharing took -- his inner child disappeared from view. He used to joke about it disappearing into the universe about a hundred light years away when this happened. What we realized was that linkage ended at that moment. Linkage is real. When it is lacking it is very lonely and the relationship feels terrible. And unless you know about what you have just lost, it is not so easy to get it back.
We began to examine the nature of people's linkage. You can be linked to your dog or cat. You can be linked to a child. You can be linked to your work, or your computer, or your book, or your television set, or your secretary, or to money. Or to worry, or to your "to do" list. Or to alcohol, or to drugs, or to food, or to exercise. You can even be linked to your spiritual practices or to your consciousness process.
In relationship work we began to see that if the primary linkage wasn't between the two people in the relationship, then there were problems. The primary linkage might go to one of the children, creating a kind of psychological marriage between the parent and that child. This happens with great frequency, and then, if the marriage breaks up and the mother meets someone she loves, there is as wrenching disconnect between her and the son or daughter who had carried the primary linkage before she met her new partner. This awareness of energetic linkage introduced a new dimension to our considerations of family relationships and led us to a deeper understanding of the intense pain involved in step parenting and the introduction of a new partner into a family system.
Our work with energetics was in two basic areas. First, there was the fact that every self could be experienced energetically and that the awareness of this was of utmost importance. We saw clearly that the effectiveness of the facilitator was dependent upon the recognition of the energy and the ability to hold this. We realized that the best facilitators worked at an energetic, rather than verbal, level. They paid more attention to maintaining the energetic integrity of a self than to asking it the "proper" questions.
There is another aspect to the facilitator's sensitivity to energetics. If the facilitator was able to use energetics, then he or she could often help a self to emerge by a process of energetic induction. This works like a tuning fork - you strike the tuning fork and set it down on a sounding board. The sounding board then vibrates at the same frequency, giving off the same note. The facilitator operates like a tuning fork, calling up a specific energy within himself or herself, and the subject responds with the same. In this way, and when appropriate, the facilitator can help to induct a sought-after energy. This is particularly helpful when helping people to learn how to utilize personal and impersonal energies.
This was a whole new world to explore. We also began to teach the Aware Ego how to bring into itself, or channel, the different energies, and, here again, it was the awakening of a whole new world. We literally taught people how to "play their own instruments" --how to affect their own energy fields. This work was particularly important because it was a way of strengthening the Aware Ego Process and empowering the individual.
The second area of work with energetics was our exploration and experimentation with linkage. We looked at energetic linkage as it related to bonding patterns and saw how it led to an increased understanding of the dynamics of family systems.
Hal has one strong memory here of an experience with Sidra that catapulted him to a new understanding and appreciation of linkage. A good many of the negative bonding patterns he got into with Sidra had to do with feeling left out when she was with her children. Since her basic energies were personal, the linkage with her daughters was very strong. One day they were alone in their home in Southern California; it was the first day that all of the children were away. They were sitting on the two ends of the couch, and there was a very strong energetic linkage -- they could feel a buzz between their hearts. Hal was a very happy man. This process went on for five minutes or so and suddenly stopped completely.
Hal asked Sidra what had happened. Sidra then said something that was truly remarkable for Hal. She said that she was doing an experiment. She wanted to see what would happen if she visualized her daughter in the next room. When she did that, the linkage between them ended totally, and her energies automatically (or unconsciously) went to her daughter.
Hal had been working on his judgments about Sidra's mothering for a long time. Suddenly he understood at a very deep level how this process works. If a mother has children, and if one or more of those children is near her, then her primary linkage is going to shift to the child. We don't mean every time, but we do mean most of the time. What Hal saw is that the mother is hard-wired to link with her child. This is not a conscious choice, so if we want to be very clear, we call it "unconscious linkage."
If Hal wanted quality time with Sidra away from the children, he had to learn how to go to her with his own intimacy needs and make them clear to her without sounding either like a whiny victim child or a killer judgmental father. (He had an advanced black belt in both, but they were not very useful.) She then was able to become aware of where her energies were and was able to handle them in a more conscious way. She could reinstate her linkage with Hal, and she could even maintain her connection to a child at the same time. We call that "conscious linkage."
This was a turning point in Hal's life, and interestingly enough, as we might well expect in this kind of process relationship, Sidra was able to more effectively look at her own linkage issues with her children. Because she now knew what was happening, she finally had some choice and she was able to begin to control where her energies went.
Everything changed in the work and in the theory with these kinds of experiences. For the newer person, Voice Dialogue may well look like a simple technique -- just ask the right questions and you'll get to the self. For anyone who senses into the underlying energetics of the work, it becomes something quite different. Experienced facilitators are able to work at deeper and deeper levels as they become more at home with the energetic realities that are in us and that determine so much of what happens in our lives and in our relationships.
And so it was that we began the practice of helping people to develop mastery in the world of energy. Sidra describes this process as teaching people how to play their own instruments so as to be able to meet the world within and the world outside with ever increasing levels of subtlety and imagination. And, as we age, we find this ability to dance with the energies is truly one of the loveliest gifts imaginable.
Recently Sidra had a dream in which three women in their mid 90s came to our home to teach us about aging. What they basically taught is that as we get older, our relationship to energetics becomes more and more important. We had to learn at ever deepening levels how to run our own energies --how to call up the necessary energies to do whatever it is that we needed to do.
Thus it is that learning to play our energetic instrument becomes an integral part of Voice Dialogue and the Psychology of Selves.
|SOME THOUGHTS ON THE INNER CRITIC|
|SOME THOUGHTS ON THE INNER PATRIARCH|
|USING JUDGEMENT TO LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF - AND YOUR SELVES|
|SOME THOUGHTS ON ENERGETIC CONNECTION|
|DREAMS: GOD’S FORGOTTEN LANGUAGE|
|THE DISOWNED INSTINCTUAL ENERGIES AND THE DREAM PROCESS|
|KNOW YOUR SELVES|
|Issue 10||DECISION MAKING AND VOICE DIALOGUE|
|Issue 11||RELATIONSHIP & BONDING PATTERNS: PART 1|
|Issue 12||RELATIONSHIP & BONDING PATTERNS: PART 2 - POSITIVE BONDING PATTERNS|
|Issue 13||RELATIONSHIP & BONDING PATTERNS: PART 3- NEGATIVE BONDING PATTERNS|
|Issue 14||DREAMS AS A WINDOW TO YOUR INNER SELVES - Part1|
|Issue 15||DREAMS AS A WINDOW TO YOUR INNER SELVES - Part 2|
|Issue 16||ILLNESS AS TEACHER|
|Issue 17||JUDGMENT IN RELATIONSHIPS - Part 1|
|Issue 18||JUDGMENT IN RELATIONSHIPS - Part 2|
|Issue 19||DISOWNED SELVES AND PATHOLOGY|
|Issue 20||THE AWARE EGO AND THE HIGHER SELF|
|Issue 21||THE NEGATIVE EGO|
|Issue 22||SEPARATING FROM PRIMARY SELVES - One Secret of Graceful Aging|
|Issue 23||IT WAS ONLY A DREAM - Learning To Honour The Creative Imagination in Children|
|Issue 24||SOME THOUGHTS ON ENLIGHTENMENT|
|Issue 25||CONSCIOUS BODY - Healing with Inner Selves|
THE BASIC ELEMENTS OF VOICE DIALOGUE, RELATIONSHIP AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SELVES - 10 Part Series
Part 1 - Hal's Earliest Influences and Experiences
|Issue 27||Part 2 - Sidra's Earliest Influences and Experiences|
|Issue 28||Part 3 - Voice Dialogue as a Methodology: The Beginning of a Joint Adventure|
|Issue 29||Part 4 - The Psychology Of Selves: The Beginning of Theory|
|Issue 30||Part 5 - The Consciousness Model: A New Definition of Consciousness|
|Issue 31||Part 6 - The Theory of Bonding Patterns: The Selves & Relationship|
|Issue 32||Part 7 - The Psychology Of The Aware Ego|
|Issue 33||Part 8 - The Energetics of Voice Dialogue|
|Issue 34||Part 9 - Partnering in Relationship|
|Issue 35||Part 10 - Dreams, Daydreams and The Intelligence Of The Unconscious Coming|
|Issue 36||What is the Aware Ego's role|
|Issue 37||Partnering: A New Kind Of Relationship|
|Issue 38||The Language Of The Body|
|Issue 39||Sustainable Intimacy in Relationships|
|Issue 40||Meditation and Voice Dialogue|
|Issue 41||The Top Ten Challenges to Relationship:
Keeping Your Love Alive Amid Life's Routines
Challenge 1 - Television
|Issue 42||Challenge 2 - Work|
|Issue 43||Challenge 3 - Other Relationships in Fact & Fantasy|
|Issue 44||Challenge 4 - Friends|
|Issue 45||Challenge 5 - Children|
|Issue 46||Challenge 6 - Doing Rather Than Being|
|Issue 47||Challenge 7 - Computers - The New Mystical Lover|
|Issue 48||Challenge 8 - Alcohol and Drugs|
|Issue 49||Challenge 9 - Becoming A Psychological Know-It-All|
|Issue 50||Challenge 10 - Maintaining A "Perfect" Relationship|
(an excerpt from Dr Hal & Sidra Stone's book titled "Partnering")
Sometimes we work too hard to keep everything in our relationships perfect. We try to see eye-to-eye with our partners on all matters, we are impeccably empathic and understanding of one another, there are no problems, everything is wonderful, we are always linked energetically, we are indeed blessed, and we do everything together all the time. We put all of our energies into keeping the partnership trouble free and do our best to ignore any feelings of discomfort. The rule we hold in our minds is something like “in a really good relationship, everything runs smoothly, both partners always agree with each other, and they never separate but always do everything together.” Unfortunately, when we try to keep the relationship perfect in this way, we actually break the connection between our partners and ourselves because anything that does not work smoothly is ignored and too much gets left out.
Since relationships naturally ebb and flow and life is not always wonderful, perfection is not exactly an attainable objective. As a matter of fact, if this goal is attained and there is never any friction, we might suspect that something is being overlooked. This does not mean that relationships are always a mass of difficulties. What it does mean is (1) people are different and have different needs, (2) two partners invariably experience some areas of disconnection, disagreement, or misunderstanding, and (3) there is always a need for some separation as well as a need for togetherness.
This is why it is so important to be able to include in the partnering relationship some space for the consideration of what is not working either in the relationship or in your life. If you were running a business and you never looked at what did not work, you might find yourself in deep trouble. For instance, you run a freight service. Everybody knows that you only like good news, so no one tells you that there is a small knocking sound in the refrigerated truck that does your long distance runs. If you knew about it, you could have the problem fixed. But you do not find out about it because nobody wants to bring you the bad news and they tell themselves that since it is only a small knocking sound, it is probably not very important. So the truck breaks down in the middle of the desert with a full load of perishable lettuce.
It is the “small knocking sounds” that tell us what could be improved upon, what could grow into a problem, or what needs fixing. We all need time — and permission — to look at what is not working in our lives and in the relationship. In the partnering model of relationship, it is accepted that each partner can, and will, bring to the conference table “reports” of what is not currently working. This is not a gripe session any more than a business meeting to review the workings of a business is a gripe session.
What might you bring to the table? You would bring your dissatisfactions with your partner or your life. This might include talking about your attractions to others, attractions that pull you away from the relationship. You might include your fantasies, such as opening a new business, or having another baby, or running away to Fiji. You might talk of your fears about money, work, health, or even about the relationship. You might talk about your discomfort with always being together and express your need for time alone, or for a space in the house that is just yours. All these issues keep us from becoming too complacent or stuck in old patterns that no longer suit us, they all open doors into new thoughts and new possibilities.
We feel that it is important to have time set aside to look at these matters. It is not necessary to be formal about this, after all you are not running a business, but it is important to keep current. Keeping current with dissatisfactions or negative feelings (1) helps us to keep the connection with our partners alive, even if the connection is not pleasant at that very moment, (2) prevents a backlog of complaints from building up, and (3) helps us to deal with matters creatively and quickly. We fix the truck before it breaks down. That is what partners are for.
Each partner notices something different and contributes something unique to the partnership. You may become irritated when your partner gets too preoccupied with work and ignores you. Your partner may become irritated with you because you did not follow up on the business opportunity that presented itself last week. You may be great at noticing when the car needs repairing and your partner may be great at noticing when the bank accounts are getting too low. You can see how partnering as a model for relationship brings us the possibilities of using our full human potential as a powerful team.
The basic theme in all ten challenges is the underlying challenge to maintain the connection in your primary relationship. Most of the time this connection will be pleasant, but there are times, when you are dealing with unpleasant matters, when it will be a bit uncomfortable.
What must you do on a day-to-day basis to maintain the connection to your partner? First, you must make your relationship — and this connection — a priority. All the challenges mentioned in this chapter have a single common element. Each of them threatens to replace your relationship as a priority.
Second, when you feel uncomfortable with your partner or the relationship, or when you sense your connection weakening, don't ignore your feelings. This is a warning, it is like a fire alarm going off. You may be tempted to think that the alarm is faulty and you may wish to turn if off because you can't bear the sound, you don't see any smoke, and you're too busy to go looking for trouble. But pay attention. There is a gift of disowned energy somewhere in this discomfort.
The third, and perhaps the most important, ingredient in the recipe for a healthy, intimate, and loving relationship is time. The best way to meet all the challenges to relationship is to take time for one another and for your partnership. You cannot run a business without giving it proper time and attention, and you cannot expect to have a successful relationship without doing likewise. Take time for meetings, for work, for play, and for passion. Take time to be happy with each other and time to be irritated with each other. Take time to look at what works and makes you feel just great and time to listen to the small knocking sounds in your relationship and your lives that will tell you what doesn't work. Take time to enjoy today and time to plan and to dream about tomorrow. Take time to hang out, just to be and not to do anything at all.
Most of all, take time away from the daily distractions and challenges we've been talking about to establish and to keep the delicious energetic linkage between you and your partner. It's a good idea to make regular plans to break your daily routine and get re-acquainted. These breaks can take any form, so be creative.
If partners can keep their linkage, they will keep their relationship. Anything that breaks this linkage can damage the relationship. No matter how sensible, worthwhile, or absolutely necessary the distraction seems to be, it should be handled with great care and not allowed to break the essential connection between partners. It is very easy to ruin even a good relationship. It is also very easy, once we know about linkage, to preserve a good relationship and to make it even better. So go for the linkage, and good luck!
Alison Poulsen, Ph.D.
What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”