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Transformation of Religious Life in North America Phase II Spring 2012 Engaging Resistance in the Service of Communal Discernment Luisa M. Saffiotti, Ph.D.

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Presentation on theme: "Transformation of Religious Life in North America Phase II Spring 2012 Engaging Resistance in the Service of Communal Discernment Luisa M. Saffiotti, Ph.D."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transformation of Religious Life in North America Phase II Spring 2012 Engaging Resistance in the Service of Communal Discernment Luisa M. Saffiotti, Ph.D Ray Dlugos, OSA, Ph.D. © Religious Formation Conference 2012

2 Identify an Issue for Communal Discernment Examples – Care of the elderly and infirm – Relationship with Institutional Church – Changes in the dynamics of influence over institutions – Mergers, federations, etc.

3 The Dynamics of Resistance Part of the Laws of Nature – If we don’t respect it; it will defeat us every time. Change is always difficult for individuals – Exponentially more difficult for groups and communities

4 Communal Discernment Involves complex differences in maturity, consciousness, self-awareness, understanding of mission, personality, and decision-making styles. Lowest common denominator will be too low, lofty ideals will leave many out. Requires a deep understanding of the power dynamics operating within the group.

5 Where is Resistance Located? In FEAR and in avoidance of GRIEF. FEAR : --of possible distress, discomfort, inconvenience --of loss…. of control, of familiar roles, of routine, of what I/we have become attached to as defining “me” or “us”— who we are… (our ego is attached to these familiar definitions).

6 Avoidance of GRIEF: --Deeply embracing, staying-with Grief is difficult for us, especially in a consumer culture set up to keep people “consuming” in order not to feel pain, loss, grief… -- “ All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die before we enter another.” Anatole France --Grief not engaged, not resolved, keeps us clinging to the past. (cf. Constance FitzGerald work on necessary stripping away, dispossession, as we allow a change in our relationship to the past in order to become available to God’s future…Our ego resists this process and clings to what it knows…)

7 --HOW do we begin to engage Fear and Grief more intentionally? By making space and time to BE WITH them… as parts of ourselves to be welcomed and embraced. --In a group, when individuals do not engage their individual FEAR and GRIEF, the group is not able to deeply and fruitfully engage FEAR and GRIEF at a group level (team, community, congregation), and so meaningful movement forward into change is very difficult (even if it is desired).

8 “The paschal mystery is a process of transformation within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already living.” (R. Rolheiser, The Holy Longing, p. 147)

9 Resistance within Leaders Leadership teams that have not done their own work in regard to fear and grief. Allowing the onerous tasks of everyday management and administration to stifle visioning and imagination of what could be.

10 Engaging Resistance Mark 1: 21-27 – He taught with authority – And evoked the unclean spirits – Who feared being destroyed – And he addressed them directly Encourage and allow resistance to speak and be named – Empathic and respectful listening – Deliberately open space for all to voice resistance including those who favor change – Allow the voices of resistance to teach the group and challenge it to better dreams, visions, and plans.

11 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz KEY CONCEPTS: “System” = Any entity whose parts relate to each other in a pattern. Seeing individuals as systems. All systems, both within and surrounding a person or group, are interconnected and influence each other. People come equipped with all the resources they need to lead harmonious internal and external lives. If there is a chronic problem, something is constraining access to those resources. Need to look at internal and external systems (person’s inner group of parts, person’s relationship with members of community, way the community is organized, way institutions, culture, society outside community affect it) in order to find the constraints and release them.

12 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz The internal system of a person is made up of the SELF and of many PARTS, like a family with many members, an orchestra with a conductor. SELF: A core or “center” that is different from the PARTS (like a conductor is different from the orchestra members). Place of nonjudgmental, clear perspective. No “vectors”, no pulls, “shoulds”, or strong emotions (those are located in the different PARTS). Compassionate, curious, listening, welcoming to the PARTS. Place from which person observes, experiences, and interacts with PARTS and with other people. When one is fully “in” the SELF, experiencing “SELF-energy”, one has a sense of feeling centered, calm, respectful, of openness to and connection with parts and with others.

13 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz PARTS: Your internal system of parts is like a big extended family, with people of all different ages, temperaments, personalities, talents, gifts, skills, desires. Different parts show up at different times—and thus you will feel differently depending on which parts are present and trying to get your attention. (For example, you might feel very organized and efficient in your “apostolic” or “professional” mode; or you might feel quite young, playful; or perhaps angry, irritable, frustrated, ineffective; or lonely, sad, tired; or voiceless and unsure; or strong and clear with a message to deliver…. These are all different PARTS expressing themselves.) Some PARTS can take up a particular ROLE, in order to protect the overall system from experiencing too much distress, discomfort, pain, etc.

14 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz PROTECTOR PARTS: Parts in protector roles are very efficient at keeping the overall system (person, organization, community, etc.) from feeling distress. They do this by managing, keeping busy, organizing and taking care of many things so that distressing feelings don’t have a chance to get through (the “manager” protectors), OR by distracting, numbing, soothing the distressing feelings once they’ve shown up (the “firefighter” protectors, which try to put out the fires of distress once those break through).

15 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz Examples of managers at work: Using your capable intellect to immediately give an intellectual response to a situation that might otherwise risk touching into painful issues… Keeping very busy organizing everyone and everything at a time when there is painful stuff just below the surface that might otherwise surface…. Examples of firefighters at work: When experiencing some uncomfortable, distressing feelings or realities, spending hours on the Internet, drinking too much alcohol, eating more sweets than is good for you, or working excessively (“numbing” what has surfaced)…

16 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz NB: There are no “bad” parts! Some parts manifest with intense, extreme, needy, irritable, angry, fearful, acting-out or other difficult behavior, which, when these parts (rather than the Self) are leading, can make you feel uncomfortable, full of problems, even “bad.” The parts behave this way and evoke these feelings due to the constraints, burdens, roles they have. They are not inherently “bad” parts. All parts are fundamentally good parts, with value and gifts. Many of them (not all!) are burdened, and thus present in “difficult” ways. They simply need you to listen to them, to let them tell you why they act as they do, how to help them. (It might take some time before they can trust you enough to let you know all of this…)

17 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz SELF-LEADERSHIP: A noncoercive, collaborative style of leadership. SELF will try to listen to, understand parts and people, rather than trying to force them to change. When one is led by the SELF, one experiences: Calm (psychologically, emotionally, physically…). Clarity (seeing situations openly and clearly, not distorted by extreme emotions, beliefs). Curiosity (openness to wonder, to interest in parts’ and people’s reactions, even strong ones, without judging any of them, simply curious about things, without preconceptions). Compassion (heart truly open to other people, and to one’s own parts, including ones who suffer most and appear most disturbing or upsetting, without need to change them, to “fix” things for them, or to rescue them, but simply feeling their distress and being fully present to them).

18 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz Trust (deeply believing that, no matter how intense the distress, anger, or upset of one of my parts or of another person toward me, I am not “bad”; and it is possible to gradually release the parts that are most burdened and suffering, and “all will be well” in a deep sense). Courage (seeing injustice and suffering clearly, at all levels, responding to relieve these, in a focused, grounded way, without fear of being attacked, knowing that one can handle the consequences; seeing the elements of goodness—the core Self— even in oppressors; recognizing the ways one contributes to injustice or harm to others and trying to repair this). Creativity (the calm centeredness of the Self allows for a quiet inner open space within which creativity can emerge and flow, released from constraints of internal critics and concern for approval of others…). Connectedness (the clarity and light of the Self allows for genuine, deep openness to and relatedness with all of Life, particularly with others who are also leading with the Self; when being led by the Self, one can truly live into the call to “love one another as I have loved you…”).

19 IFS (Internal Family Systems) Model Richard C. Schwartz SELF-leadership requires that you regularly “check inside” yourself, pay attention to how you are feeling, and so notice which of your parts might be activated, trying to lead, trying to get your attention—who is pulling, who is needy, who is upset, who is joyful; then take time to acknowledge those parts, be present to them, listen to them; and then ask them if they would step back, just for a while, so the SELF can lead…. Once you can return to having the SELF lead, you can respond more consciously and effectively to any situation.

20 Four Steps to Healthy and Holy Choices Helps us to respond wholeheartedly to experience rather than react in partial and disintegrated ways. Invites us to respond with faith, hope, and love to possibilities we do not immediately see rather than solve problems.

21 1. Tell the truth without denial or illusion What is really happening to us? Acknowledge painful experiences of rejection, betrayal, abandonment, powerlessness, or humiliation. Avoid judgment or blame, but allow what is to be what it is

22 Telling the truth... We name the reality of what actually is, not what should be, what we wish, or what we expect to be the case. The experience of disillusionment as a revelatory experience. (For example, we look for the future in so many contexts where we don’t find it, which leads us to the conclusion that the future must be somewhere else and something else not yet seen…) Separate observation from judgment: What appears bad might be good; what appears good might be bad (unhelpful, not useful). Withhold externalization of blame. Attend to feelings of shame that evoke self-reproach. Ponder and contemplate (stay in Self-energy) rather than reacting too quickly to try to change reality (letting eager/anxious parts lead).

23 2. Engage in Honest Self-Awareness Experience evokes emotions – Anger: Needs not met – Fear: Needs might not be met – Sadness: Needs no longer met – Shame: I shouldn’t have needs – Joy: Needs well met Emotions motivate behavior – Instinctive reactions meant to alleviate anxiety and tension resulting from the emotions.

24 Temptations and Invitations Anger – Aggression; violence – Repression – Passion/Compassion Fear – Fight – Flight – Learned Helplessness – Trust

25 Temptations and Invitations Sadness – Despair – Denial – Gratitude Shame – Withdrawal, hiding, blame, shamelessness – Humility Joy – Entitlement – Gratitude

26 3. Listening for Vocation, Mission, Call Scripture – Let the word of God that is within you surface Tradition – The collective wisdom of the community of believers Teaching of the Church Spiritual mentors and teachers Sacramental moments Advice you would give to others Prayer

27 Be aware of forces competing for your hearts and minds: --Ecclesial forces--Political forces --Social forces--Spiritual forces --Family forces--Ecological forces --Economic forces We might be called to let go of places, activities, pieces of mission, even prophetic messages that we think must be delivered, in order to be available for what God is asking of us… (cf. C. FitzGerald and “radical availability to God’s future). Remember that the God of History has a fairly stable pattern of “ending what we cherish to build what we do not expect.” (Walter Brueggemann) Use history to open up new ways of thinking and imagining, not to define the present or the future.

28 4. Looking at Life-Giving Options What might we do to respond to this reality with faith, hope, and love? What next steps do we need to plan to take?

29 Generating imaginative options…. --Part of pain of the present is the belief that we have no choice about what is happening to us. While we may not be able to change reality, we may have an abundance of choices about how to respond to what we are facing. --Freed from the limiting effects of fear and shame, we are freed from seeing that there is only one way to be faithful to our shared charism, without being self-defeating or destructive to ourselves or others.

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