Sensing the situation as a whole
When I am listening to a person, I may start to feel that it is time for a process of situational focusing to develop, that something of that kind is needed now.
Usually, the turn to situational focusing happens by itself. The person leads, and the listener follows – sensitive to what is happening.
Once in a while, however, I do feel that it would be a failure of integrity in myself, if I didn't actively initiate a process of situational focusing.
I would feel guilty of abandoning the person, of an abuse of trust.
Still, this is delicate.
I don't want to say, "Move over. I'll drive" – invading the person's sense of agency, their freedom to direct their own life.
Equally, I don't want to be unassertive, in a way that would undermine the person's agency from the other side. By holding back from the person, when I could help, I might betray both of us, leaving the person stranded and alone.
I may do a number of things:
1 The space
I ask the person to come out of the situation, to let go of it, to find some sense of being outside it – to be aware of being in a new kind of "space". We may use imagery to help "clear the space".
In this new space, the person does not feel the situation as it is felt from inside. Rather, a new sense may come of the whole situation.
2 The situation as a whole
Once the person has a sense of the new space, I ask them to invite a sense of the situation to come, which will truly be a sense of the situation as a whole.
The person will be sensing for the whole shape of the situation, from outside it: inviting a single complex shiver of subtle feeling to gell – what we call "a felt sense".
They will NOT be merely sensing the complexities of the situation – its feelings, emotions, body sensations, stories, images – as all that feels when they are in the midst of it.
3 The listener's sense of conviction
I will actively ask myself whether I feel satisfied that the person is truly in that clear space, and truly sensing the situation as a whole. If I feel doubtful – if I am unable to feel those two things - then I will say so.
4 The quality of the steps
I will be paying close attention to the quality of the steps which come, the little moments when the person's sense of the situation changes a little.
I am looking for a distinctive carrying forward of the situation as a whole, which reveals that the person was indeed sensing the whole.
5 Trying again
It may happen that the steps which come do not strike me as carrying the whole thing forward. In that case, I may well try again – so long as I am sure of my welcome.
After a while, there will come that distinctive moment, when we can feel the-whole-thing-carrying-forward-as-a-whole.
Next: Your integrity