I want to expand on the cycle of experience. Sometimes referred to as the change curve, it illustrates how people, groups or organizations navigate through change. Sometimes the flow is straightforward; other times there might be disturbances that get in the way.
In the diagram, you see where disturbances often happen. In gestalt, these are referred to as ‘contact boundary disturbances’. It means there is an interruption in the cycle of change. Looking at the cycle of change, a straightforward change would follow in this way:
- Noticing what is going on, feeling the sensations. eg. unsettled feeling
- Becoming aware of what is going on, naming it. eg. mouth feeling dry, “I feel thirsty”
- Starting to move and use your energy to do something about the awareness, making a choice and acting on it. eg. standing up and going to drink water
- Contact, growth and change, a result occurring from the choice. eg. mouth feeling moist and satisfied
- Withdrawal, acceptance and moving forward to the next gestalt or change cycle eg. some new awareness that starts the cycle again
Humans have multiple gestalts occurring simultaneously. Additionally our upbringing and temperament has patterned a conditioned way of responding to change. Some of us freeze in the sensation phase, not being able to feel our body and notice what is happening. Usually this presents itself as anxiety, panic and fear. For others, we might be aware, but we might stay stuck in other ways.
In this post I will explain how we remain stuck in the change cycle with our introjects. Introjects are the “shoulds”, “ought to” and blindly swallowed rules. When stuck here, the Introjector “does as others would like them to” without conscious choices of their own.
What does this look like in an organization or change setting? Nice to your face, but stabs you in the back; saying ‘yes’ to work but actively resisting (“deliberate resistance”) and a general passive aggressiveness.
What might be going on underneath? Often what might be occurring is trying to hide what is inside:overwhelm, fear, uncertainty, discomfort. The unfortunate impact and result is that it creates a toxic environment and disrespect between people. In an organization it is grossly inefficient.
How can we deal with it?
Scan environment and become aware of what is going on around you. Notice what is happening. Ask yourself: what should I be like here? is this how I really want to be?
We need to pause and feel the overwhelm and fear, asking “whats the gap between here and where we have to go? What do I need to feel supported to move forward? Sometimes we need help with this. The beauty of gestalt, is that its a humanistic approach, that is relational. We have the support of community, and relationship to navigate forward. It may not always feel good, or easy, but we don’t have to do it alone.
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