A Disturber’s Message
Chatting with my mom today as we were driving about some reflections I had the night before.
Of all the family members I was with over the past few days there was one in particular that was causing a rub with me. Very subtle. I noticed myself feeling slightly irritated whenever they were around (to any siblings reading this – no it wasn't you!). I remembered a learning from Dr. Stephen Schuitevoerder's Process Work about disturbers, where “often those issues we are upset about in others are also part of who we are as people“. This family member was certainly a disturber for me – awakening me to where I needed to do my own work on myself.
Dr. Stephen Schuitevoerder describes three ways of working with a disturber:
1. The disturber has a message for you. About your rank, presentation or personhood.
2. The disturber disturbs you as there is a state they have which is good for you…notice the change in focus here… in a. They are disturbed and give you a message. In b. you are disturbed by them as they have a state or attitude for you.
3. The disturber is present as your path to having a reaction and growing…often in standing against the disturber.
With my disturber I sensed that number two is at play. When I peeled that onion what I discovered is they have this “to hell with others, go for it” approach, whereas in similar situations I would have been much more collaborative, took longer to think about it, consider the impact on others and how to best navigate, even waiting too long until the opportunity passed. This person just puts it out there and strikes out solo. So while I might not fully agree with all their actions, I can benefit from their attitude (applied in certain domains of my life in certain situations) – their state could indeed be good for me.
Much of our shadow material is held it its corner of unconsciousness by an embedded threat that makes us afraid to reveal ourselves to ourselves. ~ Christina Baldwin, The Circle Way
This is good personal shadow work for me. You can see from my “applied in certain” blah blah blah there is a hesitancy for me to fully reveal this to myself. A fear of if I behave this way there is a dark, shadowy “or else” looming behind there. Like “don't disregard others and put your own desires first or else you might disappoint someone”. Yup that would be my shadow.
As a host and facilitator I need to always be alert to what is “my stuff” coming up and what is “someone else's stuff/the group's stuff”. It's dangerous when I'm blind to my shadowy stuff.
Doing shadow work begins with converting our own covert thoughts and behaviors into overt thoughts and behaviors. The first aspect of shadow work in circle is to ask ourselves, What’s showing up in me that might be shadow? ~ Christina Baldwin, The Circle Way
As a facilitator we might not agree with the side personally, but you have a deeper understanding of why that side emerges and the need for it to go deeper into itself. Its not patronizing the side but truly supporting it to be heard, experienced and interacted with. ~ Dr. Stephen Schuitevoerder
So thank you dear family member for the gift of awakening myself to me.