We practice in group what we need to practice outside the group. When it talks about how to "see the speaker" in the group, that is what it looks like to be present for your kids, husband, wife, co-worker, etc. So how to be a loving presence for others is that we practice in group so you can do it in your real life. See below: if you feel the need to speak, have anger, irritation etc in your own life, you probably are not the most loving presence in that moment for someone else. Stick with us...you will learn alot!
Loving Group Definitions and Guidelines
Unconditional Love: Unconditionally caring about the happiness of another person without any thought for what we might get for ourselves. There is only one kind of love—Unconditional Love. Everything else is counterfeit. Anything we use for a substitute for Unconditional Love is Imitation Love. Through no fault of our own, few of us have either received or given much Unconditional Love, and without it we have a terrible void in our lives.
Imitation Love: In the absence of Unconditional Love, we attempt to fill our emptiness with combinations of Imitation Love which is conditional, and comes in four forms: Praise, Power, Pleasure, and Safety. No matter how many substitutes we acquire, we remain empty, alone, and afraid. At best, Imitation Love provides temporary relief without fixing the problem. At worst, it allows us to get by and keeps us from looking for the Unconditional Love that will eliminate our anger, confusion, and pain. When we don’t have enough Unconditional Love in our lives, the resulting emptiness is unbearable.
Unloving Behaviors: Lying, Attacking, Acting like a victim, running, and Clinging. We use Getting Behaviors (Lying, Attacking, Acting like a Victim and Clinging) to try to fill our emptiness with Imitation Love. We use Protecting Behaviors (Lying, Attacking, Acting like a Victim, and Running) to eliminate our fear of not being loved.
Lying: Anytime we do anything to get other people to like us by accentuating our positive physical, mental, social, or occupational qualities we are lying (Getting). Anytime we hide or diminish our mistakes, flaws, and fears to avoid people withdrawing their approval we are lying (Protecting).
▫Bragging ▫False praise ▫Not taking responsibility ▫Pretending to be someone we aren’t
▫Spending too much time on appearances ▫Modifying what we do or say to please another
▫Not telling the whole truth about our mistakes ▫Only telling the good things or bad things
Attacking: We're attacking people when we attempt to modify their behavior with fear. We frighten or intimidate people with anger, authority, physical intimidation, and guilt (Getting). Anger gives us a rush of power and then we feel less helpless and afraid. When other people are trying to get something from us (Imitation Love) we can often get them to stop by attacking them (Protecting).
▫Anger ▫Irritation ▫Feeling “hurt” ▫Expressing disappointment ▫Criticizing others
▫Insisting on being “right” ▫Sighs and other non-verbals ▫Sarcasm
▫Passive aggression like being late or “forgetting” to do something ▫Defending ourselves
Acting like a victim: The victim mantra includes three key phrases: “Look what you did to me,” “Look what you should have done for me,” and “It’s not my fault.” We use guilt and obligation to persuade people that we deserve more than we are presently receiving (Getting). When people are attacking us we can often get them to stop if we act sufficiently wounded and accuse them of hurting us (Protecting).
▫Acting like we have no control ▫Blaming others for our unhappiness ▫Complaining ▫Whining
▫Pretending to be totally innocent ▫Grudgingly going along ▫Acting like there is no solution
▫Acting like we are not appreciated ▫Believing we don’t/didn’t have a choice
Clinging: Anytime we try to get more out of someone we are clinging - more time, money, praise, gifts, or love (Getting). ▫Using emotions to control another ▫Needing another person’s time or presence to be happy
▫Excessive gratitude or flattery ▫Talking on and on to get and keep attention
▫Acting helpless without the other person ▫Telling people how much we NEED them ▫Obsessing
Running: One effective way to diminish our pain is simply to withdraw from it. We are running when we physically leave or avoid difficult situations or relationships, emotionally withdraw from interactions or relationships, bury ourselves in our work or hobbies, or use alcohol or drugs to alter our moods (Protecting).
▫Leaving mentally or physically when there is conflict or tension ▫Escaping into addictions or activities
▫Not speaking ▫Not taking responsibility ▫Over-sleeping ▫Changing the subject
Anytime we use unloving Behaviors we are thinking only of ourselves and the message the other person hears is “I don’t love you.” All productive communication stops at that point. We are saying two things: “I don’t love you” and “I need to be loved.” When we simply see using these Behaviors as drowning, we can be more accepting of others and ourselves.
Telling the Truth: Truth→Seen→Accepted→Loved. When we tell the truth about our Unloving Behaviors we create the opportunity for someone to unconditionally love and accept us. Until we are seen with our flaws and mistakes we cannot feel loved. Speaking in a loving group means that we give permission for a loving friend to help us tell the truth about our own unloving behaviors. If we simultaneously exercise self-control over using Unloving Behaviors, while we tell the truth about ourselves, we can generally accelerate our feeling of unconditional love/happiness.
Law of Choice: People have the right to choose what they say and do. We cannot control the choices of another person, even when we believe our way is better nor can they control ours. A relationship is the natural result of the independent choices we make. If we are unhappy with a relationship we have three options: 1) Live with it and like it, 2) Live with it and hate it, or 3) Leave it. Controlling the other person violates their right to the Law of Choice, is not an option, and does not work.
Law of Expectation: We never have the right to expect that another person will do anything for us, will love us, or will make us happy. The one exception to this law is a very specific promise, “I will call you tomorrow at 8:30 pm.” It does not include lofty promises like, "I'll love you forever." Expectations lead to disappointment, anger, and unhappiness in relationships. So even when a very specific promise is made proceed with caution.
Law of Responsibility: I am responsible for the choices I make and will face the natural consequences of those choices. I do not get to choose the consequences. I’m not responsible for the choices others make.
Law of Happiness: When I have the following I experience genuine happiness: Feeling loved – Being loving – Being responsible.
Law of Loving: Being loving toward others is more powerful than feeling loved in producing happiness. When I am unconditionally loving others it doesn’t matter if they reciprocate or not. Being loving is the happiest way to live.
Loving Group: A place to be unconditionally loved and practice loving and teaching others. A place to learn how to be a loving presence to others in the world and in your personal life. The sole purpose of a Loving Group is to provide a place where we can tell the truth about ourselves, be seen with all our mistakes and flaws, feel accepted, and be loved. This allows us to feel more loved, and then we naturally become more loving to others.
The Speaker (person sharing): Only one speaker at a time. Whoever speaks first is the speaker and remains the speaker until they feel complete. The purpose of being the speaker is to feel seen, accepted, and loved. Being the speaker allows a loving friend to help us tell the truth about our Unloving Behaviors and feel loved.
Loving Friends: People who give unconditional love and wise teaching. Loving Friends should feel absolutely unconditionally loving towards the speaker and share that love by asking questions to help the person tell the truth about how they use Unloving Behaviors to get imitation love. Before acting as a loving friend in the group, you need to have experienced Unconditional Love loving and teaching yourself. If you have even the slightest feeling of irritation or judgment toward the person speaking you cannot be a loving friend for that person. If you feel a “need” to speak or have an expectation of the speaker, that you be able to help them, that they thank you, that they even be interested in what you are saying, then you cannot be the person interacting with the speaker. Loving friends are not doing therapy, trying to fix anyone, or solving problems. They are loving friends helping friends. Loving friends are not perfect and will make mistakes. We can be loving friends at some times and not at others. If you have come into the group with chaos in your own life, anger, despair, irritation, fear, or confusion, then you are not an appropriate loving friend.
How to “see” the speakers: As the speakers describe themselves the role of the other group members is to “see” them by simply listening, accepting, and loving. We do this first by being quiet, not interrupting, by expressing acceptance non-verbally or verbally, by avoiding verbal criticism, and refraining from telling our own personal stories. Loving friends will then interact with the speaker (person sharing).
Loving friends may ask the following questions: (what what why what what)
What did he/she do?
What did you do?
Why did he/she/you do it?
What could you have done differently?
What are you going to do now?
Perspective: People do the best that they can. When we see their behaviors as being empty and drowning it is easier to not take things personally and to accept them where they are. Every time we’re upset with someone we’re saying, “There is no love in the world except for the tiny piece that you’re withholding from me right now.” This is simply not true. The truth is that there is an infinite supply of Unconditional Love, so if you are feeling unloved please speak up and get loved by someone who has something to offer.
Confidentiality: Please hold everything that you see and hear in this group in the strictest of confidence. If it’s spoken in this room, don’t discuss it outside this room.
Loving Group Host: A person who has agreed to hold a safe place for all who attend. A Loving Group host is not the teacher of the group, nor should he or she be expected to be the only loving presence at all times. The host will sometimes be the Loving Friend and sometimes will not, just like the other member of the group. The host is here to facilitate the flow of the group.
Inspired by the work of Greg Baer, Author