Are You Trying so Hard to Get it Right that You’re Getting it Wrong?


Do you water your lawn so well that you’re causing a drought?

Too Much of a Good Thing Is Not Good

For example, if you’re facilitating someone to fill in a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet, it can be so helpful to remind them of the situation. Holding them in the time and place of the stressful event and keeping them focused on the main offense that triggered them there can be a powerful support.

I love it when a facilitator holds me close to that original stressful moment as I fill in my worksheet. It helps me find all the stressful thoughts that were bothering me then. It helps me to zoom in and really identify every aspect of the issue that came up for me there.

But as a Facilitator It’s Easy to Go Overboard

If holding someone to the situation is a good thing, then holding them to the situation repeatedly is even better, right? Not in my experience. More is not always better.

The idea when you’re facilitating someone to write a worksheet is simply to support them as they fill it in. The client’s mind can wander, and a facilitator can help by bringing them back.

But if the person is already focused on the situation and the main offense for the worksheet, there is no need to bring them back. If you do, it will probably be annoying. There is no need to bring someone back who has never wandered.

I See This From Time to Time

A facilitator in training will start each sentence with, “Now, go back to that situation…” It can sound mechanical, repetitive, distracting. And what does “that situation” mean anyway? The term has become almost cliché. If you’re using it in a kind of cliché way, you’ll probably notice that it doesn’t feel quite right.

One person asked me recently about it. She thought she had to do it that way. Because everyone does it that way. And I basically asked her, “Is that true?” And “Who are you trying to please?”

What I love about The Work is that only my answers count for me. If it feels off for me, it is off for me. It might be right for a 1000 other people, but not for me. Maybe I’m missing something that they are seeing. Or maybe I’m just following the blind. It’s for me to question everything and find my truth.

Here’s What I Find

What works for me is not to use the word “situation” very often when bringing a client back. Instead, I like to just mention the main offense that happened in that situation. For example, when I’m facilitating someone to fill in Line 3 of the Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet (the advice), I’ll say something like, “What must be going on for her to put you down? What advice can you give her?”

By saying something like that, I have effectively brought my client’s attention to situation, and more importantly to the offense within the situation (she put them down), which is at the core of it all. I am holding the client in the situation without using the word “situation.”

Or I might say, “Really look at her sitting across the table from you. What must she be believing to put you down like that? What is she missing? Give her some advice.” Here I’ve used “sitting across the table from you” as a reference. I’ve brought my client back to the time and location aspect of the situation in a natural way. I don’t have to start my sentence with, “In this situation,…” I just mentioned one detail from the situation, the table, and it was done.

Ultimately, I like to listen closely to the flow of the conversation. Sometimes, my client is clearly focused on the time and location and the offense. It’s just obvious. If so, no need for me to say much of anything then.

I Encourage You to Experiment with It

I encourage you to look for a way to balance what is required for facilitation with what is required to be yourself when facilitating. That balance point is a beautiful space. I call it the razor’s edge because I constantly am falling off of one side or the other. Finding that razor’s edge, I believe, is also a path to enlightenment.

And it doesn’t just apply to facilitation. It can apply any area of life. Where are you trying too hard to please someone, or to do it right? And where are you losing the heart of what you’re doing? Somewhere in the middle is a balance point where you can be yourself and do the task too. It’s worth looking for that point.

Have a great week,

“It’s your truth, not ours, that will set you free.” Byron Katie, Loving What Is

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  • Aileen says:

    Thank you for this concise and clear post about how to facilitate a Judge-Your-Neighbor-Worksheet. I will share it!

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