No. 55
February 2017

There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything,
no matter how absurd, in
order to avoid facing their own soul.  One does not become enlightened by imagining
figures of light but by making
the darkness conscious.

Carl Jung

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Welcome to the monthly Fearless Conversations newsletter - information and ideas to support and inspire us to create a world in which fearless conversations are common in our workplaces, communities, families and friendships. 
Thank you always for reading and sharing this newsletter,

Out of the Shadow
(The shadow knows!)

One of the challenges of fearless conversations is the "stuff" in us that we don't know much about, but it's there and sometimes shows up whether it's welcome or not. The personality theory behind the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) helps us have a language for this "stuff", i.e. parts of us that are less conscious. We say they are in shadow. Whether we use the MBTI or not, we still have a sense of this shadow experience. It can feel strange, awkward, clumsy, startling, intrusive, wrenching, "rough around the edges". When we are having a shadow experience, it is common to feel reactive, even explosive. We can feel shocked, off-guard, out of our comfort zone, in the grip of an unfamiliar force. 

This "shadow stuff" wants to be seen and heard, as it were. It bears both gifts and challenges to help us become the person - or the people - we can be. This is true of ourselves as individuals, our organizations, our workplaces, our relationships, our communities, our country, our world. It's as if the shadow parts say: "Listen - don't be afraid - we're here to awaken something good in you." They give us a kind of wake-up call.

An example of a shadow experience, as I'm referring to it, is a disruption in a relationship that leaves us confused, defensive, lost. A friend, spouse, partner, colleague, family member does something or says something that beckons for a response, but, for whatever reason, we find that what usually works for us, doesn't. It's as if we're dislodged from the sense of ourselves that we count on and we don't know how to get anchored again. Then we get into a tailspin of judgment about ourselves and the other person. We get out of the tailspin by stopping to pay attention to and honor what really matters to ourselves and to the other person. We replace judgment with empathy. Even if the relationship isn't healed, we get in touch with something in ourselves that helps us be more whole.

As a country we are having a highly-charged shadow experience. We are out of our comfort zone. Even personal relationships are being affected. We have been dislodged from the sense of ourselves that we have counted on and trusted. It doesn't matter anymore what side we are on or how we voted in the election. Something has come out of our shadow that demands attention from all of us as human beings/ citizens of the world - not as Republicans, Democrats, pro-this-or-that, anti-this-or-that, neoliberals, conservatives or whatever labels we put on ourselves and other people. Our shadow experience is asking us to dig deeper than ever to find and create ways to talk to one another and work together to solve urgent, practical problems that affect all of us.

Sometimes we feel up to having fearless conversations, sometimes not. Fearless conversations take energy and sometimes we don't have the energy if we are afraid, angry, "tired of it all", despairing, vulnerable, overwhelmed with grief. If we take time for compassion and empathy, for ourselves and others, we can begin to regain trust, support, courage and hope in talking with one another. We can find ways for everyone to know their needs matter. We can regain a sense of who we are and want to be as a country.

I want to close with two links of things that came my way as I was finishing this article. One is a very short article: "Reactivity & Fighting for Your Cause". The other is an example of people gathering to talk with one another. It was a Facebook post.

Crack Your MBTI Type Code
Uncover the Gifts and Challenges of Your Whole Type

In the last 10 - 15 years, very exciting developments have been taking place in the use and understanding of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). They go far beyond what we know from our four-letter Type codes. Type codes by themselves foster stereotyping and shortchange what we know about ourselves and others. There is so much more to know - our WHOLE TYPE!  I am delighted to have developed an approach to help us explore and understand our "whole type".

Our whole type is our four functions of sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling combined with extraversion and introversion. We have four extraverted functions and four introverted functions. Some are more conscious to us than others. Some are more unconscious. How these eight "characters" play out in ourselves is one thing. How they play out in our relationships is another!  That's the fun and the challenge!

Clients have responded very well to my new approach. Now, with the introduction of an online class, I know others have found my approach helpful, as well. I am offering this online class with a colleague - Dorene Mahoney. You can check out the free introductory class (90 minutes) which we offered in January. The first part explains how the theory of "whole type" has developed. The second half focuses on my approach for explaining whole type. The second half contains what I use with clients.

After more than 35 years of using the MBTI for team-building, leadership development, decision-making, spiritual enrichment and teacher-training, it is now, more than ever, my "tool of choice".  I love the approach to explaining whole type that I have developed (and am developing) because I can go further faster in helping people to explore and understand the riches of their typology. And, it is fun! Are you curious to crack your Type code?

About Fearless Conversations
Fearless Conversations serves non-profit organizations, schools, faith communities and businesses.  Typical requests are for design and facilitation of visioning or team-building retreats, strategic planning, meeting facilitation, transition planning, decision-making processes.

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