Dog Shit

You would think.  But not THIS dog shit.

How could interviewing something like dog shit, that is both worthless and disgusting be of practical use to anyone? If you are familiar with Integral Deep Listening, you know the answer. For those who do not, there are several reasons. Life itself does not discriminate between the worthwhile and that without value like you and I do, nor does it place value judgments of moral purity on things and actions the way we do. We are so brainwashed by cultural groupthink that we assume that because such distinctions are important to us, that they must be important to life itself. IDL provides a simple method for you to demonstrate for yourself that such distinctions are figments of your scripted imagination. This does not mean that valuations, preferences, and expectations are useless or unnecessary, only that they are useful fictions, like the sun rising and setting or the belief that you can trust your government.

While you and I are shocked by the irreverence of consulting dog shit, it is merely a placeholder for a particular perspective that both is a part of ourselves and which is quite foreign to the way we typically approach life. This combination means that such interviewed perspectives both know us better than anyone else ever could, since they are aspects of ourselves, yet are able to provide objectivity in ways that we cannot and do not provide for ourselves. This objectivity is not an abstraction, but relates practically to the issues that matter most to you, just as is the case for Tony in the following interview.

Everybody has dreams for their life that they hope will come true.  Everyone also has fears that those life dreams won’t come true, that instead they will turn into a nightmare of a life.  For example Tony had both hopes of making a lot of money in his business, finding a partner and raising a family. But also he had chronic health fears and a fear of flying. Why not help Tony look at what both his dream and nightmare are telling him, and gain some objectivity toward both?  We started by asking Tony to share his life dream: You’re on your deathbed.  You look back at your life and it’s been the fulfillment of all your needs…

Here is Tony’s answer:

“The people I love and I stay healthy.  I want two kids who grow up and are happy kids.  I would love to have a job where I have fun and fulfill my dreams and the dreams of my kids, so that if they want to go play tennis I can afford to get them a coach.  I have spent my life with a mate who is a good friend and a great mother.  I am able to travel and go see other countries and cultures without fear of flying or being at a distance without support.  These are the basics that create real life quality for me.  My parents stay healthy and live a long time.”

Now imagine that none of this occurs. In fact, you have terrible luck.  All your worst fears come to pass.  You’re looking back at your life, a complete failure.  Describe what happens…

“I can’t laugh at the situation.  It’s too serious.  My parents die early.  My kids have disabilities!  My wife’s a nagging bitch.  I don’t have a regular job so there’s no money for my kids and I feel like I’ve been a lousy father.  I am scared of everything and stay home all the time. I feel terrible – worthless, hopeless, like I’m a failure.  It’s horrible!”

What feelings come up for you when you imagine that life nightmare?

Sadness, regret, hurt, anger.

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

A dark brown shit color!

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness. Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

A huge pile of dog shit!!!!

Huge pile of dog shit, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

“I have a pretty relaxed life.  I don’t have any control, but I get to see a lot of things.  I start as dog food and get to see some of the inner life of a dog.  Then the dog transforms me and I come out after having had a long warm trip.  And then I’m pretty useless!  I can’t be used for fertilizer.(laughing) I’m pretty stupid!  I don’t think much about anything.  I live in the moment!  I don’t worry about the future.  I transform!  I change the way I am and make myself fit every situation.”

“There’s nothing I don’t like about myself!  I’m happy!  I’m perfect the way I am! Tony could learn a lot from me.  I don’t complain because I don’t have any control over my life.  Tony has a lot of fear about life; I don’t! Therefore, I don’t want to be anything else! As a huge pile of dog shit,  I can’t get any better! On a scale of zero to ten I score a ten in confidence, acceptance, inner peace and objectivity, but I only score a one in compassion and wisdom. If I scored a ten in those as well I don’t know if it would change my life so much.  I think I’m not smart enough as dog shit, but I don’t need to be.  If I had a high IQ it wouldn’t improve my life quality, in fact it would reduce it.  I would worry too much. Same with compassion.  People could slip on me and get pissed, but what could I do about it?”

“If Tony scored like I do in these areas it would definitely change his problem with his fears.  He wouldn’t have them any more.  He would live in the moment instead of the past or the future.  I’m pretty relaxed.  I couldn’t change my life anyway.  So why worry?  I accept myself the way I am.  If he looked at his life the way I do my own, his life quality would be increased. When I look at Tony’s life his biggest issue, fear, would be gone. I don’t have fears and he does.  You can put me on a plane and send me to Africa and I won’t change.  If he could be more like me he could improve his biggest life issue a lot.  And with that, the other issues would take care of themselves. For instance, he worries about not being organized. What’s that?  I would be really laid back if I were him!  I don’t think I would be a good model for him because I don’t care!  I’m very lazy! If he doesn’t care about his appointments and the structure of his day…Regarding his eye doctor who botched the operation and left his vision blurry, I would put a big pile of dog shit on his head!  I would take him to court!  Let’s have some fun! Regarding his girlfriend, I wouldn’t have gotten so far in this relationship if I were Tony!  She would definitely have left me!  When she wanted me to change, I would have said, “You gotta love me the way I am!  Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t change.  I couldn’t try to make promises or lie.   He is a little like me already in that he stands up for himself.  On the other hand, he often changes things to please her even though he doesn’t want to.  Why shouldn’t he if it doesn’t bother him?  But does it make sense?  It’s a never ending story.  You can change things, but it has to lead somewhere.  If the next day she’s complaining about the same old shit, then it doesn’t lead anywhere. There is probably a girl out there which is probably dog shit too as a girl, but such girls are hard to find…”

“If he were to live his life as me and on his deathbed he would look back, he wouldn‘t have spent his life being afraid.  He wouldn’t have spent his life with an intolerant bitch, because such a woman would not stay with me, Dog Shit!  He would be broke, but it would be OK, because I don’t need anything.  As dog shit, I would be a good father!  I am always there!  Oh shit!  Maybe his girlfriend would like him because he’d always be home!”

“To make his life dream come true,  he should continue to work on getting over his fears.  He should open up his eyes before he marries.  He should not marry his girlfriend because she stresses too much.  Not stressing out is not part of her character.  She will always jump around and say, “Why aren’t you dog shit????”  But I, dog shit, want to chill! I am in Tony’s life because I can help him deal with some of his biggest life issues.  I think I can improve his life quality a lot.  I don’t care what other people think of me. It would be good for Tony to become me when he gets afraid.  When he gets on a plane he should think he’s me!  If he gets stressed, he can be me!  He shouldn’t be me all the time, but for a few minutes here and there.  If he remembered, it would put a smile on his face!  He’s on his way to being a pile of dog shit toward his girlfriend.  He doesn’t change things just because she’s pissed.  He should do it more.  If he does, maybe the problem will be solved by itself, but I don’t know!  Maybe not…”

What did Tony here his pile of dog shit tell him? “I heard myself say a lot of funny and interesting stuff!  I should be a pile of dog shit sometimes during the day and it will really improve my life quality!  Who would have thought that an hour ago?”

Notice that the solution to Tony’s life nightmare was not scoring tens in all six qualities.  Why not?  Why wouldn’t being tens in wisdom and compassion bring him a happier life?  Tony and I talked about it and he realized that he gets himself scared by thinking too much, by trying to be wise and caring.  It’s more wise for him to not be wise – at least not in the sense of overwhelming himself with thoughts about what might happen in the future.  What has passed for compassion for him has been phony compassion, in that he has shown love in response to pressure and guilt, which is not love at all.  He thought Dog Shit was telling him, by its low scores in these areas, that he needs to not worry about making other people happy so much and do a better job at focusing on the other things: accepting himself the way he is, developing inner peace, cultivating the ability to witness, and being confident.  Not only was this interview a lot of fun for Tony; it felt very practical and authentic.

Tony reported that becoming Dog Shit helped him to sleep when he became anxious while traveling on a business trip.  When he remembered to become Dog Shit when he started getting anxious during business appointments he would immediately relax, laugh at himself, enjoy the situation, and do much better.  He has had trouble becoming Dog Shit with his girlfriend, however.  It told him to turn off his phone during business meetings so that she couldn’t call to check up on him and find out where he was and what he was doing.  He knows that if he did that he would have a major problem when he goes home! This led to a discussion of why we need not only a number of different interviews to access a variety of perspectives and emerging potentials, but other resources, such as a plan and good communication skills.

What are your hopes for your life? What do you fear might happen in your life that would leave you full of regret on your deathbed? Why not take that feeling of regret and allow it to take shape and interview it? If you do, you respect it by listening to it in a deep and integral way. Then, instead of being something you run from your entire life, it can become and important and powerful ally to help you make your dreams come true.

Here is the transcript of Tony’s interview:

What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1. Organization – I still don’t have a contract

2. My eye doctor is not cooperating.  I have to go to court

3. Trouble with girlfriend.  Arguing about her wanting more attention from me.  I don’t treat her like a girlfriend.

You’re on your deathbed.  You look back at your life and it’s been the fulfillment of all your needs.

The people I love and I stay healthy.  I want two kids who grow up and are happy kids.  I would love to have a job where I have fun and fulfill my dreams and the dreams of my kids.  So that if they want to go play tennis I can afford to get them a coach.  A mate who is a good friend and a great mother.  I am able to travel and go see other countries and cultures without fear of flying or being at a distance without support.  These are the basics that are really life quality.  My parents stay healthy and live a long time.

Now imagine that none of this occurs. In fact, you have terrible luck.  All your worst fears come to pass.  Youre looking back at your life, a complete failure.  Describe what happens.

I can’t laugh at the situation.  It’s too serious.  My parents die early.  My kids have disabilities!  My wife’s a nagging bitch.  I don’t have a regular job so there’s no money for my kids and I feel like I’ve been a lousy father.  I am scared of everything and stay home all the time. I feel terrible – worthless, hopeless, like I’m a failure.  It’s horrible.

What feelings come up for you when you imagine that life nightmare?

Sadness, regret, hurt, anger.

If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

Dark brown shit color!

Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

A huge pile of dog shit!!!!

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teachis/her or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Huge pile of dog shit, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I have a pretty relaaxed life.  I don’t have any control but I get to see a lot of things.  I start as dog food and get to see some of the inner life of a dog.  Then the dog transforms me and I come out after having had a long warm trip.  And then I’m pretty useless!  I can’t be used for fertilizer.

What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

(laughing) I am pretty stupid.  I don’t think much about anything.  I live in the moment.  I don’t worry about the future.  I transform.  I change the way I am and make myself fit every situation.

What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

No!  I’m happy!  I’m perfect the way I am!

Dog Shit, you are in Tony’s life experience, correct?  He created you, right? What aspect of Tony do you represent or most closely personify?

Tony could learn a lot from me.  I don’t complain because I don’t have any control over my life.  Tony has a lot of fear about life.

Dog Shit, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

No!  I’m a huge pile of dog shit!  I can’t get any better!

(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Dog Shit, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence: 10

Compassion:   1

Wisdom:   1

Acceptance: 10

Inner Peace: 10

Witnessing: 10

Dog Shit, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

I don’t know if it would change my life so much.  I think I’m not smart enough as dog shit, but I don’t need to be.  If I had a high IQ it wouldn’t improve my life quality, in fact it would reduce it.  I would worry too much. Same with compassion.  People could slip on me and get pissed, but what could I do about it?

How would Tony’s life be different if he/she naturally scored high in all six of these qualities all the time?

It would definitely change his problem with his fears.  He wouldn’t have them any more.  He would live in the moment instead of the past or the future.  I’m pretty relaxed.  I couldn’t change my life anyway.  So why worry?  I accept myself the way I am.  His life quality would be increased.

If you could live Tony’s life for him/her, how would you live it differently?

I don’t have fears and he does.  You can put me on a plane and send me to Africa and I won’t change.  If he could be more like me he could improve his biggest life issue a lot.  And with that, the other issues would take care of themselves.

If you could live this person’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle his three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1.  Organization?  What’s that?  I would be really laid back if I were him!  I don’t think I would be a good model for him because I don’t care!  If he doesn’t care about his appointments and the structure of his day…I’m very lazy!

2. Doctor: I would put a big pile of dog shit on his head!  I would take him to court!  Let’s have some fun!

3. Girlfriend:  I wouldn’t have gotten so far in this relationship if I were Tony.  She would definitely have left me!  When she wanted me to change, I would have said, “You gotta love me the way I am!  Even if I wanted to I couldn’t change.”  I couldn’t try to make promises or lie.      He is a little like me already in that he stands up for himself.  On the other hand, he often changes things to please her even though he doesn’t want to.  Why shouldn’t he if it doesn’t bother him?  But does it make sense?  It’s a never ending story.  You can change things, but it has to lead somewhere.  If the next day she’s complaining about the same old shit, then it doesn’t lead anywhere.

What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of his life?

1. When I look at Tony’s life his biggest issue, fear, would be gone.

2. I would be very bad for his job!

I would be very bad for his present relationship.  There is probably a girl out there which is probably dog shit too as a girl, but such girls are hard to find…

If he were to live his life as me and on his deathbed he would look back, he wouldn‘t have spent his life being afraid.  He wouldn’t have spent his life with an intolerant bitch, because such a woman would not stay with me, Dog Shit!  He would be broke, but it would be OK, because I don’t need anything.  As dog shit, I would be a good father!  I am always there!  Oh shit!  Maybe his girlfriend would like him because he’d always be home!

To make his life dream come true,  he should continue to work on getting over his fears.  He should open up his eyes before he marries.  He should not marry his girlfriend because she stresses too much.  Not stressing out is not part of her character.  She will always jump around and say, “Why aren’t you dogshit????”  But I, dog shit, want to chill!

Why do you think that you are in Tony’s life?

I am in his life because I can help him deal with some of his biggest life issues.  I think I can improve his life quality a lot.  I don’t care what other people think of me.

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Tony to imagine that he is you and act as you would?

It would be good to become me when he gets afraid.  When he gets on a plane he should think he’s me!  If he gets stressed, he can be me!  He shouldn’t be me all the time, but for a few minutes here and there.  If he remembered it would put a smile on his face!  He’s on his way to being a pile of dog shit toward his girlfriend.  He doesn’t change things just because she’s pissed.  He should do it more.  If he does, maybe the problem will be solved by itself, but I don’t know!  Maybe not.

Tony, what have you heard yourself say?

I heard myself say a lot of funny and interesting stuff!  I should be a pile of dog shit sometimes during the day and it will really improve my life quality!  Who would have thought that an hour ago?

Notice that the solution to Tony’s life nightmare was not scoring tens in all six qualities.  Why not?  Why wouldn’t being tens in Wisdom and Compassion bring him a happier life?  Tony and I talked about it and it made sense that he gets himself scared by thinking too much.  It’s more wise for him to not be wise – at least not in the sense of overwhelming himself with thoughts about what might happen in the future.  What has passed for compassion for him has been phony compassion, in that he has shown love in response to pressure and guilt, which is not love at all.  He thinks Dog Shit was telling him, by its low score, that he needs to not worry about making other people happy so much and do a better job at focusing on the other things: accepting himself the way he is, developing inner peace, cultivating the ability to witness, and being confident.  Not only was this interview a lot of fun for Tony; it felt very practical and authentic.

Tony reported that becoming Dog Shit helped him to sleep when he became anxious while traveling on a business trip.  When he remembered to become Dog Shit when he started getting anxious during business appointments he would immediately relax, laugh at himself, enjoy the situation, and do much better.  He has had trouble becoming Dog Shit with his girlfriend, however.  It told him to turn off his phone during business meetings so that she couldn’t call to check up on him and find out where he was and what he was doing.  He knows that if he did that he would have a major problem when he goes home. This led to a discussion of why we need not only a number of different self-aspects, but other resources, such as a plan and good communication skills.