Octopus:Me

 

 

Twice a month we hold Integral Deep Listening Salons in Berlin.  There is generally lively discussion of a pre-chosen topic followed by snacks and then a group interview. I wrote this summary to a student, Chrystal, who is an excellent sculptor: “A recent topic was about the type of person that you run into again and again in your life that is most difficult to deal with. It was a fun discussion, followed by a lot of sharing about what it is about us that attracts certain types of people to us. We them did a group interview. I got to talk to a green octopus that was the personification of distrust – what comes up for me around controlling, drama-filled, and manipulative people. It was behind my neck with its tentacles sticking out in front and to either side, protecting me from such people. It wanted to stop hiding, to come out front, like sit on my head, which is a nice image. It’s a visual metaphor for being up front and honest about caution/distrust of some types of people, to make them give us reasons to trust them, and to circumscribe the relationship in ways that it has boundaries or is contractual. Practical advice from a green octopus that is now sitting on my head. My idea of spirituality.”

Here’s Chrystal, me, and my octopus:

Octopus:Chrystal

Integral Deep Listening discloses waking up, or the process of enlightenment, as the evolution out of identification with drama, the Drama Triangle, and cognitive distortions, into a selfless worldview that is luminous, abundant, and cosmically humorous. The luminosity of life can be seen in this interview in the radical trust that this octopus possesses and which I can only hope to someday attain. The abundance of life can be seen in the endless variety of relevant autonomous perspectives, such as represented by this octopus, that are immediately available to us to provide points of view that are helpful and “fit” for us. The cosmic humor is obvious: life is not about me, but about this octopus, which is imaginary and sacred instead of real and scary. It is trans-rational, which means that its words contain reason and wisdom, but within a context that can only be called absurd.

In this interview a feeling of mistrust, or distrust of others had an olive green color that turned into a green octopus. It said, “I am sitting on Joseph’s shoulder and onto his back. I’m protecting him. I warn him about untrustworthy people. I don’t like that I am hidden; many people think I’m ugly or slimy. I don’t think I should be hidden. I am his caution, distrust, hesitancy about opening himself to most people. If I were to change, I wouldn’t be hidden. I would be right out in front or on top of Joseph’s head, where everybody could see me and it was obvious that I was there. The implication is that he wouldn’t pretend that he trusted people when he didn’t; he would make clear to people that they had to earn his trust. I trust my judgment, so I’m ten in confidence; I am a zero in compassion because I don’t really care why people are not trustworthy; I only desire that they prove their trustworthiness. I am wise enough to exercise caution and to be honest about it, but I’m not claiming I’m out of drama, so I give myself a “five” in wisdom. I am a “two” in acceptance, because in my opinion, Joseph is too accepting. He needs me to have more vigilance and self-concern. I don’t get snookered by bullshit, so I give myself an “eight” in inner peace. I am very observant. I see what’s going on, and I’m an excellent judge of character, so I also score myself an “eight” in witnessing.”

“If I were a ten in all six of these core qualities I would have more compassion and acceptance, mostly. Then I would not perform my protective function. Joseph already has too much of those qualities; he needs more of mine to generate balance. If he scored like I do he would be more confident because he wouldn’t be afraid of being abused by others. He would be confident that he could and would handle whatever bullshit drama was thrown at him. If I were him I would not pretend to be trusting. I would make people demonstrate their trustworthiness.”

“I recommend regular meditation to maintain equanimity and deepen centeredness; I am excellent at that because of my vigilance regarding bullshit drama. So I would have him be me for a no-nonsense approach. He would be matter-of-fact and get down to the work of his writing in an unemotional, functional way. He would be matter-of-fact and disciplined about his exercise. He wouldn’t be wishy-washy. I would also recommend that he enjoy life in a confident way, based on the knowledge that he was not going to let himself be taken advantage of. He would benefit from becoming me whenever he needs an honest, matter-of-fact attitude, like toward meditation, writing, or addressing an audience.”

“I don’t do drama; I don’t have the time for that shit. I’m in his life because I’m protective.”
What I heard as a wake-up call for me is that there is no reason to be dishonest about my distrust. I need to recognize it, own it, and require people to earn my trust. If I do I will be honest and matter-of fact. I will benefit from becoming this green octopus when I meditate and when I want to get things done in a matter-of fact way, like public speaking or writing.

Here is the full interview:

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

Regular meditation to maintain equanimity and deepen centeredness;

Writing and publishing;

Regular exercise

Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you? What feelings does this issue bring up for you?

Distrust

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

Olive green.

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 green octopus.

Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher 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!

Green Octopus, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

I am sitting on Joseph’s shoulder and onto his back. I’m protecting him.

Green Octopus, what do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths? I warn him about untrustworthy people.

Green Octopus, what do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?

I am hidden; many people think I’m ugly or slimy. I don’t think I should be hidden.

Green Octopus, what aspect of Joseph do you represent or most closely personify?

I am his caution, distrust, hesitancy about opening himself to most people.

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

I wouldn’t be hidden. I would be right out in front or on top of Joseph’s head, where everybody could see me and it was obvious that I was there. The implication is that he wouldn’t pretend that he trusted people when he didn’t; he would make clear to people that they had to earn his trust.

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

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

Confidence, 0-10. 10 Why? I trust my judgment.

Compassion, 0-10. 0 Why? I don’t really care why people are not trustworthy; I only desire that they prove their trustworthiness.

Wisdom, 0-10. ? 5 Why? I am wise enough to exercise caution and to be honest about it, but I’m not claiming I’m out of drama.

Acceptance, 0-10. 2 Why? Joseph is too accepting. He needs me to have more vigilance and self-concern.

Inner Peace, 0-10. 8 Why? I don’t get snookered by bullshit.
Witnessing, 0-10. 8 Why? I am very observant. I see what’s going on. I’m an excellent judge of character.

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

I would have more compassion and acceptance, mostly. Then I would not perform my protective function. Joseph already has too much of those qualities; he needs more of mine to generate balance.

Green Octopus,, how would Joseph’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

He would be more confident because he wouldn’t be afraid of being abused by others. He would be confident that he could and would handle whatever bullshit drama was thrown at him.

Green Octopus, if you could live Joseph’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I would not pretend to be trusting. I would make people demonstrate their trustworthiness.

Green Octopus, if you could live Joseph’s waking life for him/her today, would you handle Joseph’s three life issues differently? If so, how?

Regular meditation to maintain equanimity and deepen centeredness; I am excellent at that because of my vigilance regarding bullshit drama. So I would have him be me for a no-nonsense approach.

Writing and publishing; The same. He would be matter-of-fact and get down to work in an unemotional, functional way.

Regular exercise Same thing. He would be matter-of-fact and disciplined about it. He wouldn’t be wishy-washy.

Green Octopus, what life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Joseph’s life?

Enjoying life in a confident way, based on the knowledge that he was not going to let himself be taken advantage of.

Green Octopus, in what life situations would it be most beneficial for Joseph to imagine that he is you and act as you would?

Meditation; whenever he needs an honest, matter-of-fact attitude, like toward meditation, writing, or addressing an audience.

Green Octopus, do you do drama? Do you get into playing the Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer? If not, why not?

Nope. I don’t have the time for that shit.

Green Octopus, why do you think that you are in Joseph’s life? I’m protective.

Thank you, Green Octopus, Now here are a couple of questions for Joseph:
If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would be saying to you?

There is no reason to be dishonest about your distrust. Own it. Require people to earn your trust. If you do you will be honest and matter-of fact.

Look back over the interview and list the specific recommendations that were made:

Become the Green Octopus when I meditate and when I want to get things done in a matter-of fact way, like public speaking or writing.

Integral Deep Listening encourages you to use this process yourself and draw your own conclusions. Instructions can be found elsewhere on this site as well as in several books, including Integral Deep Listening Interviewing Techniques, Waking Up, and Ending Nightmares for Good, available at Amazon. Please send us your experiments and questions!