Games & Exercises

Innerwork Exercise for when you feel closed

posted 3 Jul 2014, 10:47 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 3 Jul 2014, 10:49 ]

1. Imagine that you have a skin around you, a skin or membrane which wont let things come in from the outside.

2. Now just allow whatever experience take place whilst you have that skin around you. Notice what you experience which otherwise would be hard for you to experience (without the skin)

3. Now stay with that experience but slowly allow your skin to let tiny things in. You may notice little resistance, hesitations or 'edges' to allowing this experience come in to the experience of being 'isolated' or 'closed'

4. Now write some notes about what can be good about being closed and to whom or what? Where do you need this experience in your life? With friends (new or old), with work colleagues, with the wider world etc.??

(Note to myself: soon create an exercise for boundary making - sometimes we snap at people around our unconscious limits, or a bit like the above exercise we may have an an edge to having a skin or limits - but in this exercise it would be more about maintaining limits and boundaries in relationship)

Reparation Exercise – Relationship reparation exercise

posted 3 Jul 2014, 10:41 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 3 Jul 2014, 10:41 ]

It is not uncommon to have relationship ruptures with the children we care for. (Just today as I am writing this exercise I created a conflict with my daughter on the way to school.....)

The more serious a rupture the harder it will be to repair. However the reparation of ruptures, and regaining trust and respect for one another in relationship is a hugely valuable experience. Good for relationships now and in the future. It enables us and the child to create more resilience and ability to ‘bounce back’ from difficult situations.

So what will be important for repairing a relationship. Here is an exercise which may help us have a method for approaching repair.

1.     Reaching consent to repair - Possibly the first thing that is important is that you state that you would wish to repair the rupture which has taken place. If your child or partner doesn’t feel able to approach the repair just yet, then try doing this as an innerwork rather than in relationship in the first instance – you may be surprised how this can have an effect on the actual relationship – with innerwork you need to work on both sides of the relationship, rather than your own). If you consent together then go onto the next step.

2.     The most important thing in repairing a relationship is that both sides of the relationship are able to feel heard and understood in terms of their experience. As the adult it may be important that you can begin this by modeling a deep understanding and willing to listen and understand your child’s experience.

3.     Starting with an apology – A quick way into reparation is an apology from the adult side. If you are able to see already that you didn’t respond well to the original conflict and this contributed to the rupture, then it can be very helpful with taking responsibility for your side of things. (In my experience with my daughter this morning, I was very reactive and responded angrily and lost my awareness of the whole situation. I forgot she is stressed and just saw her as nasty. I framed her as nasty and didn’t notice the areas in which she was just a normal teenager in the morning). “The way I reacted to you this morning wasn’t great. I took out some of my own stresses on you, and also forgot that you are under a lot of pressure right now”.

4.     Ask your child what their experience was and try active listening with no corrective comments or judgements – Just listen to exactly how the child experienced things. (** when there is a lot of abuse or trauma in the background your child may well have experienced you in ways which you feel are unfair. Try to bear in mind that they are talking about how they experienced things, not only you. This is truly the level of experience they are facing internally, and triggered in the relationship).

5.     Finding truth in any accusations – Even when there are big projections there are often little truths in accusations.  The skill here is to acknowledge the truths without necessarily taking on the abuse history of the child. For example if your child says you hurt them, it may pay to take seriously that maybe your physical size, your voice tone, or even the speed or energy which you spoke or dealt with them may be experienced as hurtful. Try to unpick this and understand this with your child. N.B. If you discover or know that you were hurtful to your child, then try to acknowledge it. Either way it is relieving if you can acknowledge that your child’s experience is what they experienced, and to show concern, curiousity and understanding.  Listening to your child’s version of the story   and acknowledging how they experienced things is itself a very different experience from having been hurt and their ‘voice’ never heard.

6.     Change something – If you understand that something is triggering or hurting your child, you may be able to offer to work on changing this thing. For example maybe you need to change your pace, or how you talk to or wake up your child in the morning.  Maybe the loudness of your voice is a trigger. Maybe your size. Maybe being a man or a woman. See if you can find something which can support your child in future interactions.

7.     Mentalise – Metacommunicate – (Metacommunication is the ability to be in an experience and to be able to talk about it at the same time. It’s also the ability to be in an experience and to recognize another’s separate experience and empathise with it. Mentalisation is to be able to reflect upon the thoughts and feelings of others – similar). Metacommunicating and reporting on what is happening with your child can help them unpick their experience. You may be able to metacomm that you understand that they felt or feel hurt by you sometimes. You can also metacomm about your own experiences. That you did take something out on them. Or that you understand they experienced that, and also in your heart you don’t want to hurt them, and it maybe saddens you that your voice or style can be experienced as hurtful. 

Processing the Approach – Relationship awareness exercise

posted 3 Jul 2014, 10:40 by Mark O'Connell

This exercise is very good for working on applying your awareness and your child’s awareness around boundary issues, in relationship to personal space, intimacy, and in particular learning to engage in relationships in ways which support both sides. 

This exercise can be very good for helping YP learn about limits and blocks in relationship. It is understandable that relationship will often be very complicated for them with early traumas and attachment issues. Bringing awareness to the flow of signals that occur moment to moment will help them trust themselves more in relationship, and to relate to little things which they may often override. At the same time the carer can learn that their own signals, fantasies and hesitations are also important in how they engage with their child.

 The basic exercise is with a relationship partner as follows:

1.     Stand far apart and facing each other, with the understanding that you will be exploring moving closer together.

2.     The basic aim is to move slowly forward towards each other while giving attention to any hesitations or other things coming up for either partner. (Imagine doing this with a child).

3.     When either side notices a hestation or other experience. Both pause and invite that person to take time to notice what has come up. Maybe it is a feeling in the body, a fear/anxiety, feeling threatened or threatening, something against getting closer, maybe it is an ‘Edge Figure’ (a belief system saying something about relationship in that moment). It is helpful to give voice to these things which come up. Give them space to unfold. And then finally ask whether you wish to return to approaching one another, or whether that is a personal limit/boundary. Maybe you have learnt something about your relationship at this time.

4.     The exercise can continue in this way returning back to the approach, or stopping where there is a natural ending.

5.     At the end it may be helpful to write a note together or draw a picture representing what came up during the approach. This is to anchor and ground the experience.




Edges to Intimacy (& Attachment styles) Exercise

posted 3 Jul 2014, 10:36 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 3 Jul 2014, 10:37 ]

Edges to Intimacy Innerwork— Edges to intimacy can take place on both sides of relationship, and it can help to have an awareness on the blocks which are

 The purpose of this exercise is to explore some of the belief systems that hold you back from greater intimacy.

1.     Think of a child you care for whom you would wish for more intimacy or connection with.

2.     Finding blocks - What are some of the ways you stop yourself from becoming more intimate?  Where do you hold back, for example verbally or physically expressing intimacy? Where is the block located, in your heart, your genitals, your throat, your whole being?  Go into your body and find a story related to that block you tell yourself about this person or about relationship in general that keeps you distant from them.

3.     Finding the story - Where does the power of this story come from? Your body, your family, your culture, your history or collective history?

4.     Processing the story  - Represent and give voice to all of these different parts empowering the block and the voices desiring to open up and be more intimate.  Go back and forth and facilitate with all voices. Why was the wall to intimacy originally put up, maybe this generation or 10 back? What purpose does the wall now serve? Make a conscious decision what to do with the wall or how would you revise the story

5.     Follow-up - After you process the wall go back and interact with your dyad partner playing the person you would like to love more or experience more love with.  How have you changed?   What do you need from your partner to help facilitate this next step?

Exercise for working on your 'Critic' using mask making

posted 3 Jul 2014, 10:35 by Mark O'Connell   [ updated 3 Jul 2014, 10:38 ]

Facilitate the critic—Purpose of this exercise is this is a basic way to interact and intervene with the critic.

1.     Identify a way you criticize yourself or something you feel critical of about yourself.

2.     What is the content of the criticism and be aware of the energy.  Try drawing the critic and you might even punch holes and make this a mask you take on and off.

3.     Now ask yourself do you feel more identified with the critic or the victim of the critic.

4.     Once you get to really know this critic and its style and intentions, intervene with the critic to work on this issue. For example, a critic that is just trying to harm and kill you set boundaries with or finish off. A critic that is trying to get you to change buts methods aren’t successful, train and coach how to be successful. If this is a critic you have a conflict with go back and forth and switch sides and do conflict resolution.  A critic that is watching your back and has your welfare in you open up to. Coach, confront, dance with the critic.  Watch for secondary and double signals and bring them in.

5.     Keep moving back and forth between the critic and yourself until these roles become more fluid. Go back and forth and switch roles until some temporary kind of resolution occurs. The helper helps facilitate

6.     Ask person to make a movement representing the most critical energy(X energy)  and another movement that shows the  part of you most hurt or impacted by the critic(U energy). This isn’t the reaction to the critic but the part most hurt.

7.     Now for a moment first move smoothly and then little unpredictable random movements enter into your movement. Let this movement take you into an altered state.

8.     From this altered state position give yourself a tip or clue to how to deal with this critical part of yourself, as you move forward from this exercise.

9.     Go back and transform the mask based on how you now feel.

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