If you are one of my early morning readers, you'll have noticed that I tend to post late on Thursday mornings. On Thursday mornings, I have coffee with my friend Andrew. We meet at 7am at Metropolis in Rogers Park and then walk over to where he works. It is here that we have a talk. But it's not just any talk. It's called "peer empowerment." PEP, for short.
Now, I know that already sounds weird. Maybe it is. It's certainly not a common practice among we humans. Here's how it goes, one of us talks for thirty minutes while the other one listens. Then we switch. And that's it. We don't try to solve each other's problems or in any way try to dissect what the other person said. We just listen to one another.
There are a few guidelines we try to follow. While listening, we try to avoid being judgmental. If I notice myself having strong opinions about what Andrew's talking about, I try to let go of it and try to stay focused in the moment about what he is saying. While speaking, we try to stay in the moment and try to "dig in" to whatever issue we're exploring for ourselves. We try to avoid speaking about the past or telling stories. Also, while speaking, we try to avoid being entertaining for the other person. We are speaking for ourselves, getting thoughts and feelings expressed so we can better grapple with whatever's going on in our lives. Afterwards, we might exchange a few comments about what we talked about, but generally we don't. Absolutely everything we say to one another is confidential.
I didn't realize this until recently, but Andrew and I have been doing this for five years. Time flies. It's an effective tool for getting a lot of things about career, family and relationships out of my head and into a realm of possibly doing something about them. There's also something really great and hard to describe about speaking and having someone attentively and non-judgmentally listening for thirty minutes.
Give it a try. It doesn't seem to work too well for family members and couples. Usually because the person talking tends to be talking about the person trying to listen without judgment. Virtually impossible for a married couple to do!
So, that's why I'm usually late on Thursdays. Blame Andrew.
THE BS NEWS QUIZ OF THE DAY
Yesterday, I asked...
"Miniclip.com features a shooter game where kids get to use what for targets?"
30% said "Illegal Immigrants"
- That's the republican version of the game.
25% said "House Pets"
- Yes, but they can only shoot the ones that scratch the new furniture. My fiancee would love this game.
15% said "High School Students"
- Yes, and then they move to the next level, which is college students, and then co-workers.
30% got it right with "Presidential Candidates"
According to The Smoking Gun, Presidential Paintball, a popular online games site offers kids the opportunity to assume the identity of a leading presidential contender and then shoot their political opponents in a series of armed confrontations in the White House. While the ammo is paintball, the game on the highly trafficked miniclip.com site allows kids to train a rifle scope on six presidential aspirants and squeeze off a hail of shots (which are accompanied with a rat-a-tat sound). I think a better name might be My Little Assassin.