Undertaking the helpee role during roleplays highlighted the use of congurence in the helper. The session lasted fifteen minutes, and the helper carried off an adequate use of counselling skills, seeming slightly stilted in her approach. The session finished, but we continued to discuss the problem I had been relating. The helper, now unhindered by the restraints (as she saw it, and as we all see it when we are helping) came alive, was able to speak freely of her own feelings (better showing empathy) and engage with me in a better relationship than that which we had during the session.
It seems to me that we have all been ignoring the third core principle of congruence, as we have been holding back our own responses to the helpee whilst trying to be good-little helpers so as to tick all the boxes.
Strokes, and my attempts over the week to avoid them, have led me into inner difficulty. I cannot avoid strokes as I had thought might be possible. In fact I often rise to baiting, give my reasonings for doing this or that, argue a point, or get upset long before I realise that I attempting to forgo it all. Stroking is intrinsically bound to human nature, and I am denying myself, am avoiding congruence if I keep myself to myself. I thought that avoiding strokes would make me feel like a better person, be a better person, and not rise to arguments, because I would be dissasociating myself from them.
It doesn't. I can no more avoid strokes, either positive or negative, than I can avoid being part of the human race. It is something that we are forced to do, whether we want to or not. Attempting to avoid it means that you are either not being true to yourself or the other person.
A case in point was the other night when my wife and I were waiting for a builder to come and discuss some building work. He never turned up and we spent the whole evening getting up to check the front door. I had opted to phone him, but my wife didn't want to since we were aware that his father's funeral had happened two days before, and she wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Phoning him, she thought, was rude. Whereas my point of view was just to make sure whether he was coming at all, and if not, then when he would be. Negative stroke 1: I was angry at him for not turning up and her for not allowing me to relieve my stress by finding out what was happening.
Next I suggested that since she was up she should go and lock the front door. He would not be turning up after eight and we would not be answering it. She said that was my job; I said it didn't matter, she was up. She refused. Negative stroke 2: I was now angry that she was arguing over something as silly as locking the door, which is something that she wants done every night.
This spiralled into her calling me selfish, and me calling her childish. By the time I went to bed, she was already there. She pointedly asked me why I was ignoring her, stating that I was avoiding eye contact and not talking to her. When I said I wasn't avoiding her, and asked her what she wanted to talk about, she had nothing to say. She then said that she didn't want to start an argument, but then wouldn't talk about it. Negative stroke 3: She was placing all the blame on me, accepting none of the responsibility and further failing to let me get across my point of view; not that it would have mattered because she, like me, was more interested in her own point of view to listen and accept the point of view of the other.
So, I slept on it, and woke up with it on my mind. All other negative strokes are merely a continuation on the theme, with me still angry and her wanting to ignore what happened and then heaping it again on me since I am upset and she... wasn't (but now she is - and it all becomes my fault). We both believe the other to be playing the blame game.
But, today I am really angry. Today I have realised that I have not got over my problems with my old job, with management, with my brother's case. It seems in my nature to sulk and brood over matters that perhaps I could get over by dealing with them straight away (ie: phoning the builder up that night, regardless of what my wife wanted, because I needed to know where he was), but it has now been nurtured into me to carry this pent up aggression and frustration.
Strokes! Can't live with them, can't live without them.