Building Beautiful Bridges

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Purpose, Preparation, Process & Reflection

Click here to go back to the Three Big Stories of our time, in the Why Joyality? section.

 

Reflection:  Now spend some time reflecting on what you’ve written, what you’ve imagined about this person, and ask yourself this question:

  • What do you have in common?

This might be aspects of your ecological shadow, a shared interest, friends, workplace or industry, or a place/location … anything at all.  Spend quite a bit of time on this question and really brainstorm “What do I have in common with this person? How am I similar to them? What beliefs, values and feelings do we share?”

Throughout the rest of this week we invite you to learn more about this person and reflecting on their reality, world view and core values. You can do this through observing the person in real life, the media or if you get the chance try engaging with them to find out three things:

  1. What they really care about?
  2. What they think makes them and other people happy?
  3. How they think the world can be made a better place?

Source: This exercise is based on The Philosophy of Life Game, which Dr Eshana Bragg developed and has been practicing with groups of people for the last 15 years or so. It is inspired by the work of Katrina Shields, in her book In the Tigers Mouth (1991), particularly the chapter called Building Bridges with the Opposition.

[Download MP3: Building Beautiful Bridges , or you can use the Transcript text below to guide others.]

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[Transcript Building Beautiful Bridges]

PurposeThe purpose of the Building Beautiful Bridges process is to step into other people’s shoes. Particularly those who we don’t usually relate to, or we find ourselves on the opposite sides of an issue we care about.

It’s a process to help us develop compassion and break down stereotypes. It’s a way of overcoming artificial barriers and practising stepping towards people that we don’t usually feel comfortable with in a friendly, compassionate and gently enquiring way. So … we get to open our hearts and open our minds, which sows really important seeds for collaboration in the future. Building bridges across an apparent gap of separation also helps us see the beauty in people, and find ways to respect and even admire them, which makes the world a more beautiful and joyful place for us to inhabit!

Have you heard those corny sayings “A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet” and “Your enemy can be your greatest teacher”?

Well, as usual, this exercise is an exercise in imagination!  Let’s get practising …

Preparation:  We invite you to find a quiet space with your Joyality Journal and free yourself from the business that’s behind you and in front of you, and take some time out to focus on this process.

**Feel free to pause here while you do this. **

Having done that, take a couple of deep breaths and think about the people in your community, or the wider community, who you believe just don’t understand you. They just don’t get why you care about the issues that you do, whether its climate change, some sort of environmental protection or social justice, whatever it is for you. In fact, many of these people don’t even believe that what you care about is an issue at all.

**Feel free to pause here while you do this. Allow any feelings to arise in relation to this, breathe, and let them be.**

Try to get a bit more specific now and apply this process to your “passion action” that you’ve been developing through Joyality .. and focus on people who you want to be different in relation to your passion action. You want them to act differently and make different decisions, and to support you in the differences you want to make, the differences you want to bring to the world. See if you can write a list of these people. They can be specific individuals or a type or a role, for example the police, or other students in my course, or my family or the prime minister of Australia. Write yourself a really good list of people in your Joyality Journal.

**Feel free to pause here while you do this. **

When you’ve done that, choose one of these people. It is easiest to do this process the first time focusing on someone you already know. You may want to choose them because they are particularly challenging, or they just resonate or stand out as someone you would like to feel closer to, or perhaps they are a person that is very important in terms of your strategy for change making (refer to your journal notes from the end of Joyality 401).


“To deeply understand what is important to another does not mean that we must DO what they want. Understanding them also does not mean that we have to agree with them. And understanding them does not mean that they are right and we are wrong.”

– Jon Russell


Process: Part 1

Visualising this person that you have chosen to do this exercise with, and holding them in your imagination for a moment.

  • What is their usual reaction to you when you are expressing what you care about and the actions you would like to take to make the world a better place? (If you haven’t actually expressed those things to this person then just imagine what their reaction might be if you were to express those things.)
  • How do you feel when that happens? What emotions come up for you?

Allow yourself to sit with that feeling, exploring it gently and nurture yourself and do whatever you feel to take care of yourself in that moment. You might feel to draw upon one of your selves from the Voice Dialogue process. You might want to use the focusing technique. Just breathe and allow that feeling to release back to where it came from, or down into the earth, into the nature that we are, or just to be there present without needing it to change.

  • You might want to ask yourself what you need, or what you would like to happen in that situation, and see if any insights come.

The main thing we need to do is to give ourselves some attention and nurturing in that situation. It is important to give ourselves compassion first, connecting with our feelings and needs, and maybe even figuring out a request for ourselves or the other person.  That way, we can move through a potentially triggering situation, in an empowered way.

You might like to write a few notes in your Joyality Journal.

Process: Part 2

When you are ready, shift your attention to the person in your imagination in front of you. What do you know about them? Their lifestyle? Their values? Their wants and needs? We’re going to explore a series of questions, so if you haven’t done so already I invite you to close your eyes and image as clearly as you can, making up details if you don’t know them, but its important to try not to parody this person. So be as realistic as you can be.

1. Getting Aquainted. The first set of questions are:

  • What does this person look like? What sorts of clothes do they wear? What sort of hair style?

See them as clearly as you can in your imagination. Just allow images to pass across your minds’ eye, inviting you to consider different aspects of this person. You don’t need to write anything down, just get in contact with them through your imagination.

  • How do they spend their day? How do they earn a living? Who do they spend their time with? And what do they really care about?

2. What Makes Them Tick? For this second set of questions you might want to use your journal to explore your answers:

  • What might they think makes people happy?
  • How might they think the world can be made a better place?

3. Why is That So? Again, use your journal to explore your answers:

  • Why do you think they see the world that way?
  • What media might they be immersed in?  What big story does that media tell about the state of the world? About whats important? About what makes people happy?
  • Like us they might be increasingly bombarded with disturbing news about the state of the world. How do you think they might deal with that information? Would they push it away and deny it? Do they get depressed by it? Do they take positive action?

Reflection:  Now spend some time reflecting on what you’ve written, what you’ve imagined about this person, and ask yourself this question:

  • What do you have in common?

This might be aspects of your ecological shadow, a shared interest, friends, workplace or industry, or a place/location … anything at all.  Spend quite a bit of time on this question and really brainstorm “What do I have in common with this person? How am I similar to them? What beliefs, values and feelings do we share?”

Throughout the rest of this week we invite you to learn more about this person and reflecting on their reality, world view and core values. You can do this through observing the person in real life, the media or if you get the chance try engaging with them to find out three things:

  1. What they really care about?
  2. What they think makes them and other people happy?
  3. How they think the world can be made a better place?

Source: This exercise is based on The Philosophy of Life Game, which Dr Eshana Bragg developed and has been practicing with groups of people for the last 15 years or so. It is inspired by the work of Katrina Shields, in her book In the Tigers Mouth (1991), particularly the chapter called Building Bridges with the Opposition.

Other Resources: See Marshall Rosenberg’s Compassionate Communication.

 

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