Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Group Dynamics.

From the ODAT, page 322:

"If I have made myself a part of an Al-Anon group to get help, wouldn't I be defeating myself if I allowed what we call personality clashes to interfere with my getting the full benefit of the program?"

Most of us, when we've been in program for a while, understand that "personal progress for the greatest number depends upon unity," and that this means we need to work to leave our ego at the door of the meeting room, and walk in prepared to be accepting and tolerant of all around the table.

That is not always an easy task - it can be laborious. But it's the proverbial labour of love. We need to let go of our judgements of other people, and see them as a child of God, seeking comfort and recovery, just as we are. We need to either ignore, or argue back against, those mental criticisms of others which arise so easily when we are new to program.

If a new person is rude or prickly, I work to rise above my momentary impatience and intolerance, try to put myself in their place, recall the terror and shame I felt when I was new, let go of my ego, (which is most likely harrumphing back in the corner, muttering a variety of outraged phrases..."Well! How dare he/she! What a thing to say! Unbelievable!") strive to see the person behind the protective facade, and be welcoming because I want to, regardless of how spiny they may appear.

Once in a very long while, there will be a person who is in program for a long time, but who never chooses to practise "obedience to the unenforceable" and they may become a disruptive and divisive influence in the group. This is happening at a meeting here in town, and it's very painful for all involved. Attendance at the meeting is falling off, newcomers come to a few meetings, and never come back, the one member is rude to others inside meetings, and uses their share time to berate the other members for their perceived faults....

Which brings me to my next point - just what is the chairperson supposed to do in a situation of this sort?

When I am chairing the meeting, this person is relatively well-behaved. I believe this is a result of my having ever-so-gently confronted the unacceptable behavior, with reminders that we are here for the good of us all, and that we do not criticise or attack other people at the table.

It's an unfortunate reality of life that some folks are bullies, and if left to their own devices and desires, their behavior only worsens with time. That's what is taking place at this meeting - being permitted to be rude inside the meeting, has only made this person more comfortable with being rude inside the meeting.

No-one can force anyone else to behave with consideration and respect. This meeting may end up disbanding, and regrouping at another venue, or it may limp along becoming more and more unsettling, or it may resolve itself in some way I cannot imagine.

All I can do is detach, and try to understand what lesson is being offered for me to learn in all of this.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's time for a group conscience to explore ways to make the meeting more viable.