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Exercise: Meeting

June 09, 2011, at 07:00 AM

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Today I'm going to outline your first official meeting. You probably want to seat your body somewhere comfortable and not too distracting: the amount of real-world time this will take can vary, but it probably won't take very long. Then choose an internal space to visualize if desired and start out with calling on the welcoming committee and greet anyone else who shows up.

I assume you have at least some ability to communicate with the welcoming committee. If communication is poor, picture hanging up a sign asking the welcoming committee to greet participants, or write down meeting information on an internal writing board. The important thing is that you try to communicate, and don't give up if direct "verbal" communication is unsuccessful. One of my residents only communicates with sign language & writing externally, and internally can communicate with emotions and visualizations, but doesn't use pre-verbal words, however she's terrific on our welcoming committee and a dedicated resident.

The first item on the agenda is coming up with an agreed-on agenda. Since this is your first meeting it should be short, and should not have any hot topics as agenda items.

I suggest that the first item be “signing the lease” — that is a decision to move from a hotel-like situation where everyone is a "guest" in the facility of your body, to a group home situation with mostly residents and a few guests. This represents the importance of gaining group buy-in to the paradigm we're using and how everyone should behave towards their fellows.

The second agenda item I suggest is to work on establishing minimal safety rules for the group, which is the start of your House Rules. For this first meeting, only address one or two of the most threatening behaviors -- for example, suicidal thoughts or attempts, self-harm, substance use or some other specific behavior that greatly increases the anxiety of your guests in general. Here's one way to look at it: "We are trying something new to help improve everyone's situation, so what I'm asking is that no one do anything drastic while we're getting things settled down. Let's all give this a real try." Then be specific about the types of behaviors you want everyone to be vigilant about. We will be revising the House Rules over the next few days in United Front.

Be sure to appreciate everyone coming to the meeting for what it is: a curiosity about the new goings-on, an interest in community, and an interest in each other. Look how far you’ve come already. For some, even having a meeting of one is an accomplishment over wondering if you’re doomed to be plunged into chaos for the rest of your life.

Note: if there are routine unsafe behaviors by guests in your body, please immediately seek help. This includes, but is not limited to: suicidal thoughts or attempts, eating binges or purging, use of drugs or taking medicine in ways other than they are prescribed or directed, extreme bouts of anger or depression, or an unsafe situation in your physical home where you have to change your own behavior to avoid outbursts of extreme behavior and emotions from someone else. These, and others, are situations that can get out of control very quickly, so please immediately get assistance so that these situations don't blow up. Internal house rules prevent future problems, but they aren't enough when the problem has already started, and this program does not -- and can not -- address extreme problems head-on.

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