Navigating persistent personal turmoil, despite all the time you’ve sat with it and all the ideas you’ve put into action, can be exhausting.
How do you navigate the isolation, tiredness and melancholy of feeling like you’ve got to do it all yourself, even though you know there are good people in your life who care?
Regardless of constant opportunities for connection in the modern world, and despite those in our community who may want to support us in our time of need - we can still feel alone and lost when we’re experiencing personal trouble.
It can seem others have their own stuff to deal with and don’t have the space for us. Not the space that’s required to really dig into the sub-soil of a persistent trouble scratching at the core of who we are.
This human experience of isolation and despair is likely more common than we realise - a whole bunch of us may be moving around in our personal bubbles of turmoil, unaware of just how immense and similar another’s experience might also be.
Thus, the CIRCLE OF CLOSE ONES is introduced.
How to do the Circle of Close Ones
This is a tool to help an individual call-in specific support when experiencing personal crisis. It looks and feels like this:
(1) Call together a trusted group - The challenged one calls together 4 to 8 people they trust to confide in. Those for whom they feel a sense of confidence and safety. These are people that can hear the ’stuff’ without having to fix the other; nor are they easily triggered into their own turmoils. These are close ones.
The close ones are invited into a held and facilitated space. A private space, where the group will collectively deep dive together for 2 to 4 hours.
(2) Hear the one carrying the challenge - The circle’s purpose is to hear the troubled person in the deep honesty and vulnerability of their life challenge. This sharing isn’t endless - it happens in a time-range that feels appropriate to the group. Up to 20 minutes of explanation might be a good start. Having a time limit helps avoids the circle being a ‘dump and fix’; rather allowing a contribution of collective wisdom from the whole group from which the challenged one draws inspiration and guidance.
(3) Use circle rounds to clarify & contribute - The group use circle rounds to discuss and explore what they hear in the challenge, and what might be possible to support them toward a more balanced and settled place.
For the FIRST set of circle rounds, each support person describes the feelings and needs they hear expressed by the challenged one; reflecting what might be important to that person, and what feelings are presenting as symptoms of those needs not being met. The challenged one might also like to give this a go. The group collectively reflect what they feel/sense/hear from the one carrying the challenge. They might refer to their own life experience to describe what they’re hearing, and there might be several rounds of the circle exploring the feelings and needs.
For the SECOND set of circle rounds, each person describes what they feel could be valuable strategies for the challenged one to meet their needs and cultivate what’s important to them. This is the creative part - and a space for lateral thinking. Again, this might continue for several rounds as more ideas surface and emerge. The point here is not to be a ‘dump and fix’, but a vast harvest of options.
The challenged one is responsible for taking action on what feels right for them - the close ones cannot save them, and self responsibility is essential.
Rounds can happen by moving person-by-person around the circle - passing a talking stick to help guide the flow of contribution, and to support each person be fully heard in their sharing.
Alternatively, rounds can also happen in a pop-corn style - placing the talking stick in the middle of the circle where each person picks-up the stick when they feel to share something. In this case, keep it to only one contribution from each person until everyone has contributed and shared for that round. Choose the style that feels best for the group.
The essence of the Circle of Close Ones
The Circle of Close Ones happens in the spirit of sharing circle; guided by the principles of:
As the rounds progress, only one person speaks at a time, without cross-talk. This includes the challenged one. The talking stick is used to show who has the space to share - only the person holding the talking stick has 'permission' to contribute at that time. This requires a self-moderation for the time taken to share, and an awareness of fairness in holding the talking stick.
Recognition to the First Nations people of North America, and globally, who have been the longest carriers of the talking stick and sharing circle practice.
Sharings can be scribed to capture the essence of the contribution of close ones. Before the circle begins, it’s important to gain consent from all present to the scribing of the circle sharings, and to clarify who will scribe.
Having a facilitator to guide the Circle of Close Ones is not necessary, though helpful. A skilled facilitator will open and close the space appropriately - helping everyone arrive fully in the circle with a presencing practice, and leave with closure and completeness.
A facilitator will track the energy of the group - especially of the challenged one - supporting the flow of contributions and stepping-in only if a sharing seems off-track, inappropriate and/or not honouring the intention to support the challenged one.
The great beauty of the Circle of Close Ones is that all are able to benefit from the wisdoms shared. It’s possible the close ones may have their own ‘stuff’ emerge while in the circle. However it’s important to reiterate the focus is on the challenged one for whom the circle was called; supporting those in their process with emergency empathy, and then bringing it back to the challenged one.
The Circle of Close Ones allows a gathering of collective wisdom and insight from trusted kin. The spirit of this circle is to witness and see each other in our vulnerability; contributing in a meaningful and considered way.
Practical aspects to the Circle of Close Ones
Practical aspects to consider include the following.
If you're interested to experience the Circle of Close Ones for yourself, either talk to a skilled facilitator or seek the support of a friend to help you coordinate the time. The outcome will hopefully be more clarity on options, and a greater sense of support.
Please note! The Circle of Close Ones is not a surrogate for professional psychological help. Seek the support of a professional counsellor or psychologist where needed.
The Circle of Close Ones utilises the social technology of sharing circle, an age-old global practice by which humans have met and connected on deep and meaningful levels. Sharing circle is a place of respect, vulnerability and collective wisdom.
May it be used to support modern humans to connect with transparency, trust and contribution to move forward in ways that are witnessed, supported and fulfilling.
For online and/or in-person facilitation of the Circle of Close Ones, please connect with me to explore and engage. It is a pleasure to be in service in caring for each other with deep and open hearts
Measurement of an organisation’s decision outcomes, role responsibilities, and mission progress is fairly standard (and important) business, and is equally core to sociocracy process.
Measurement within an organisation can be seen like the tracking of a ship’s navigation to reach an intended destination. The captain and crew are responsible for reading the vessel’s coordinates - considering all factors influencing it’s passage - and course-correcting the ship’s path as required. It’s their responsibility to adjust and refine various elements of the ship’s operation and course direction to reach their goal.
Applied to the organisational setting, when the intended outcome for a decision/role/aim is clear, measurement based on pre-determined criteria allows a read on how accurately the goal is in being achieved. This then provides opportunity to refine these elements (self-correct), contributing to the overall organisational mission (the ‘destination’).
Macro and micro elements of a sociocratic system are measurable (quantifiable and qualifiable), ensuring the organisation’s course toward it’s mission is on-track. Distribution of the tracking and course-correction to the circle/team-level allows those most closely connected to team-based outcomes to contribute and be responsible for achieving aims and outcomes.
In permaculture, sociocracy’s measurement mechanisms are characterised by the principle of ‘obtain a yield’. It also displays the principles of ‘catch & store energy’, ‘produce no waste’, and ‘apply self-regulation and accept feedback’.
Sociocracy supports measurement-based iterative design of holistic systems progressing towards purpose and mission.
[ Sociocracy is a collaborative decision-making & governance framework for groups, large and small; supporting collective aims to be achieved effectively, transparently and with equal-value of members ]
Have questions and enquiries about sociocracy, including training, coaching and consultancy? DM me to connect and explore.
#sociocracy #socialpermaculture #thrivingpeople #betterworld
The world needs people to at least be functional in working together. Better yet, the bullseye I'm aiming for is to help people thrive in their contributions to creating a better world.
Seeing the light switch-on about the possibility for genuine empowerment and sensible approach to achieve shared aims over the short/long term for individuals/collectives is deeply motivating.
So, I invite you to this learning opportunity - a collaboration of myself and Robin Clayfield for our upcoming SOCIAL PERMACULTURE WEEKEND in May 2019.
This weekend training is a special experience to soak in the juices of healthy people dynamics, learn from collective intelligence, and absorb nature intelligence from the beautiful eco-village in which we'll be learn.
It is a true honour and delight to work with an established and revered woman such as Robin Clayfield. People around the world know and love her creative and progressive work. I'm a skilled and articulate facilitator with a wealth of experience in holistic and regenerative people systems. The combination of our skills and experiences will be a potent mix.
In case you're wondering, my elevator pitch for Social Permaculture is >> a nature-informed regenerative design framework for social systems; with particular focus on people care. Social Permaculture is regenerative social design <<
Check out the information and insights in the FB event page:
Read more about my take on Social Permaculture here:
And come join us to take yourself and your groups to the next level of effectiveness and rocking out in being happy, healthy humans!
#socialpermaculture #regenerativepeople #thrivingpeoplebetterworld
Below are further details (penned by Robin). Connect with either Robin or I to know more and to book your place!
Newkind Festival has taken time to process. 6-days of deep-diving with social change agents near Hobart, Tasmania was potent and provoking. My call there was an invitation to present on regenerative people systems and governance. It’s affirming to be invited to share this with people making positive change in the world.
We 400 folks gathered to explore and connect around topics that matter. We explored social and environmental injustice, and the diverse and bold strategies initiated by inspiring people from around Australia and beyond.
I experienced workshops, presentations and panel discussions on a vast subject matter around how we can human in a more humane way. It struck me how appropriate permaculture and it’s principles are for addressing all of what was being discussed. And not just permaculture in the food-production sense; but permaculture as a design framework for all that we do.
Connecting the dots of how human systems create oppression and injustice, and then contemplating how we might create empowering and life-affirming systems is motivating, sometimes intimidating and absolutely necessary.
Standing in the Newkind lunch-line was a treat (we all ate plant-based meals together, all cooked on wood-fired rocket stoves), giving us a chance to connect and network. I was blown away by the calibre and clarity in all of the people I came across. It was epic to be amongst a collective of individuals who are all actioning unique positive change in the world.
Big BIG kudos to the tireless efforts of the Newkind crew for catalysing such a gathering (completely solar-powered at that!). These types of events are a critical piece in the emergent puzzle of how can be in greater care of earth and people while fairly sharing resources and experiences. I am blessed to have met new friends, colleagues and comrades in this work of creating a better world, feeling bolstered and nourished in this work that can be confronting and depleting.
To all you who know change is possible - go do it! Every voice/conversation/post counts - even if it’s simply affirming something in yourself. Make sure your lens for the world is micro and macro, broad and specific, diverse and full spectrum. There’s so much going on: both individually and together we create the reality we desire. I’m with you on the journey.
#WeAreNewkind #Newkindfestival #thrivingpeoplebetterworld
These posts offer you insights & practical tools to support you to thrive for a better world!
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