I wanted to share a few words about what I think is at the core of groups that help people grow. It’s that belonging (attachment and connection) come first  and if that’s taken care of, everything else – emergence, integration and more – can follow. But to  the  extent that it’s not there, growth and movement are compromised.

Belonging is to humans as soil is to plants. We grow in the soil of the relationships we belong to.

I  was reminded of this reading notes from the excellent Bruce Nayowith’s recent trip to Israel with Thomas Huebl’s Pocket Project. Some of you know Bruce already as a wonderfully informed observer of relational spaces and he typically shares insights from his travels in emerging consciousness on his site here.  Bruce attributes the observation that attachment comes first to Gordon Neufeld but the key insight probably doesn’t belong to any single person. It’s implied in we-spaces and at the core of what happens in the WE-SPACE Lab. It’s a core idea in my book Evolutionary YOU: Discovering the Depths of Radical Change too.  Radical change is a change in attachment. Take care of the belonging first and all else will follow. When we feel accepted and welcomed, seen and heard, we relax and are willing to risk “emergence,” willing to risk speaking what is arising in the moment. We’re willing to risk being what’s arising in the present too, not just speaking it.

Belonging is the natural human condition, and very painful when lacking. People know with exquisite calibration when they belong, and when they don’t. When we feel we belong we let our guards down and become humanly connected. But if we don’t feel deeply accepted as human beings, typically we won’t be present enough to risk being real. Nor will we have the quality of attention and consciousness to learn new things or respond appropriately to the moment, rather  than by rote.

Growth is a function of consciousness and when the consciousness is constrained by the need to belong, to check for safety and status, growth can’t happen.

(Paraphrasing here) Bruce points out that Neufeld suggests three qualities that fully function when  attachment is secure enough: emergence, adaption and integration.  Emergence is the appearance, and the recognition of the appearance, of something new in the field. Adaptation is a  quality of a human or group that makes it safe enough to feel futility and the death of the old, preparing the  way for something new. Integration is what happens when we’re willing to hold different and perhaps contradictory parts of a complex whole in awareness. Each of these requires a great deal of awareness to come stably present. The three are related parts of what consciousness does when it’s coming into its own. Belonging is also a sense that its to all this we belong, rather than  to the separative identities that claim our allegiance.

Your thoughts or experience with this are very welcome.


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