Human beings are amazing creatures: When you start to practice your own ‘Gestalt dialogues’, you’ll see that not only will you get a much better understanding of where you’re holding about a particular matter, you’ll also get a much deeper understanding of where the other person is coming from, that will ultimately enable you to find it easier to deal with them, relate to them, and even forgive them in real life.
Let me give you one example: A little while ago, I got extremely upset with someone who I’d done a lot of financial favours for, who went completely AWOL when my own life hit the skids a few years’ back and I ran out of money.
I had an expectation that this person would reciprocate in kind if the need would arise, and if they were in a position to help me. But when I ran out of money, they stopped returning my calls and haven’t spoken to me since.
I felt hurt, betrayed and furiously angry that this person had ‘taken me for a ride’, and that I’d spent so much money helping them, only to get unceremoniously dumped when I really needed their support and friendship. I couldn’t hash it out with them in person and clear the air, as they weren’t taking my calls.
What to do?
Enter, the Gestalt Dialogue Visualization.
Firstly, I imagined myself in my safe place. (More on this in a moment.) Next, I invited my erstwhile friend into my safe place, and I told them I was really angry at them for dumping me in my hour of need. Initially they were defensive (as they would be in real life…) but then after a few seconds, they explained that they had a very complicated relationship with their spouse, and that if they’d given me any money they’d have to justify it to their spouse – and the thought of having that argument was too much for them.
I asked them: ‘So why didn’t you tell me that, instead of just dumping me and not returning me calls or emails? I would still have valued your friendship and caring, even if you couldn’t give me any money!’
They replied that they felt too guilty and ashamed of themselves to talk to me now, and that’s why they weren’t returning my calls.
Once I heard that, I found it so much easier to forgive them, and to let the whole issue go. It stopped taking up all that emotional space and energy in my head, and I felt much happier and calmer about the whole situation. Such is the power of the Gestalt Dialogue Visualization!
Now, let’s show you how you can tap into it for yourself.
step-by-step: how to do a gestalt dialogue visualization"
STEP 1: FIND YOURSELF A QUIET ROOM, AND CLOSE THE DOOR
You don’t want anyone to come in and disturb you, and you need to physically feel protected and safe before you begin the visualization. If you need to, lock the door.
STEP 2: GET PHYSICALLY COMFORTABLE
Sit down on a comfy chair, or even lie down on your bed, propped up on a couple of pillows. These visualisations can often last for a half an hour or more, so you need to be somewhere warm and comfortable.
STEP 3: CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND TAKE THREE DEEP BREATHS, FOCUSING ON THE OUT BREATH
The out breath activates your Parasympathetic Nervous System, which releases the chemicals that relax your body, and enable you to let go of physiological feelings of stress and tension.
STEP 4: PICTURE YOUR OWN ‘SAFE SPACE’
This could be anything from a green meadow, to a special room, to a hut by the beach, or even (my own personal favorite….) the grave, monument or meeting place of some holy person you feel particularly close to.
Settle in and make sure you really feel comfortable before inviting your ‘guest’ into your safe space.
STEP 5: INVITE THE ‘PROBLEM PERSON’ INTO YOUR SAFE SPACE
But before you do, know that:
- You are completely in control of the situation
- You can do whatever you want to them, and there’s no such thing as a ‘wrong’ response.
- If you need an impartial ‘third party’ to mediate between you (and that can often happen, particularly when you’re arguing with an authority figure who you’re scared to challenge or go against), you can also invite them to join your conversation at any time. (Me personally, I use my Rabbi, Rabbi Shalom Arush, as my impartial visualization ‘umpire’).
- You can’t do this wrong.
If you’re only going to feel comfortable speaking your mind if the other person is in a cage, or chained to the wall – make it so! If you feel the need to punch them, stomp on them or blow them up – do it!
Remember, this is your safe way of recovering your sense of agency in a virtual setting, and you don’t have to hold yourself back. You don’t have to worry that you’ll then go out and actually attack them physically, God forbid – in fact, quite the opposite will happen.
Once you’ve attacked them in your head, yelled at them, accused them of the most terrible things, you’ll feel much calmer, and you’ll be able to let go of your festering resentment, anger and hatred.
Because your emotional brain can’t tell the difference between a visualization and reality. Once you’ve ‘acted out’ virtually and settled your scores, you won’t have any impulse to do it again in reality.
STEP 6: BEGIN THE CONVERSATION
Tell them exactly how you feel; exactly what you want to say, and don’t hold back.
If it’s someone you’ve been scared of for a long time, or who has hurt you repeatedly, or who you haven’t been able to forgive for ages, then two things may happen at this point:
- You’ll still be too scared to challenge them, even in your head.
- You’ll be taken aback by how much hatred, virtual violence and vitriol may come pouring out of you.
If you’re still too scared to challenge them:
Take whatever actions you need to minimize them, and empower yourself. Chain them up, stick them in a cage, shrink them down in your head, throw magic dust on them to make them disappear, send them to outer space.
Picture yourself as massive, and them as tiny little ants.
You can also invite other people into your safe space to protect you, and to even do the talking for you, until you find your voice.
If you’re pounding them to pieces instead of talking:
Don’t worry – that’s a perfectly natural reaction. When you calm down, then you can begin the proper conversation – or not. Leave it for another day and come back again.
Remember: you can’t do this wrong, and anything that occurs is taking you forward at the pace God decides is correct, and showing you where you’re really holding at this point in time.
Accept it, don’t pressure yourself to achieve closure immediately (particularly if it’s a deep-seated, chronic hurt, fear or problem that’s been built up over many, many years), and simply try again in a couple of days’ time.
For less intense issues, you should be able to have a fairly civilized conversation with the other person. Say your piece, but also ensure that you give them the chance to respond to your issues, complaints and hurts.
If at any time you feel confused or unsure of what to do next, ask God to help you.
If at any time you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, take action to get back in control of the situation or person: cage them, shrink them, squash them, explode them, dissolve them, transform them.
Whenever you feel stuck or scared, ask God to flood your ‘safe space’ with His light, and watch how things transform.
And remember you can also ask your ‘impartial guide’ for advice and help at any time (and believe me, you’ll get it, and it’ll be mind-blowingly good.)
STEP 7: TRY TO GET TO A PLACE OF RESOLUTION OF CLOSURE – BUT DON’T FORCE THE ISSUE
Again, with the easier issues and people, the closure will come faster. With the more painful, deeper relationships and problems, it may take a few goes before you achieve closure – but it will come!
Keep talking it out in your head, keep revisiting the issue, and you’ll see how each time it’s changed or improved somehow.
Maybe you just stomped on the other person the first time, or ran away and opened your eyes in a panic. Then, the second time you picture them caged and you’re still scared, but now you can actually speak, or shout at them something.
Then the next time you do the visualization, you realize that you’re not feelings so scared, angry or overwhelmed, and that enables you to let them speak to you.
Things will continue to change and transform and improve each time you do this visualization – and those improvements will manifest as a tangible feeling of calm and peace, long after the visualization is finished.
I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: put God in the picture, and don’t be scared to call on His help, guidance and transforming light and protection whenever you need it.
God ALWAYS comes through for you in these visualisations, and you can put that to the test for yourself.
If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. I’d love to hear how you’re getting on with this visualization, and the other techniques I’m sharing with you.