By , April 10, 2009 5:02 pm


We like to think of ourselves as free. But, most of the time, we are actually simply reacting to the stimuli around us. Something happens, and we REACT. We do not usually STOP, even for a moment, to REFLECT upon what is happening. We are not “free” but quite controlled by the situations around us. And, most importantly, we are also controlled by the residue left by our past experiences in similar situations.

Human beings have the special capacity to be self-reflective. We are able to take a step back and look at what we are doing, ponder, “Why am I acting like this in this situation?”, and change our future actions. But too seldom do we take this “one minute pause”  before reacting. 

The capacity for self-reflection becomes urgently important when our “reactions” are not serving us well. It is then that we seek psychotherapy or other help — to figure out why we act as we do and how we might act differently.

True change comes from INSIDE and cannot be given as advice by another. Change from advice is short-term. Through self-reflection, change becomes lasting.  Internal patterns change, like a kaleidoscope turning. THEN new thoughts, emotions, and action steps become possible.

Before a crisis leads to therapy, self-reflection can be learned as the simple self-help skill, Intuitive Focusing. Based upon Eugene Gendlin’s six-step Focusing process (Focusing, Bantam, 1981, 1984), Intuitive Focusing is the disciplined “practice” of self-reflection. Intuitive Focusing makes productive use of the PAUSE for self-reflection.

During the pause, the Focuser turns inward and pays attention to the “intuitive feel,” the “something-more-than-words”  which underlies thoughts, behaviors, actions. During this quiet inner attention, the Focuser looks for words or images that are “just right” in capturing the “intuitive feel.” When “just right” symbolizations are found, the “bodily-felt sense” opens and shifts, is carried forward to new understandings. The kaleidoscope turns, and a whole new pattern of possibilities arises.

The PRISMS/S PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS begins with the PAUSE and goes through the Intuitive Focusing steps needed for paradigm shifts, for the kaleidoscope to turn.

While Intuitive Focusing can be practiced alone, the quiet time for self-reflection can be greatly facilitated by the company of a Focused Listener. The Focused Listener says back the Focusers words, with special attention to the “feeling tone,” the “something more than words.” In a Focusing Community, people take turns as the Focuser and Listener, helping each other with problem solving.

Experiential Focusing Therapy also places emphasis upon teaching this self-help skill of productive self-reflection, so that clients can continue to solve their own problems throughout their life.

For application in business settings, see my article, “Creative Edge Organizations: Businesses and Organizations As A ‘Kind’ Of Focusing Community” from The Folio: Thirtieth Anniversity Tribute edition at The Focusing Institute, .

You can learn all about Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening with the many resources listed below:


Free Downloads:

Complete Focusing Instructions Manual (17 pages)

“Ajas” Instantaneos Mini-Manual

Creative Edge Focusing ( ) teaches two basic self-help skills, Intuitive Focusing and Focused Listening, which can be applied at home and at work through The Creative Edge Focusing Pyramid.

Based upon Gendlin’s Experiential Focusing ( ) and Rogers’ Empathic Listening, our website is packed with Free Resources and instructions in these basic self-help skills. Learn how to build Support Groups, Conscious Relationships, and Creative Edge Organizations based upon these basic skills of emotional intelligence.

You can try out    “Focusing: Find Out What Is Bothering You.”

Click here to subscribe to Creative Edge Focusing(TM)’s  Instant “Ahah!” e-newsletter and get the latest exercises first!!! 

Click here for a free Intuitive Focusing Mini-Course

Click here for a free Focused Listening Mini-Course

 See  Core Concept: Conflict Resolution to find a complete mini-course on Interpersonal Focusing and Conflict Resolution, including Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication, Blanchard’s “One Minute Apology,” Patricia Evan’s books on Verbally Abuse and Controlling Relationships, McMahon’s Beyond The Myth Of Dominance, and much more.

See  Core Concept: Intimate Relationship to find a complete mini-course on increasing intimacy and sexuality, including the “Sharing Your Day” exercise, Listening/Focusing Partnerships for The Way of Relationship, untangling and equalizing desire, tantric sexuality, and much more.

Download complete Instant “Ahah!” Mini-Manual, in English and Spanish, from CEF Website, or download from links at top of this blog.

Find links to free articles, personality tests, multi-media Self-Help training, Classes and workshops

Dr. Kathy McGuire, Director

Creative Edge Focusing (TM)

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