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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 6: Combining Warmth with Understanding

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part I: Dealing Constructively with Sensitivity Issues

Exercise 6: Combining Warmth with Understanding

I. While focusing on someone not present

1. While focusing on a photo or on a thought of a close family member toward whom you have positive feelings or, if you have no such person in your family, while focusing on a photo or on a thought of a close friend

  • Recall your partner not taking you seriously when you said his or her behavior was upsetting you
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "I shall take you seriously, because you, your words, and your feelings are real, as in my own case when I said I was full or upset."
    • Affirm your decision, by repeating after the group facilitator, or by saying aloud by yourself, "I shall take you seriously."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Recall a sibling or friend being afraid to comfort you when you were upset
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "I shall not be afraid to respond to you if you need me. Although I may contribute to your success or failure, I am not the sole source affecting your situation, as with my sibling or friend whose comfort I needed."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall not be afraid to respond to you if you need me."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Recall your mother accusing you of irresponsibility when urgent business prevented you from doing the shopping before the store closed
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "I shall take in all the information about your situation, without jumping to conclusions. I shall do this because I wish to avoid overreacting or responding to something I have merely invented, like when my mother imagined I had forgotten the shopping."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall take in all the information about your situation, without jumping to conclusions."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Recall your partner accusing you of not loving him or her any longer when you criticized something he or she did
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "I shall keep sight of the larger context of our relationship so as not to jump to a false conclusion over a tiny incident, like my partner did when I criticized his or her behavior."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall keep sight of the larger context of our relationship so as not to jump to a false conclusion over a tiny incident."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Recall a relative offering to drive you to the airport and then coming so late that you missed the plane
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "Once I have decided to do something for you, I shall act straightforwardly. I shall do this because you experience your problem as something urgent, as I did when I needed to catch my plane."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "Once I have decided to do something for you, I shall act straightforwardly."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Recall your mother correcting the way you were chopping vegetables
    • Remembering how you felt, focus on your close relative and consciously decide, "I shall refrain from offering my unneeded or unwanted help, opinion, or advice. I shall do this because I do not wish to exploit you to gain a feeling of self-worth or of being needed, or to feel more secure by taking control of things, as with my mother who could not resist correcting how I chop vegetables."
    • Affirm your decision, "I shall refrain from offering my unneeded or unwanted help, opinion, or advice."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person

2. While focusing on a magazine picture of an anonymous person

  • Decide, "I shall take you seriously, like when preparing a hospital patient for an operation."
    • Affirm you decision aloud, "I shall take you seriously."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person.
  • Decide, "I shall not be afraid to respond to you if you need me, like when teaching a baby to walk."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall not be afraid to respond to you if you need me."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Decide, "I shall take in all the information about you and not jump to conclusions, like when examining a child with a bruised arm."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall take in all the information about you and not jump to conclusions."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Decide, "Once I have decided to do something for you, I shall act straightforwardly, like when seeing someone carrying a heavy bundle and about to drop it."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "Once I have decided to do something for you, I shall act straightforwardly."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person
  • Decide, "I shall refrain from offering unwanted or unneeded help, as when insisting on feeding the two-year-old with a spoon."
    • Affirm your decision aloud, "I shall refrain from offering unwanted or unneeded help, opinion, or advice."
    • Let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding toward the person

3. Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of someone with whom you have a difficult relationship

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. While sitting in a circle with a group

  • While focusing on each person in turn at each step and directing the appropriate feeling at him or her, repeat after the group facilitator, or say aloud by yourself, the key sentences
    • "I shall take you seriously."
    • "I shall not be afraid to respond to you if you need me."
    • "I shall take in all the information about you and not jump to conclusions."
    • "Once I have decided to do something for you, I shall act straightforwardly."
    • "I shall refrain from offering unwanted or unneeded help, opinion, or advice."
  • With each person at each step, let the decision sink in and focus on feeling combined warmth and understanding

2. Repeat the procedure while focusing on a partner

  • One of the pair repeats to himself or herself the five key sentences used in the circle, while focusing on the decision
    • The person repeats the sentence aloud as an assurance to the other, while focusing on feeling combined warmth and understanding
    • The speaker focuses on feeling that the person accepts and trusts the assurance
    • The listener focuses on feeling, accepting, and trusting the speaker's warmth and understanding
  • Switch roles
  • For each of the five key sentences, the partners alternate: first one, then the other gives the assurance, with both persons focusing on the mutual generation and acceptance of combined warmth and understanding

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Repeat the procedure while looking in a mirror, by substituting the key sentences

  • "I shall take myself seriously."
  • "I shall not be afraid to respond to what I see or feel in myself, if needed."
  • "I shall consider all the facts about my situation, without jumping to conclusions."
  • "Once I have decided to do something about my situation, I shall act straightforwardly."
  • "I shall refrain from pushing myself to do something unneeded."

2. Repeat the procedure without a mirror

3. Repeat the procedure while looking at photographs of yourself spanning your life, by substituting the key sentences

  • "I shall take myself seriously as I was then."
  • "I shall not be afraid of dealing with how I feel about myself then, if needed."
  • "I shall consider all the facts about my situation then, without jumping to conclusions."
  • "Once I have decided to do something, I shall act straightforwardly to deal with unresolved feelings."
  • "I shall not push the impossible; I shall forgive."
[ Corresponding Chapter 6 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]