Australian General Semantics Society Inc.




Seminar Summary - 16 September 2012


Managing Our Lives' Transitions
    How do we manage the transitions between phases in our lives?
    How can GS principles assist in this?
    How do hidden assumptions direct our decision-making?
    Led by Mr Laurie Cox.

at Gavan and Pauline's wonderful home "Clifftop View"

Catching Up

As "GS practitioners", we have plenty of GS Diary entries to share with the group.  There was lots to share, particularly as we welcomed our friend Ted from Melbourne.  Ted aleady knew some of us from the AGS National Conference  two years ago, but it was his first time to the Sydney Seminar event.

WritingThis is a "living document", subject to ongoing evolution as recollections re-emerge from our memories of the event, and are re-evaluated in light of ongoing experience and reflection.  It will never be "the full truth and nothing but the truth", or "a map that expresses everyone's notion of the territory"!

Review of our homework

Remember what Pauline asked us to do two months ago ...

      Write down three strategies you intend to put into practice in the month,
      and make a note on your calendar,¬†each Friday,¬† to check you are actually doing it.

We had homework reminders over the last few weeks,
and actually achieved some compliance with this little challenge:

  • One of the participants made up a little whiteboard containing messages which would be changed from time to time, reminding of things to be grateful for (eg beautiful home and family), blessed location, safe community, etc.  This was largely an exercise in "Map-Territory" - being aware of aspects of life which we can sometimes slip into "taking for granted".
  • Someone lamented the onset of their "empty nest" status, emphasised the need for accurate "mapping" of their situation, and the need for "indexing and dating" of the changing status of family dynamics and the roles.  This required some letting go of a passion for "Time-binding".
  • Another one observed the need to "minimise expectations", having started a new job and found that the conditions and facilities were far from what had been anticipated.
  • One of Australia's Olympic silver medalists had been expecting gold, so was bitterly disappointed.  Another had expected no medal and won gold, so was 'over the moon" with it!
  • One of us was re-furbishing a sound-and-video recording studio, and noted the many layers of craftsmanship and technology to achieve the result with limited resources, and the need to be aware of "jumping to conclusions", and the ongoing abstraction process in this project.
  • Someone moved house recently - a classic transition required project-management, physical and emotional stamina, Time-binding and Mapping skills.
  • One of our members moved from new Zealand to Australia eleven years ago (to join this group!), having to arrange transport, accommodation, finances, and "mysterious language and behaviours".
  • One of the members told the story of a long illness, the challenge of "letting go of the quest for youth", and the realisation of spiritual insight in coming to terms with "just being, not doing" - certainly a matter of "Map-Territory" and "Multi-valued perception" operating here.
  • A couple of our long-standing group members ("groupies"?) fell in love and married!  This required some re-mapping of their individual "territories" and exploiting new possibilities.
  • A recent retiree commented on being "no longer anxiously focussed on building the future" (eg for superannuation security), learning to value "quiet time", and considering the "glass half-full".
  • One of our members, being strongly committed to "Time-binding", was rejoicing in having had a meaningful encounter with a "stranger", who was interested in ongoing contact.
  • ~ etc ...

Today's confabulations on "Transitions"...

Facilitator Laurie urged to expect "peer-to-peer collaborative interaction" today, rather than "a lecture". 
The format was to process a number of questions by way of the following stages:
  1. Divide into pairs,
  2. Consider a question posed to us, and individually write a response,
  3. "Person A" in each group explain their response to "Person B",
  4. "Person B" give their response to "Person A",
  5. All the groups re-convene in plenary session, then for each pair,
  6. "A" recount "B"'s story/message, then "B" recount "A"'s message,
  7. "A" tell their own story and "B" tell their own story.
  8. The group can then come in with discussion.

This whole process was applied to a number of questions, eg:

1. Describe a transition,or esperience in your life.
     Then consider whether this contained a deeper meaning or significance to you.
     Laurie delivered a dissertation, then asked us (as above) to:
       a. Give a descriptive account of his statement, and
       b. Make an evaluation of it, in light of personal experience and insight.

2. Give an example of using the "Structural Differential" - awareness of the levels of abstraction etc.

3. Laurie's paper on the Map-Territory process, with some examples.

4. Laurie's paper on "Language Correction"

5. Laurie's paper on "Communication".

These examples are expanded in Laurie's document of 16 September.

This material was important to Laurie because he is in the process of presenting it to hospital staff in a series of seminars, and was anxious to receive our feedback on it.

We considered some concerns of wider interest, such as an evaluation of our seminar process.  Pauline referred us to Petrea King's excellent book "Your Life Matters - The Power of Living Now".  With regard to discussion, she emphasised (among other things) the need for:
       a. Respecting confidentiality, to encourage people to be open in their sharing of experience,
       b. Listening 100% - to "really hear" the other, rather than listening to our own reactions, and
       c. Being present to the other, observing their body language etc, not just the words.

Ted reminded us of Eckhart Tolley's injunction: "If our alignment with the present is correct, then the future will unfold of its own account ... Shift from self-absorption to abandonment ... ".  Some of us find this rather challenging!

While waiting at railway station etc, there was some discussion around the notion of linguistic symbols such as icons (contemporary relevance?) and use of linguistic devices such as metaphor (useful or distracting in verbal discourse?).

As a guest, Ted was interested in "the notion of GS as a cult",  We considered some accepted examples of cults, and the attributes that distinguish them from the GS community. 


*** Thank you and Congratulations to Laurie ***
on returning to Seminar Presenter role,
after a period away from it! 


Next Meeting:

Saturday 20 October 2012

"Ethics and Decision Making
Ethics: Is this the only way to make decisions? 
An introduction to Ed MacNeal's decision making atlas
about the ways we make decisions.

Led by David

10:30am - 4:30pm at Bonnet Bay, Sydney, Australia



(Updated by RJ 17/09/2012)

For details of our discussion meetings and seminars, locations and membership, Contact AGS
Web site by RLJamez