So what does a confusionist do when questions
come up? Dick has asked a person to turn his questions into statements
and the group member has continued to ask questions during the
Cl: How do you check with somebody to find out where they are at?
Dick: There are some questions that are check-out statements. I think Fritz (Perls) said that 80% (of questions), I think it is closer to 90%, are not. For example, I can say to you, "Do you know anything about the weather report? Is it going to rain?" The statement there may be, "I don't know whether to take an umbrella." So I check out. "Do you know if it is going to rain? But most places where we get into something that is more significant than that. Or I could say, "My bus leaves at 10 o clock. What time is it now?" That is a check out question. Even there it can be converted to a statement. The statement is, "I don't know what time it is, I would like you to tell me the time." If you make statements instead of asking questions you will enormously, if you start to use that as a style, you will enormously enhance your own sense of being grounded, your own sense of assertiveness without being hostile or aggressive or anything like that. Because you will be open. Questions usually screen something. They usually do screen something. And of course we all ask questions. But as a matter of style, to ask one question after another, that becomes badgering. with LA Law or Matlock...you know, "Mr. Jones, where were you....." It's an issue.
Cl: I also have another question. As a coach, I am always asking questions about "Where is your attention at this point?" or "What do you want?" And I think therapists sometimes are coaches and their questions are of that kind, producing focus.
Dick: There can be questions that produce focus and there can be questions that are informational, but that doesn't alter the fact that most questions are round-a-bout ways of making statements.
Cl: It is a dangerous way of making a statement too, because you suck the other person into your agenda without being out front about it.
Dick: That's right
Cl: If I make a statement,
you can say that is not how it is. but if I ask a question I suck
you in. ....
Turning questions into process
Questions can also be helpful and show us the
road we need to take.
Q: The work with N, I wish you would say more about it. I was so aware of you following that process, my thinking was so active that I would like you to say something about following that process.
Dick: Well, you always follow it. Wherever they go. That is your job. And N was in one place and then he would go into another. And he evidently has a very heavy pressure on him of some kind. And I did what I could. I stayed with him as long as I could. And I think in the end he felt some kind of relief. Sometimes people are in places that are very painful for them, very convoluted, and what you do is just go one step at a time. You don't try to figure some master plan to make them fit into it. At least, I don't.
But what would be more valuable for you probably would be not to ask that question that you asked, looking for explanations, but rather to express your feelings as you were feeling during that work. I think many people have a lot of feeling aroused from that work, because the feeling up here was so intense. So what was your feeling then, and what is it now? You are feeling incomplete in some way. That has nothing to do with the work, that has to do with you, you see. That is what you need to look at.
Cl: A tight feeling in here. A shaky all over feeling. A scared kind of feeling.
Dick: Kind of a scared feeling. So you were scared by that work. So what you need is not an explanation of what I was trying to do or what was going on between us when we were working there. What you need to look at is that you are scared. Somehow you are scared, do you follow me? Remember, every question is actually a statement of some kind. What are you feeling right now? What is the real statement behind your question? There was something that you needed for yourself, not for N but for you.
Cl: It's connected to being there myself.
Dick: So that is your unfinished business is that you are scared. So say, "I'm afraid I will go over the edge someday"?
Cl: I'm afraid I will go over the edge someday.
Dick: See yourself on the edge of the Grand Canyon, it is a mile and a quarter to the other side. Do you see that? OK, then jump. Jump!
Cl: I'm floating.
Dick: Yeah, and that is what you are so terrified of doing, and you are floating. And you can float right to where you need to go, and someone will show you what you need to learn.
(Chanting) "Take me where I need to go
Show me what I need to know
Aeyii, aeyii ohh.
What is happening?
Cl: I am in a fire. It is confusing.
Dick: It is confusing. Yeah. When we are confused, we always try to figure it out, instead of just allowing ourselves to be confused. Someone told me the story about Nazurdeen, the Sufi. A friend came home and found Nazurdeen down at the corner under the street lamp crawling around. He said, What the devil are you doing crawling around on the ground. And he said , "As I was unlocking my door to let myself in, I dropped my key and I am looking for it. And his friend said, "You are crazy, you dropped it up there a half block away at your door, why are you looking here?
And Nazurdeen said, "Well the light is so much better here."
So we like the light of reason but it is not going
to help us find the key at all. The key to the mystery of life
has not been given to us. We can't figure it out.