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The Jewel of Choice - Session 2
An annotated transcript of using Symbolic Modelling
to facilitate the self-modelling of current reality and the change process.

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

The following is a transcript of the second and concluding session with a participant on a Symbolic Modelling training in 2001. The first session facilitated the participant to self-model their desired outcome and the effects of achieving that outcome. The second session took place on the following day and lasted 50 minutes. During the session we facilitate the participant to self-model the way their 'system' is currently organised (their current reality, as Robert Fritz calls it), and the process by which it evolves.

Six months after the sessions the client describes her impressions of what happened during the Symbolic Modelling process and what has happened since [click 'Next' at the top or bottom of the this page].


Much of the information in the annotated comments was not consciously available to us during the session. Many of the connections only became apparent when we studied the transcript. However, we were dynamically modelling the patterns of the client's Metaphor Landscape. These patterns and their inherent logic not only 'contain' the foreground information of which we were aware, but also 'hold' a vast matrix of background information. It is our belief that although this background information may have been outside our awareness, it is available to the 'whole system' (i.e. the intelligence and wisdom of the combined conscious and unconscious mind-body-spirit that comprises us, the client, their metaphors, the environment and who knows what else). In other words, "The system knows."

All therapist-generated words are emboldened to distinguish them from the client's words and to make it easier to see the syntax of each question.


Where would you like to be [gestures around the room]?


Same as last time.

[All sit on the floor as before.]


And what would you like to have happen now?

Inviting client to attend to her outcome for the session.


I feel quite excited. I would like to just try it out a bit. She feels so prepared and I'm still holding on to her a bit. So to try it and see what it's like.


And when you would like to just try it out a bit, what is 'it'?

Checking we are all still working to the same outcome.


I would like to see what it's like to have a mother in the world. For it not to be separate. I would like to mother myself.

Apparently her outcome has evolved and incorporated her insights from session 1.


And you would like to see what it's like to have a mother in the world. To not be separate and to mother yourself. And what needs to happen for you to mother yourself?

A specialised clean question that invites the client to specify the necessary conditions for her outcome to be achieved.


To not be so hard on myself. To actually have fun. Not to be self-conscious. To be a friend to myself.

Four conditions identified.


And when you would like not to be so hard on yourself, and actually have fun, and be a friend, is there anything else you need to mother yourself?

Are there more than four conditions? She might as well know them all up front.


It's all wrapped up. Like being wrapped up and protected, so things that happen in the world don't hurt so much.

This is consitent with session 1: when ideal being comes out in to the world "She'll protect me" (C9).


And when being wrapped up and protected so things don't hurt so much, that's wrapped up and protected like what?

Inviting the metaphor into form.


It's having my bubble -- my space. It's pink. I can choose who comes into that space and who doesn't.


And having your bubble, your space, and pink, and when you can choose who comes into that space and who doesn't, where is that choose?

We chose to ask her to attend to "choice" because it was central to session 1, "The jewel is the choice" (C26).


It's my gut instinct. I rely on it or get hurt.

Almost the same reply as C25 of session 1.


And when it's your gut instinct you rely on or get hurt, whereabouts is that gut instinct?

Continuing to locate "choice" -- now also know as "gut instict".


It's in here [touches abdomen]. I do rely on it a lot.


And when choose is your gut instinct, does it have a size or a shape?

It is 'clean' to ask this question here because usually an "it" refers to a (metaphorical) thing, and things have a size or a shape.


I've met this little character before. How to describe him? A bit like Yoda in a way. When I discovered him before, lizard-like, yellow teeth and trying to get me. I'd locked him away. Now I do listen more to my gut instinct because he saved my life -- literally. It was so horrible that I threw it all into the cave [gestures off to the left ]. I didn't mean to throw him in too, but I did. I want to get in touch with that part because it's, it's very strong.

She ends with a new (sub)outcome: "I want to get in touch with that part". Note this part has the attribute "strong" which featured strongly in session 1 (C3-C4 and C11-C14).


And when you didn't mean to throw Yoda in the cave too, where is Yoda now?

Is Yoda in the cave or her gut?


Right now he's here [gestures next to her, on the right] because he's very inquisitive and knows he's being talked about.

Neither, and now we know he moves about!


And when he's here, and very inquisitive, is there anything else about Yoda and gut instinct?


He's a bit of a cave dweller. His instincts I trust completely. It's the only thing I completely trust in the world.

Confirms the significance of Yoda's "instincts" as a resource and introduces another, "trust", especially as it applies in the context of her outcome, "in the world."


And when you trust Yoda's instincts completely, what would Yoda like to have happen?

Inviting her to attend to his intention.


For us to be proper friends again. Really, not just sometimes reliable, but all the time. To be a part of my life.

Remember one of the four conditions (C37) was "To be a friend to myself."


And Yoda would like for you to be proper friends again. And can you be proper friends, and can Yoda be part of your life?

Maybe it can just happen.


Yeah, but he was very very pissed off when I threw him away. I think he understands now why that had to happen. It wasn't meant personally.

Yes, but ...


And he was very very pissed off, but it wasn't meant personally. And Yoda would like to be friends.


Yeah. He's checking, but yeah, definitely. He's making me suffer a bit for it!


And how long do you need to suffer before Yoda and you can be friends?

A specialised clean question that utilises the inherent logic of the metaphor: if Yoda wants them to be "proper friends" we can expect there will be a time when he stops "making me suffer."


It's like it's his decision and not mine. That's part of the game, part of making me suffer. But soon I think. It's been long enough.


And it's been long enough, and Yoda wants to be proper friends again, and you trust Yoda's instincts completely, and you listen more to your gut instinct. And what are you listening to when you are not listening to your gut instinct?

This backtracks her attention to a previous statement (C42) and then constructs a clean question that utilises the inherent logic of the metaphor: If she "listens more" to her gut instinct there must be occassions when she does not, and is presumably listening to something else.


My fear. He is quite mischievous. He can get me into trouble. I'm afraid if I give him a full clean rein I could get into trouble.

She trusts his instincts completely (C44) and yet "He can get me into trouble" -- potentially a binding pattern.


And when you aren't listening to your gut instinct you're listening to your fear, and what kind of fear is that fear?


Unless I have in place the protection -- the bubble -- which I am starting to feel from my mother, then I won't be safe.

A reiteration of the necessary condition specified at C38


And what's the first thing that needs to happen for that bubble to be in place?

Inviting client to attend to the conditions under which the "protection/bubble" will occur.

(Note: Better to have asked about the "next thing" rather than the "first thing" as she has just said she is "starting to feel" the protection/bubble.)


I need to retreat and sit quietly with my mother and listen and learn to pick up the bits that hadn't been tied up.

Again four conditions.
(Note her previous references to "bits" in C35, C42, C44 and C47.)


And when you need to retreat, and sit quietly with mother and listen and learn to pick up the bits, you need to retreat to where?

Lots of new metaphors, so revert to the basics of identifying a symbol's location -- its address in the Metaphor Landscape.


To the moon.

First mentioned in session 1, C20-C21.


And you need to retreat to the moon. And then what happens?


I'm far enough from everyone. Then it's just her and me.


And when you listen and learn, and can pick up the bits, what kind of bits are those bits you can pick up?

Returning to pick up unexplored bits from C51.
(Note: Unnecessary use of the word "can" -- twice!)


There were so many unfinished bits when she died. I want to be complete somehow.

An additional (or restated) outcome.


And there were so many unfinished bits when she died. And where are unfinished bits now, that you need to pick up when you want to be complete somehow?

Locatng where the "bits" are now.


It's like my pink bubble is a balloon that burst. There are ragged pieces. I don't know how to make it a balloon again. I can't go with my gut instincts without it.


And you don't know how to make it a balloon again. And is there anyone else who knows how to make it a balloon again?

Again constructing a question that makes use of the logic in the metaphor: even though "I" doesn't know, another symbol might know (especially as ideal being, mother and Yoda are available).


It's the Yoda with his hand in the air jumping up and down. It's chicken and egg. I have to listen to my gut instinct in order to give it free rein, but I can't give it free rein knowing the trouble its caused me. If I rely on mother as an external part, I will always be relying on her. She has to teach me.

The client has self-modelled the bind that first appeared at C49 and identified an extra dimension: The solution to "rely on mother" only means she will be constrained to "always be relying on her." This seems like a confirmation of the conclusion she came to at the end of session 1: mother "can't do it for me" (C32).

Although mother may well be able to teach her to rely on herself, that doesn't necessarily resolve the bind.


And when it's chicken and egg, then what happens?

"Chicken and egg" is her name for the bind and refers to all the components and relationships encompassed by the pattern. This question invites the client to notice how she responds to being in her binding pattern.


There must be a way. My perception is that it's ragged, but I have a sense I do have a space that's around me. People can see it. I don't know why I don't trust it's there.

Note the reappearance of "trust" (C44) and the presupposition that if she did trust she wouldn't be in the bind.


And you have a space around you, and people can see it. And you don't know why you don't trust it's there. And what kind of trust could that trust be?


Um-m-m. A trust that was taken away from me when I threw Yoda in the cave.

She doesn't trust because it was taken away from her. Presumably she needs it back.


And where is that trust now?



In the cave.


And whereabouts in the cave?



Very deep in the cave.


And trust is very deep in the cave. And is there anything else about very deep in that cave where that trust is?



It's, m-m-m [sigh]. There's this figure there I have always been really really scared of that's holding it.

Reappearance of "scared" (session 1, C3 and C28), except this time she has "always been really really" scared.


And what kind of figure is that figure that's holding it?


I know who he is. I'm really pissed off he's still there. I'm less scared. I'm angry with him. I've done so much work on this and now I just want it over.


And when you're pissed off and angry and just want it over, what would he like to have happen?

Identifying his intention.


[Pause] I don't know if I can give it to him. He wants forgiveness.


And he wants forgiveness. And you don't know if you can give it to him. And what kind of forgiveness is that forgiveness?

Developing the potential new resource "forgiveness" while acknowledging that she doesn't know if she can give it to him.


I was going to say a long time coming. Actually it seems a small price to pay to get my trust back after all these years. I'm like Yoda. I don't want him to know when I am going to give it. To make him suffer.

The client is self-modelling the repeating pattern of relationships in the Landscape.


And where does your wanting to make him suffer come from, when it means he doesn't give you your trust back?

Attending to the source of her "want ... to make him suffer" when doing so results in her not getting her trust back!


From when he annihilated my world. He burst the bubble. He made me suffer, suffer since I was 9 years old.

First use of "my" world.


And he's been holding on to your trust for a long time deep in that cave. And now he wants your forgiveness to give your trust back. And you want to make him suffer. And he wants forgiveness. And he has your trust. And when that's how it is, what would you like to have happen?

Given current reality, what's her desired outcome?


For him to come out of the cave so I can see what he looks like. He's probably not that scary. But I'm not going in there!

A new outcome: She would likehim "to come out". (Note Session 1 was all about Ideal Being, Mother and Yoda coming out.) And she recognises he's "probably" not that scary.


And you want him to come out of the cave. And what does he want?


Probably to come out too. It's not a nice place in there.


And what needs to happen for him to come out of that cave?

Asking for the necessary conditions to achieve their (probable) joint outcome.


68He only knows the cave. But Yoda knows the cave. I'd trust him in there. He doesn't want to, but he is willing to go. I would go with Yoda to a half-way point.


And you would go with Yoda to a half-way point. And what kind of point is a half-way point?

Attending to theboundary that now marks how far she is prepared to go.


It evens things up a bit. It's not just for me to forgive.


And when you would go with Yoda to that half-way point, what happens to the man in the cave?

She's prepared to go to a half-way point, and what difference does that make to him?
(Note: "...what happens to him in the cave?" would have been cleaner.)


He's a bit scared what I will do to him now.


And he's a bit scared. And what kind of scared is that scared?

Developing the attributes of the new symbol, his "scared".


It's paralysing.


And when his scared is paralysing, where is that scared?

Locating the symbol.


In his feet.


And in his feet. And is there anything else about his feet when paralysing scared?


They're stuck in the muddy back of the cave.


And what kind of mud is that mud in the back of the cave?

Developing the context "mud" for his stuck feet.


All his dirt and filth.


And where could that mud come from?


From what he did to me. He definitely wants to come out too.

Now he definitely wants to come out, but he's stuck by what he did to her. So how is she going to get her trust back?


And he definitely wants to come out too. And when he wants to come out too, then what happens?


[Pause] I'm fighting it, but I feel a bit sorry for him. I want my trust back more than I want him to suffer.


And is feeling sorry for him the same or different as forgiving?

This specialised clean question invites the client to compare the two symbols and notice whether they are essentially the same experience. And if not, to recognise the difference.


They're very linked. One has to come before the other.


And what kind of link is that link between feeling sorry for him and forgiving?

An alternative and probably more logical question would have been "And which one has to come first?". Instead we invited her to attend to the relationship, "link".


A time link.


And a time link. And what kind of time is that time?


A time link like a jig saw or a domino link. I am holding the domino of sorry [indicates she is holding the domino in right hand]. Even with all the work I've done on this I've held on to this domino. I need to just put it there. [Pause then 'puts' domino in front of her.] It's not so difficult to do now.

Note the parallels between her "holding" the domino, and her "still holding on to" mother (C35) and the figure in the cave "holding" her trust (C61).

Until this moment she has been in the domain of "would like to" and "needs to". When she 'puts' the domino "there" she enacts a change and, as often happens, discovers "it's not so difficult".


And now you've put domino there, then what happens?

Immediately a change occurs we invite her to mature the change to the Landscape by evolving time forward.


It's almost like that's the package I leave on the mid-way point and it's up to him. It's like an exchange.


And can you leave that package at that mid-way point?

We follow her shift from what 'needs to' happen, to what "can" happen. (Note: "can" is deliberate in this question, unlike T53.)


Yes, if I can get my trust back. It's whether I can trust him [pause]. I think he wants to [pause]. I'll leave the sorry. He leaves the trust.

Yes, if ... She needs her trust back to resolve the "chicken and egg" paradox (C56). But to do this she has to trust that the figure who annihilated her world at 9 will give her her trust back -- another paradox.


And it's whether you can trust him to leave your trust. And when you'll leave the sorry and he'll leave the trust, what happens to forgiveness?

First, we acknowledge the paradox. Then we invite her to attend to the other end of the "link" (C77) just after the choice to trust.


Forgiveness starts building the bubble. It's pink.


And is there anything else that needs to happen for you to leave that package at the mid-way point and to trust he will give your trust back?

Checking if there are any more conditions and thereby directing attention to just before the choice to trust.

Asking questions about 'just after 'and 'just before' keeps her attention near to the choice point but not directly on it. We want her to have plenty of time to consider a decision that may change the way she has organised her perceptions for the last 30 years.


Yeah. It's time. It's time and I need to move on. My gut instinct is saying to me 'yes he will do it'. And I'm not doing it on my own. I'm going to the half-way point with Yoda.


And is there anything else that needs to happen when your gut instinct is saying 'yes, he will do it'?

Having waited all this time to "move on" she can do one last check.




And when your gut instinct is saying 'yes', take all the time you need to go to the half-way point with Yoda, and to leave the package, and to trust he'll give you back your trust, and for him to notice what happens to mud, and for you to notice [pause] what happens next.

Now that we have the go ahead, we slowly recap each of the "what needs to happen's" in the order specified, and then (with metaphorical fingers crossed!) just wait.


[Long pause.] The cave isn't such a bad place. I'm glad I didn't have to go all the way there. Yoda's good company anyway. I can get a sense. I don't really want to look at him. Something is dissolving in the back of the cave. I don't feel so scared.


And something's dissolving in the back of the cave and you don't feel so scared. And then what happens?

Changes are occuring to both the perceived, "back of the cave" and the perceiver, "I don't feel so scared." This is a signal to continue maturing the changing Lanscape -- a process that had been interupted at C81 by "Yes, if..."


I'm curious to see what he looks like after all this time.

Another change to the perceiver.


And when you're curious, then what happens?


I'm glad I've got Yoda with me. I can see a figure coming towards me. He's wrapped a package quite nice really. He's tied lovely bows on it. I haven't really bothered with mine. He's just a normal person. He's just normal. Nothing special. He just looks like anyone.


And as he comes towards you with that package tied with lovely bows, what happens next?

He's "wrapped" a package. At C38 she wanted to be "wrapped up and protected" in her pink bubble. It might have been a nice touch to ask: "And what kind of lovely bows?" just in case they were pink! But rather than interupt the flow of events we simply keep time moving forward.


He's giving it to Yoda.

David Grove says that a point of contact between symbols signals the 'carring across' or 'transferring' or 'exchanging' of 'information' or 'resources' or 'essence'.


And as he's giving it to Yoda, then what happens?


I give him my package.

Another point of contact.


And then what happens?


There's a sweet smell.

The result of the two points of contact is a new metaphor ...


And what kind of smell is that sweet smell?

... which we pause to develop ...


It's like springtime.

... into a new context ...


And when sweet smell is like springtime, and Yoda has the package with your trust and he [look over to her left] has the package with your sorry for him, then what happens?

... before continuing to evolve time.


We go our separate ways and that's it.


And when you go your separate ways, in which direction does he go?

Attending to his "direction" either develops the new relationship of "separate" (so that it is as 'real and alive' as the previous connectedness), or provides an opportunity for another part of the system to react against the separating of the ways.


I don't know and I don't care.

OK -- we get the message!


And as you go your separate ways and Yoda has your trust, then what happens?


My mother's at the entrance of the cave and she's so happy for me [tears].


[Pause.] And mother's so happy for you. And then what happens?


She gives me a big hug.

A third point of contact.


And she gives you a big hug, and then what happens?


[Pause.] It's like we all -- Yoda, mother and me -- are in my pink bubble. We can go out in the springtime where there are pink blossoms.

Another indicator of significant change is the crossing of a boundary or threshold between "worlds" (C36, C38, C44, C65), in this case, maked by the entrance to the cave. She leaves the current world to go into the cave, and by the time she comes out, things have changed -- it's "springtime".

Paradoxically, the client had to go "in" the cave to get her trust back, before mother could be "in" her pink bubble and "go out" in the springtime. This enacted the client's outcome in session 1, "she needs to come out so we can have each other" (C30).


And when he has given you your trust back, and you go your separate ways, and a mother's hug, and a sweet smell of spring time with pink blossoms [pause], what happens to a jewel that gives you choice?

Consolidating the newly forming Landscape by recapping the changes before asking her to notice if the effect of the changes have spread to an unmentioned symbol -- the jewel (See Session 1).


I am the jewel [pause]. It's all part of what fills the atmosphere of the balloon. My heart's really fluttering. It's waking up. It's gone really funny [laughs].


[Long pause.] And when you are the jewel, and heart is really fluttering,where is your trust?

Both checking and developing.


All around, inside. It's in the space. It's my choice whether people come in or go out.


And when your trust is around, inside, and it's your choice whether people come in or go out, is there anything else you need in relation to that ideal being you wanted to come out?

Has she achieved her original outcome (C1)?


She's out. I can still go in. I don't have to be out all the time. It's really up to me. I have the choice.



And take all the time you need, to know what it is like to have the choice, to be in or out [pause], now that heart is waking up [pause], and you are that jewel [pause], and you, mother and Yoda are in your pink bubble [pause], and trust is all around [pause], and it's sweet smelling springtime [pause].

More consolidaing by accummulating descriptions of the changed Landscape.


I've got my trust. It's a trust that is tempered with Yoda who can vet things and I can trust that.


And I expect you'll enjoy getting to know more about that trust that you can trust.

Returning to everyday conversation by reverting to a regular voice tone, making a statement and bringing in the "I" of the therapist.


Thank you both very much. And thank you everybody.

Analysis of Questions

Once the first change occurred -- the client "put" the domino "there" (C79) -- the remaining third of the session involved Maturing Changes (Stage 5 of the '5 Stage Process'). Just over half of the last 20 questions were 'moving time forward' questions which invites the client to attend the effect of each change as it happens.

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