I turned to enlightened Gestalt therapist John Enright to help me figure out how being right works.
However I felt that some of the distinctions he made are so enjoyable and provocative that I decided to share them raw.
John made it his his intention to find out what made Fritz Perls such a successful Gestalt therapist. What he discovered was that Fritz was an enlightened being.
John thereafter set out to have and be what Fritz had and was – and succeeded.
Whereas Werner Erhard had a whole network of paid staff and volunteers behind him, probably contributing to the formulation of his ideas, John was a one-man show. But every bit as sharp in his distinctions as Werner.
He was endlessly entertaining and the fountain of so many “Aha’s!” for me that I feel endlessly grateful to him. Not just for the insights but for allowing us to see how his tremendously-fertile mind worked. He definitely demonstrated the impact that enlightenment has on one’s mental, emotional, and other abilities.
I first took John’s workshop during a three-month resident fellowship at Cold Mountain Institute, a Canadian growth center like Esalen. John later came to Vancouver and offered workshops. He was one of many very talented circuit riders whose participants fell away after the devastation wrought by the 1982 recession and jobless recovery.
CMI = Workshop at Cold Mountain Institute Resident Fellowship, Cortes Island, B.C., Canada
ARC = Awareness Responsibility and Communication Workshops, held in Vancouver, B.C., Canada
If my life were a TV show, I’d have turned it off. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
At the end of life, there will be two kinds of people: those who have lived full lives and those who are full of good reasons why they haven’t. (N.d.)
No, I’ve made up my mind. Life is not what I want. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
When the avalanche is coming down on you, you can say, “Oh my God! It’s going to hit me!” or you can say, “Far out! What a way to go!” (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Most people, given the choice between being right and being happy, will definitely choose being right. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Being wrong is to the ego what death is to the body: it is ego-death to be wrong. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
If we concern ourselves with whether an experience is right or wrong, we are channeling the other person’s experience through our considerations of reality – we are not allowing in the other person’s experience of reality. We can say, “I see you believe the Third Reich to have been a good thing,” without accepting the other person’s reality, and adding for our own comfort, “I don’t agree with your view of the matter, nonetheless.” (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
When we judge the other person’s experience as right or wrong, we are not experiencing it ourselves. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
Doing it and Digging It
If you’re doing it, you’re digging it. Or there’s a payoff. (N.d.)
If you stay with the blues, you’re either avoiding a great pain or else getting a payoff. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
When a person makes the same “error” four times, we should look for the payoff. The payoff in a woman marrying her fourth alcoholic may be confirming the way the world is. She loves the familiar over the unfamiliar. No matter how bad it is, there’s no place like home. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
Payoffs are learned solutions and when you learned them they were the best around. But they aren’t anymore. They are like the mouse accepting a small shock for pressing the bar because if he doesn’t he will get a bigger shock from the floor of the cage. But the cage has been electrically disconnected for years and so the mouse’s reaction is obsolete. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
Fundamental formula for life:
Do = Dig + Payoff
Do – Dig = Payoff. (CMI, April 10, 1976.)
Self-blame is just another aspect of image management. It informs the other person that we know the error we made and prevents that other person from feeling able to call us on it. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
Guilt is the price you pay for clinging to an image in spite of the way you’re behaving. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
Guilt is “Class B” membership in the club. The guilty smoker is not a righteous non-smoker, but he is more righteous than the not-guilty smoker.
Guilt is simply a facet of image management. Why not do it and admit that you’re digging it? If you don’t intend to stop, then groove on what you’re doing. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
Just acknowledge that you have done things and then go on. Everything else is image management. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
What is your intention at this moment? Whatever your intention is, you’ll probably realize it. If you try to make someone appear wrong, you’ll probably end up doing it. If you want to prove they’re right, you will.
Whatever you do with a clear intention will work; whatever you do with a dirty intention won’t work. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
A man can say to a woman, “Haven’t I seen you before?” And she can reply, “Is that what you say to all women you want to meet?” or she can say, “I don’t think so. My name is Susan.” It depends on what she wants to have happen. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
We don’t have a choice between problems and no problems; only between high-quality and low-quality problems. Without situationally-stimulated emotions (in light of our removal from the “real” world) we’ve got to have something to do. Until we have some high-quality problems, we’re stuck with the low-quality problems we have. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
If you’re stuck in a problem, it’s because it’s the best one around. If you’re unhappy with your present one, get a new one (or buy one from someone else), one that turns you on more. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
(1) What problem was this one originally a solution to?
(2) What problem did I have to solve to get the one I have now?
(3) What problem will be created by solving the problem I’m dealing with now? (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Keep a supply of high-quality problems around for the day you feel unhappy with the ones you’ve got. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am master of my fate and captain of my soul. (CMI, April 15, 1976.)
Responsibility is acknowledging that my input is crucial and accepting its consequences. (N.d.)
Dealing with another’s part in things is blaming or trying to appear blameless. As such it is reducible to image management. Dealing with one’s own part in things is taking responsibility and seeking improvement and real change. (CMI, April 8, 1976.)
You may not be responsible for an event but you’re responsible for the meaning you give the event. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Want to = choice + good feelings. Have to = choice + bad feelings. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Manipulative behavior is learned behavior which we admit is learned; spontaneous behavior is learned behavior which we don’t admit is learned. (N.d.)
Switching from “we” to “I” involves taking more authority. (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
“We” means “I for sure and I fantasize maybe you as well.” (ARC, January 20, 1979.)
Here are three of his publications that you may enjoy:
John Enright, “Waking Up from the Nightmare” [an appreciation of Fritz Perls], https://www.thetherapywebsite.co.uk/waking-up-from-the-nightmare-john-enright-c47.html.
John Enright, Enlightening Gestalt. (1980: Pro Telos.)
John’s articles in Fagan, J & Shepherd, I.L. Gestalt Therapy Now (1970: Harper Row)