Reflections from Europe, 2015 by Gary Friedman

I’m just back from a month of teaching Inside Out programs in Europe, including France, Germany, Austria and Italy.  My strongest impression is that we have reached a critical mass to legitimize self awareness as not only helpful but indispensable to being effective and having a satisfying professional life.   The old walls separating the personal from the professional don’t seem to work anymore if they ever did.  It is also true that the mainstream of the lawyer culture is not yet there.  What this means is that the need for personal support to sustain SCPI work is critical to its success.

I am also struck by the relationship between intimacy with oneself and intimacy with others.  The more we become familiar with our own inner workings, the more capacity we have to connect with others.  More and more I have the feeling that we are building something together across the world that is gathering steam yet often stirs controversy as well.

A doctor in one country says I don’t want to feel too close to my patients because the pain is overwhelming.  Yet as he speaks, I cannot help but feel how painful it is for him to be repressing that pain.  A lawyer in another country speaks of the loneliness she experiences when she pushes people away with her aggressiveness.  A psychologist in still another country finds relief to know that she can let down the professional mask and show her humanity and consequently feel like she is more comfortable with herself now that she has decided not to hide.

Of course, it’s not easy.  Of course, there are minefields.  Above all, it’s gratifying for all of us to see that beneath our professional masks, we are all trying to help others find their way through conflict, and that when we can show that to each other, we all feel emboldened.  And for me, more and more what I experience is that it is the collective search to find ourselves that transcends the personal importance of any one of us, especially me.