Removing the Harsh

Back in the last century, actually the 1990’s, I was an Adult Advisor for the Young Religious Unitarian Universalists.  I was involved on a local, district, and national level, and literally “wrote the book” on being an advisor (Youth Advisors’ Handbook, 1996—it is still out there kicking around and had more than one printing!)

The thing that was so amazing and intriguing about this organization is that it was youth led with adults acting as ‘advisors’.   From my point of view  the role of the advisor was really to create a safe  place for teens from 14 to 20 to explore and practice life skills.  One of the places they really excelled in that was in how they ‘governed’ themselves.  Certainly different churches and districts may have done things differently.  The groups I worked with came up with a very democratic and inclusive model for how to get things done.  There were two ‘deans’ who where elected, and an elected council to run an event like a weekend conference.  They had a couple really interesting rules, like “Don’t harsh on someone else’s mellow.” (Really! I couldn’t make that up!)  There was also a “Spirit Committee” for some of the larger ‘cons’ (conferences) which was all about checking in with the ’emotional field or mood’ of the group, and then shifting it when necessary to something more positive or inclusive.  Pretty remarkable stuff.  And I must say that working with these brilliant youth and helping them to find their way (not my way!) was a huge impetus to my becoming a Coach!

Over the years they came up with some absolutely amazing perspectives and solutions—many of which were far more ‘mature’ than those of the adults that surrounded them.  I think we all could use some of that energy now.  It feels to me like there is an extra level of angst abroad right now, and ironically something the youth of the early 90’s modeled for me seems like part of the solution.

At one particular conference the elected council was divvying up jobs and had paired two girls to work together coordinating and managing something—I think it was the workshops for the weekend, but I can’t actually remember!  Here’s the really amazing thing.  Once they found out they had been paired together they came back to the council and said something very close to this: Um, we like each other, but we know that we don’t really work well together.  Could you please move one of us to a different job so we don’t have to work together?  We don’t care which one.”

Really, this happened.  I was gobsmacked!  I can’t imagine two grown women actually coming to that agreement, let alone coming back to a governing body and asking for it!  The only reason I think I might be able to do so myself is because I had this great modeling to follow supplied by two teenage girls!  Wow!

They didn’t have all the unspoken rules that said you couldn’t actually ask for what you wanted. They didn’t ‘suck it up‘ to work in a less than positive situation and then bitch about it later.  No, they jointly asked for a different solutions.   How cool is that?

How do we get our entrenched selves back to a place of clarity and discovery?  How do we stand for what will work better for us all?  I think part of the answer is back there in the experimentation of those youth.   Perhaps it’s all about trying something different to remove the harsh from our own mellow?

Let’s find out

Shell Tain, the Untangler

4 thoughts on “Removing the Harsh

  1. Jody

    I love it that you speak to the need for me to give voice to what I need. The permission to recognize and respect my need and express my feelings “without harshing your mellow”. Seems very respectful of each of us

  2. Kate Deaton

    Refreshing what can happen when we believe…that discussion can benefit both, that even when two people aren’t a good fit, there can be agreement on how both can benefit by working together to get needs met.
    Went down to see the missing statues ( and the one still present) in Richmond, VA, the graffiti, the written opinions and requests, the requests to be heard.
    To be heard, to be seen, are/ is healing

Comments are closed.