2. How to do Self-Counseling

I would like to introduce you to how to do Self-Counseling in this chapter. Yasumaro Watanabe, in his book "Self-Counseling" (Yasumaro, Watanabe, 1990: Self-Counseling, Kyoto, Minerva Bookshop), explains that there are seven steps:

  1. Circumstance of the Scene
  2. Description of the Scene
  3. Discovery from the Description
  4. Reading Minds of You and Others
  5. Discovery from Reading Minds of You and Others
  6. Analysis of the Scene
  7. The Process of How You Have Discovered from the Scene.
You may think that it is too much. Well, if you try to do the whole process, it will take a long time. So, I first recommend that you start with only first three steps. I started my own Self-Counseling with only the first three steps, and even it worked out well. As you write some descriptions, you will be aware of what you would like to know more, then you can go on to the fourth or more steps with some of the descriptions. The last four steps are for exploring in more detail what your and others' expectations. The first three steps, however, are more important than the last four steps. The second step, Description of the scene is the most important, because it will be the foundation of all of the steps. Since we all are beginners now, I will show only the first three steps in this booklet (If you would like to know about the last four steps, please contact me.). If you would like to see the example, please read mine in the next chapter.

2.1. Circumstance of the Scene

Watanabe says, "Self-Counseling starts with choosing which scene you are going to think about. (...) You can choose whatever you want, but the stronger impression you have with that scene, the more you will discover by writing afterward." (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.50) After you choose which scene you are going to write about, start by explaining the circumstance of the scene. In this step, write about the four following points.

  1. the reason you chose this scene, and the image you have for the scene
  2. exposition of the scene (date, time, place and characters)
  3. exposition of the circumstance (particulars and atmosphere)
  4. a sketched map of the scene
These expositions must be done before going to the next step, Description of the Scene. You can remember the scene well by writing these points, and you can compare this one to another one after you finish the third step, Discovery from the Description. This will help you see how your mind changed. The more clearly you write, the better. For example, Watanabe says about place, "Our mind changes depending on where we are. For example, there is a difference in your mind between when you are at office and when you are at home" (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.53). And about the effect of drawing a map, Watanabe says, "You need to sketch a map just like arranging people on stage setting as you look down from a height. By doing so, you may see something which was out of your eyes before. To grasp a location of yours and others leads you to see yourself objectively." (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.56) In short, you can get an opportunity to discover something you didn't hear or see before through this writing activity even at the first step.

2.2. Description of the Scene

After you finish the first step, the second one is Description of the Scene. It can be said that this step is the main point of Self-Counseling, because how concretely and objectively you write will effect how much you can discover from this description at further steps later.

As I mentioned in the earlier chapter, I found Dividing Line very unique. All descriptions are written with this line. At the scene you chose, you are going to write what others said and did (what you heard and saw) in the left column, and write what you thought, said and did in the right column. Watanabe lists the following three points as fundamental principles of a description (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.62).

These are the principles which will help you to grasp yourself objectively. For example, about the significance of writing alternately, Watanabe says, "An aim of writing alternately is recognizing an occurrence not as a result of a one-sided relation of cause and effect, but as a process of interaction. (...) By following these rules and writing specifically, chronologically and alternately, you will see a collision of feelings is caused by the interaction between you and others." (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.64) According to Watanabe, there are also several rules for a description such as the following ones.

For example, here is an example of an insufficient description:

What others said or didWhat I thought, said or did (What I saw or heard)
(01) An old man came walking to a back seat and stood next to me.
(01) I thought, [Do I need to say something to him?]
(02) I thought, [But I feel too shy to say something.]
(02) The bus started.
(03) The old man fell forward.
(03) I felt uneasy.
(04) I thought, [I need to give him a seat.],
(05) then stood up with saying, "Please have a seat."
(04) The old man refused , "No, thanks." without smiling.
(05) The old man was pretending as if nothing had happened.(06) I was offended with his refusing my kindness, but I sat down because of my shyness.

This is a practice sheet my Self-Counseling teacher gave me to check whether I fully understand how to write a description. She said that some beginners write like this. The most obvious mistake is others' (04). "without smiling" was caused by thinking "He is blunt." If he acted nice to this person, he might not look like this. "refused" was also caused by thinking "I am being nice to him" or "He will be happy to be given a seat." Having expected to be appreciated, this person felt trampled on his or her feelings, but the old man may not have meant to refuse. Although s/he also felt like (05)"The old man was pretending as if nothing had happened", the old man may have cared nothing about this happening. In fact, what actually s/he saw was "The old man was standing there." The following example was the one I revised. As this is just the example I made, it is not the only correct answer. As long you keep the rules I showed you before, there can be various examples and even a much better one.

What others said or didWhat I thought, said or did (What I saw or heard)
(01) An old man came walking to a back seat.
(01) I was sitting on a back seat.
(02) The old man stood next to me.
(02) I thought, [Do I need to say something go him?
(03) I feel too shy to say something.]
(03) The bus started.
(04) The old man fell forward.
(04) I thought, [It's dangerous.
(05) He might fall down next time.
(06) I need to give him a seat.]
(07) I said, "Please have a seat."
(08) I was going to stand up.
(05) The old man said, "No, thanks."
(09) I thought, [What a blunt old man!
(10) He could just smile at me since I was being nice to him.]
(06) The old man was standing next to me.
(11) I thought, [He is mean enough to trample on my feelings.
(12) Everyone looks looking at me.
(13) Instead of the old man, I feel humiliated.
(14) I need to set down.
(15) Still, he is such a jerk.]
(16) I sat down.

The very important thing in writing a description is writing what you thought as concretely and honestly as possible. An aim of Self-Counseling is not to show the description to somebody else, but to discover something you didn't notice before. That is to say write not for somebody, but for yourself. As an excessive example, if you were very furious and thought, "I want to kill that person!", don't hesitate to write that down. If you don't write but hide instead, you will lose a chance to think about the process of how you come to think like that.

2.3. Discovery from the Description

After finishing a description, you need to read it over and over. According to Watanabe, there are three types of reading over: reading only your part, reading only others' part and reading both parts. Watanabe recommends reading at least three times. The more you read, the more you will discover. About these three types of reading, Watanabe says, "You can retrace your thought by reading over only your part. (...) You can guess others' thoughts from their side by reading over only others' part. (...) You can see the interaction between you and others by reading over both parts." (Watanabe: Self-Counseling, p.105) Writing what you noticed and discovered through these three readings is this third step. You also need to write as concretely as possible. For example, you need to write from which part you discovered something.

The very important thing here is never judge whether what you have done was right or not. For example, don't think like "I am not sociable and no good" or "I am cold-hearted at all." That means you are not getting out of your former image. Accepting your feelings in a description is more important. Thinking about the cause of why that conflict happened will lead you to a better communication. Create the new way of communication. As long as you are denying yourself, you can't be creative. In a word, you are not ready to find a better solution. As the main aim of Self-Counseling, Watanabe insists on "What is myself?" (Yasumaro Watanabe, 1993: Zibuntte-nandarou, Tokyo, Japan Editor's School Press), as shown in the following passage:

As we come to learn to write a description along the principles of Self-Counseling, we will be able to express ourselves as we really are. As we come to learn to express ourselves as we really are, we will be able to understand ourselves as we really are. As we come to learn to understand ourselves as we really are, we will be able to accept our existence as we really are. (...) We are accepting all of our sides instead of affirming some of our sides or denying some other of our sides with our own particular standard of value. Accepting yourself doesn't mean affirming your existence with your own particular standard of value. (...) Evaluating yourself and accepting yourself belong to a fundamentally different category. As we come to learn to accept ourselves as we really are, we will be able to accept others as they really are. As others come to recognize that you accept them, others also will be able to accept themselves as they really are. Then, there will be a real interaction between you and others. That is to say, you will be able to accept others as they really are, as you come to be free from your wants from your own standard, which controls you unconsciously and as you come to be able to express yourself as you really are. After that, you can have a real wisdom to make the most of both you and others.(Watanabe: Zibuntte-nandarou, p.30-32)


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