Common Questions About Group Life

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Why do I feel uncomfortable in groups?

If we did not feel at home and safe in our first group––our family of origin––it is likely we will not feel at home or safe in subsequent groups. Being in a group confronts our attachment to our individuality and the belief that we are separate from others. This results in projection and unhealthy boundaries. Our shadow lurks in the unconscious and remains unseen until we are triggered. This is also true for groups: most energies within a group operate at an unconscious level. These energies emanate from the unconscious of each individual and combine to form a group shadow. Each group member doing his or her own personal inner work is paramount to group work.

The deepest layer of any group’s unconscious shadow rests in the shadow of the members’ first group–their family of origin. Individual members are often unaware that they bring their experiences, unresolved issues, and attitudes about early relationships with parents, siblings, and other relatives into current groups. For example, individuals who had a strong sibling rivalry when growing up might find themselves being fiercely competitive with other members of a current group. Members who have resisted healing their family wounds will resist removing personal blockages that interfere with meeting a group goal. As a group member, you may react negatively to the behavior or appearance of another member because that person reminds you of a family member with whom you experienced conflict. For example, you might project an interpretation onto that group member because he or she reminds you of someone in your family of origin towards whom you still have unfinished business. When we are triggered by or judge another group member, you might say to yourself, “Who does this person remind me of? I’m not seeing this person as someone in his own right but rather as if he is the individual towards whom I still have grievances. In other words, I am projecting my negative feelings onto this person because I have not healed my past relationship.”

The deepest layer of any group’s unconscious shadow rests in the shadow of the members’ first group–their family of origin.

Early school experiences also influence how comfortable we will feel in groups in adulthood. Teachers and classmates play a significant role in determining our feelings as group members because we know we are compared to each other educationally and socially. Our discomfort in groups as a result of early family, school, or other social trauma can result in the separation of a large group into several small groups. As group members, if we or other group members do not engage in inner work and only function on a mental level, this also affects group safety. Such tendencies cause group members to accumulate knowledge and philosophize. When we do this as group members, we tend not to know how to cooperate or effectively communicate in the group. We do not solve group problems or make wise decisions in the group with ease or efficiency.


How do I help my group (my family, my organization) work together?

A first step to working together as a group is to identify the group’s destiny. A group need not be famous or successful in worldly terms to claim its destiny. Destiny is not about competing or comparing ourselves to others. A group's destiny may be to be a family, a committee, a workplace, a class in school or college, a small business, a department in a large corporation, an academic department of a university, a civic office (such as a fire or police station), and so forth. Alternatively, a group's destiny may be an example of courage, patience, unconditional love, inner strength, or wisdom that emerged during a time of failure, misconduct, loss, or illegal behavior.

Listen to Susan Trout's interview on Discovering the Destiny of Your Group or Organization

Groups (as is the case with individuals as well) tend to expect their destiny to be quickly and easily revealed and even fulfilled. They do not take time to educate themselves about how to work together towards fulfilling their destiny. Destiny does not happen instantly. It emerges step by step over time. A wise motto for a group to remember is: It takes time to save time––it takes time for a group to be born well and to stay well. When we take time to be born well and stay well, we save time because less time and effort are needed to solve problems and conflicts. Unresolved problems become embedded and resistant to change. Said in another way, we save time if we listen to the whispers before the problems become screams.

What are the soul lessons of groups?

Advancement in understanding and evolving group consciousness has been seeded by Aquarian energies. Whereas the Piscean era focused on authority invested in a leader, the Aquarian era shifts its focus to the group, embracing the authority or inner knowing of the individual members through group cooperation and discovery. The Aquarian Era asks both leaders and groups to shift their style, purpose, and form of leadership and group life.

Aquarian group life serves as a classroom of the soul for the following purpose––to learn how to be in a group as an expression of higher consciousness rather than as an expression of the individual personality.  The group life curriculum consists of five soul lessons. The first four lessons are shared vision, greater good, right relations, and service.  Once a group has mastered these four lessons, it can attain the ultimate soul lesson––to stand strong in group consciousness. Each soul lesson has challenges and integrates experience with knowledge unique to each stage of soul development.

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Read more about the soul lessons of groups HERE.


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