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"In Therapy "

How "Social Priorities" Affect Healing

In this, the fianl article of a series on the theory underlying the Social Priority Tests,we look at how understanding the human experiences of personal "neediness" and distraction could change how we experience therapy, and healing in general. We also explore how peoples' social priority charts can be used to identify their injuries, as well as to help them heal these injuries.

The Social Priorities in Classrooms

Healthy Social Priorities versus BLocked Social Priorities


Healthy Social Priorities / Blocked Social Priorities

What you see above are two Social Priority Charts, both of them mine.The one on the left represents me when I'm in normal, healthy situations. The one on the right represents me when I'm reliving an injury and in shock; in other words, when I'm experiencing a BLock.

What's the difference?

Normally, I'm a 3-4-2-1. This means giving understanding is my normal top social priority.

Is this true? Absolutely. For instance, look at what I'm doing right now; I'm trying to give you understanding.

What's my next normal social priority?

Freedom. Thus, normally, I try to give understanding in ways in which people never feel forced to accept my ideas, in ways in which they feel free to respectfully agree or disagree.

Here again, this is the way I normally live, both in my professional and in my personal life. It's also very much how I feel right now.

Next, as neatness is my third social priority, I sometimes offer theory to back up what I'm offering. Even so, more then offering theory, I feel a strong desire to help people to freely understand what is going on. If they want to understand.

So how is what I'm referring to; theory; about about giving "neatness" anyway?

"Theory" is neatness as applied to ideas. Thus, I often offer theory to support the insights I share. In neat little packages, like my visual diagrams.

Finally, as comfort is my last priority, I have often found myself willing to go to great lengths in order to help people heal, even to the point wherein I sometimes feel quite uncomfortable, such as in times wherein I work long hours because someone "really needs to see me."

Here, then, is the order of my normal social priorities; 3,4,2,1. And being as I'm feeling normal right now and as my urges match my priorities, the know that order of these priorities accurately reflects the normal "me." Naturally. And without me trying to be or do anything else.

What happens when I'm not in a normal situation then? What happens when I'm reliving a BLock?

When I'm reliving a BLock, I experience my social priorities in reverse. How? Well, it's not because they actually do reverse. Rather, my strongest priorities are the ones which get most BLocked. Therefore, I sense these priorities the least.

In a way, what happens is, even though I still filter my life through the four priorities in the same order from top to bottom, because my highest social priority gets BLocked the most, even though I consider it, I quickly pass right by it. In fact, I pretty much descend right through all my social priorities and start responding to life wit the priority at the bottom of my list; comfort. Then, as I start to come out of shock, I begin to work my way up and move to the next lowest social priority; neatness.

So what does this look like for me in real life?

Well, when I relive an injury, the first thing I lose is my desire to understand. More over, it's not that I have no urges to understand. I do. But I have them at best for only an instant. Then, these urges pass as fast as they come.

In a way, it's like my head and heart get stuck in mid air, and it gets so hard to understand what's going on, I simply give up.

Give up?

Yes. As in sometimes I feel like understanding does not matter.

At other times, I retain a bit of this priority and find myself explaining myself. Against my will. Babbling explanations. To someone whom I don't even want to be talking to.

Ever done this?

Me, I've done it a lot of times. Way too many times as far as I'm concerned.

So why do I do it then?

Because when I relive injury, my first priority, giving understanding, is the one which gets most stuck. This is something like me becoming like a stuck record. Explaining myself. Over and over.

What else happens when I relive a BLock?

I lose my sense of my rights. And I lose my sense of the other person's rights as well.

When this happens, I find myself unable to leave, and unable to stop trying to explain. Thus, I often try too hard to get across to the other what I'm trying to say. Why? I'm trying to make them feel better.

In a way, my sense of freedom, and what it means to me, gets so thoroughly BLocked, I feel trapped. Or actually, stuck is more like it.

In extreme cases, I go even further than this. I actually freeze up, both physically and mentally.

And next?

Right after freezing up and after getting stuck in explaining myself, I feel a bit of my normal third social priority, neatness? How? Well, right in the midst of a fight, or in some case right after a fight, I have been known to start cleaning up and tidying things, often in the strangest of ways and in the oddest of sequences.

Weird? Yes. But given my social priorities, this is perfectly understandable.

So when do I usually feel urges to do this?

Usually it's the third feeling going into shock, or the second feeling if I'm coming out of shock.

This leads me to what is normally my lowest social priority; comfort. However, when I'm reliving a BLock, I often try to see right at the onset if the other person is feeling any physical discomfort. For instance, at times, I worry as to whether my troubles are affecting those I love.

Often too, I myself feel physically uncomfortable. In fact, I sometimes feel so uncomfortable I wish I could simply disappear.

Mostly though, I just try to comfort the other person, at times with a great deal of force and even with people who have just psychologically attacked me.

Strange. They attack me. I comfort them. Yet, given my normal social priorities, this is perfectly understandable, at least now that I know what my social priorities are.

So here are my "in-shock" social priorities.

First, I try to give comfort to others. Next, I look for something physical to tidy. Third, I make sure the other person feels free to go. And fourth, I feel strong urges to help them to sort out what just happened.

Here then are my BLocked Priorities. Can you see how they are like my normal priorities in reverse?

So am I saying this is how it works for all people when they experience a BLock, that everyone's social priorities get inverted?

Yes, I am saying this. In fact, one of the more interesting things I've discovered about social priorities is how predictably people react when they go into shock. Given you know their social priorities, of course.

So now what can we do with this knowledge, therapy-wise?

Let's look.

The Case of "the BLocked Career"

Many people come to realize, they don't really like their job. What then?

Well, in the case of my friend Linda (whom I mentioned in the opening article of this series), she would frequently complain she didn't want to clean houses but failed to ever do much about it let alone identify something she wanted to do more.

What does Linda's Social Priority Chart look like?

"give neatness"

As you see, having a house cleaning business fits her social priorities perfectly; she needs to "give neatness."

And yet, Linda wanted more.

So what kept her from seeing her other choices? Let's look at her BLocked Social Priorities.

"get freedom"

So what can we infer from Linda's chart?

Right away, we can see that despite the fact the Linda's top social priority is to "give neatness," her BLocked top priority was to have her freedom, with "understanding" a close second.

End result?

Linda hadn't been able to face the risk she'd lose her freedom if she gave up her house cleaning business. Thus, she had kept doing it even though she was tired of it.

What else?

At one point, Linda decided to go back to school. And she did. In fact, what she did was, she worked as fast as she could at her job so she could get the time off for school.

And the school?

She almost finished it but never really used it, as she only half heartedly went. Why? Because despite what she might have done with it, she could never get past her fear that she'd lose her freedom if she quit her job.

Thus, even though Linda sincerely wanted to better herself, her fear that she'd lose her freedom kept her captive in a job she'd long grown tired of.

What careers might appeal to her more?

Well, in our recent conversation, the one I mentioned in the opening article of this series, I suggested Linda think about becoming an assistant research scientist; a person who "neatly gives organized research to better lives."

Her response?

As soon as she heard this, she immediately said, "I'd love doing that."

Will she do it?

Only time will tell. For now, all I can say is, I am still amazed at how useful, and accurate, these simple social priority charts can be.

The Case of "the Confused Parent"

In this case, we look at how a mother and daughter fought over the daughter "doing the things she needed to do" in college.

the mother normal / "give neatness"

the daughter normal / "get freedom"

mother BLocked / "get comfort"

daughter BLocked / "give understanding"


The Case of "the Therapist Who Tried Too Hard"




The Case of "the Resentful Woman"




Summary of the Therapeutic Ways to Use a Social Priority Chart

First, remember that the nature of human beings is that a person's social priorities reverse when they relive injury. Now remember that you can use this information to identify injury in people and explore their lives.

In other words, once you know a person's normal social priorities, you can then use this information to look for life situations wherein the person experiences these priorities in reverse. Those you find most severely reversed then become the places wherein the person is most BLocked.

What then?

You can explore, either verbally, or in writing, or both, the person's experiences in these life situations. Of course, you need to pay close attention to the times when the person's screen of the mind goes blank. More so though, pay close attention to how the person behaves in these situations; how "artificially" they react compared to what they would normally do.

Next, try to get the person to picture these inauthentic responses or at least, to see that they can't picture them.

Next, try to get the person to picture alternative responses which more closely follow the person's normal social priorities.

Finally, remember to reinforce in the person that their "wounded" priorities were not "bad" priorities, only inauthentic priorities, at least for this person.