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These notes were first presented at The Developing Group, 7 December 2002

Endings and Beginnings

Penny Tompkins and James Lawley

Introductory/concluding thoughts

"Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin"
(introduction to every story told on the BBC radio programme 'Listen with Mother')

As this is the last Developing Group of the current series, the last one of the year, the last one at our home, and the last one in the current format, we thought we'd finish with 'endings'. Then it occurred to us that an ending makes no sense without a beginning, hence the topic: modeling 'Endings and Beginnings'.

Having finished the introduction let's start with some quotations:

"Now a whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end."
Aristotle

"I like a film to have a beginning, a middle and an end,
but not necessarily in that order."

Jean-Luc Godard

'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty' he asked.
'Begin at the beginning' the King said, gravely,
'and go on till you come to the end - then stop.'

Lewis Carroll - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

"As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end."
The Book of Common Prayer

"This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.
But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Winston Churchill

"More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars."
F. D. Roosevelt.

"Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end."
William Shakespeare. Sonnet 60


To conclude we have created a few questions for you to ponder:

How do you know when something has begun?

And how do you know when it has ended?

If beginnings and ends are the 'contextual markers' we use to 'punctuate' the ongoing flow of life, what does your perception of starts and finishes highlight, and what does it neglect?

When did you begin?

Where did you come from before your beginning?

When will you end?

Where will you go after your ending?

Can there be change without an end and a new beginning?

How much does how you start something influence the how things turn out?
(N.B. Penny's advice to people about to enter into a relationship is: "Don't do anything in the first month that you are not prepared to do for the rest of the relationship.")

What is a systemic view of (linear) time?


Arising from a question in the group, the group produced the following suggestions for how to end a session (especially when client doesn't seem to ready to).

Markedly shift posture (definitely put your pen down!) and with a note of finality in your voice, say something like:

"And take all the time you need to consider ..... and to be ready to leave in the next few minutes"

"We've come to the end of our time today."

"Between now and next time you can [assignment]."

"When you come back next time, I suggest bring .... with you."

"I think it will be interesting for you to notice how much will change as a result of this session."

"We've got 10 minutes left, what needs to happen in our last 10 minutes?"

"I don't want to overrun again so how much notice do you need to complete on time?"

"I have another appointment at ..." [as long as it is true].


Penny Tompkins & James Lawley
Penny and James are supervising neurolinguistic psychotherapists – registered with the United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy since 1993 – coaches in business, certified NLP trainers, and founders of The Developing Company.

They have provided consultancy to organisations as diverse as GlaxoSmithKline, Yale University Child Study Center, NASA Goddard Space Center and the Findhorn Spiritual Community in Northern Scotland.


Their book,
Metaphors in Mind
was the first comprehensive guide to Symbolic Modelling using the Clean Language of David Grove. An annotated training DVD, A Strange and Strong Sensation demonstrates their work in a live session. They have published over 200 articles and blogs freely available on their website: cleanlanguage.co.uk
 
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