You can use the process instructions exercise to guide someone or yourself through a valuable experience without having any idea of what the content of the experience will be.
The steps are as follows:
Access some past experience that has some emotion attached to – what do you see feel, hear.
Dissociate – different point of view – see self as if in a movie to gain a broader perspective.
Learn something from the experience.
Apply the learning to a future context.
Come back to the present.
This was my experience when doing the process instructions exercise.
I found a quiet place to relax and let my mind drift to a past experience which still bothered me without having any preconceived idea of what it might be. The memory was of an evening when my son and his friend were out sailing on the river and dumped the sailboat. They righted the boat, gathered the gear, returned to the dock safely, and dealt with the situation successfully. After he told me about his adventure, I reacted by yelling and grounding him. However, in looking back, I realized the boys handled the situation well, they were not hurt, the boat was not damaged and this is the way my Mother would have responded.
My take away was that a) I didn’t want to respond as my Mother would, and b) a better way of responding would have been to discuss what happened and what worked, what could have been done differently, and what lessons were learned; so, a similar situation was less likely to happen in the future.
This was an AHA moment for me. I made the decision to parent my children differently than my brother and I were parented.
If I were working with a client, my goal would be to guide him or her through the process.