The Relationship Ferris Wheel Part 3

This is the first part of a five-part series designed to help you build the intimate relationship you’ve always wanted. Though the process is primarily used in-person by a graphic facilitator, you can use the series and the accompanying handout to do it yourself, following along with the posts. It was developed by Martin Haussmann, one of the founding members of the Kommunikationslotsen consultancy, a German firm that created the bikablo technique.

  1. Introduction
  2. Part 1 of this series
  3. Part 2 of this series

That is one fine image you have there in the center of your diagram. Whether it’s a Norman-Rockwell-magical-realism fine art piece or stick figures with boxy labels, it’s great as long as you understand what it means. That image represents an ideal, it represents an emotional state you’re working towards: intimacy. Shared vulnerability.

Those people in that image – one of whom is you, remember? If you forgot that part, you should take the time to add yourself in there – those people have reached a point that, right now, might seem unrealistic. Impossible. Ridiculous even to consider, if this online personal development guy hadn’t kept telling you to shoot for the moon.

But they made it. They are sitting there, right there on the page, in that idyllic state of intimacy and stability and yay!

Now. How did they get there?

I know, your first response might be “how the hell would I know?” But here’s the thing: you do.

If you think about it, you know exactly how they got there. You are the one who defined the bedrock, after all – all those fundamental principles. You are the one who had the imagination to put all of those things together into one beautiful scene in the center of the page. You know what it took to get there. Even if it’s only on a visceral level that you can’t quite put into words yet.

That’s ok. You can put them into words with a simple formula:

The How/What Loop

One of the fun management mantras is “the Five Why’s”. The idea is that for any task or requirement, you ask “why do we need this?” There’s some idea that if you run out of reasons, then maybe it wasn’t as important as you thought, or if it was, you at least have a thorough understanding of it.

I don’t know. Never really cared much for it myself. But the How-What loop, on the other hand, that’s useful!

It goes something like this: you start by asking: how did they get to that wonderful space of intimacy? And the answer at first will be in broad strokes, usually keyed in by the foundation words. Trust. They learned to trust each other.

Great. So then the second part of the loop kicks in: What did they do to learn that?

Again, usually the answer is a pretty broad stroke, or some part of things. They learned to communicate their feelings. Or they learned to be more responsible for their actions. Or they worked on overcoming the fear of being hurt by each other. It’s a lot of things, and you can draw each of them along the spokes of the Ferris Wheel (and feel free to add spokes as you go along until this looks like a Renaissance manuscript as pictured above).

You can see what’s coming next, right? Let’s take that third one: How did they overcome that fear? Now the answers might be more specific: they went to couples therapy. They did personal journaling. They embraced radical honesty. (Incidentally, I really don’t recommend that last one).

But let’s assume you go with the middle one: they did personal journaling. What did they do in order to do that journaling. They bought a journal. They got up early.

How did they get up early? They set their alarm.

At this point, you’ve reached a space where you can do exactly what they did. And with enough repetitions of the How-What loop, you can get there no matter what. When you get to a step that feels like it’s something familiar, something you could follow along with right now, then you can stop the loop and just write the steps along the spokes.

Relax; I’m not going to ask you to do any of the stuff. Yet. Just look at the image, and be prepared to write down the answers to these questions, as many times as it takes:

How did they get there?

What did they do?

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