Some Self-Care Tips for participating in an Open Forum 

By Sofia Ilia, MSc, MAPW 
Processwork Diplomate

Emotions get amplified in groups. What you’d feel in a usual interaction with another person discussing a topic, might feel many times stronger in the context of a group. You might have strong feelings even if you don’t talk at all. The atmosphere (the field) that a group creates is powerful.
Remember that emotions get amplified in groups. For those who choose to speak, it’s common that your heart will beat faster. Being group animals, knowing we have an audience raises our alertness.

Beware of backlash. Sometimes we say something and then start judging it, or struggle because some other member of the forum had a reaction. Sometimes we want to speak but in the end we don’t and then suffer backlash for that decision.

For all, whether you choose to speak or not, remember that emotions get amplified.
Sometimes, emotions that get stirred up during the forum get transferred to other areas of our lives, internal or external. For example, if the forum carries tension, you might feel upset with yourself or find yourself having a fight with a loved one, after the forum is over.

Social marginalization can get amplified too. The parts of our identity that are marginalized, whether it's race, gender, religion, culture, or characteristics of our personality that we feel shy about, can get triggered.  What happens in a group setting might stress our struggle around that marginalization.

What can I do?
Awareness helps. If you find yourself having strong emotions, remind yourself that it’s a natural consequence of being in a strong field. Take a moment, take a breath, take a pause. Remember that all of us in the forum share the same field, feel the same atmosphere, even if we are experiencing it differently.