When to stop safe expts?

NEVER, is the answer, but I would say that, wouldn’t I!

That said, I want to talk more about the Discount Matrix. This is a tool you can use to monitor safe experiments and cast some light when changes you want seem not to emerge?  The Matrix can inform us when safe experiments are difficult and point out a different focus for your attention.

Furthermore, this Matrix may tell me when I need a rest from safe experiments, especially if it seems I am trying too hard!!

The main conclusion to look out for can be: when I have reduced my tendency to discount (that is, put down) aspects of myself or other people, then therapy may not, now, be necessary.

Even so, I can continue to do safe experiments. This activity does not come to an end when therapy finishes.

A review of progress can help us to assess our situation and make informed decisions. After a review, you may feel confident that you can safely experiment without consultation – and you will know where to go if the situation should change. You may be confident about the scenic route you are taking, and where to go next. 

It may help, further, to read this information alongside this page:

Does it help to connect these pages to the Discount Matrix, pictured below?

For the record, the Matrix was used by Jacqui Lee Schiff (1975) in the text:

Transactional Analysis: Treatment of Psychosis. Harper and Row….. and is much under-estimated, in my view.

Please do not let that potentially scary book title, or the odd picture below,  put you off!

I want to use the Matrix for a very specific purpose.

1. Existence                   2. Significance                   3. Possibilities                        4. Personal Abilities


To fit this Matrix into the safe experiment, I will translate each the box, from top to bottom, using the numbers 1-4 above, as:

  1. You and I can do nothing until we recognise there is something to address.
  2. We can do little unless we judge that ‘something’ is significant or important to us.
  3. We can only begin to design experiments once we can see the possibility of change.
  4. We are experimenting effectively once we use our abilities to make changes and just notice the outcomes.

Level 1 is the trickiest; we do not know what we do not know.  Remember the Johari Window. No experiment is possible until we realise it needs to be designed in the first place. By contrast, level 4 is the ‘easiest’ level to work on.  Here, the design of safe experiments is within our grasp. We may be able to implement them and notice the results.

In practice, growing awareness increases in the Johari Window as we move from some awareness – upper left to lower right, the area of not knowing. The same applies with the Discount Matrix. Top left – difficult to be aware; bottom right – more able to be aware.

In other words, I will do nothing until a problem or issue is seen to exist. I will complete safe experiments once an issue is acknowledged. The best safe experiments are designed – and implemented when I have to ability to act on choices I have discerned.

I can make choices only after I have thought about things and made a judgement that something needs to change AND I can see how to go about it.

THE SAFE EXPERIMENT: How does this work in practice so you can make a judgment about the progress you are making? Get a piece of paper:

  1. From the work you have done so far: identify one issue you did not realise existed for you, but you do now. How did you help the issue come into existence – into your awareness?
  2. From your present assessment, can you imagine something that has yet to be done? This will be something on the edge of your awareness or at the outer edges of window of tolerance (WOT) – between the known, inside the window and toward the unknown – along that scenic route. If you find something – how significant is it in your life, now?
  3. What are the alternative ways of thinking about the change you might need to make? Perhaps a friend or partner can help you ‘brain storm’, that is, write down as many possibilities as you can without censoring anything as ‘silly’ or unreasonable. Sort out the reasonable and unreasonable only after the event.
  4. What is stopping you making the necessary change? What is it about your skilful and unskilful actions that appears to get in the way? What abilities can you now apply to make something happen?

Now you can see why I say NEVER!! To some extent the task, as described, can go on forever. There is always something lingering there! That said, when will you make a judgment about when is enough, enough?

There is a poem that may help you further. See: Robin’s thoughts on the questions raised by John Roedel’s Story-poem. 

I am sorry I cannot reproduce it at the present time, but you can trace it on the Internet easily enough. For me, the last line raises an interesting question and this prompted me to offer a rather frivolous way of  reflect on ‘finishing’  your safe experiments.

The Discount Matrix allows us to organise our work in many ways and I cannot list them all here. Test it out further and see what you can find.


Return to:


How to given yourself a nudge

An illustrated route in nudging yourself

The Daily Safe Experiment

More on Transactional Analysis