Part I: Chasing Tales 1.2
*If you haven't yet, make sure to check out Chasing Tales 1.0 and 1.2 before reading this.
Strand 3: Orbits
Now let’s play with the planet analogy a moment. You are now a celestial body. Planet You! You spin around in circles, when suddenly another planet zooms by, pulling you into a new orbit. If that experience had turned out different, where would you be now? How much weight in your story does that moment hold?
Stop and Think
Now take some time to imagine how everyone around you would have been affected. I want to take some time to look at your personal impact. Perhaps you don’t very much like what you find, but that’s alright. I am your guide, and my job is not to judge. This is a very difficult question to answer accurately, so try to do your best. Some will overestimate, others under, but it is important to get a sense of your sphere of influence. Steven Covey goes into more detail about this concept in his famous book “7 habits of highly effective people”, but for now just think about the people who contributed to your personal revolution, how the nature of those orbits changed, and who and how the new orbits revolve around you. Understanding your sphere of influence will be key to moving forward.
Stop and Think
In this way I want you to think of yourself as both a scientist and an architect. A scientist because we want to always be testing theories, and an architect because we have to plan what we want to build, so that we can identify the materials and resources we need. Your sphere of influence may be large, it may be small, it might be accurate, and it might be a lie. The point is that we will largely be operating within this sphere to recognize, and possibly change, certain patterns. Through this process we will come to a better understanding of our personal spheres of influence as we deliberately interact with it.
The deliberateness is at the core of our exploration. Many of these patterns are passive in nature. They seem to happen to us, rather than us happening to them. To some extent this is true, as much of our lives are actually outside of our direct control.
You cannot control the weather on the day of your wedding, you cannot control a driver who cuts you off on the highway. But look at those two examples more closely. You may not be able to decide the weather on your wedding day, but you can choose the time and place which it will occur, which has an indirect effect on the possible weather. For the driver who cuts you off, you can decide to enhance your awareness during certain periods of driving to account for someone cutting you off. More importantly, in both these instances you can also choose how you respond to what is outside of your control. Although you may not be able to directly influence an event, you can always influence what surrounds an event. Dance in the rain at your wedding, tell yourself the person who cut you off is in a rush to get to the hospital to see her sick husband. How you respond is always a choice.
Bias Check #1: Through this process I will try to be aware of my biases. That being said, I am also going to be constantly trying to check your own biases. Think of this as a game of hide and go seek. If we follow the game analogy, this is a side quest which you are more than welcome to skip, but I think will be enjoyable. Above when I described the person who cut you off, what gender did you imagine? Maybe it was a woman, but I doubt it!
Bias Check #2: Ok maybe you can’t always choose how you respond. Some responses are knee jerk, others are heavily influenced by other factors like having a mental illness. We can talk about the neuroscience and psychological implications of this all day, but I think it better to save that for another blog. Instead if you cannot control your response in certain situations do to things like depression, trauma, anxiety, etc….just do me a favor and leave the option on the table. It is tempting to tell ourselves, “I cannot control my response in situation X.” All I want you to do is add the word “yet” to the end of that sentence. “I cannot control my response in situation X, yet.” This may seem impossible, but why take the option off the table? What do you lose by leaving yourself the option. This is important, even if you have failed a bajillion times. I hope you will come to see failure as part of the process of learning. This is a game, and we need to fall down as many times as it takes to improve. All I ask is that each time you fall, you look at the moment that led to the fall, and try something different next time.
Strand 4: 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101000 01101001 01101110 01101011 01101001 01101110 01100111
As we move forward I also want you to be aware of Binary Thinking. This is the sort of black and white, yes or no, thought processes that seems to be trending lately. Moving forward it is important to keep track of your own binary thinking, especially as it concerns your ABCs of self-awareness. This is not to say stop all binary thinking. Binary thinking is not inherently bad, and can be quite useful in a lot of situations. Our modern day computers operate using binary logic models based on 0’s and 1’s, and when we have to make split-second decisions there is no time to look at the gray spaces in between. My only hope is that you can first notice when you are thinking in a binary way. This is going to take some work, and much like the Bias Checks, is a bit like playing hide and go seek. When you catch yourself in binary thinking cycles think: “Ahhh, I see what you did there!” No need to judge, no need to change - just notice.
Strand 5: The Mirror
At this point you are probably tired of me using the metaphor of the mirror. I promise to try and use it sparingly from now on (jk, get used to it). This last strand is an important one, though, for the purpose of further discovery. I ask that you really do imagine yourself looking in a mirror, but at points I will ask that you look at yourself as someone else. That point can be a little confusing, so let me try to explain it more clearly.
If you’ve ever watched the Marx Brothers, there’s this famous scene where Harpo is dressed like Groucho, and runs into a mirror breaking it. The real Groucho comes running down the stairs to investigate. Harpo, In order to hide the damage, mimics Groucho convincingly as if the mirror never broke. This in essence, is what I want you to do. On occasion, try to imagine that there actually is another person on the other side of the mirror trying to fool you into thinking it’s you. This is one of the many games I want you to play. At times I will ask you to do this explicitly, but try it yourself when you’re bored or notice something odd. Test the assumptions you have created about that image. Try to catch the image making a mistake. This is yet another game of hide and go seek we will play moving forward.
This is a lot to digest at the start, and I don’t expect you to understand or utilize everything here. There are two points I want you to take away from this moving forward.
First is that everyone moves in circled patterns of behavior driven by the interaction amongst Affect, Behavior, and Cognition (ABC).
Second, I want you to start playing a bit of hide and go seek with yourself in front of the mirror. Not a real mirror, but the mirror you use to understand yourself, your identity. Look at your ABC, and start to question them. Not accusingly - this is not an interrogation. It is a curious exploration of yourself, because you’re pretty cool.