Monday, April 19, 2010

Thinking Biologically


"Monte: Back in the day you use to write a lot of essays dealing with politics. What gives? How come you aren’t posting on this subject anymore? Certainly there are loads of issues to comment on! Get in the fight, man!"

I have refrained from writing about politics all that much for a number of reasons. 1) That’s not what this blog is focused upon; 2) there are plenty of people writing about that stuff…people far more well-versed on the subject than I; 3) I only have the energy for so much stress in my life and the subject of politics doesn’t exactly cause me to feel as if blue Smurfs were walking down the yellow brick road with rainbows overhead; and 4) I am so blasted angry and grieved over what I perceive as the conscious and willful destruction of all that made this nation EXCEPTIONAL that I doubt I could produce an essay in keeping with St James’ admonition to be peaceable, gentle, easily entreated, etc.

Anyway, my focus here is on the human psyche … but not on what is called “abnormal psyche,” which would include many of our politicians and their proclivity toward enacting criminally insane policies.

Seriously, my passion is helping men and women to become more fully functioning human beings. My belief is that if we can get our heads and hearts healthy, it will transform how we live—which will include, of course, how we live as citizens.

Yes, Back in the Day, I did write a lot about social and political issues. What I gradually discovered, however, was that most people (including myself) are addicted to their beliefs. If you go after their favorite drug/belief, they instinctively begin fighting you, thinking and arguing biologically, rather than logically. Subse- quently, I decided to begin chunking-up—to engage people in conversations regarding their philosophical beliefs: the Bigger Picture, if you will. For example, if someone wants to argue about Universal Health Care, I want to talk about her beliefs regarding Constitutional Rights v privileges, or maybe discuss his ideas regarding private property.

The challenge here, however, is that many of our beliefs were created on a psychological basis. In other words, we arrived at a conclusion based upon certain experiences that brought about pain or pleasure. We then begin throwing together a patchwork (we call it a “system”) of “beliefs” that justify our feelings and accompanying behaviors.

Knowing this is quite often the case, I want to guide the conversation towards the person’s experiences and feelings, so that, at the very least, he has the possibility of increased self-awareness: “I behave/choose as I do, not because of a firm conviction regarding a specific belief or ideal, but simply because I feel like it.” This—to my way of thinking, anyway—is far healthier than blathering on and on about a “belief” that is actually only a defense mechanism for justifying a behavior. Be honest with yourself and others: rather than citing all your “reasons” for doing what you are doing, simply say, “I am doing such-and-such because I feel like it.”

By the way, this is why many discussions become heated and acrimonious. Or why so many people won’t even discuss the issue at hand but prefer blowing you off, or calling you names, or making fun of you. (You, of course, never engage in such behavior!) It’s not about a specific social policy or business practice or whatever, it’s about my feeeeeelings and experiences, which I am highly motivated to defend and protect--like an addict with his drug of choice. There are no logical defenses, no reasonable arguments here, only emotional upsets and breakdowns. So, why even go there? What’s the point? That is, unless you see the possibility of breaking through the breakdown and bringing some light.

Hope this answers your question. Expect to see this posted in the near future!

Stay Thirsty My Friend
Monte


Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

Yes, There WERE Other Choices!


Your child decides to stick a safety pin in an electrical socket: WHAT WERE YOU THINKING???

Your best friend decides to borrow your car without asking your permission … and wraps it around a telephone pole. Or your Significant Other does pretty much the same thing, only it’s not your car it’s your soul: HOW COULD YOU DO SUCH A THING?

All of us have had occasion to shake our heads and hearts in bewilderment over the decisions of others, as well as our own. We get ticked off, we’re crushed, were confused, we feel utterly defeated.

While rereading my recent post regarding Facts, Maps and the Hubris of Allness, I started thinking about the decision making process and how the maps we use to guide us through life pretty much dictate the decisions we make. Whatever choice he, she or they made, in the mind of the decision maker it was the best decision. After all, their map clearly showed this was the only road to take.

I believe that people make the best choices they can in life. I am not suggesting that these choices are not sometimes weird, foolish, hurtful or even evil, only that, given the map the individual is operating by, this was the best they could do.

As a consultant/executive coach, I am often hired to come in and help an individual or team who has made some, well, let’s call them less-than-useful-decisions. What if I focus on a specific decision, with no attention given to the maps that led to the decision? I would be wasting my time, wouldn’t I?

The next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone who, by the light of your map, has made a less than useful decision, rather than going after the decision, engage the individual in a discussion regarding his map of reality.

What are his most cherished beliefs? Not the ones he tells people so as to be accepted and approved, but, rather, the ones upon which his life is demonstrably based. My experience is that for a large percentage of people their beliefs are held on a subconscious level. In other words, they have never taken the time to consciously consider the beliefs that guided their map making and, therefore, their decisions.

What if he believes that, in general, people cannot be trusted. Obviously his map is going to have plenty of roads to help him steer clear of potential betrayal or backstabbing, eh? But what if, as often is the case, this also steers him clear of meaningful relationships and high profit margins? Then the discussion you want to have with him is about how to be protected while creating the possibility for healthy relationships and even greater financial success.

Or what about helping him change his beliefs, or at least lesson the importance and, thus, the intensity of the belief? How do you do this? Go back to my post Patterns for Persuasion with his complex equivalent, “People cannot be trusted so I must protect myself” and begin working through the possibilities for adjustment!

Then …

What are her highest values? If her highest value is security, and yours is freedom—and you are either her teammate or significant other—can you see the potential for conflicting outcomes? Again, many people are unaware of their values. What you want to do in such cases as this is ask her about the purpose that drove her decision. In other words, what exactly was the experience she wanted to achieve? If it was security, you will hear her talking about psychological states such as “safety” or “comfort.”

All human action is driven by a purpose. Find what this is -- for both of you -- and see how you can both fulfill your purposes.

Obviously there is nothing morally questionable about seeking after security. My job as a coach is not to denounce the value she seeks but, rather, to broaden her horizons as to the other avenues for attaining this value. For example, if in her pursuit of “security” she chose to withhold information that she believed would have created conflict, potentially destroying her security, I want to help her see that there were and are other roads, roads that will help her get what she wants while not sabotaging what others are seeking to experience.

Of course, it is much easier to trash someone else’s map and walk away. Conversations such as those I am suggesting can be arduous and time consuming. But think about it: do you want to get where you are going and be alone when you arrive? If you can achieve your outcomes while helping others to do the same thing in the process, isn’t that far more useful and respectful?

The next time you find yourself becoming hurt or angry over the decisions of others, rather than throwing your hands up and walking away, consider engaging them in a conversation about the map that led them to their decision. You might also include discussing the map that was about to lead you to smack ‘em one.


Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010