We’re Stronger Together, Except When We’re Not

This blog and my life are about unconcealing what’s already there, getting closer “from” truth so it may be experienced, presenced and lived out of.  When we’re closest from truth there is an experience of love and being loved, a foundation from which all things are created.  I have no proof for this, but it is my assertion and it has been my experience.  I have also experienced that when we come from truth/love/aletheia we develop and design more powerful, stable and sustainable human institutions, relationships, and futures on top of a solid foundation.  Many of our common and current models of interacting with ‘reality’ leave us powerless and unstable, longing for and seeking something or resigned that we’ll never find what’s already surrounding us.  It’s an experience of insatiable hunger.  This makes sense to me now, having unconcealed enough of “what’s so” to be able to recognize these moments of clarity more readily.  From the moment we pop out of the chute, we are afraid, and cold, and crying for survival.  We go on in this confusion until we are able to settle into who we are, who we’ve always been, which had been concealed from our view.

Having said that, truth/love/aletheia is change which brings up that fear.  When standing in truth/love/aletheia change is. Truth/love/aletheia is right now and then it’s right now and then it’s right now.  It occurs as change to us as our memory works to process what has happened to position us to better deal with an uncertain future.  This post is a start at pointing out the paradox or dialetheia that occur alongside change.  It’s also about disrupting the world as we know it today and intentionally designing a future and a world that works, whether that be an individual world, an organizational world, or a whole wide world.  

Change is loaded language.  People know many things about change including that “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”, or that “People don’t resist change, they’re just more attracted to something else.”, or that “You can’t change, Rocky!” (did I mention yet that I’m a fan of the Rocky movies?  You can hold it against me if you like or love me more because of it…either way I love them!), and on and on.  Yet change from truth/love/aletheia has very little to do with knowing anything.  Change is regardless of what you know or don’t know.  There is however the discomfort that arises with the uncertainty and the illusion that we like to create of having some control.   Especially when things are working, can we even keep our selves from wanting to keep them working?  Or when they’re not working, that longing for all of it to be other than it is.

Intentional change requires knowing some things and paradoxically it’s an emergent phenomenon requiring giving up the control illusion.  To be able to see that something has changed you do have to know what is now, and then you have to intend what is to be then. Change is measured from one point in time to another, based in some result or metric.  The requisite of change is measuring or identifying some starting point so you can get to another point with another result and say, “Look, something’s changed.”, or maybe “Things have changed ‘the same’ over a period of time”, or sometimes, “Awww man, this stinks, nothing’s changed”, or whatever your favorite whine is. 

Anyway, getting comfortable with intentional change takes practice and a willingness to play.  It’s honestly pretty straightforward to do once you’ve done it with intentionality and if you haven’t an amazing model of “how intentional change happens” has been designed through years of research by Dr. Richard Boyatzis, one of my professors in my MPOD program.  The model, known as Intentional Change Theory (ICT), was the most pleasant surprise of MPOD for me.  I’ll be honest.  I’d never heard of Boyatzis or his theory or his work with Daniel Goleman and I’d never even heard the term Emotional Intelligence prior to my coursework.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune when I got into my second residency and started to read this stuff.  Talk about resonance.  This reading was an amazing and accurate representation of any change effort I’d ever put myself through.  Quitting smoking. developing the relationship of my dreams, creating a powerful relationship with my father, building a successful IT career, becoming a Master of Active Directory, creating a laundromat empire (laughing)…all of these successful change processes followed the spiral of ICT. 

My favorite paper reads currently are regarding the use of Intentional Change Theory in the development of groups that work.  Which is what has brought me to this post.  Because the theory is so clear, and at the same time so unknown, I want those of you who are out there struggling with change to understand a couple of phenomena that I’ve noticed.  They’re not always described in the papers that I’ve read, yet they’re painfully obvious from experience. 

The first of these phenomena goes back to measurement and touches on some of my other posts regarding knowing one’s Self.  It points to one of our delusions that keeps us from experiencing truth/love/aletheia and it’s something that I first experienced through my work with Werner Erhard.  It’s the notion of where one occurs, first for yourself as a phenomenon and then for and to others or yourself reflected from others (The meaning of the gesture is in the response – my favorite Complex Responsive Process folks say).  Werner distinguishes it as the “listening” that one is, or the space, or the clearing.  Since it’s a phenomenon in and of language, listening is the clearest distinction for me. 

Said more clearly, hopefully, I listen myself a certain way.  To use a specific example, when I smoked, I was a smoker.  There was no doubt about it.  I knew I loved it, I was addicted to it, every day the first thing that I’d reach for when I woke up was a cigarette, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to quit, and everything about myself occurred inside of that “listening” I had for myself.  In Intentional Change Theory, this is explained as my real self.  To change, I first had to invent a vision of me, occurring in the future, as my ideal self.  By practicing and experimenting with different behaviors (I subconsciously had taken stock over my many attempts to quit of my strengths and weaknesses, though they didn’t seem to occur in my experience, they did) and I, through trial and error and very unceremoniously, developed a learning plan which eventually led me to stop smoking for good about 8 years ago.  I sit here today as that Ideal Self, the person who knew at that point that if he could just quit smoking, would be able to do anything.  Here it is, anything.

Seriously.  This is anything, and nothing, and everything.  It wasn’t possible prior to inventing and fulfilling that vision of my ideal self.  It took a lot, there were many times that the hope generated by the vision of this future just wasn’t there.  That is the individual aspect, and I think it’s pretty clear, especially in hindsight the way it worked.  The Theory is a validation of the process I went through.  There is a more insidious aspect to this “listening one’s self” bit though, it’s pretty well concealed and difficult to distinguish until you’re out of it, or until somebody points to it. 

If you can see that we’re unconscious about the way we “listen” ourselves, you’ll recognize that we’re very unconscious about the way we “listen” other people.  It’s pointed to in ICT as the “Ought Self”, as the way it occurs for us, and there are additional studies that show the way our listening imposes an outcome on others.  This ought self has a pull to it which reminds me of the first attack in the movie Jaws.  She was out there swimming, just doing her thing and then it came and pulled her under.  She did her best to rise above it but it wouldn’t let her go and eventually just dragged her under.

Again, I’ll use the smoking example though I have more pernicious and wicked examples that come more readily to mind.  In the smoking example, we all reinforced each other.  See, I grew up with a group of fellows that I’d known since grade school.  Many of us started smoking together in high school and we “knew” each other a certain way.  Knowing people that way and being known that way is a very powerful mechanism – I mean, we REALLY knew each other.  So much so, that we knew each other’s strengths and knew each other’s weaknesses.  This is where much of my base experience of being loved developed…when you are loved fully for exactly who you are and for exactly who you are not and it’s never expected that you should be any other way…that is what it is to be loved.

When you are unaware of the way reality is created however, through Social Constructionism, you may find yourself stuck by the very people who love you.  They certainly don’t do it to be malicious or to hold you down, because of course they want what’s best for you (except when they don’t because they do know you’re trying to change and it scares the bejeezus out of them because they think that change isn’t already happening anyway – ha – another post, on another day).  There came a day though, with those friends that loved me, when I realized that if I was ever going to fully realize myself, or at the very least quit smoking, that I may have to separate myself enough from them to experiment and practice with new behaviors.  To surround myself with supportive people who knew that in my Ideal Self future I didn’t smoke.  My lungs are pink as my ideal self…pink as the day I was born.

I made the determination, after a while of actually pulling it off (not smoking) on my own or in my newer circle of support, that when I did immerse myself back into experiences with my friends that before I had a cigarette I would first leave where I was, being with them.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love them, but I knew that, as Martin Luther King said, “I cannot be who I ought to be until you are who you ought to be.”, and that as much as they were constraining and enabling me I was constraining and enabling them.

What’s the point then?  Be aware of the power your listening has of those around you, be aware of the power that the listening of those around you has on you, and never, ever be afraid to sometimes step out on your own and find some new friends.  Your old friends will someday love you all the more for it.

With Love,

Ed

6 thoughts on “We’re Stronger Together, Except When We’re Not

  1. Pingback: “Face where you are going. That way, life is much less frustrating.” – God « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  2. Pingback: a world that works or a world that will work for everyone? « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>