There is only one place in the Universe from which one can look that makes things seems to stand still, and that is in the human mind.
We could say that one of its functions is to create temporary, relatively stable and fixed maps.
But these maps, and the patterns and habits that form around the maps are highly conditional, depending on specific conditions for them to produce useful results.
Our sense of stable personality qualities depends on these maps, and the sensations of “normalcy” that lets us know that “things are alright” are intimately tied to the long practice and habits.
And yet, in order for us to enjoy a better future, we must begin to make habits of new behaviors and patterns that are outside our previously habituated repertoire.
This new system needs to be orientated towards a more dynamic and flexible view/reaction/correction set of patterns to be robust enough to deal with the increased range of activities and learnings that building a better success-oriented system of habits requires.
For example, “learning styles” are sold as the answer for learning and education – teach people in their prefer styles and everything will be fine.
In extreme cases, I have heard presenters claim that the ONLY way to learn is through a person’s preferred learning style. But what is a preferred learning style? Merely a filtering habit, nothing more.
When learning styles are separated from learning outcomes (“what specifically do you want to do differently when you are finished, compared to when you started the activities labeled ‘learning’?”) they become meaningless affectations, as one’s preferences may have NOTHING to do with the desired outputs.
It doesn’t matter how strongly you feel your need for knowing about a topic, before engaging the topic practically – if we’re talking about learning to swim, your desire for theoretical “knowing” is irrelevant to the act of learning to swim… and I’ve seen too many examples of people using their learning style as an excuse for… not learning.
Learning styles are the enemy of learning how to learn, as they preclude developing the necessary flexibility to address approaching the construction of method, on the basis of the what the outcome requires, rather than what one thinks one needs.
One’s “learning style” may be (actually probably is) the cause of many challenges and issues you face. When your round peg isn’t fitting the square hole being presented to you.
It’s not “them” not giving you what you need; it’s your insistence on only round holes.
Case in point, I got back late one night from work and wanted some mental chewing gum to slow the mind down before bed.
I watched a British architect look at different DIY projects for garden constructions, and how people approached them, their budgets, their thinking processes or lack thereof, and the results
In one case, DIY-er decided to build a small 1930s style camp trailer out of a flexible wood veneer – he’d never done anything like this before and had no knowledge of what it might take.
He was confident in his abilities to learn as he went (“there’s yer trouble right there”). Having “decided” to go this way, unless you budget in for learning “on the job”; you invite trouble.
He did not budget for it (“Yeh… I’ll be fine.”); he had a visit from Murphy. He “decided” that he didn’t need to put a frame in first to hold the structure up – DIY-er thought that the bendy wood would be fine on its own. The first rain and wind storm while he was building it ripped his construction to shreds.
You see he started from “How do I want to do this?”, rather than “What do I want at the end AND what will it take to do that?” – his confidence and competence went in two separate directions.
His preferred style was… not suitable and worse, the information that he actually needed is easily available on-line. I did a quick google search during a commercial break and found several sites straight away with extensive advice.
Our need to prepare to be more flexible is not something one can declare as “mission accomplished” having been flexible once, or a few times.
Flexibility (the ability to choose how you will go differently from what you’ve habitually done in the past, backed up with the ability to follow through) with any behavior or mental heuristic requires consistent application.
The desire to hold things still and do what you’ve always done is the opposite of developing flexibility.
We’ve already met defending the suffering in its problems form, and thinking we are thinking, and now we have the “static mind in a static world”. These are what make you drive for premature closure.
These are what crop up to persuade you that words or concepts in your head = skill in practice. These are what you use to explain away why things are hard or even impossible for you.
It’s not the world that’s hard; it’s the clinging to what was that makes it hard.
Acquiring a dynamic view takes time. Learning to coach yourself better and challenge your own witterings, splutterings, angry mutterings in the dark, and all manner of self-rudenesses and less than helpful criticisms are a start.
The fact is most of what we seem to be is made up of old programs, running on auto-pilot because we have allowed them to persist.
We can start to loosen up too tight static frames by allowing for another possibility (as a start). For any weird or obstructive, obnoxious thought or sulky, sullen infantile ‘nobody loves me’, or any “how dare they”… construct the opposite argument; create and argue the opposite view.
You have already been exposed to the question “What must be so (what MUST have occurred) in order for X to be the correct/natural/only thing to have occurred?”
This question places you squarely back into detective mind, looking for clues to the actuality of events – excluding everything but the absolutely essential. This takes you out reactions and funky fantasizing, and into constructing testable hypotheses.
We’re now going to go further.
For any kind of judgment or stinking thinking that stops you from moving forward; I want you to make the case for how the OPPOSITE is equally true.
- 1. Formulate the thought into words and write them down “I am such a total loser. I can’t get it together and I’ve tried everything. When I try, the rewards are pathetic. I hate myself and I hate my life.”
- 2. Assess what must be true is this statement is true, and what needs further specification – a quick run-through would be: Not one single win – ever (specify criteria for “win”) Must have tried every single method of “getting it together” (specify criteria for “getting it together”) criteria for “rewards” and “pathetic” “Hate” is an emotional reaction to a perceived condition etc.
- 3. Enquire about statement #1 using the considerations from #2. As you collect more information, flip the statement from #1 (or part of it) into its opposite so that the “flip” is true e.g. “So there hasn’t been a single win ever?”
- “No, there’s been plenty of wins but I’m pissed off about not making more headway in my career.”
- “Ok. So you’re a partial winner then… but not enough of a winner in your career yet.” Etc.
- Continue through each of your observations from #2 until you have flipped each part of statement #1 into its opposite, truthfully. Ideally, aim for total opposite, but partial opposites are acceptable as well.
- “I am a winner in most areas of my life. I’ve got quite a lot together but I still am not satisfied with progress at work. I’ve tried two different approaches and they didn’t work – the effort I put in didn’t come back as rewards. I actually love my life in a lot of ways but I’m finding it hard to love my work.”
- You might find the stinky thought shrivels up and dies right there, or you may find that you still have an issue to resolve. We’re not done yet.
- 4. Take the statement from #3 and ask the following questions from the point of view of at least three different people. You don’t speak to these people, but using your knowledge of them, imagine what they would say if you asked for their help and they were willing to give it. I recommend (as a place to start):
- * a mentor or someone you trust and who cares for your welfare whom you know
- * a close friend or family member
- * someone you respect but don’t necessarily know
Ask from each perspective:
“What would you say I was missing? What am I not seeing about this situation?”
“What would be the best next step to take?
“What would you say about my feelings about this?”
Take note of anything useful or positive and act on it.
The beginning of flexing out of a static viewpoint (and eventually a static/fixed worldview) is to be able to move and shift yourself out of self-created bonds.
It’s first step and it’s a necessary one… more on this later.