The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Am I doing it right?

Describing what she was doing, Emilia would regularly end her sentences by mentioning that she didn’t know if it was right.

At the same time, when something had not worked out as expected, she explained that she had forgotten to pay attention to something she normally was paying attention to.

She was keeping herself in a state of doubt. In different situations she had determined one detail to pay attention to, scolding herself whenever she hadn’t paid attention to it. She was doing so, despite the fact, that she had been experimenting with something else.

Her experiments led to rich experience and a good ability to do her work. Nevertheless, she felt that she had no answer to knowing how to do it right.

She was measuring herself using the result and what she had somehow hoped for.

What she wasn’t paying a lot of attention to was her progress over time and the execution of her intention.

What I mean by intention here, is an idea of what the intervention or the action one undertakes will lead to.

When someone develops a skill, the intention is somewhat unclear and will often sit close to the idea of receiving the perfect answer, having a good feeling, or succeeding with whatever one tried to do. Intention in such a situation is not specific and remains quite general. And that is quite normal as there isn’t much information available about the setting in which one is and what is needed to bring one’s action to a good result.

That was the place Emilia was in.

When we invested more time in understanding what she was trying to do, she started to notice details in her practice that contributed to a better execution of her intention. Using this information to reflect on her intervention, Emilia started to describe what had happened, how that felt, and what she had been experiencing. These descriptions were fact-based as she was naming what she had been able to make herself aware of. It changed her from the evaluation of how she hadn’t succeeded, or the interpretation of the causes of failure.

By staying with the result, Emilia was constantly evaluating and trying to explain why it had happened. In doing so, she stayed away from noticing what had happened and focused on the error or her sense of failure. It is as if she kept visiting the world she wanted to experience, instead of the one she was in.

She was assuming that she had to focus on doing it right. To do so, she was searching for a template she could execute.

What she hadn’t realized until then was that she would always be doing it her way. Consequently, what she had to develop was a more specific description of what she wanted to do and use it to make her intention as specific as she can. The learning process thus also involved gaining an understanding of what is possible for her given the skill and intention she has.

It meant synchronizing her want with her situation.


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