The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Using what’s in control

There is no situation that is ever totally out of control.

People might perceive it as such, but that’s because of the focus they are using.

By focusing on the situation or the people involved they are only seeing two out of three options. The third focus they could use being themselves. Using only two options out of three makes everything they can’t do visible while all the possibilities involving themselves are being missed.

One of the reasons this happens is the assumption that it is possible to live in a situation that corresponds to the one they imagined. That is, that they can have access to what they want, or for example that their project is successful.

From this perspective, they only see solutions that depend on something being done.

The other reason this happens is that they confuse the feeling with the situation. The feeling is perceived as resulting from the situation and thus immutable. They take the experience as a given.

What they can’t see is that they can transform how they experience the situation. That experiencing comfort with discomfort can change the situation.

Becoming comfortable with the discomfort isn’t popular in a time in which we are constantly confronted with “happy people”. They reach us via advertisements showing us how to buy happiness, social media where people seek to live up to the advertisements, and promises from politicians that the world will be better off after their election.

And yet, there are situations in which we are quite knowledgeable as to how to deal with discomfort.

Think about all the ways you’ve been informing yourself about the pandemic, how you’ve shared your experience with others, or how you’ve learned from the ways others developed to deal with it.

These are all methods to gain comfort with our discomfort. We learn that others have similar experiences. By sharing experiences we gain new perspectives and can see things from a different angle. It doesn’t change the situation, but it allows to change how we experience it.

And yes, some can’t and stick to venting about the situation. It’s a way to deny their current experience. To wish it away.

The often missed option is to use the same strategy in our own everyday situations.

It feels a bit tougher as it means to focus on how the people involved experience the situation. Instead of talking about an external threat both experience, it means to talk about the impact the other has on us. Describing such experience is leaning into the fear of being rejected.

But it works.

It works if and when both trust each other enough to listen and to share their own experience.

It helps when both establish the circumstances allowing them to find trust in one another.


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