it’s all #fakenews …

As human beings we live in two worlds.

There is the external physical world. The world where we can touch a tree, watch a wren dart from shrub to shrub, scratch our elbow when it itches.

Then, there is the world of our mind and imagination. The world where we can feel hurt by what that person said and imagine what they meant. We can dream about our tomorrow and recall distorted truths of our past. A world where we believe the stories and myths of our mind. Our own fake news generator, if you will.

This second world is a virtual reality that can appear and feel just as real as the external physical world. The shoulds and musts are powerful, motivating, compelling.  Indeed, when it comes to your emotions and your imagination, the virtual world of your mind can be more real than the real world.

Our mind seems to muddle these two worlds. What is true? What is real? What is imagined? What is story? What is fake?

It seems too that our society is slowly shifting to value this second virtual world more than the first real, physical world.

For now it seems, in our modern media enabled world, we not only create our own virtual stories and myths, not only listen to those of our family and friends – those we might meet within the real world – now, we are bombarded by the stories, myths and imaginations of billions of others from around the globe. Real people we will never meet, with all their distorted stories of self and associated experience.  And we believe them. Or respond to them. Or worry about them. Or take them on as ours.

Recently, I read that more than 15% of Twitter’s 319 million users were not human. So not only are we engaging with the thoughts of other people, people we don’t know; we are listening to robotic programmed outputs from 48 million unknown devices. All adding to the melting pot of real and unreal, true and imagined, solid and distorted.

Yet each interaction is enhancing our own virtual sense of the truth. Augmenting our own thoughts and emotions. Building a more complex, layered perception of self, our place in the world and all its global dangers and intents. Causing us to be more curious, more mentally stretched, yes. Enticing us to respond, to debate. Yet also to worry, to feel pressurised, scared even. It drives a need to know. A need to be part of. Inclusion not exclusion. Powerful emotional draws deep within our ancient animal brain.

I wonder if this contributes to the rise in mental health and well-being issues? I wonder what this holds for our future as a species?

The internet increasingly drives our lives. You’re using it now to read this. We read reviews of products from unknown people and trust them. We read tweets from unknown people and respond to them, emotionally, cognitively. We scan page after page of Facebook posts, skipping across our timeline like a never ending movie.

You are reading this blog. In one sense it’s not real.

I am of course.

But these thoughts are the creations from within my mind, my virtual world. True, you can choose to ignore them. You might see reason in them. You might concur. You might though, above all else, wonder what else you interact with in the world that isn’t real?

Challenge yourself to be curious; to question what you hold in your head and how that in turn impacts your thinking and how you feel. Is it real? Is it your imagination? Or is it a distortion of someone, or something, that doesn’t serve you well in maintaining your mental and emotional well-being? Maybe anything that does that, whether true or not, is the real fake news?

Maybe take time to stand with your hand on a tree.  Ground yourself.  The tree is real.

Go well people.

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willy-nilly aspersions

www.illuminateddandelion.com

It’s a universal custom. One that needs no explanation. It transcends language. Whatever the location. Whatever the quality of establishment. We simply know what to do.

And yet, there is always a card explaining.

Hang them up and use them again. On the floor and they will be replaced.

The card not only informs us of the required positioning for laundering, but helpfully reminds us of our green credentials by complying. We have done our bit for the planet, we are energy efficient and we can feel good.

Towels.

You probably knew that though, before I said it. Up to reuse, down to be replaced.

What if emotions were like this too?

When we’ve done with an emotion, we could hang it up to be used again. Emotions tidied away on the rail. Folded neatly and shelved for the next time they are demanded. Hung with care on the hook. Drying, ready to be doused in human interaction once more, as needed.

If we didn’t want them again, or needed replacements, we could discard them on the floor, willy-nilly. Cast them asunder as we go about our business. Drop them where we stand. Pile them up, like a well formed trip hazard. Toss them recklessly, in heaps of soggy emotions of various size and shape.

Oh hang on. We already do.

 

how long until you leave?

how long until you leave

Typically we work during the week and have the week-end off. On Friday though I don’t think I’m leaving. Yes I know I’m leaving the office, but not leaving my job, my organisation, my career. Consequently I don’t experience the emotions of leaving.

With friends and family too, sometimes we don’t see people for days or weeks, yet we don’t think of it as leaving. Somehow this ending isn’t an ending. Maybe because we know we will reconnect, return?

Do the emotions of leaving only come when we know it is an ending? Or do they come when the period extends sufficiently to allow the emotions to enter? If the period is long enough that we begin to miss someone or something, does that make it feel like leaving? If the period is long enough that we lose connection or a sense of belonging, does that invoke the emotions of leaving? If the period of absence will mean much has changed and we might return to something new, something different. Does that make it feel like leaving?

I am about to go on holiday for seven weeks. I have never had a holiday even half that length before. Somehow this feels like leaving.

Yet I will be coming back.

So experiencing some of the emotions of leaving when I’m not, leaving… is new to me.

How long does the leaving have to be before it feels like leaving?

 

weather within

image

The mood of my garden has shifted. It looks like Autumn. Leaves scattered across the surface. New shoots torn from the trees by blustery winds and driving rain. Low pressure in our weather has descended. The flowers have closed. The bees buzzed off. The birds absent, sheltering, waiting for the mood to lift.

The movement of the weather systems on our planet can change the mood of our nature with ease. The elements in our earthly atmosphere; carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, mix with water vapour and dust to move and swirl at will. With that, the feeling and mood our weather generates flow across our lands with wilful abandon. Nature determines everything.

In much the same way, movement in our body systems can shift our mood. The same swirling, churning chemicals, hormones and enzymes can change the sensations we feel in our bodies. Those sensations influence and shape our feelings, our emotions and our mood. Summer can feel suddenly like winter. We can overheat. We can feel damp, drab, off colour. Twisted, shrunk, torn off… inside.

Weather within.

image from Berndnaut Smilde

 

that other ‘to do’ list

emotions to do

Many of us write lists. The ‘to do’ list is a favourite.

Jobs for the weekend, reminders of tasks for the day job, lists of objectives for the project, even a list of things to buy for a birthday…

These lists tend to be full of tasks.  Doing things.  Activities to complete, assignments to progress, promises to keep.

How often do we create an emotional ‘to do’ list?

Today, I need to feel joyous, curious, excited and relieved.  Tomorrow I plan some happy, a bit of stressed (because I will need that adrenaline) and a ton of relief, because I can foresee a few minutes of sad.

I recently attended an event where the group was encouraged to reflect on sources of happiness in their lives. We then shared and told stories of how and why that happiness had arrived for us. We pledged to each other to do more of that in our lives going forward (whatever it was for each of us).  Having people bear witness seemed to help.

So, what’s on your long term emotional ‘to do’ list, and how do you plan to get more or less of the emotions you want or don’t?

do organisations have emotions?

image

We were contemplating this today.

As human beings so much of what we do is driven by a felt sense, gut, emotion. We combine this with cognitive thinking; adding reason, logic, judgement. Together these ‘brains’ afford us sense making, a motivation, value, direction.

Organisations are good at the cognitive often. The logical behind the vision, the strategy, the goals, the measurement, the success. By and large, organisations try to connect with employees cognitively. They are often not so good at connecting with the individual’s emotions. They talk about engagement or about hearts and minds, but attempt to influence, inspire and manage these cognitively with data, plans, employee surveys, roll-outs.

And what of the organisation itself? Does it have a system brain over and above the collective brains of the component people? And does it have its own emotions?

Systemic Constellations theory might suggest it does. The system behaves according to its own needs, maintaining the integrity and balance of the system itself. So, if that’s true and if it’s working well, is the system pleased, happy, excited? If the system is struggling to maintain itself, does it get upset, annoyed, disillusioned?

If organisations do have feelings, how do we engage with those and what are the implications for the workplace?