the futility of legs

 

shoes in puddle

Why do we have legs?

Think about the metaphors we use which are enabled by legs.

We can walk away.  We can run away.  We can stand our ground. We can stand on our own two feet. We can make strides. We can walk in someone else’s shoes. We can put our foot down.  We can leg it.  We can cool our heels.  We can have an Achilles’ heel. We can stamp our foot. We can drag our feet. We can be fleet of foot. We can stand down. We can have the world at our feet. We can start off on the right foot. We can have itchy feet. We can stand firm. We can land on our own two feet. We can put our foot in our mouth. We can be on our last legs. We can put our feet up. We can step on someone’s toes. We can pull someone’s leg. We can stand out. We can have two left feet. We can shoot ourselves in the foot. We can set foot somewhere. We can have a foot in both camps. We can trip ourselves up. We can be legs akimbo. We can stand tall. We can get a leg up.  We can get fresh legs. We can be encouraged to break a leg, for luck. We can do the legwork. We can leave with our tail between our legs. We can stand back. We can get our sea legs. We can talk the hind legs off a donkey. We can step out. We can stand around. We can get a foot in the door. We can put our best foot forward.  We can stand tall. We can stand on the shoulders of giants. We can find ourselves without a leg to stand on. We can even get our leg over… and that can cost an arm and a leg!

All could be metaphors for our approach to life.  How we come to living.

Maybe legs are a distraction to our stance to life?
What stance do you choose?
Are there patterns?
Might you choose a different stance?

hidden meaning…

A-boy-hiding-behind-the-corner-of-the-wall-looks-amazing-500x720

I have been reflecting on the nature of a question.

Consider this.

You’re in a conversation with another human being. They are telling you something about their experience; you respond with a question.  It’s what we do in conversations.

The question forms, it gets uttered. It’s out there shaping the conversation.

But where does that question come from?  What prompts the thought?  What forms the thinking?  What shapes the words? And what is the question’s true intent?

We might think our questions are for the recipient; the person we throw them at.  Convinced we are adding value, we toss the question in front of their thinking stream, interrupting whatever is processing inside their head or body.  The question itself instantly demands attention.  Diverting the thinker to attend to it like a noisy impatient child.  The recipient ponders, then responds. In that moment, we, the questioner, feel good.  Our question has proved useful.  The recipient has shown their gratitude by affording our question due attention.  Clearly they have benefited.  Our question has undoubtedly furthered their thinking, developed their awareness, offered them an alternative or made it clear what the way forward is.  The question has elicited an answer and we all want answers … don’t we?

We have helped. We feel good.

But is that true?  True that we have helped?
We, the questioner, now know more, that is true.  But does the responder?

Maybe our question’s true intent was simply that? To help us to understand? To help us make meaning from the stream of consciousness our fellow human being was imparting. Maybe that is where it came from?  Its purpose to fill in our knowledge gaps so that we might better comprehend this complex, story-ridden, alien world of another human being? A veiled attempt to make sense of their situation. An unconsciously selfish intent?

And if our question’s intent is indeed to further our understanding, does that shape and inform further questions? Are we ultimately steering the conversation towards our greater understanding of the other person’s world?  Does each question take the other person further from their own path and move them on to our thinking path? Are we building a reality for them? Is our question and those that follow merely wresting control?  Shaping the collective thinking to serve our meaning making needs? Is that the intent hiding in our question?

But is that true? Is it really just about us? A selfish need to understand and relate this person’s story to our world of meaning and sense making?

Well, every question does have a presupposition embedded within it. Every question.

Our question may have suggested we were listening.  Maybe that was its intent?  Maybe the question attempts to impart a sense of caring, an ability to attend to our fellow human being’s world, their toils and struggles.  Maybe the question is grown from a desire to connect? A desire to help?  A desire to rescue even?

But is that true? Are we really that selfless?

Our question may outwardly seem to expand the speaker’s awareness, or offer them a new perspective or a fresh choice?  But where does that come from? Is it really something we are asking ourselves, inside? A question that has meaning for us in the same situation, so given its significance for us and our thinking, we offer it up.  Because if it’s of use to us, it must surely be of use to them…?

But is that true? Maybe, or maybe that too is in service of our own needs? Maybe its true purpose was to help us compare – compare ourselves to the other person? To judge. To compare how we might respond in that situation, or compare our ability to think about it with their ability?  Maybe its intent is to make a judgement, good or bad?  A judgement of ourselves, or of them?

Maybe the unwittingly selfish foundation goes deeper? Maybe this question dressed as concerned listening and helping is really about affirming our own value?  Our value in this relationship, our value in society, maybe also our very value as a human being?

Is our question masquerading as a help to our responder when in truth it is about affirmation of who we are, of our very existence? In some way the question might seem to be saying “here I am”, “I am listening”, “I hear you”, “I can help”…

But is that true?  Or could it be that our question really means “notice me”, “I am of value”, “validate me by answering my question”, “honour me as a human being.”

Meanwhile, whatever our hidden intention, our speaker’s train of thought is interrupted.

So, what lies in the foundations of our questions?  What building blocks form their true shape?

Our own need to know?
Our own need to be OK?
Our inner need to compare and judge ourselves?
Our own need for validation?
Our own need for acceptance?

What if we just kept them? They are after all ‘our questions’.
What if we kept them to ourselves?

Or… what if we stopped searching for them at all?
What if we just listened?  Without intent?

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.

it’s not about…

notabout

image by: Hikaru Cho

When interviewed recently, the man releasing to the media private tapes of his conversations with a princess said, “It’s not about the money.”

Have you noticed we say that to cover our tracks when, in reality, that very statement means invariably it really is about exactly that.

“It’s not about me” means “It’s all about me.”

Just as “It’s not about being right.” means “You’re wrong.”

Of course if it’s really not about something, we don’t need to mention it. Why would we?

I don’t sit down to a meal and say, “It’s not about being hungry.” Nor do I get in my car, start the engine and pronounce, “It’s not about going somewhere.”

Reality is often best hidden in plain sight.

we generalise our truth and so make it our truth

Heavy downpour

It always rains at the weekend.

Generalisation.

Of course once we think it, we notice when it does rain, rather than when it doesn’t -thereby reinforcing our thinking. The term ‘always’ might suggest it is never not raining at the weekend. A veritable deluge on Saturday and Sunday, without fail, for a full twenty four hours. Not true of course.

We do this all the time though in our language…
We say “nobody understands me…” – Really, ‘nobody’?
Or we say “everyone’s against me…” – Really, ‘everyone’?
Or we say “they’re all the same…” – Really, ‘all’? And just who are ‘they’?

This occurs not only in our language, but also in our interpretation of action.

For example, if someone you know walks by without saying ‘hello’, what’s your reaction? You might think that they ignored you because you might have upset them? Or maybe they don’t like you really? This might make you feel guilty, hurt or rejected. So you might be tempted not to speak first, the next time you meet; to be more cautious. This could increase the bad feeling or uncertainty between you both and generate more feelings of guilt or rejection. If this occurred several times with several people you know, you might eventually generalise that you are at fault, maybe even that you are an unlikeable person. If this happened with enough people, you might even start to socially withdraw. But how well did you interpret the situation in the first place?

In essence, problems aren’t caused by situations themselves but by how we interpret them in our thoughts. These interpretations have an impact on our feelings, resultant actions and then subsequent thoughts.

We generalise our truth and in doing so, make it our truth.

Image by © Anthony Redpath/Corbis

the tale that may never have been…

A colleague of mine recently copied the team on a document.  They failed to copy me. I only discovered this when another colleague asked me for a view on the work.

This was the third time this had happened.  The team is only six people and we have been formed for about six months and so I have viewed this as interesting. Actually no, I have viewed it with suspicion. I have started to create stories, in my head, about a hidden intent, tales about a potential dislike or disregard for me. I have been telling myself that once is a mistake, twice is careless, three times is deliberate.

I have of course taken an adult approach to this and spoken to the individual directly. (You know I’m lying here, right?)

Yesterday I was in a team meeting and another colleague began a discussion on a topic they are leading. They referred to the pre-read they had shared.  I said I hadn’t received it and they apologised and sent me a link to the soft copy on our systems. I received the email and clicked the link. I didn’t have access rights to the material.

Now my story has legs. It has all the makings of a novel. With characters, twists of plot and an evil back story.  I have trapped myself in a fabrication of my own making. I am unconsciously looking for evidence that my tale is correct.

Imagined dragons. Stories of the mind. Myth and truth.

 

are we all cheats?

image

The Olympics begin tonight.

The lead up has been tainted by the drugs debate. Competitors willing to take performance enhancing aids in an attempt to win at all cost.

I’m guessing many athletes and sporting competitors enter their sport because of a personal drive. An inner desire to perform at their best, to test themselves to the limit. Then it seems some switch to an external drive. An overwhelming desire to win medals, records, titles by whatever means. External objects, which act as testimony to their achievement, for which they are prepared to cheat to gain. Cheat others, but also cheat themselves.

Honesty and integrity sacrificed for a shiny object or piece of paper which draws admiration and congratulation from other people.

When do internal goals trump external ones and vice versa? How does external recognition become more valuable than internal truth? What causes that shift? Or is it there within certain individuals from the start?

Maybe this isn’t just about athletes and drugs? Maybe we are all vulnerable to lying to ourselves and to others so that we can be recognised, admired, valued, loved?

Maybe others have personal ambition trumping the perspective others may have of them – they don’t care what people think, they will just do their best for themselves. People who rob pension funds for example, so that they can buy yachts?

Maybe we’re all cheats?