Those Difficult Situations

Which is better keeping all your options open or making decisions and acting upon them?

It has been my observation that trying to keep all your options open, using both-and thinking, can generate a whole bunch of problems. For example, you might start dating both Sally and Jane, unsure as to whom you like the best, you try to continue and may even start to lie. Before long you have an incoming shit storm of considerable magnitude. In sitting on the fence, you cause three people problems. If you choose Jane over Sally, then you may piss Sally off, but she can get on with her life. Maybe later you find that you don’t like Jane after all and have a few regrets. You will not have created an almighty mess in the process.

The longer one puts off a decision in a difficult situation the more difficult that situation can become, not always but often. OK so in MBTI terms I have just demonstrated that I am a “J” type and not a “P” type. I have used MBTI in numerous workshops down the years and this J / P dimension is the one that causes the most friction in relationships. Many “P” types have said to me that they are more fluid by keeping options open, I would counter that you generate more options by making decisions and doing so quickly. Better to fail quickly than to be stymied by endless planning blight, wishful thinking and prevarication.

I’ll hazard a guess that many difficult situations arise out of failure to decide. If you put off deciding, decisions can be made for you because one option takes itself out of the equation whilst you are busy dithering. I suspect that I am at the decisive end of the prevaricating – deciding spectrum. And this can freak people out.

Off course one can come to premature decisions. For example, prejudice is a form of premature decision made usually with a lack of reliable input data. One can make decisions when angry, sad or drunk. Sometimes the morning after a bad decision can be quite difficult.

My own personal experience is that making decisions, deciding, relieves tension and frees things up. Even if others don’t like your decision at least there is some movement. People do not enjoy being decisive. You can’t teach people to be decisive, all you can suggest is that maybe they might give it a go and see how it works out. With each decision, hopefully, confidence grows, and less time is wasted.

What do you think?

Which is better keeping all your options open or making decisions and acting upon them?

What Does Your Heart Tell You?

It is not uncommon for people to chase a problem round and round and round in brain-mind and get exactly nowhere. The thought processes chug around the track, the list of pros and cons builds up. The mind gets tired. There is no solution in the land of both-and. The same old process starts over, chug, chug, chug. One can get caught in a mind-loop, which literates. One can get caught in a mind-loop, which literates. One can get caught in a mind-loop, which iterates. It can be painful to watch someone caught up in loopy-mind-loop-looping. And often they say near-exact the same things out loud, over and over. If it were a helpful mantra, this would be OK. But usually it ain’t.

The heart has a bullshit knife which can cut through. Learning to use this bullshit knife does not happen overnight. This is because people prefer the “sanity” of loopy-mind-loop-looping. It is somehow comforting and familiar.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever not listened to my heart because I did not like what it was saying?

In the long-term, was the outcome good?

Failure to Decide

In the set of unresolved challenges there are many which stem from Failure to Decide. Until we do this we cannot use the key of decision to unlock the door or possibility, we are like Solomon faced with two harlots, one baby and a knife. The moment a decision is made the situation is unlocked. Until such time as this the situation is both emotive and awkward. In many cases we seek both one thing and another, as a consequence we run the risk of ruining both. Our attention is diverted, and we let things drift. We may want a mistress and a wife, a promotion and ethics, fame and a home life. There is a hope that we can somehow manufacture both-and. When we are challenged by the universe or God, to make a decision, we balk and eschew responsibility. This can and very often does, leave a mess. Many of these failures in decision have a root in face, saving face. We have gotten ourselves into a tight spot and cannot extract ourselves therefrom without losing “face”. So more often than not we try the same behaviours and approaches that got us into the tight spot, we haven’t yet decided that the approach isn’t working. We do not even decide to stop digging the hole as a temporary prophylactic measure.

Many unresolved challenges arise out of arrogance, stubbornness, pride or both-and thinking. Until we let go, there is no way forward and no way back. The terms we seek to enforce on the world, the universe, are unacceptable to it, but we keep on trying. The challenge cannot be resolved on our terms. It can only be resolved in some other way and even then, it may never be resolved, if we have gone too far. Our will, has caused problems and we have not yet decided to let go of, our will.

Have a think about this:

How many of the problems, difficulties and unresolved challenges in my life have arisen out of the failure to decide?

The Irreconcilable

From time to time we can be faced with irreconcilable situations, where there is no obvious solution.

Many of these stem from both and thinking. The moment one lets go of both and, some movement can occur. Whilst both and is clenched hard, stalemate.  In social interaction these can also stem from pride, unwillingness to lose face and sheer bloody mindedness. When there is a lot of positioning and posturing, the irreconcilable can occur fairly frequently.

When world-version and world-rules do not encompass the situation at hand, it is difficult to reconcile that which is held in mind (or internal dialogue) with the events unfolding. Under these circumstances reality can be avoided so that situation “fits” world-version and can therefore be explained therein.

These situations can evoke stress especially in those who want an answer or a solution. It can make people angry and when both and is clenched in fist there can be conflict. Especially when more than one party is keen on both and thinking. Some however love these posturing and negotiating games. It takes all sorts.

The irreconcilable can last in the mind for decades. And the short cut out is to blame other people, the world, the budgerigar or God. This blame game never does reconcile but it can lead to a feeling of righteous indignation and thorough justification. In time this passes and a strange feeling of something not reconciled comes back. In unreconciled situations the logic goes that it always the other party who has to move first so as to bring about reconciliation. This logic can’t be comprehensive.

The irreconcilable is karmic. It is caused by behaviour and attitude. In many cases the ability to reconcile is time dependent, in that there is a window in which it might happen, after that it pretty much ceases to be possible. Some people are more prone to bearing grudges than others and these are not good for well-being. Anything which remains irreconcilable in the self creates a sore point or a button. These can impinge upon freedom and equanimity. To get past one has to cease clenching and start dissolving otherwise the irreconcilable can become markedly disproportionate, it might even turn into something of a personal “demon” that sticks in the craw.

If you think about it carefully the irreconcilable can often stem from will or ambition. When these are in some way thwarted, people don’t have life on their own terms. Many is the person who likes their will be done.

If the outer situation remains irreconcilable then the only recourse is to reconcile internally, by letting go of the ember of it. There is much to be learned from irreconcilable or otherwise apparently impossible situations.

Close to the Edge

Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge
I’m trying not to lose my head
It’s like a jungle sometimes
It makes me wonder how I keep from going under

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

This morning I have been trying to find a phrase which sums up the current state of humanity. I tried overwhelmed, crestfallen, tense, but this is it; close to the edge. In geo-politics things look pretty tense and could pop any moment. In the lives of many things are “close to the edge”, we live in boiling pot times. There are all kinds of pressures, very little time and a whole bunch of social devoirs. Plugged into social media we are distracted and spread thin.

At the root of this are expectations. We are expected to behave in a particular way and have some ambitions. Life is measured by outcomes and deadlines. When these loom, stress happens. It seems that being stressed out is the new norm, the 21st century nirvana. If you are not a stress bunny, then something must be wrong with you. As an interesting experiment you could take a count of how often you hear this word, stress, in any given week. This state of mind “stressed” is prevalent.

If I could invent a pill that removed the sensation of stress and yet enabled function with no side effects, I would be a billionaire. There is a clear market opportunity.

People then walk the tightrope of life, on either side is the abyss of breakdown and the threat of ignominy. Because they are stressed out, their steps are unsure and yet rushed. There is fear by the bucket load. Fear of what? Well a major fear is not meeting some expectation or other. Quite where these expectations arise from is not always clear. What is clear is that expectations are an entirely man-made phenomenon. It follows that stress due to these, is man-made also.

Many of these expectations are unattainable. Have a look at a job advert, there are only so many superheroes yet many employers seem to want these, if you haven’t got red underpants outside your trousers and a cape, then what? This prevalence of expectation leads inevitably to being crest fallen on a regular basis. One doesn’t meet the expectation, is disappointed and disappoints others. There is a circular, cyclical madness at work here. Failure seeds more stress. That taught tightrope of life gets narrower.

If one is overwhelmed by the complexity of life, there is a very simple answer. Make it less complicated!! But this might impinge on success and cash. There is a monkey with its hand in the jar problem. The monkey has the biscuit in his hand, he can’t withdraw his hand whilst holding the biscuit. The angry villagers are approaching. The villagers will beat him. He wants the biscuit. He can’t have both the biscuit and escape a beating. It is this both and which causes stress. In other words, people can’t decide. It is pretty obvious that reducing complexity can ease stress…but…

Decisions can ease stress. The sword of Damocles of an impending decision, makes stress. And should one actually make a decision, it is very easy to indulge in stress as to whether or not you have made the right decision. If you think about it carefully this means that the decision wasn’t wholehearted.

To what extent do expectations impair your well-being?

Are you plagued by both and thinking?