Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

April 9, 2019

Let’s talk about shame.

Always a great conversation starter, I know!  But it’s important.  Because I think we’ve been misapplying shame, both towards ourselves and, more critically, towards others.

Firstly, in the collapse between shame and guilt.  For they are not the same.  To use Brené Brown’s succinct description: “Shame is a focus on self, guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad.” Guilt is “I did something bad.” How many of you, if you did something that was hurtful to me, would be willing to say, “I’m sorry. I made a mistake?” How many of you would be willing to say that? Guilt: I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Shame: I’m sorry. I am a mistake.” *

Quite the difference there.  Guilt is I did something bad.  Shame is I am bad.  And if we are bad, as in intrinsically, inherently, certifiably, bad, then… what else can we expect to do?  Of course we’ll do bad things.  We’re bad.  We have evidence of it.  There’s not even any point in trying to change either, or if we do try, it’s going to be hard because changing who we are is hard, right?

Shame does not make us better.  It may make us reflect, but it gives us no path: “Shame is highly, highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders.

[But] Here’s what you even need to know more: Guilt is inversely correlated with those things. The ability to hold something we’ve done, or failed to do, up against who we want to be is incredibly adaptive. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s adaptive.”

Shame drives disconnection.  It only serves to turn us into little bags of bad, trying our best to hide that badness from the world until it becomes to great a burden and we lash out.

Shame drives unproductive behaviours.  We get trapped in our realms of badness and act accordingly.  We know ourselves and the world as a pile of not worthy, and get hijacked by little or large actions trying to regain status, agency, or some sort of high ground.

Shame begets shame.  We harden ourselves and begin to see threats all around.  We are not free to invent or to create as we try to make up for, hide, avoid, or justify that for which we feel shame.  Our minds are not clear, peaceful.

Going back to what Brené asked, “if you did something that was…” and fill in the blank there.  Because we’ve all done hundreds if not thousands of things that, in hindsight, we wouldn’t have wanted to do.  Knew we shouldn’t have done.  That are not the behaviour we want to engage in, not the actions we want to do, not who we – the true, central, authentic self we – want to be.  Be it incidents of major import or small moments of interaction with a stranger, we’ve got them in our past.

And when we can look upon those thousands and bring guilt to the situations, then we gain access to moving forward.  We gain the freedom to make amends, apologize, look deep within, and step into possibilities.  To become who we authentically wish to be.

That’s big for us, as individuals.

The issue is that we peddle in shame.  We weaponize it.  We point it at others and launch it, with “Name and shame” being the tactic of the day.  “Nuke them from orbit… it’s the only way to be sure.”

Besides being a diversion tactic** it is immensely unproductive.  Turning people willy-nilly into bad people does no one any favours.  It elicits defensiveness, fosters rancor, and demeans and devalues. It does nothing but foist onto others the very straitjacket we’ve been talking about above.

If the intent truly is to bring accountability through shaming, it is completely ineffective.

Pointing out bad behaviour through guilt, though, is fine.  It can work.  Guilt is adaptive.  It leaves room for growth.  And as we learn to shift ourselves to bring guilt and ownership into our personal lives we also begin to learn how to bring guilt and accountability towards others.  We learn how to speak to unsavoury, unethical, and unscrupulous actions and behaviours such that guilt, and not shame, is what arises.

And while it may seem strange to try to make people feel guilty, it is a far cry less strange than shame-throwing.  The less we bury ourselves under piles of shame, the less alone we feel, the less hostile things become, and there even grows an invitation to apologize (which is what we all want, really), to transform (which we also all want), to own up and make things right (also something we all want), and ultimately to move forward towards a more perfect future.

 

* She also provides two additional definitions for Embarrassment and Humiliation.  Humiliation is a kind of proto-shame where you don’t feel you deserve the shame/humiliation.  Embarrassment is usually fleeting, and can be funny.  Unlike shame, it is characterized by a feeling of not being alone, and that it doesn’t need to define us.  If you can tell others about it, it’s likely embarrassment.

**  And it very much is used a smokescreen: “If I get everyone else in a shame mode, no one will see my flaws!”   This fear of “being found out” is 100% the definition of having shame.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

April 2, 2019

“Art doesn’t belong to galleries or museums.

And it isn’t created by people who are fundamentally different than you.

Art is what we collectively decide it is,

and artists are people who make art,

including you.”

The Art Assignment

 

(which includes the art of living…)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 26, 2019

There is a difference

Between being a possibility

And being a position

~ ~ ~ ~

A possibility is an intention

It grows towards the future

Seeks an outcome

Speaks to universal desires

Open to invention

It discovers, it learns, it develops

It may even change

The path we take to get there

Is rarely the one we thought we’d need

And doubly rarely the one we start down

Yet we arrive

~ ~ ~ ~

A position is fixed

It begins from a supposed truth

And it ends at an envisioned result

It is impervious

It does not dance as it moves along

Steamrolling all before it

Forcing its will upon the world, upon others

Outcomes along the way be dammed

Why should it listen?

It is right

So everyone, and everything else

Is clearly wrong

It is committed only to win

Even if the victory rings hollow

Pyrrhic on all sides

Nothing fulfilled

~ ~ ~ ~

When we aim to open new realms

For ourselves and for others

On our journeys towards more perfect

The worlds of possibility

Bear far more fruit

In leading towards our shared intentions

And towards fulfilling our shared desires and needs

Glorious outcomes

By the bucket

~ ~ ~ ~

(And if they’re not glorious

We get back to work

Realign ourselves

Restate our intentions

Begin down the path anew

Towards a new

more perfect

glorious outcome)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 19, 2019

Going into a tailspin

in those days meant curtains.

No matter how hard you pulled back on the stick

the nose of the plane wouldn’t come up.

~~~

Spinning round, headed for a target of earth,

the whine of death in the wing struts,

instinct made you try to pull out of it that way, by force,

and for years aviators spiraled down and crashed.

~~~

Who could have dreamed that the solution

to this dreaded aeronautical problem

was so simple?

Every student flier learns this nowadays:

You move the joystick in the direction of the spin

and like a miracle the plane stops turning

and you are in control again

to pull the nose up out of the dive.

~~~

In panic we want to push the stick away from the spin,

wrestle the plane out of it,

but the trick is, as in everything,

to go with the turning willingly,

rather than fight, give in, go with it,

and that way come out of your tailspin whole.

 

~Edward Field~

 

~Corita Kent~

 

(Beyond the lovely words, I love it as a great early example of the remix “culture”, a case of additive worth, with Corita Kent taking the poem of Fields and rendering something extra beautiful with it.)

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 12, 2019

“Distinction” is a term that crops up again and again within the philosophical and ontological arts.  But what is distinction?  And why is it important?

A distinction separates something into its own category or concept.

A distinction lets us know/feel/understand/grok the difference or particularnless of a thing/feeling/thought/category/concept.

Once a distinction is created, it becomes a vessel into which we can pour our attention and inquiry and understanding into.

Distinctions allow us to see things in greater detail, bringing refinement and granularity to things or behaviours or thoughts that otherwise would be the same for us.

Distinctions, ultimately, open whole new worlds and perceptions and understandings and even realms of possibility, of being, and of living.

Before something is distinct, we can’t really focus on it, because, to us, it’s not yet a thing.

The same happens in the martial arts.  The distinction of “rooting” creates a new world to explore:  How do I root?  What does my body need to do to root?  How do I gain that stability?  How do I transfer forces into the ground?  What does it feel like?  What do I have to adjust?  Ok, what do I have to adjust now to make it even better?

As we practice, we use distinction between two states or positions to develop things further.  Feeling the difference in balance, power, and exertion between two different body positions lets us know which one is more in line with proper rooting.  “Here I have to struggle to resist an incoming force, but here I am at ease.  This is what it feels like to engage rooting.”

With that double distinction, we know what we’re aiming for, and we gain a better sense of when we’re on target, and when we are not.*

So too when we learn a philosophical distinction.  Whether it be about the stories we tell ourselves, or one of the logical fallacies, or about identity, or about the hilarious ways we continually subvert our rationality, whenever we gain a distinction in those realms we gain access to it.  Distinction turns it from being a blind spot that we can only ever inadvertently crash into it into something we not only can avoid but can also use to our ever-growing advantage.

Distinctions are the root power of transformation.  And from those roots grows a glorious life full of power, joy, and peace.

 

* And as we gain further distinctions, our idea of rooting improves, which improves our grasp of where we should aim, which we then refine through testing and feeling, and thus the cycle of growth in ability continues evermore.

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

March 5, 2019

“I can’t believe that just happened!”

It’s that moment.  Something has just gone awry.  Wrong.  Pear shaped.  Blew up real good.  Whatever plan you had in that instant is no more, now a mess (often literally) in front of you.  Broken, spilled, deleted, wrecked, goofed, faux-pas, plans shifted, expected occurrence didn’t happen, things cancelled, people stranded… Or maybe it just started raining.  “I can’t believe this is happening!”

If you’re anything like me, that phrase has escaped your lips more than a few times throughout your life.*  Or, perhaps, more than a few times in a week.  It does seem inconceivable, doesn’t it?  Everything smashed in an instant.  How could this be?  And isn’t this deeply personal too?

Lately, though, I’ve taken adding – after a moment and a few breaths – a follow-up statement: “Well, I might as well believe it ‘cuz… there’s nothing not to believe.  That just did happen.”

It is a statement to return myself to mindfulness, and to be deeply (and honestly) present with what’s so.

“OK.  Crud.  Not what I wanted.  Clearly.  Yet, here we are.  OK.  What’s next?”

It’s an interrupt statement that keeps the downward spiral from taking hold of me.  Prevents me from being completely thrown.  It grants me freedom and peace, even, and especially, when things have gone asunder.  It cracks open the doorway to possibility.

It allows new options to come forth:  clean the mess, change the clothes, make the required phone calls, enlist another’s aid, fix what broke, reschedule things, change the plans, choose a new path, do something different… above all it grants me choice and a chance to get things (and myself) back on track.  Maybe not singing and dancing the whole way, but for sure with a quicker return to signing and dancing than where the “can’t believe” frustration spiral would’ve taken me.

There’s no pretending or sugar coating.  Nor is there catastrophizing.  Just being clear, present, and creating in a way that leaves me, at the end of the day, without frustration, upset, or disempowerment.

And along the way I get to enjoy the rest of my day.

 

* My current favourite variation is “I’m sorry, but physics do not work that way!”

h1

Philosophy Tuesday

February 26, 2019

Often, we don’t really want the things we want.  The things we covet.  The things we obsess over.  All the various things, be they items or jobs or vacations or even fame or riches.  We don’t want the thing.

We want what we think those things will get us.  What those things will provide for us. All the ways of being that we can inhabit inside those fulfilled fantasies.

Unfortunately, things cannot give us that.  They may – quite usefully! – grant us a stage, an opportunity to generate it or have it show up, but it won’t get us it.  It does not come bundled in the package.  And it can never be the salve we are looking for.

So we try to get more.  It’s never enough.  We try other things.  Not enough.  We change things around.  Still not enough.  We may get distracted, amused, or even entertained, but only fleetingly.  And never those ways of being we crave.  We get trapped in the hamster wheel.  Always searching, never receiving.

It is not by having that we can generate being.  Or even generate doing.  It is from deeper within.  It is from intention, building upon a clear slate grounded in mindfulness and being present.  The creation is internal, not external.  The being begets the being.

From that starting point, things then become an amplifier.  We truly can enjoy the things we have, do, or partake.  Rather than being sought for mistaken purpose, things now can build on and further support the ways of being we have generated.  We appreciate the things for what they are.

With our being in the lead and our things at our side, we can lead ourselves to joy, fulfilment, love, excitement, and gusto.