What We Are Afraid To See Or Say
For those of us wanting to create more purposeful organizations, relationships, families, and a more meaningful experience of life, I suggest that we look at what we may be condoning. This means looking closely at what is going on in our organizations, families, relationships, and life to determine if we may be unwittingly contributing to the problem. In other words, if we are not willing to address behaviors or ways of interacting that are incongruent with our values, we may be codifying them, or allowing these ways of being to become the “norms,” or part of the culture.
Of course, “how” these problematic emotions or behaviors are addressed will make a significant difference in the results, because just telling someone that they are wrong rarely results in their saying, “Thank you for sharing. I feel so much better now.” No, in fact, they will almost always start defending the behavior that you are wanting them to change. Plus, if they see us as part of the problem, as well, meaning that they don’t see us taking responsibility for our emotions or behaviors, then they will certainly be less likely to change theirs.
Therefore, I suggest that we start with ourselves to ensure that we are not condoning and codifying our less than purposeful ways of being before addressing others. The way I teach people to begin this journey of raised awareness is to understand the neuroscience behind our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, because this is where it all begins.
In other words, the purposeful part of the brain (the neocortex, what I call “The Top of the Mind) is not the part that is always determining how we think, feel, and act. It is the middle brain, or limbic system that gets the information first, and then determines whether to send it up to the neocortex or down to the brainstem. Because this part of the brain is responsible for keeping us alive as a specie, it tends to interpret almost anything negative as dangerous, and throws us into the lower brain, which is designed to deal with danger. Unfortunately, this will have us reacting by becoming more angry, resentful, anxious, or frustrated, and which results in less awarenesses and more negative behavior.
If we allow this “us versus them” perspective to continue, it will become the “norm,” or our habitual way of reacting to life. This is what I mean when I say, “what we condone, we codify,” or, as others have put it, “what we allow, we encourage,” and “what we permit, we promote.” Pretending that we don’t see what needs to change in ourselves only ensures that, indeed, nothing will change. On the other hand, once we are satisfied that we are only condoning the ways of being that we truly want to codify in ourselves, we can begin to think about how to engage others in a way that they hear as valuable, and ways that that are likely to result in change.
In other words, let’s start with the area of life over which we have the most influence, and that is ourselves. Let’s ensure that we are only condoning, accepting, promoting, and codifying the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that we want to become part of our code of ethics. Not only will this ensure that we are coming from the most purposeful, influential part of the brain, it will put us in the best position to engage others from a place of authenticity and personal accountability.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill