Monday, March 27, 2017

Scales and Interactions

Anything in the human world is a complex interaction. I have a history, a set of assumptions, a suite of facts and things I want to believe are facts, communication habits and patterns, etc. And so do you. Somewhere in the interplay between our complexities, we communicate. To a degree.

And almost everything is on a scale. Clarity of communication can be non-existent or poor or good or very close to perfect. And the clarity can be impaired at either end (I can write poorly or you can read inaccurately) or in the middle (radio static.) And clarity can be deliberately manipulated. I can choose to lie or be obscure, consciously or not. You can choose to hear something other than what I said, consciously or unconsciously.

At some point, and it's probably on a scale, choosing (manipulating) your own perception becomes the superpower of reframing.

All of this means there are some very important things that will never have a clear answer. Where is the line between education and brainwashing? Deep training changes the student at a fundamental level, and with changes that big, informed consent is impossible. There's an arrogant answer that as long as you teach "the truth" it doesn't matter, but all educational systems have believed that their mythology was objective truth. Do you really think you've evaded a trap that has caught everyone else?

Where is the line between toughening up and abuse? I feel very privileged to have had my childhood. I like who I am, and my childhood gave me the tools to function and stay sane in some relatively nasty conditions. My wife thinks my childhood was "horrific."

If you embrace the power of reframing, the recipient can literally decide if an event was good or bad, can choose the effect the event has on his or her (or my own) life. Except, what about the cult member who is perfectly happy in a life of isolation, deprivation and control? Why is it okay for me to reframe my childhood as a positive thing, but not for another adult to reframe his experience as 'joy in service?' When does reframing shift from empowerment to dodging? Where is the line between assistance and enabling?

At what point does my cheerleading ("I got over X, you can too!") Become disempowering ("So why haven't you got over it? What the hell is wrong with you?")

Speaking about this becomes murky, because not everything that is deliberate is also conscious. There are many people choosing to be assholes that never let that decision rise to their conscious mind where they might have to face responsibility. What's the best way to interact with someone who chooses to lose when I want the person to be successful?

To some extent, this is all mental masturbation. And a by-product of magnification. You can look at anything with too fine a lens and the problem becomes impossibly complex. Too coarse a lens and the problem is too blurry to see. There's a sweet spot.

Living as a human is an action. You'll never cover all of the angles, so you learn what you can, get as good as you can, and act. Over-analysis leads to inaction. Never pretend  that the complexities don't exist, however. That's one of the ways you get people doubling down on failed solutions.


Jose Tadeo said...

I think that it makes a huge difference when you have good, ethical people in your life to help you navigate through horrible events. To understand that bad things happen all the time to good people is a valuable lesson to learn while you're young. My mother used to say: "Don't act like a victim," when we were reacting to bad things.

Josh K. said...


The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Deciding one is ethical is a construct to... ethics and morals are about something.. a long term goal.. survival.. you may not know your in a dead end until it's too late... and what works for the group may not work for the individual. you maybe in a winning team and then the context changes... you maybe a super tadpole... and then your pool dries up....
Good or bad. Does keeping the binary help... there are things I don't like... are they bad? Or are they... from a stoic point of view... an indifferent..

Jim said...

I was always bugged by the "how was your childhood" question...

I had one. Most folks do. I had the childhood I had; it wasn't the same as Rory's, or Josh's... or even my brother's. I didn't want for much, even if I didn't get everything I wanted. Like Rory said -- I'm tolerably happy with who I am, and that's the product of my childhood (in part). I don't really know how else to view it.

Several things have had me thinking about locus of control and attitude or perceptions lately. Framing, like Rory says here. Not done thinking, not yet.

Kai Jones said...

Embrace the power of "and." My childhood was horrific, and I built a strong self out of the lessons I learned enduring that childhood. Then I struggled (as we've discussed so many times) to teach those lessons to my children, without making them endure the horror.

I also had to discard parts of the lessons my childhood taught me, because survival skills for dealing with dysfunctional parents/relatives are often less than useful when dealing with people who didn't have a horrific childhood/weren't the perpetrators of the horror.

I don't think the sea change is just in you; it's definitely not just in me. I think of it as the passing of the Boomers but it's more than that. Society is changing again (it always does) and any decision made while thinking things were going in a particular direction is worth revisiting.