Friday, May 16, 2014

Two Reactions

Two people can have entirely different reactions to the same event. What can be crippling psychological damage to one is a challenge or an incentive to grow for another.

Civilian scenario training, like we did in Sheffield, is more complex and more dangerous (on may levels, not just physical) than most of what I see out there. Unlike police scenario training, you aren't working with a population who have been through psychological batteries and have a baseline of training. If you do it long enough, you will get psychological breakdowns. Part of the job is to bring the scenarios as close to the student's core as you safely, realistically (two different things), think you can. So hitting the edge is expected, but sometimes you will hit it inadvertently. Side effect of lack of psychological batteries is that you won't know where the suppressed mindfields (I like that pun) lie.

With a skilled facilitator, that's not usually a problem. If the facilitator is aware and understands dynamics, hitting the edge becomes a huge win, a rare insight that others can never truly share.

But outside of scenario training, people process big events on their own. Or with amateurs (friends) who may care, but may have no idea of what hitting an edge is like. Or with others who were exposed to the same event and will be trying, with very varied levels of success, to deal with the same issues. In the wild, as opposed to good training or, say, exposure to events with an experienced team or FTO, processing tends to be a crapshoot.

Most people adapt. There are relatively few events that can crush the psyche of a fairly healthy human. Very few environments where a human will hit unrecoverable exhaustion before they hit adaptation. People adapt, that's what they do. So most people are or become okay. For various values of 'okay.'

There are two common reactions of the people who do well. Both are acts of will, both are active instead of passive, but they are very different.

One decides that there are forces in the world beyond personal control and concentrates on internal and personal work: learning, training. Becoming more aware, informed, adaptable and tough.

The other decides not to change and focuses on forcing the world to change. Controlling the behavior of people nearby, trying to change social norms, laws and policies.

Objectively, with my reasoning mind, both methods of adaptation are admirable. The second, even, is the core of changing the world for the better, maybe. But my emotional reaction, my Monkey Brain, feels that the second way is on the same continuum as bullying, that these former victims have discovered a version of the power that was used against them and have become a reflection of what they hate and fear. And some revel in that power.

Forcing change is still using force. Making people be what you want them to be against their desires is exactly what your victimizer did to you. You can tell yourself that it's different because the change you demand is right and good. But some extraordinarily bad people have said that as well.

But that's probably just my Monkey Brain talking.


Charles James said...

Wow, boy did this post hit home.

Tiff said...

Choosing to adapt yourself to the environment versus adapting the environment to you . . . perhaps another insight to the "protester" mentality? (Off I go to contemplate this . . .)

Maija said...

Of course this begs the question whether there really is any ultimate right and wrong ... or good and bad?
For the individual? For the group?

I reckon everyone has the right to fight as hard as they want for what they believe, delusional, half assed, or morally correct.

Perhaps what is irritating is the hypocrisy of those that refuse to accept that others can fight and believe their own viewpoints with as much moral righteousness as they do?

Of course force on force resolution of issues has evolved in modern times towards debate, consensus, and the invention of the democratic system, probably to prevent the physically stronger from always imposing their will (though of course one could argue that a 'majority' is the equivalent to being physically stronger).

We are all bullies/manipulators or whatever you want to call it, at some level, because we all have opinions and believe we are right. We should accept that.

However, we should not forget that we also have the choice whether or not to BE bullied or manipulated into submission ... or not.

I guess many have lost (never gained?) the ability to debate both sides of their argument, to research history and find the lessons relevant to the issue, or to admit error and be a gracious loser.

Anonymous said...

And then there is the truth that the only people who can change the world for the better, are those who can allow themselves to change for the better. One without the other, is meaningless.

Erik Kondo said...

Here is my take on Rory's thoughts:

There are many ways in which people try to solve problems in their lives and in the world. But, there are two widely used methods that take completely opposite approaches. The method used is usually a function of the person’s Locus of Control...

Full post here:

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

As a species, we are forcer's of change in the environment and surroundings, we would not be here if we weren't. It is a default for how made the changes we have, is it not

Kai Jones said...

Most people use both methods, just in different proportions. If they are really good at it, they choose the method that best suits the situation.

Ymar Sakar said...

I think in a similar fashion.

You are given two choices in life when faced against challenges.

1. Change yourself.

2. Change the world.

Changing the world generally means using authority to make people obey, since if you can enslave people, that's also changing the world.

But number 1 is for people who think their greatest opponent is themselves. As crazy as this is to think or say, it's like this: "The only person that can beat me, is me".

Generally by changing yourself, you often can improve yourself to the point that it has an effect on others and the world. But seeking to change the world first means distorting the world while still being weak and full of vice. That world becomes merely a reflection of one's own human flaws. Thus the choice of which to do, is rather important to prioritize.

What comes first is vitally important, even if the destination ends up at the same place. Journey over destination. Life over death. Those that think if the destination is the same, the methods/road don't matter, are more focused on changing the world than changing themselves.

Kai Jones said...

Neither method is 100% effective nor appropriate for every problem. The most important tool is figuring out which parts are within your power to change.

DRP said...