Solving for Simultaneous Experiences: An Algebraic Approach to Getting Unstuck

Mark Goulston June 27, 2016 0
Solving for Simultaneous Experiences: An Algebraic Approach to Getting Unstuck


Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
Andre Gide

I think of transformation as letting go of one ‘form’ of mental configuration that is causing a person to remain stuck, in order to ‘re-form’ into a different mental configuration that results in their becoming unstuck and in a place with more possibilities.

The mental challenge in this is that to let go of a mental configuration, or paradigm if you prefer, you need to manage the free floating anxiety of not being grounded (which can become intolerable), long enough to make it to the new configuration.

For many this is exceedingly difficult because they often equate not being in control as being out of control. In truth, the ‘not in control zone is where the game of life is played and lived.’ And even if that phrase made you chuckle with a certain wry truthfulness (not to mention being the title of a great book should anyone want to write it), I’m guessing it didn’t make it any easier for you to let go of control in order to become transformed.

One similarity in assisting people in doing this that appears across many transformational methods is the idea of realizing that an old outdated story or way of looking at life no longer works. It is then promulgated that if you can change that story — which we often discover in retrospect wasn’t even accurate when we first formed it — to a different story, it will inform a different way of looking at and thinking about the world, which will result in different possibilities and options that weren’t apparent when we were stuck in our old story. And that story was the foundation of our prior mental configuration.

Other approaches include the Overview Effect as explained in Charles Smith’s wonderful article, “Breaking Free: Bringing the Overview Effect to Work and Life.” Then of course there is much written on mindful transformation as exemplified in the RAIN acronym (Recognition, Acceptance, Investigation, Non-identification), and explained beautifully by Jack Kornfield in his book: Bringing Home the Dharma: Awakening Right Where You Are.

My approach to life is to try to avoid ‘either-or’ alternatives which too often devolve into ‘zero sum’ thinking, in which nobody is transformed and everybody is just left ticked off. Instead I find a ‘both-and’ philosophy (where ‘and’ can be many ands), less judgmental, less exclusive and exclusionary, and more accepting and inclusive.

I’m aware that ‘either-or’ types will decry that is too wishy washy, or fearful of taking a stand. My view however is that I have taken a stand with the ‘both-and’ approach to life, and view it as respectful and accepting of the fact that great minds can disagree and each be correct and co-exist. Although there will always be a search for the singular particle or silver bullet that is the one paradigm that fits all (situations), I am equanimeous about having multiple approaches or models that the end user can choose to their liking.

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