Monday, September 14, 2009

Congress, Tennis, and Music

The US OpenImage via Wikipedia

A curious juxtaposition of events last week has gotten me thinking.

It's been an interesting time to be an observer of human behavior.

A U.S. Representative made a public outburst during a Presidential Address to a joint session of Congress.
A world-ranked tennis player threatened and verbally abused a line judge after an accurate call.
A rap star hi-jacked the MTV Video Music Awards and discounted the achievements of a fellow performer and award recipient.

Crystallized in these three examples, we can see the cultural consequences of a widely-held belief. That belief is: Making other people "wrong" is an effective problem-solving strategy. The accompanying belief is: above all, be "right."

Just look around you, and you'll see a lot that is wrong. Do you remember how you felt the last time someone told you that you were wrong?
Did you begin to defend your point of view?
Did you also point out something that was wrong with the other person?
If the person was in authority over you, how did you feel?
If the person was NOT in authority over you, how did you feel?
Was anything resolved? Did anything change?
Strange as it may seem, people don't generally appreciate it when someone else points out that they are wrong.

Making someone wrong is a sure-fire strategy for either 1) creating a deadlock or 2) damaging a relationship.

Most of our educational system is based on correction. Education in the arts, in high-performance sports, and most of our health care is consumed with fault-finding and correction. Small wonder that faults proliferate, and improvements are few. You can't find improvement if you're not looking for it.

What if it were possible to tell the truth, (or your part of it) without making someone else wrong?

It seems that when we're not busy making other people wrong, we're busy making ourselves wrong. We believe that we need correction, that if we could just do everything "right" our lives would be perfect. We make all kinds of unnecessary purchases from any outfit that promises to correct our defects. Some people make their living by inventing defects to correct. We chase around looking for people to tell us what we should be doing -- and then resent the hell out of it whenever someone does. We lose faith in ourselves, and in other people.

The Feldenkrais Method is unique in its fundamental respect for each individual. (Thanks to my colleague, Dan Schmidt, for providing the catalyst and the tie-together on his blog.) Our process of dealing with balance, gait, posture, or pain management, is not to correct ("Do it THIS way), but to present constructive and creative possibilities ("How could this be possible? What's another way? Which way feels better?") from which a person can act and choose. We do not coerce, force, pressure, shame, or "motivate." We make exploration, inventiveness, and learning irresistible.

Our results are often astonishingly effective, successful, and achieved with simplicity. Part of the design of our process is in asking productive questions.

One Facebook post this week asked, "Where do you stand? Are the Republicans idiots? Are the Democrats dangerous?" These questions only further entrench people in their own positions. What if people started asking, "What is of value here? What does each stakeholder need to be able to move forward? How COULD this work?"

Watch your own habits and behavior this week. Does it seem that a lot of people around you are "wrong?" Or certain groups of people? Do the same sentences keep echoing around in your head, the same emotional tone arises? What if it were possible to feel different -- to feel better?

The potentially profound effect of the Feldenkrais Method is in the way that movement becomes metaphor. Rigidity in movement often correlates to rigidity in thought. You can learn to open your mind, and move forward.

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1 comment:

Mattison Grey said...

Your articles are always valuable and compelling, but this one is just fantastic. As you know, we get what we put our attention on. I think the big problem is no one is paying attention to their attention. They are just too busy running around, defending their point, being right and making people wrong. The question is... do you want to right or do you want to be rich?

Mattison Grey