Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Designation and Assumption Concern

When we face difficult choices, difficult situations, and difficult conditions, we must drop the designation of ‘difficult’ or any other mental designation. By designating aspects of our life as difficult, easy or otherwise, we’re imposing mental limitations on our life and our ability to act; we’re blocking our awareness of reality and alternative perspectives.

Through mental designation, we’re categorizing and itemizing our life, eliminating objectivity, limiting scope and paralyzing action. This is what the mind does when left without direction: this is working for us; that is acting against us, these don’t affect us whatsoever. Our mind wants to categorize everything because it makes it easier to ignore choices, situations and conditions moving forward.

There are benefits from allowing the mind to act in this manner. Designating or categorizing can make us more efficient and can yield increased effectiveness by limiting mental effort before action. This is very useful when dealing with common nuisance or irritations. We can turn the volume down on these common, everyday concerns. However, some people choose to turn the volume up on what is truly out of their control, like weather, people or chronic conditions. By turning up the volume on these common occurrences, it drowns the mind, making it unable to see what we can affect and change.

We can explore how this mental path can go horribly wrong as there are countless examples of how what used to work doesn’t work today. Think about old computers from the 80s or even 90s. If we use these old computers today, we may not even be able to get the computer to do anything we need it to do. It may be unable to connect to the internet, or would be so slow that it’s impossible to get anything done. This doesn’t mean the computer wasn’t useful, but it’s no longer useful in what we need to do today. The same can be said about old ways of thinking about our life and our environment.

Consider the public policy dilemmas our elected officials are grappling with today. Each side seemingly dug in on their old ideas of how to govern, yet both sides are unable to get anything accomplished. Many aspects of American life have changed, yet both sides continue to apply old politics to the predicaments in which America finds itself today. Policies that seemed acceptable to both sides just a few years ago are unable to be enacted today. Each side is frozen in time, looking at our common problems in the same ways as they did a decade ago. It simply is not working.

The same can be said about our own life strategies. We’re dug in on seeing life and others in the same ways as before. Often, we do not consider our life fulfilled and happy, and we are behaving, thinking and feeling about our life as we have done before. It is up to us to behave, think and feel differently about it moving forward. If we do not think differently, our life will be no different than on any other day.

If we feel powerless or hopeless, we’re not seeing our own role in our own life. Our designations have been misplaced and are not helping our situation or altering our conditions. The most powerful tool we have is our perspective. The old ways of thinking have not yielded results lately; our previous designations may have lost their use. The only avenue toward clarification is to review our assumptions and designations moving forward, and to do so robustly.

We can do something different with our life, right here and right now. We need only challenge our old assumptions and designations. Perhaps, we’re missing an aspect of our current situation that would make life so much easier. Perhaps, we’re making our situation worse through repeating old patterns that may have worked in the past. Perhaps, we can discover new ways to tackle old and new problems alike. We will only know if we let go of these assumptions and designations and explore anew. We will only know if we work at increasing our understanding.

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