Continuing from Sustaining a self-reflection practice in a chaotic world (1 of 2)

7. What gets in the way of sustaining your practice?

Most days, nothing. Some days, I do. On those days, I’ve learned to reach out to self-organizing group members until I’m back on track.

8. How does your professional self-reflection practice support your personal practice and vice versa?

Learning and experimenting with self-organizing groups and work groups is my professional practice and my personal practice. I first based my professional practice on what self-organizing groups do (as a researcher, I do what these groups do and I join and become them when possible). This worked so well that it opened my eyes in my personal life, and I started recognizing more of my groups as self-organizing and therefore as important to me both personally and professionally.

Consciously paying attention to and experimenting within my own and nearby others’ self-organizing groups has led to several remarkable things happening regularly to me now:

  1. I regularly become aware of new groups through the groups I study and am part of and I regularly come to recognize other groups that I’m already part of as self-org groups. Today my life/work brings forth an abundance of self-organizing groups—far more than I could ever study and be part of. My group cup runneth over.
  2. I’m regularly reminded of the importance of everyone around me, especially those close to me. This makes me more grateful, nicer, and less selfish. Most days.
  3. I can regularly make sense out of the torrent of input I receive from the groups I study and am part of. I’m learning to trust these groups and my individual self as reliable filters.

These things help both my professional and personal lives, which are pretty much one and the same now. Most days, I experience my work and my life as one whole big, fun experiment, which helps me take my individual self a lot less seriously (and which my individual self needs a TON of help with, I say as if that isn’t obvious to you already). 🙂

9. What do you do when you have to make a decision before you’ve reached the level of self-awareness you want to be at?

I allow my self-organizing groups to pull and push me to the level of self-awareness that makes the most sense in the moment, and I make/find the decision from that level or across a combination of levels. Today I see four levels of self-awareness, as discussed in the previous post, and believe that all these levels exist for a reason and matter equally. If the decision feels important, I float from one level to another and back again until an answer comes clear. Here are examples of what I hear at the different levels:

  • Individual self (fish): “Arrgh!! Stop! Don’t make a decision. You need more help. You need more time. You need more experts. You need more data. You need more everything! You’re clueless! A mistake could be fatal.”
  • Self-organizing group self (school): “Let’s make a decision and see what happens! We’re awesome at improvisation, doing the best we can in every moment, and our community will help us and forgive us as we make mistakes, which are an important part of the process.”
  • Self-organizing community self (river): “Release worry. Decisions made for the purpose of collective learning are rewarded. You’re at the level of self-awareness you need to be at right now—and so are those around you—whether you can fully see it yet or not.”
  • Self-organizing planet self (ocean): “We’re here to love and be loved. We know it. The decision is made.”

This moving across levels of self-awareness sometimes happens in a single instant and sometimes takes a few hours or days, depending on how loud my individual self is being. I’m still learning to trust my individual self fully. When I feel anger, fear, frustration now, though, I really listen. The louder my individual self is, the more self-organizing group and community members I physically seek out and talk to.

10. How do you feel about the people you meet who aren’t interested in self-reflection and self-awareness?

Depending on my own state in the moment, I feel one of four ways:

  1. Scared and angry. This makes me think: “Idiot!” or “Jerk!” (hello, individual self)
  2. Relieved. This makes me think: “Thank God I can stop thinking about self-awareness for a moment and just be.” (hello, self-organizing group self)
  3. Curious. This makes me think “I wonder where this person is when he/she does care about self-awareness, and why they don’t appear to care here?” (hello, self-organizing community self)
  4. I love them. (hello, self-organizing planet self)

At this point, I find myself at #3 most days, am surprised when I find myself at #1, and aspire to be at #4 more of the time. Hmm, wonder if I can get there before I’m 45? (am 41 right now) 🙂

11. What’s the role of humor in self-reflection?

A Buddhist walks up to a hot dog vendor and says “Make me one with everything.” She takes the hot dog and gives the person a $20 bill. When the vendor takes her money without saying anything, the Buddhist asks for her change. “My friend,” says the vendor, “Change comes from within.”

Why can’t Buddhists vacuum under the sofa? Because they have no attachments.

If I was truly wise, I’d just stop there. But I’m a researcher, not a comedian, so I’ll add this. I see humor as a way for our self-organizing group and community selves to ease the pain and suffering of our individual selves and as a way for our individual selves to recognize our collective selves. When I’m laughing, I’m consciously within my group, my community, and my planet, and I’m safe. When I’m not, I’m not.

Grady dreams of driving a Seafair hydro racer

12. How do the groups you’re part of support self-reflection and self-awareness?

If you’ve read this far, I’m curious. What do you think?