Thursday, November 30, 2023

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, November 19, 2022 - Be the Disruption

What do we think of when we consider words like disruption, anarchy, and chaos? I know many peoples’ first reaction will be apprehension at a minimum, and terror at a maximum. 

But take note that our concern over these ideas is mostly about our fear of change. Of course, we assume that any change born from anarchy or chaos or destruction would be an unwelcome change. But what if it isn’t?

Let’s think for a moment about disruption, for example, as a spiritual practice. Most spiritual practices are intended to be a disruption, actually. We are supposed to disrupt old patterns of behavior, often behaviors which do not serve us. What would it mean to disrupt those?

Anarchy is a word that represents disorder in the absence of authority. But not all authority is worthy of their lofty position. So are all forms of disorder stemming from our lack of recognition of a particular authority truly disordered? In other words, when we choose to disregard an authority figure because we cannot respect them, either because we have come to perceive that they are misusing their authority or because they have blatantly abused it, is the resulting lack of order unmerited?

Chaos theory would point out that even amid what appears to be utter disorder, underlying patterns do appear to exist. Which makes chaos not very chaotic in the end. 

To turn Gandhi‘s peace quote on its head, what would it mean to ‘be the disruption we wish to see in the world’? 

I’m not talking here about actions meant to cause harm. But not all disruption, anarchy, or chaos causes harm, except perhaps to old, outdated paradigms which are no longer useful to us. These are the target of all spiritual practices.

Within each of us, there are small psychological systems at work. Little ways of doing things or approaching problems that have developed over the years of our lives, sometimes from good influences, sometimes from traumatic ones.

Since both essentially represent forms of safety or the perception of safety, it’s difficult to tell whether we have always been left with wisdom or scars from our history. For often, they are both. How to tell them apart?

There’s a simple emotional muscle test one could use to figure out if all of our little ways of doing things are, in fact, good for us. See what happens when you try to change them. How do you react? Do you suddenly feel as though you are in trouble, in danger? Does the idea of changing a particular pattern of behavior that you have adopted for your own safety fill you with panic? That’s a signal it doesn’t come from a good place. And it may no longer be serving you.

But if consideration of changing some of your life patterns makes you feel as though it will be hard work, perhaps even too hard, but without the weight of anxiety, that might be an indicator of potential benefit. For you see, you didn’t emotionally react to that consideration of change. You responded in practicality. You weren’t triggered by the thought, you just weren’t looking forward to the heavy lift. 

Be mindful of the difference. Because when our habits become ingrained as a result of our trauma, they frequently have already long outlived their usefulness to us. 

Because disruptive change is such a potential minefield, it is useful to contemplate ways of mindfully approaching it that do not trigger our defense mechanisms. These ways are subtle and through the side door. They are effective mainly because our defense mechanisms don’t even realize we are attempting to circumnavigate them. 

Small efforts, intentionally made, often have large effects without triggering our emotional defenses. Do something different today. Something different than you’ve done before. Even if it is as simple as taking a different path to work. Take note of your habits and make changes to them once in a while just for the sake of it.

Brush your teeth with the opposite hand, wear a different outfit, choose a different drink at the bar. Take a class you normally wouldn’t. Prepare a dish you’ve never tried before following only the recipe.

Do something against the grain. Just for the sake of it. Disrupt the norm. Break cycles of normativity. Be a subtle anarchist. These disruptions may appear minor, but they have a ripple effect. They change the way you approach every aspect of your life.

Now, what if we were to go out into the world and choose to do things a little differently? Better yet, what if we were to look at some of the anarchy, chaos, and disruption in the world and conclude it to be the result of, or perhaps even the reaction to, productive disruptions to the way the world has always worked?

For the world has become disrupted. Anarchy is all around us because we are systematically abandoning old authoritarian structures and are now feeling our way around amidst the aftermath. Chaos appears to be our reality, but there is a pattern to it. There is benevolence within it.

Be the disruption you wish to see in the world. Let love be your guide while doing it. Not only will you be different, the world will respond in tandem.

No comments:

Post a Comment