Mental Maps, Attitude, and Diligence

200It is Saturday afternoon and after a little time in the pool killing wasps that wanted to share the pool, I had some time to think about the frustrating obstacles we face along the way.  For instance, as much as I tried to avoid the wasps, I thought maybe my attitude and diligence to avoid the wasps would get some mileage at overcoming the flying source of frustration.

However, I soon discovered that, the source of the frustration was not the lack of the right attitude about peaceful co-existence about the wasps, but how I had mapped out the idea that I could share a pool with a swarm of wasps.  I thought, if I leave them alone, they would do the same.  As I soon learned, sometimes the little maps created in our thinking are encoded with the wrong information.  Earlier I was reading in Covey (2004) who indicated that everyone tends to think about obstacles in two ways, “the way things are, or realities, [or] the way things should be, values” (p. 24).  There are times when we give in to circumstances because we cannot see past the obvious. 

As I discovered, one of the problems with looking at things as they appear, or how they should be, is that we usually believe that the way we see things is the way things really are or should be. Unfortunately, a people believe many things passionately that simply are not true.  Consequently, beliefs that people hold about what they see as, “realities or what should be” in life can be misleading.

Therefore, when we face obstacles, our assumptions about life events, like swimming with wasps, generally muster up an attitude to embolden a response to manage frustrating obstacles without ever getting out of the pool because that is our comfort zone.  In addition, if perception impairment sidetracks thinking in effective ways; then, we run the risk of an unpleasant engagement with the wasps we will have to face.

What I discovered is that an anxiety driven response could not change the momentary crisis created by aggravating wasps.  As long as the impending sense of concern about the wasps polarized the moment, the feeling of aggravation only made the experience more frustrating.  As I soon understood, there are times when we just need to change not only what we see about obstacles, we need to change what we think and do about frustrating obstacles.  Then, just get out of the pool and spray them with hornet spray because it did not matter how positive that I was and no matter how much I believed that this should not be, I had to change my thinking and get out of the pool to remove the frustrating obstacles.

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Point of View: How Perspective Influences Cultural Trends and Communication

Railroad tracks

A Narrow and Vanishing Perspective

I only have one opinion so it is the only one I can give.  I know that sounds narrow minded and resistant, but isn’t that really what it boils down to with everyone?  However, the problem with opinion is that many time opinions are irrelevant in an atmosphere of constant change of culture and communication technology.  As a result, one of the challenges in modern world is to understand the speed that culture is changing right before our eyes and how the communication of ideas is in constant state of flux.  Therefore,  on the high speed information network, the challenge reinforces a constant need to adapt to changing constructs and to understand that there may be an inhibited ability to comprehend the rate that information passing before our eyes is  feeding a blurred generational and cultural myopia.  In a world  where a narrow perspective is vanishing, some people may ask: Does any generation have an absolute truth or a point of view that is constant, timeless, and irrefutable through all of time, generations, and cultures to balance information contained in the communication of ideas?  Obviously, while there are differences about the answer, the ideas that many people hold as timeless principles of truth seems to be quickly vanishing in the milieu of ideas and being edited within the context of modern culture. A strong point of consideration about information and communication in a world that is technology bound is the strong evidence to suggest that the happenings of culture today are affecting, not only what subjects are relevant to the times, but how communication occurs in the 21st century.

In recent blog post Ed Stetzer (2011) cited Adlai Stevenson who stated, ‘”That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in another.’ He did not have a particularly high view of the next generation, but he does challenge us to consider the radical changes in thinking that are sometimes seen between generations” (Stetzer).   The apparent point to be understood is that every generation has a perspective that shapes contemporary beliefs— what is deemed important—values that form a perspective about level of importance of certain ideas.  In addition, it is not just the message of communication and values that is important, it is the fact that methods of communicating from the past are vanishing and being replaced on the super highway of technology. Consequently, what is apparent from an understanding cultural transformation in the 21st century is that a present cultural perspective is shaping point of view and validating the principle that both the vehicle and the message in every generation creates a shift in how people in a given generation arrive at a destination that they believe is truth and in a vehicle that the present generation creates its own mind-set.

Just as people from different cultures, races, and people groups think differently about important issues, generations are cultural subgroups of the macrocosm of human existence.  It is evident that each  thinks differently about matters of  believed to be of importance.  However, remember that successive generations hold a different point of view that is emerging and is relevant to the time.  Therefore while people may disagree, different perspectives are worth taking time to consider. It is said that one thing common to every generation is how the collective perspective is internalized. Ed Stetzer  (2011)  cited George Orwell’s perspective, which states that “Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it and wiser than the one that comes after it” (Stetzer).  Someone from a past generation may ask: Are current generations really more intelligent or are earlier generations wiser?  Obviously, the answer depends on perspective – what it looks like from where you are standing or pontificating.

What perspectives are influencing the way life is understood in the 21st century?

The perspective, the unique way life is understood today, is a sociological and cultural phenomenon. For those who want to deny reality and continue to ignore what is shaping the point of view of the emergent culture of the 21st century only creates frustration and disconnection, which does not offer any substantive answers or a reasonable framework to understand reasoning behind current ideals.

Ideologues and philosophers offer suggestion about what is occurring, but unfortunately understanding ideals and philosophy alone will not provide efficacy that creates effective communication. Ideals, are generally moral ideas or mores’ based on certain group identification that create expectations about how people should think or act. Philosophical assumptions are the ways that beliefs are rationalized into reason.  Thus forming, the informational content of perspective. Values or axiology has more to do with what is deeply felt, importance, passion, and motivation that affect beliefs. For example, the   felt importance of something believed to be true.  When tension deposited in life experience that conflicts with values, it results in conflicting ideas about importance that creates a  disconnect between perceptions and experienced reality.

The question is formed: Who/what is right how can the way values are felt be rationalized with experience that does not match a reality believed?  Unfortunately, I find myself at odds with most idealist and the emphasis upon what should be and find myself focused upon what emerging culture is saying. As a point of reference something that needs to be understood is how to  connect perception to reality.  Consequently, the constant flow of information  redefines the importance of what seems logical in one generation as information is disseminated and absorbed into successive generations.  Therefore, there is a tension that exists in the message and mode of communication that results in aberrations in what is felt about the information, which places the greatest emphasis upon perspective.

Obviously, anyone can give an opinion about what is wrong with something.  However, knowing what is wrong is not the critical issue in communication of solutions that are workable.  One perspective that some people have is to write people off who look different, think different, and have a differing perspective.  Another point of view is to embrace the culture and learn the language, thinking, and mindset of the 21st century.  Seeing someone else’s perspective is not whitewashing culture or moralizing behaviors, it is asking why do people do that in the way they do and understanding if the desire is to connect, communicate, and build meaningful relationships that we need to understand more than what we know.

With the increasing isolation of people and the desire to have relationships, there is a tremendous opportunity to step outside a solitary opinion and understand people as part of a culture that thinks different than we do.  The opportunity demonstrates a tremendous potential, if we will take time to understand how perception formation is impacting beliefs and governs the content and methods of communication in the 21st century.

Point of View Perspective Beliefs God Theology Church Traditions Statistics Surveys Theory Demographics Communication Context Relationships Unchurched Christian Universalism Philosophy Vision Mission Outcome.

Emotional Abuse–Invalidation, Scars Left Behind

I have heard it said that the greatest fear that a child has while growing up is the fear of abandonment and rejection—that they will be left alone.  Abandonment alone is a subject that there is a plethora of research written about and its association with mental health disorders, as well as, social and identity issues.  If it is true that a developing child has an identity crisis occurring already– questioning how he/she fits into a social construct or asking how and where he/she fits into family—the world; then how does emotional, psychological, and physical abuse effect a child developing social identity?

The impact of abandonment, isolation, invalidation, and rejection brings a feeling that surfaces unexplainable and perplexing behaviors and contributes to an attachment pattern that is secure or insecure—reactive or maladaptive.  Quite often, when we see children or adults that demonstrate perplexing behaviors — that we may not understand, there is something not seen. Unseen forces are at work creating a ricocheting pattern of emotional responses– events in life that bring a wave of peculiar behaviors that affect every area of life now and everything happening in the future. While some people may believe that their actions are independent and well thought out, the truth is that what is happening in life is inextricably connected to the experience of attachment and the concurrent developmental process.

Attachment and development are important to understand in how children develop, but when a child is subjected to factors that negatively affect normal progression, such as emotional abuse, healthy and normal development is altered.  The impact of the environment upon a child are well noted in studies, but when there are multiple themes of abandonment, rejection, and invalidation; it is an unnatural occurrence that changes the outcome of development.  A problem that many people are faced with is a lack of understanding about how episodes or solitary events are related to behaviors and events in life.  A simplistic way this can be illustrated is that life is an organic event where everything has an effect in a systemic way upon development.  As a result, the emotional quotient of all of the things that happen throughout life have an unrealized connection to how the lived experience of a child unfolds into adult life.

What happens to children when adults do not take time to think about how their behavior affects children?  One week in the life of a child can have an effect for the rest of life.   I listened to the story about a father who goes out of town and a family friend coming to visit and  taking the unattended mother and the kids for a ride, it seemed innocent enough at the time.  However, what seemed like an innocent event from child’s perspective, quickly turned into adults behaving badly. In addition to children being caught in the middle of an event beyond their capacity to understand clearly.  It seemed an innocent event until the father came back after being away and the child shares the latest news. However, what happened afterward the conversation was not innocent.  What followed was a anger, a mother being abused in an angry and violent dispute over what happened.  Unfortunately, there are many times like this when the bad behavior of adults places children in a situation that they are not capable of understanding.  The result is a child whose innocence is scarred by witnessing abusive behavior and a feeling of responsibility that arrests and inhibits normal development and social identity that can echo down through life experience.  When a child is forced to take responsibility for the bad behavior of adults, the child does not know what to do or how to rationalize the experience, which results in fear.  What adults do not understand is that when children are exposed to experiences like this, they are faced with another adult crisis: the child feels guilt, has to live in secrecy, and is forced to cover up for the parents acting out their problems. Obviously,  events have an effect upon everyone involved, but what message is conveyed to the child and how does this affect relationships and the child’s development of future behaviors?

The answer is very complicated, but what happens throughout life and connects to everything else in life.  Individuals always have a reason for acting as they do, behaving as they do and while it may not be clear to us at the movement, all behaviors are a product of systems at work..  One of the problems with behavioral issues is that a casual examination of what a person does—just seeing behavior– does not provide clear answers to why something is happening.  For most people, unless they are in a crisis or unless it serves a personal need,  time will not be taken to ask why,  the behavior is judged on the merit of what is seen and branded with a label like “good ‘or “bad” behavior.

What seemed like a fun day for a child turned into a lifetime of problems in relationships?  After, telling what happened and  seeing the mother’s pain, the father’s anger, and trying to avoid and manawillge conflict—the interpretation of the child is that somehow this is his fault.  For a child who is not mature enough to make sense of what happened, the result is emotionally damaging be cause the event is internalized with guilt, fear, and a feeling of responsibility for things that adults are doing without considering what effect is being placed upon the child.  The child sees this a a personal failure and interprets the event and interprets this from “if should” reasoning.  If I had done this, it would not have happened—I should have kept this a secret.  Children think in terms of “black and white” concrete operational thinking (Jean Piaget).  In simple terms, it means the child felt responsibility for what happened in the family on that day and accepted ownership for the emotional consequences of what happened.  What a horrible thing for a child to have to own—responsibility, guilt, inferiority, shame, and rejection because adults did not think beyond their immediate needs and chose not to act responsibly.  For a child, events like this are emotionally damaging and leave scars of the developing child which lead to a reflection of self and others that continues throughout life until they are understood.

While adults may not understand the effect of what they do or why act in certain ways, everything that happens in life is related to perception in the lived-experience of a developing child.  Adult issues with depression, self-esteem, identity issues, relationships, perfectionism, as well as numerous other issues are related to attachment, socialization, and development as a child.  A problem is that many people do not figure these things out until life is turned upside down and life falls apart.  The importance of this cannot be understated for the developing child.  A child is faced with enormous pressures upon life and when something goes wrong and development is scarred by emotional abuse, the child gets a life sentence.   Erick Erickson said that developing children faces a social identity crisis in every period of growth that will have an impact upon how a child feels about self, acceptance in social settings, and the ways the child will interact with his world.  Consequently, the developing child needs a clear sense of who they are and how they fit in the world, where they belong, as well as, being equipped to develop the necessary skills to engaged with life in a healthy way.

When children witness traumatic events, how will abnormal events affect development and impact the child’s ability to manage a complex adult issue of sex, marital fidelity, and emotional or physical abuse?  The answer is clear, there is nothing that could prepare a child to understand or r manage these conditions: because it is an unnatural development.  The scars created by intentional or unintentional emotional abuse predicts what will come in the future —a lifetime of guilt, perfectionism, feeling rejected, and emotionally abandoned.

What Can Be Learned From The Aftermath?

This story calls attention to the importance of what happens in childhood development, the cognitive map that is formed, and behavioral cues that indicate that something has happened that needs to be understood.  In addition, when some people look at life diagnostically, they are looking for someone to blame for their pain, behaviors, or life experience.  Blame, unforgiveness, and anger are not an effective approach, they only deepen the effect of abuse and does not bring solutions contribute to an effective life.  For those desiring an healthy life, what will be of importance is not someone to blame, but understanding why behaviors occur as they do.

Obviously, many individuals cannot find the destination to healthy living, i.e., taking the appropriate steps toward changing life without an understanding of the core problems of childhood experiences.  Thinking about the past is painful at times and you may not want to air all of your dirty laundry in public, but the fact remains that connecting events from childhood events, pain rejection, or abandonment, draws a picture that puts events, feelings, and behavior in a context to be understood.

Be Careful About Casting Your Pearls Before The Swine.

One of the problems with adult behavior is that when we share with others, not capable of understanding, a common experience is that invalidation, criticism, and more misunderstanding occurs.  As a result, because we do not like that feeling, then we hide, deny, and cover up what is felt and deepen the pain in the act of denial. Unfortunately, you cannot hide from yourself for long and when you shove your feelings down for so long, they come out in health, relationship, and life problems.  The problem creates a self-fulfilling prophecy that will predict how relationships will occur.  Many times the problems of the past will perpetuate the very thing that is hated the most and we desire to change.  When you are willing to accept responsibility for yourself and understand where the negative programming from abuse originates, change is possible.  When the days of awakening comes the abused can realize that today is good day to start acting instead of reacting to life.  Life will never be perfect, but life will be what you make it today, so enjoy the opportunity that you have in your hand today. “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning” (Albert Einstein).

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