The Imbalance of Rigidity

I’ve noticed that as most people progress through life, they tend to develop fixed ideas about their identity and their place in the world. They tell themselves a story of who they are and what their life experience means. I am a martyr. I am a leader. I am misunderstood. Families look like this. People ignore me. People must approve of me. Loyalty is everything. I refuse to be cheated. Stories like that, paradigms through which they view their lives and their relationship to the world.

Does any of this ring a bell for you? Who are you thinking of? What story do you secretly believe about yourself?

Fixed ideas such as these makes it easier to digest what is happening around us because we have clear-cut definitions—most of which we decided upon when we were much younger, or simply adopted the terms handed down to us by our family. But, we change; so do our circumstances and our capabilities. To apply definitions or primitive understandings that may have been appropriate when we were children, may not serve us so well as mature adults. I contend that using such outmoded approaches often produces results that no longer serve our best interests. The idea of examining such longstanding presumptions rarely occurs to folks, even when things aren’t going so well. I’ve done it this way forever; why would I reconsider?

The natural resistance to change is easy to understand. Change involves a large amount of unpredictability, an unsure outcome. Things could get worse if I were to change it up, we mutter to ourselves. In a world filled with a sense of ever increasing chaos, it’s easy to succumb to the temptation to grasp onto the known—even if it isn’t delivering the results we would hope—simply because we can predict with fair accuracy what the result will be. But this insistence of keeping things “the way they’ve always been” is the equivalent of a rigidity that can throw our lives off balance.

Now, think about that sentence; it’s funny, isn’t it? How can something that’s fixed be off balance?

Recently, I learned about a performance artist, Janine Antoni, who explores an aspect of this concept in a video called “Touch.” http://www.art21.org/texts/janine-antoni/interview-janine-antoni-touch-and-moor As part of her efforts to learn to tightrope, she discovered that a large part of her success lay in growing comfortable with being out of balance. Flexing to shift her bodyweight while on the rope actually provided the stability she needed to achieve her goal of getting from Point A to Point B. Her confidence and capabilities increased as she grew accustomed to the ever shifting conditions. Had she frozen up, she would’ve fallen off the rope.

This is a much larger topic than one blog post might reasonably address and I will return to it periodically, but I suggest that you reflect upon examples in your life of people who have insisted on definitions that have worked against them, throwing their current lives off balance. Must a family really operate only one way? Do you need to continue to agree with another’s philosophy? How vital is it that you be recognized for your efforts? Were your mistakes truly unforgiveable? Were theirs?

What I hope you’ll take away from this post is the seed idea that, maybe, some of your core, operating assumptions may require re-evaluation. It’s possible that they are just fine, as is; but, there may be one or two lurking beneath that might benefit from a little re-tweaking. After all, the big idea for Re-booters is to live a well-adjusted life, so you wouldn’t want a little rigidity to knock you off balance. Now would you?

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One Response to “The Imbalance of Rigidity”

  1. Julie Says:

    Great topic and post!

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