Paradigms

We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” (Steven R. Covey)

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This is my very first blog post and honestly I’d rather leave it in the attic gathering dust… First I thought I write it to myself only, but I’m hoping sharing it online will help restore my self confidence, so here it is. 

Recently I’ve decided to use writing as an aid for understanding myself and to create order in my thoughts. I had a rough summer last year having thoughts which became chaotic and restless in such a manner that they took up all my time consuming my energy, creativity and rational thinking. Being open about it is a step I take towards myself and everyone else, as well as towards cleaning up my ‘space’.

After having problems last summer which let my general anxiety culminating in repetitive panic attacks experiencing uncontrollable emotional pain I was fortunate to have the support of my family and having a peaceful attic space as my  anchor point for my thoughts. (A hugeThanks for that.)

 As I’m thinking through the events which led me to end up on the slippery slope, it’s obvious that most of the difficult things happening to me were the result of bad life choices and unbalanced mental health. If I summarize it properly the bad life choices also were the result of unbalanced mental health.

Since then I’ve spent a big amount of time on trying to understand the reasons that let  chaos take over my mind and as a result I’ve became particularly interested in understanding how my perceptions are formed, how they govern the way I see, and how the way I see governs the way I behave.  

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We must look at the lens through which we see the world, as well as at the world we see, and that the lens itself shapes how we interpret the world.” (Steven R. Covey)

S. Covey talks a lot about paradigms. Paradigmsare described as thought patterns which conduct our way of seeing the world.  They are formed by our previous experiences, and we are not aware of them until we stop and analyze our own thoughts that lie underneath our feelings and behavior and body reactions (illness).

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view. 

When we become aware of the unhelpful and damaging thought patterns we follow, only then we can shiftthose paradigms and change them conscientiously into a helpful one.

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After I kind of grasped the idea about paradigms, I wanted to challenge myself and try to descend into the past to find a situation in my life where I can see a damaging thought pattern I followed. And if that thought pattern was ever shifted later, and if so had it changed anything for the better?  

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So I sat down on a chair in the attic and closed my eyes so I could time travel easily.  In only a few seconds a vivid memory had broken the surface of my mind’s eye. Years have been compressed quickly into a few seconds and I saw myself back in time.

I was 13 years old when my parents relationship had collapsed completely. As they couldn’t manage to live together any longer my mother decided to leave and move to another city. She took with her my 1 year old baby brother and left me and my younger brother with my father.  A sharp aftereffect followed her decision for all of us resulting in major changes in our everyday life. Those times were not eased by the fact that my family was part of a very religious community living in a tiny town where everyone knew us. Short after the events people came to me expressing their opinion on my mother’s decision and “behavior”, and that wasn’t an easy pill to swallow for a confused teenager. 

In the following months my loss slowly mixed up with anger. Thoughts like ‘I no longer have a mother’ or ‘my mother dumped me’ had crept up on me. One day after coming home from school I sat down and wrote a letter telling her that she failed as a mother and a human being. I posted it.

And by doing that I had just adopted a new paradigm which sounded like:  I no longer have a mother.

Months of silence followed and I hadn’t seen her. I felt my loss was even greater than after she left and I missed what she once meant to me.  

Then something happened…   The confused teenager changed her mind from one day to another. The shift  happened naturally, it was simple, easy, and so human.   She sat down at the table again on a sunny afternoon and wrote a letter again to her mum saying:  Sorry

And there it was, a new paradigm started to emerge: I still have a mother.

And I still have her since…

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That’s a simple story of a simple paradigm shifting which had and still has a huge beneficial effect on my life.  When we become aware of the unhelpful and damaging thought patterns we follow, only then we can shift those paradigms and change them conscientiously into a helpful one.

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Reference: Covey S. R. (2013). The 7 habits of highly effective people

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When silence happens in the marketplace, oil on canvas (detail)
https://www.instagram.com/melinda.matyas.art/

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