the wisdom of “Do something else”

“If my experience is that something is not working, do something else.”

originally titled: adapting to experiencing someone’s attention as being “unavailable”

First, consider how much of a priority it is for me to have that person’s attention be however available- like if life is giving me the feedback that “this one’s attention may not be very available for that,” so what?

Second, relax my attention from them in particular. Or maybe that comes first. Whatever.

Next, consider what could be a priority that IS available? Note: when I experience something as seeming “available” – as in accessible or practically relevant – that may be… practically relevant!


attention (Photo credit: gordonr)

Now, with attention to what seems available (as in seems practically relevant), does any particular possibility “stand out” as an obvious focus for my time and attention? Here is an example.

Let’s imagine that I happen to have a certain job. Within that job, there are certain things that I value, such as the paycheck and producing commissions that show up on the next paycheck. There are certain things that are very much within my direct influence, though other people may have some influence as well, of course.

So, I could focus on various propsective clients- like which ones do I make a priority for my attention and why? I could focus on adhering to various guidelines (or take actions to develop new ones and explore altering old ones).

Of course, I may encounter resistance, like from another person. I may encounter any variety of boundaries- money, schedule, cell phone reception issues, objections, etc….

For instance, If I am consistently re-prioritizing what to do, then that mode of operation expects to encounter boundaries sometimes. Patterns will eventually change. Boundaries will change. If I do not ever explore the boundaries, I may miss that old boundaries may no be longer binding- or I may miss that certain boundaries are more restrictive than I previously experienced.

So, one thing to do is to create a game. My experience of existing boundaries is simply part of the rules of the game as I define them. I define my experience of the boundaries and the context in which I frame them.

With regard to a paycheck, an obvious game is to (1) keep them coming and (2) maintain or even increase the amount of the pay. However, I might also choose to revise the game in terms of changing the amount of hours that I commit to the job. I could alter my schedule, increase my schedule, or reduce my schedule.

Let’s move on to relationships. If the priority of my game is for personal well-being or for fun or for family, those are all distinct contexts.

A focus on personal well-being asks “what’s in it for me?” By the way, if there is an immediate perceived threat to personal well-being, the importance of personal well-being may be suddenly clear.

A focus on fun asks things like “is this something that I would begin doing if I hadn’t already been doing it already?” A context of fun tends to presume that personal well-being issues are already satisfied and stable. In other words, people may not focus on fun when a waterline freezes or a tree penetrates the roof and the flood waters begin to approach the height of the power outlets.

So, fun is about doing something more or doing something less- or perhaps even interrupting it. While personal well-being is essential, fun is merely favorable.

A focus on family is also distinct from either of the above. Family priorities may involve the sacrificing not only of fun, but also of personal well-being.

One can identify family as a partnership of two specific people or even a large network of loose relationships, typically involving biological similarity. People who join together in business networks which they can simply transfer by selling stock shares are not likely to intentionally sacrifice personally for the benefit of the company.

On that note, it may be surprising how much that people expect large bureaucracies (such as governments, insurance corporations, and even large church organizations) to reliably support them as individuals (and operators of business). People often complain when organizations change their internal boundaries (by making a new criminal law or shutting down one of their facilities or merging with another operation and incorporating unfamiliar rules).

So, imagine that the global economy is shifting in some noticable way. Is this the first time that a noticeable economic shift has ever happened?

One can dismiss the noticable changes (perhaps as hopefully temporary) and instead keep favoring one’s old perspective on priorities and keep investing in familiar methods. That tends to produce unfavorable results which further tend to open people to re-prioritizing (to humble them or humiliate them).

Or, perhaps the seasonal climate is shifting in some noticable way. Is this the first time that a noticable climatic shift has ever happened?

Now, what if someone’s attention is shifting in some noticable way? Is this the first time that a noticable attention shift has ever happened?

When someone’s attention is noticably shifting, I might be open to being that someone and allowing my attention to shift, to re-prioritize. When life gives feedback for re-prioritizing, my willingness to receive that feedback and my capacity to adapt to it may produce noticable shifts in my experienced results.

My experience of personal well-being may be the result of my responsiveness to life’s feedback. My experience of fun and family may also be the result of my adaptiveness to life’s feedback. My relationship to my own experienced results is my relationship to life’s feedback. What else would be life’s feedback except for my own experienced results?

How willing I am to adapt to my own experienced results could make a difference for my future. If I am willing, then even a boundary as to my current capacity to adapt simply is experienced as an opportunity to learn and to collaborate with others who might have competence in some particularly relevant form of adaptiveness. My experience of my future may be a function of my willingness to adapt to my own experienced results, that is, my experience of responsibility for my own results as personal or “systemic.”

Am I willing to define myself as “a victim of the system?” Imagine that there might be a systematic program to present people with an identity as “the responsibility of the system.” I may be taught that I am the ward of the state, or the ward of the insurance company, or the ward of a particular church or business or even individual person, such as a parent as legal guardian for a minor child.

Of course, as a child presumed to be legally incompetent, such definitions might be quite accurate. So, is it all odd that there might be systematic programming to present people with an identity as “the responsibility of the system?” Consider that it would be odd if there were not such a programming.

So, we may have all been programmed as children that other particular people and groups are responsible for us. However, as adults, we may recognize that identifying one’s self as “a victim of the system” (or even a victim of any particular other person) may not be in the best interest of one’s own personal well-being. Some other identifying might produce favorable feedback from life as in favorably experienced results. Of course, “victim of the climate” or “victim of the global economy” or “victim of my children” are all possible identifyings in language. All identifying is adaptive, just not for any particular amount of time.

Consider that life’s feedback on my self-identifying is valuable. Further, consider that both nurturing and victimization are valuable. A government or church or private corporation or individual may provide me with some valuable attention and support, then stop doing so. The organization or person may cease to function. Or, life may give me the feedback of exposing me to the question of “what if you can do it yourself?”

Personal responsibility is not for everyone. In fact, huge numbers of people may functionally reject personal responsibility by maintaining the self-identifying of “victim.” With certain feedback from life, the adaptiveness of such self-identifying may eventually be noticed as only temporary.

Sometimes, personally experienced results may produce a new willingness to explore the language of one’s own self-defining, self-identifying, self-binding. Whose boundaries are my boundaries? When I speak of the boundaries of my own shifting attention, do I speak of those boundaries as my own, or as boundaries that a cruel and unusual life has imposed on me unjustifiably and maliciously? Do I speak of my own experienced results as life’s feedback (as in guidance or support) or as injustices and victimizations and complaints and someone else’s responsibility?

My relationship to life is my self-identifying. Does life victimize me (as life’s victim) or does life support and guide me (as life’s beneficiary)? How willing am I to be responsible for my own self-identifying? How willing am I to be responsible for my own experienced results?


Published on: Jul 2, 2011


Kara’s video response:

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One Response to “the wisdom of “Do something else””

  1. Boundaries, the Web and Global Culture « Says:

    [...] the wisdom of “Do something else” ( [...]

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