Win/Win in the Inner Community – Who what?
Ok – have you ever had one of those moments where 2 parts of you want 2 different things?
“Oh I really want to stay home today; but man am I exhausted.”
“I care about her and I see she wants to go out. But I want my freedom!”
“I really want to contribute to my child playing, but I have to get to work!”
“I know I feel guilty about making so much money while others can’t afford health insurance, but that’s just the way the world works!”
We as human beings have the incredible capacity for adaptation. Unfortunately, one way we adapt is by powering one side of ourselves over another side of ourselves – in fact, abandoning part of us in favor of another part.
We don’t actually think about our choices as, “Ok I’m going to choose to abandon part of me in favor of another part,” but bottom line, that’s what we do out of not having other options. Here are some examples:
“I know I’m exhausted, but forget that part – I have to go to work – I have to make money and cover my a** with my boss.” (choosing my desire for stability over my desire for self-care and rest)
“Sure a part of me cares for her…but in this case I’m going to put my freedom first.” (choosing my desire for autonomy over my desire to express care)
“I can’t do this; no play with Billy right now – work wins.” (choosing income stability and contributing economically to my child, over my contributing to my child now in play or in acknowledgment)
“Ok Bob, keep your nose down, and I’ll just do the best I can. I can’t take care of the whole frigging world.” (choosing self-care over the part of me that cares about the wider circle)
Although tragic (in that we abandon part of ourselves for another part), this is a common, natural response when we have (what I like to call) a “crisis of imagination”. If we had another option, we’d use it. But we’re all doing the best we can. In each of these cases, when we abandon one part of ourselves in favor of another part, what we’re really saying is “I don’t have clarity on how to move forward in a way that takes both sides into account.”
So we just pick a side. “Life is about sacrifice,” we tell ourselves, pushing the other side under the carpet. “Sometimes you just have to compromise,” we rationalize.
Until recently, this triage of choosing one side over another has served us. It has been a fundamental, critical survival and coping mechanism. It’s given us answers. It tells us what to do. Boom, done.
More recently, however, what we’re noticing is that this self-abandonment seeds dozens of other troubling, and highly costly consequences:
– chronic irritation
– stress disorders
– rebellion (mid-life crisis is often about the supressed side resurfacing and taking power over the supressor-side)
– chronic (and costly) health issues
What’s worse, what we do to ourselves (in self-abandonment and habitually using ‘power over’ as a means to cope) we also do to the world around us:
– parenting, “What I say is all that matters, do it or else. Forget what you need. Behave.”
– management, “If you don’t do what I say when I say it, I’ll find someone who will. Comply.”
– education, “We want control and order, so sit down, shut up, and regurgitate what you’re told on test papers. Be Good.”
– government, “Your situation, voice, and needs don’t matter; the red-tape, rules, and regulations are the final word. Conform.”
Everywhere we go, there we are. In the same way we wind up accomplishing one set of needs (ex: order, movement, or confidence/safety from trying to assert power/control), we ultimately also create environments of resentment, rebellion, apathy, distrust by not integrating all of the needs on the table.
So fine. Powering one set of values over another creates problems. What do we do about it? I mean, if I *had* a solution that were more effective, more fun, and less costly, then I could use it, right?
Here is one solution: I’m going to call it the Both/And solution. Here’s what that might look like in math:
A + B = C?
B + A = C?
In other words – If I take both A (the needs I’m inclined to shove under the carpet) and B (the needs I’m choosing to meet by doing that), instead of carpet-sweeping one of them I’m going to put them both together and ask myself a question – C.
How can I do A in a way that also takes care of B? or
How can I do B in a way that also takes care of A?
This A + B is what we call “power with”; both/and. This is very different than doing our habitual A OR B, either/or, which we call “power over”.
Here’s what “power with” might sound like in the examples above:
– “Wow I’m exhausted; I also have work. How can I give myself peace with my boss IN A WAY THAT ALSO takes care of my need for rest?” OR “Woof, I’m tired. How can I give myself rest IN A WAY THAT ALSO will protect my income at work?”
Notice that as we ask the question – the solution may not appear immediately. However, we cannot get what we do not ask for. By simply asking the question, and being willing to hold onto the question, we open up possibilities.
– “Hrm. She wants to go out… How can I express my care for her IN A WAY THAT ALSO gives me the freedom of choice that I want?” OR “Hrm. She wants to go out. Ok – How can I get a sense of my freedom IN A WAY THAT ALSO contributes a little bit to her desire for companionship?”
Often, the answer will show up in the form of “partnership”. Ex: “Hey, I have a dilemma. I care about you, but I also want some freedom tonight. What could WE do that would take care of both of us?” In this example, not only does it hold both sides of you (your care and your freedom), but it also fulfills your intent for expressing care for the other person. You’re saying, “I know I don’t have a solution yet, but I’m not going to abandon any of this. Let’s work together to find a solution.”
– “Eek…I’ve 10 minutes to get to work and Billy’s playing. Ok – How can I support Billy playing IN A WAY THAT ALSO gives me what I need in integrity about getting to work on time?” OR “Uh oh, 10min until work – How can I fulfill my intention around work IN A WAY THAT ALSO contributes to Billy’s play?”
Sometimes unexpected answers will appear – “Hey Billy! I have a game!! Last one to the car is a rotten egg!!!” Now you’re cultivating BOTH play AND your hopes for integrity around your work schedule. Or “Huh! If I’m 3 minutes late I can deal with that. I
don’t need to yell at Billy and yank him away from play after all.” Or, “Hrm. I care so deeply about my son’s wellbeing that I’m going to collaborate with him, show him that he matters, and enroll his support. Hey Billy, could you help me? I’m scared about being late to work, I’m afraid the boss will yell at me. Could you and I play in the car on the way?”
Sometimes the answer comes not in the form of an immediate solution, but a conversation we can have today that will generate a solution tomorrow or a month from now or a year from now.
– “How can I provide for my prosperity IN A WAY THAT ALSO accounts for the prosperity of others in my organization?” OR “How can our company provide Health Care IN A WAY THAT ALSO contributes to the company’s bottom line?”
You may not have an answer today. But I absolutely guarantee that if you make this intention a company policy, as a leader you will gain respect even if it takes time for the solution to appear. I also guarantee that what you focus on, you attract, and if you concentrate on the question long enough, and ask for others’ recommendations, a solution *will* surface.
What if it were possible to suffer less and thrive more?
What if it were possible to get the system doing what we want in ways that were more fun and less costly?
What if A+B=C? is the formula that provided 10, 20, or 50% greater success, more of the time?
What if cultivating A+B with ourselves could impact the planet at large, without one ounce of cost?
In the integral community, some people bash A + B as “green swamp”. They are afraid that if we start collaborating with others to find workable solutions that include everyone all the time, we’ll spend all of our time negotiating and “holding the question” and never get anything done. It’s true, I have seen people take A + B to the dysfunctional extreme. Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone wants to be heard and we leave the meeting without ever getting anything done?
Again, Both/And comes to the rescue. When we combine our skills from “power over” (let’s make the best decision we can, and DO something), but in a way that includes an A + B perspective (I will not meet one set of needs at the expense of another), what we have is a capacity to decisively choose a direction that accounts for both sides as best we can. When we add to this a heap of flexibility, when we give ourselves room to adjust the plan as we go if we find a better way, what we have is both inclusion and movement. The net result – results with a more system-inclusive approach.
Moving from an either/or framework (first tier) to a both/and framework (second tier) provides solutions that account for more of the system, more of the time. That system may be two sides of myself, or us, or our groups, or the Material Plane at large. In any case, Both/And results in solutions that are more effective, more fun, and far, far less costly.