How Do You Explain Life to Yourself?
Those who study human behavior describe two primary ways of seeing life. This approach is sometimes called the “human iceberg effect,” because most of us can explain the 5% of our beliefs that are above the water line, but may be unconscious to the 95% of our beliefs that run our internal dialogue.
It is the 95% that we want to become more aware. If you have not paid attention to beliefs that are frozen underneath the water, you may not be aware of the impact they have on you and how you move through your world.
Reflect, with appreciation and compassion, on the human complexity that swims in the unconscious of each human being. Here are the two fundamental ways of explaining life:
- You explain life through a “me-centric” internal dialogue. Your job is to watch out for yourself and any problems that may arise that prevent you from getting what you want or think you need. You focus on what is good for you and, when life does not go as you wish, there must be someone or something to blame. In self-defense, you take control in hopes to minimize feeling like a Victim to the problems that arise. Ultimately life is scary and cannot be trusted, so you must defend yourself, often unconsciously, while marginalizing others or cultures that are different from yours.
- You explain life through “we-centric” internal dialogue. The meaning of life is a mysterious web of interconnectivity that requires an open-hearted approach to continuous learning. Life is full of paradoxes and requires that you become comfortable with not knowing. You accept that your job is to become more self-aware, taking full responsibility for your beliefs and actions, which is not always easy, but it is the journey you have chosen. You believe deeply in the Creator essence of all people, including yourself. You cultivate and strengthen your unique voice and gifts so you can contribute to a world that works for all.
The we-centric internal dialogue recognizes that life is not a winner-take-all battle and that a desire to “know” shifts to a desire to explore with curiosity and deep listening.
The American culture is rooted in the me-centric explanation that appreciates self-reliance, independence, and individualism. While it is good to a point, it also marginalizes those who are different and develops “us and them” thinking, while seeding extreme competition and a win-at-all-cost mentality. If this is your interpretation of life, the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) will emerge, creating Victims, Persecutors, and the hope for a powerful Rescuer that will maintain the me-centric culture.
In a world that is heading toward 10 billion people by the year 2050, it is essential that we, together, nurture a “we-centric” explanation of life. The TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® roles of Creator, Challenger, and Coach contain values and principles based upon the we-centric view of life.
One place we notice our me-centric arise is when we get defensive and stop listening to each other. Our defensive listening kicks in when we feel we must preserve our individuality and exert our need to be right. We cannot listen to be right and listen to connect with an open heart at the same time.
A defensive posture starts in your body. If you pause and check-in with your body and you feel it arising, then ask yourself: “Do I actually want to hear what the other person has to say?”
Another question to ask yourself: “Do I believe in the Creator essence in other people, including people who are different that I am?”
Shifting from “me” to “we” is not easy. With intention, open-hearted listening, and exploring with curiosity we can make this shift together. Our collective survival depends on it.