Benefit of the Doubt

Benefit of the doubt

Benefit of the doubt is an old-fashioned expression. My mom used it when I got on my high horse about what someone else should or shouldn’t be doing. That happened fairly often because I had strong opinions about how things ought to be done.

When I was about 12, I overheard Mom telling Grandma that I didn’t suffer fools gladly. She was right. And it couldn’t have been otherwise because, back then, I had a very limited perspective of life and why we’re here.

Now that I’m 75…

As I get older, life seems less simple, less black-and-white. There are nuances. There are unknowns. There are unknowables. There’s a bigger picture.

I’ve had many years to pull together my understanding of the bigger picture. The way I see it, the life I’m living now is one step on a long journey to expand my soul’s repertoire of experiences.

A human life is short, even for those who live the longest. There isn’t time to be a king, a beggar, a criminal, an adventurer, a slave, a slave owner, a teacher, a performer, a politician, and who knows what else.

Yet each of those roles provides a soul with unique learning experiences. All of this learning, over time, expands that soul’s understanding—because once something is learned, it can’t be unlearned.

I’ve felt in this lifetime that my job is to uncover those learnings, many of which are buried deep in my subconscious. I’ve been able to do this by increasing my awareness of patterns that show up in my life and then releasing that dysfunctional energy.

In that context…

In the context of that bigger picture, the actions of others can be interpreted differently than they would have been by my 12-year-old self.

And certainly, the past few years have provided me with more than enough challenges to moderate my perception of others—particularly politicians and everyday folks as they navigate the social and logistical demands of a pandemic.

In both cases, it is so easy to judge them harshly when their actions don’t dovetail with my opinions as to what they should do. (My 12-year-old still likes to show her authority at times.)

But my advantage now is that I can access a broader perspective. Suppose the politician who is “such a jerk“ is simply playing a role that he took on before entering this life to gain certain experience? What if that is also true of the citizen who refuses to participate in wearing masks—playing a role to help us all get clear about what is important to us and where our bottom line is.

Playing with the idea…

I realize that many people don’t share my understanding of why we’re here. But anybody can play with that idea. If it were true that we’re here at this time for a particular experience, how would that change your response to the actions of others?

Would you be able to give them the benefit of the doubt?

Hibernating…

Like the bears in the wintery climate where I live, I’m hibernating.

Bear Hibernating

For fun facts about what happens in the den, check out the Bearsmart Blog to learn six interesting things bears do in the den. Can’t say any of them represent how I expect my next few months to go, so I guess one can stretch an analogy only so far!

For me, my energy will be directed to my inner world…and so you won’t be hearing from me for a while. I need to stop for a reset because I’m swimming in ideas and information, having had an intensive few weeks of engaging in several conferences—online of course—with two more to come.

If you’re curious, they are the Conscious Evolution Summit, The Embodiment Conference, A Magnificent New Normal, Beyond the Veil Summit, Globe Sound Healing Conference, and Carolyn Myss teaching How Your Soul Takes Flight.

Now I need some mental space to metabolize, integrate and synthesize all of it to shape where my life will go from here. In the meantime, here are some favourite posts you might like to revisit or enjoy for the first time.

What’s this all about?

Tools for coping

Perspective

There’s got to be a better way!

Taking care of business

Video You can Hibernate with Me by Benjamin Scheuer.

Of course, since we are still under distancing rules, this is a metaphorical invitation. See you in the spring!

Wobbling with the world…

Right before our eyes, the world has become a wonky place. Unpredictable and unthinkable events have occured. Things we thought were firm and stable aren’t.

And we don’t like it!

Living in uncertainty is hard. It requires us to be flexible, lest we snap under the pressure. Yet the systems of Western culture do nothing to cultivate our inherent flexibility and resilience. Indeed, materialism, competition, and our cultural notion of success all reward a rigid approach to living. And we’ve become so used to living this way that we often don’t realize it’s a cultural meme and not an immutable fact of life.

We have two choices…

In uncertain times, we can cling tighter and push harder in hopes of getting things back to the way they were. Or we can change our mindset about how things are meant to work, what is possible, and what’s to be expected in the new circumstances in which we find ourselves through no choice of our own.

As my Tasmanian friend Gill so aptly put it, we have to wobble with the world. She should know. Gill has lived through plenty of wobbles including a broken neck and open heart surgery. Yet she is still here, after 84 years, with an inspiring curiosity and zest for learning and growing. I think it’s fair to say that Gill’s mindset is what made it possible for her to wobble with her world while it lurched along through her share of adverse events.

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There can be truth in nonsense…

Nonsense takes us beyond the limitations of logic, into the quantum world where all is possible. It activates a part of us that is not always respected in our modern-day left-brain culture. Oftentimes, this disparagement of the nonsensical is to our detriment.

A master of nonsense…

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Laughter Yoga—A New Frontier in Wellness

These times are too serious to lose our sense of humour.

So…it’s a good idea to have some strategies and tools to keep ourselves laughing. And especially so for those of us in the northern hemisphere where days are getting shorter and colder as winter closes in.

Why laugh when life isn’t funny?

Good question. Why would anyone want to laugh—when life continues to fall apart around us in the midst of a pandemic and colder weather is keeping us indoors even more? Here’s what Norman Cousins said many years ago…

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Cultivating empathy…

This is my concluding post on empathy. It’s a subject that has been on my mind a lot as I keep seeing how desperately we need more empathy in this world—and as I’ve become aware that there is room for increasing it in myself.

Two types of empathy…

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Empathy at work…

Last week we heard Simon Sinek speak about empathy in the workplace, and how empathetic leadership is essential for workers to thrive.

Empathy is also related to business in another way—through the output of business, the products and services we buy. The satisfaction we derive from these products and services is greater when the designers put themselves in our shoes before production begins.

That is a common definition of empathy—walking in someone else’s shoes, seeing through their eyes—more formally referred to as perspective-taking.

Industrial Design

Industrial design is an example of empathy at work. Continue reading

Empathy. In business?!

Experiencing a pandemic has got many of us reflecting on what is working in our world and what isn’t. In essence, it has shone a spotlight on our dysfunctions.

Much of what is wrong (or right) with our systems starts with our collective mindset.

A mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notions held by a person or group. It’s a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how we interpret and respond to situations individually and collectively.  We become so used to our mindsets that we don’t see that our thinking is fixed in this particular way. To us it’s normal.

If you observe behaviours of yourself and others around you, it’s not difficult to identify mindsets. Here are a few examples of what you might discover…

  • Sufficiency mindset—There is enough, and I am enough.
  • Growth mindset—Life is about expanding awareness and continual learning.
  • Thrift mindset—It’s my responsibility to use resources, both mine and the planet’s, wisely.
  • Sustainability mindset—What I do must contribute to life carrying on, now and in the future.

Empathy…

Empathy is also a mindset, and the subject for today. Continue reading

Doing School Differently

September!

Back to school. A different proposition in this first year of pandemic adjustments. Wearing masks. Different protocols for routines such as recess and lunch. Or maybe learning at home instead.

However it happens, there is general agreement that education is important. And most of us accept that the way we do education is the way it should be done. But not everyone agrees. Sir Ken Robinson, for one.

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