KEW Episode 64: The Forest for the Trees

I’m using the Forest for the Trees metaphor to suggest that humans have become exceptionally myopic. The only reason I know what myopic means is because after defending my Master’s Thesis a professor proclaimed that I was very myopic – meaning I had a terribly narrow view of the question I had asked and answered. I thought I was being pretty broad and was a bit hurt by his statement, but I also understood his point. I could have taken a ‘bigger picture’ approach, but by the time I realized that I was too far along to expand my view.

Anyway, I realized recently that myopia was again affecting my life.

During the decade I spent in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy I didn’t really change. And I knew I wasn’t changing, but couldn’t understand why. Sure, I learned a lot, but my problems stayed the same. At some point I realized that I understood what I was doing, and how to fix it, but only in an analytical way. My mind understood the logic, but my behaviors, attitudes, and habits weren’t changing.

I was still anxious although I understood how irrational many of my fears were.

I still believed I wasn’t good enough despite understanding where those beliefs came from.

I was still angry about many things, though I knew that energy didn’t solve any problems.

I understood why I was the way I was, but I’ll be damned if I learned anything about changing.

Until I realized I was looking at the trees.

In my metaphor, and maybe in yours, my logical, analytical brain was a tree. And it’s all I saw.

Recently, I came to understand I was not only a physical body and an analytical mind, but also an emotional and feeling body with equivalent mental and spiritual elements.

And my anxiety, depression, feeling not good enough, and angry parts were spread across all of these different trees – and together formed my forest.

In order to heal, I had to form a real forest, and not just a bunch of trees.

Paul Gadola calls this Integrity – and I needed some.

A stand of trees does not a forest make. They must integrate. Together. With all parts having meaning. And seeing and feeling each other.

In the context of the Are vs. Should Problem, the analytical mind and the physical body are where a lot of the Shoulds are aimed. The Shoulds bully us into forgetting about the Ares, which lie within our other parts. Our Ares are whole. We used to be whole. We are becoming quite splintered. Myopia is stealing our wholeness.

But we can get it back. We can resist.

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KEW Episode 63: The Two Types of Shoulds

I recorded this episode after replying to a YouTube comment about good and bad types of change (Episode 61: Change is Hard, but Resisting Change is Wrong). The commenter made a good point that sometimes we change in a bad direction instead of making a positive change.

I agreed but in doing so realized I had a bigger point buried under that. Perhaps another assumption I had failed to realize or express. Which is that I believe the Are motivation is essentially driving GOOD change, and that many SHOULD motivators drive a bad kind of change. But an even BIGGER point was buried even deeper about good vs. evil.

I believe that humans are essentially good. We start out good, and any evil we develop is learned through Should type processes. This might have to do with a book I just finished about whether or not humans are essentially good or evil called Humankind: A Hopeful History, by Rutger Bregman. Rutger argues that we are essentially good, and I’m on that side – at least for now.

So another assumption I have made, perhaps subconsciously, with respect to the Are vs Should Problem is that living from our Are is on the good side whereas living from the Should is leaning toward evil.

HOWEVER, the commenter ALSO made me realize that some shoulds are better than others. Sometimes we tell ourselves we Should eat better, be nicer, be more responsible, get a better job, or whatever. Sometimes these shoulds HELP us move forward.

So I had to break this down a bit:

Ares are intrinsic motivations that come from within us and generally encourage us to be better and come from a good place.

Shoulds can be intrinsic, or appear to be, OR extrinsic.

Intrinsic shoulds are mostly Are, but have some external motivations sprinkled in. Kind of like when I internalized my dads job motivation by conceding that I should change my major so that I could get a job. I internalized an external should, made it my own, and was fooled into thinking it was an Are. And, arguably, it was as it did achieve the goal. Of course, in HINDSIGHT I choose to see that as an extrinsic should that became internalized.

So most Shoulds come from external sources and can be misleading, bad, and downright evil. Shoulds serve to destroy the Are, but the degree to which this is intentional can vary from close to none to entirely.

So three basic choices: Are, Should, Internalized Should that is confusing.

While discussing the multiple types of Shoulds in this Episode, as you will see (or hear), I started formulating what I think will become the next phase of development in the Are vs Should Problem. I hit on the good vs evil elements already, but also posited whether or not we need to look OUTSIDE ourselves to better understand the Ares. I even suggest we learn to love people FAR outside our realm of attention. People that oppose our views or make us angry. I am wondering if we apply what we’ve discussed so far to people at opposite ends of the field if we might learn some new things.

In this episode I break way out of the box to introduce several new concepts that I think are related to future exploration. I started to incorporate the non-analytical parts, or somatic parts, of humans as mechanisms to fully understand our ares. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is leading us. I hope you will listen and share your thoughts.

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KEW Preview Episode 63: The Two Types of Shoulds

This Episode started out examining the different kinds of shoulds. Some shoulds come from extrinsic sources like my dad telling me I needed to get a job and not study philosophy in college, or your church telling you not to be gay. Extrinsic shoulds can be pretty easy to identify because they are often things we rebel against, are mean, or are even evil.

Intrinsic shoulds can be complicated. Some are good. We tell ourselves we *should* eat better and not have two pieces of cake. We *should* call our mother more often. Sometimes these shoulds come 100% from within us, but often they are actually extrinsic shoulds disguised as our own. The world has told us not to eat so much cake and that good sons and daughters call their moms more often. So it’s hard.

But I think, inherently, the more we come to know the are and to live in that space, the easier it is to identify whether your shoulds are intrinsic or extrinsic. In other words, I believe humans fundamentally KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL. It’s just that the more time we spend in the shoulds, we forget.

Like I often do, I wander a bit in this episode toward some emerging elements. I began a shift, in real time, toward a more somatic and external assessment of our personal growth path with respect to the Are vs Should Problem. I even go so far as to suggest we take the focus off ourselves for awhile, and focus on the people around us!

I hope you enjoy the tangents and trust that I will continue to develop these ideas in upcoming Episodes.

Full Episode in audio and video formats this Friday, right here at KEW

KEW Episode 60: The Are vs Should Problem – Jobs and Careers

When I was a teenager I realized I would be working for the rest of my life. This hit me like a ton of bricks. This realization LITERALLY left me feeling like I had fallen out of a tree and couldn’t catch my breath. Though I’d experienced physical pain by this point in my life, fully coming to understand that I was going to have to spend a significant part of my life doing things I didn’t want to do was disturbing.

And it wasn’t so much that I had to WORK. I didn’t mind working. I had my first job at 13 and was gainfully employed when I had this epiphany about work. It was more that a big chunk of MY TIME was spoken for.

I felt like I was seeing my future, and part of it was already planned out. It wasn’t so much about the WORK thing, it was the CHOICE thing. My future was, at least in part, not my CHOICE. And I don’t know why this created so much dissonance. But this was a true blindside. I didn’t see it coming. I felt like I lost my whimsy.

And so that is, in huge part, what led me to explore the Are vs. Should Problem. Why do we struggle between the person we ARE and the person we feel like we SHOULD BE? A big part of this SHOULD is related to having to work and to have a career. A huge part of our youth is being on a path that gets us to that point successfully and to a greater extent than our parents or grandparents. From early on we are chugging along a course related to some place we will be in the future that will steal our time.

And the best we can hope for is to love the career so we are not wasting our time. To sort of ‘double up’ and get paid AND find pleasure in our job.

Well, how many of us got there? How many of us arrived at the place where we can’t BELIEVE we’re getting paid to do what we love? How many of us LOVED spending all that time studying, and interviewing, and kissing up, and missing out. . . . How fun was that?

Sure, some people do find a path they enjoy and a career that fulfills them. But most of us don’t. And this investigation intends to figure out why it happened and how we can change it.

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Preview KEW Episode 60: The Are vs Should Problem – Jobs and Career

This week I go back to the roots of the Are vs Should Problem.

For me this whole quest began when I was a kid and realized I had made a deal with the devil to blow 2/3 of my day working whatever job I’d be lucky enough to get. Any plans I had to travel, explore, or play were necessarily and all of a sudden pre-regulated by this ‘deal’.

In return I’d get to have the money I’d need to do the traveling, exploring, and playing. Only I couldn’t, because I’d have to work.

Sure, maybe I’d get a week of every year, but that seems like a consolation prize compared to what I had planned.

The beginning of the Are vs. Should Problem is in here. For me. Maybe for you. I made a deal. I lived up to my end of the bargain (mostly). I made the sacrifices. But I don’t feel like it paid off. Robert Johnson at least got some awesome guitar playing skills out of his deal with the devil.

Although now I see I did get something. I got a chance to do it over.

Full Episode this Friday right here at KEW.

FLASHBACK! KEW Episode 45: Career vs. Family

I realized yesterday that the Are vs. Should Problem really started in Episode 42: Safety. I knew the idea had been rolling around in my head, but I didn’t realize I actually stated it formally in that podcast. So, really, the Are vs. Should Problem officially begin in Episode 42.

So it’s kind of like I was unloading ideas in Episodes 1-41, then made a sort of shift toward organizing the ideas in Episodes 42-49, then realized what I was doing by Episode 50. Not to say any of the Episodes were more or less important, just noting a definite trend.

So in THIS Episode examining the time we spend pursuing our careers vs. the time we spend loving each other, I was really getting to the meat of the Are vs Should issue. And that is, what do we value and how do we measure success?

What do we value?




And how do we measure success?

Fancy cars?

Big houses?

Elite parties?

This Episode gets at the ARE and the SHOULD as terms we use to measure how well we are living our lives. And it’s confusing because so many people, and so much of the system, measures success in money, power, and accolades. Yet so much of what we NEED, and so much of what we are MISSING, is measured in love, and smiles, and calm.

Full Episode post with links to podcast and video here:

Preview KEW Episode 59: Are vs Should Challenges

In this Episode I want to take a minute and acknowledge a few things. First, that not everyone has the luxury of pondering the Are vs. Should Problem. In even bringing it up I am letting my white privilege show. I grew up with enough food, enough safety, enough clean water, and enough love to meet my basic human needs. As a result I have LUXURY time to gaze at my naval and ask questions like, ‘Who Am I‘, ‘Who’s Right?’, or ‘Who Tells My Story?”. To hundreds of millions of people, these types of questions are ridiculous and privileged. I just wanted to take a second and point that out – in case it isn’t obvious already.

Secondly, a lot of us are so stuck in our ‘Should’ that we never realize anything is wrong. Many of us accept our anxiety, depression, angst, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness as elements of ‘being human’ that we can’t do anything about. Many of us aren’t lucky enough to ever wonder ‘Who Am I’ or ‘Where did I go wrong?”. Of course some people couldn’t care less about these types of questions, but I wonder why some of us are lucky enough to be curious about it and others are doomed mediocrity or apathy.

This week I talk a little bit about why we struggle with healing and suggest that recognizing the Are vs. Should Problem is key to improving our lives. Though it isn’t easy, it can be fairly simple.

Full Episode, audio and video, coming here this Friday.