Kansas City Dojo meetup 11-19-19
I.) ROUND TABLE
I began by sharing an instance today where I fell for Cognitive Fusion, but successfully noticed it myself. After our catering order of subs last week, I had developed the routine “pick up food on the way to the Dojo”. This week, I changed the food to pre-packaged fruit and nuts, but I still had the algorithm “pick up food on the way to the dojo”, even though I could have purchased the food days ahead of time, saving me a significant amount of trouble in predicting my already hectic commute to the Dojo meeting space. I now plan to follow through on this in the future. I bring it up mostly as a status update on my own self awareness. I directly credit the Dojo for this particular awareness, since they have pointed out my Cognitive Fusions in the past.
I continued by bringing up the situation with my friends, which has escalated to a point where one of them had attempted suicide. I feel awful about the situation, and am trying to be there to support them as their friend. However, I wish I could do more, and I have this anxiety that if only I were smarter and more knowledgeable, there would be something more I could do. Secondarily, I have anxiety that I enjoy other people’s company more than they enjoy mine. I asked the others if they have any advice on how to deal with these feelings.
W pointed out that being a friend doesn’t usually involve “fixing” the other person. Just being present, and instilling a feeling of not being alone. Being non-judgmental. As to my secondary concern, he said “If you are enjoying something more than another person, then good for you!” Which was a helpful reframing of my feelings.
Life Engineer took a different approach to the things I had said, and wondered out loud if I felt like I was being used by certain friends. He stressed the importance of setting boundaries, and the equality of people in a relationship. He has had friendships in the past that fell apart as soon as he stopped being the initiator, and considers that a sign of an unhealthy relationship. He also emphasized the importance of Self Care. I said I will have to examine my friendships individually, but that I will take this concern seriously and endeavor to establish boundaries for my own mental health.
W brought up the difference between “being” vs “doing” relationships. A “being” relationship is one wherein the people simply “exist” together; their relationship does not revolve around a particular scheduled activity or set of activities. A “doing” relationship does, in fact, revolve around a particular activity or set of activities, and it does not interact much (if at all) with the rest of the person’s life. Another way of looking at it: “You engage in a doing relationship because of the things the other person does. You engage in a being relationship because of who they are.” He thinks this is a useful distinction to keep in mind, as if my relationship with my friends is one kind of relationship, it could result in awkwardness or drama if I try to change the relationship into the other kind of relationship. Of course, these two types of relationships are a spectrum, not two opposite poles.
II.) META DISCUSSION
I proposed establishing a norm whereby we are intentional about noticing and congratulating our members when they admit they were wrong, or recount a time when they changed their mind. It goes back to “a genuine desire to change”. W does this internally, but is on board with doing this for others.
I took it a step further and proposed that we could even make it a norm at the Dojo that we share a time when we were wrong, during our turn to speak, in order to foster such a practice in each other, and in anyone that might not be familiar with this concept at all.
Life Engineer recounts how in one of his lines of work being wrong is something you seek out; you actively try to break things, in pursuit of refining and strengthening your work.
We dug deeper into the example of the “2, 4, 8” sequence game, and how one goes about teaching the mindset of falsification. I argued that the first step is to be comfortable being wrong; to understand that it is okay to be wrong, and in fact a necessary step towards being right. I used the example of Past Me from a couple years ago, who conflated “being wrong” with “being immoral”.
W brought up how scientific thinking is all about questions. Religious thinking is about answers; it says that you reach an answer, then you are simply done.
Life Engineer shifts this a bit, and sees that post-enlightenment religion teaches that the most important thing is to believe the right thing. And if you believe the wrong thing, bad stuff happens. But there is pushback against that these days in modern religion. But it’s not even really just religion; Life Engineer points out how much the human brain loves stories. I pointed out that we also like certainty, because certainty is comfortable, which exacerbates our need for a story.
W brings up an Ezra Kline interview, when he was talking to a climate scientist. Ezra asked “So do we need to tell different stories about climate change?” And the scientist says “No, we really just need to stop telling stories at all. Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Real life doesn’t work like that.”
Life Engineer quotes Einstein at this point, saying “The problems of today can’t be solved by the same minds that created them.” The takeaway that Life Engineer gets from this is that it’s an old mind that wants these stories. We need to upgrade our minds. We are indeed wired for stories… but this is unlikely to be a good thing.
Life Engineer digs deeper into the reasons why there is such discomfort around being wrong; he thinks there’s more to it than the obvious reasons (we’re taught that it is bad in school, social judgement, etc). He thinks there is potentially… “biological”(?) underpinnings to this.
W says that when he becomes uncomfortable about being wrong is when he has done something as a result of that belief, and regrets those actions. I reply that I personally struggle with the obvious: social judgement. Which is one reason I wanted to establish our norm of rewarding changing one’s mind.