Monday, February 8, 2016

“PICK AND ROLL” - RAGE AND COMPASSION

WHO AM I?
I volunteer and teach a self-development program Stone Valley Correctional Facility.  I like the name “Stone Valley” because usually when someone feels they are “between a rock and a hard place” they may take on the difficult work of changing their self, or their selves. Yes, selves.
     Rudolf Steiner, a spiritual scientist (1861-1925) in a lecture in 1913 spoke of these two “selves” within each of us: a wiser person and a less-wise one. Nobel Prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, confirmed the presence of two selves by scientific research. Kahneman named the “less-wise” one our “System 1 or S1 self” and the “wiser one” our “System 2 or S2 self”. S1 is our in-built, automatic, intuitive, spontaneous way of thinking, feeling and behaving. Our S2 way of thinking and judging controls S1 but takes effort and practice, and S2 is easily distracted by S1. There is a struggle between them.
     My program makes use of six exercises created by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. These exercises are designed to strengthen S2 thinking, feeling and willing. They are ridiculously simple but are amazingly hard because they challenge our S1 self. I compare these “soul gym” exercises to basketball exercises like “pick and roll” drills. Such drills require inner self-control of S1.
Each week I assign a homework exercise. Last week was Control of Thinking. This week is Control of Will or intentionality. As in sports training in which you are trying to change habitual physical behavior, these exercises call forth resistances. For example, when assigned a S2 exercise for thinking, the typical S1 response is doubt: “That won’t work.” “That’s stupid.”

WHY AM I HERE?
My class is adult education, not therapy. But, S1 – our habitual ways of thinking, feeling and willing - complains and resists, After all, S1 is who we are. S1 is totally habitual, and we have carefully built up habits of mind and feelings. These are our “done policies” of life – how we’ve always done things, how we will do things. Many of these unconscious ways of being have contributed to why these men are incarcerated and why they are now “between a rock and a hard place.” Like a basketball team, we need to see who has “coached” us.
     We live between “the rock” - our self and “the hard place”, world. In the world, we are “under the influence of” and coached or directed by family, culture, friends, laws, economics, our desires or many other forces. Our “self”, our S1 and S2, respond to the demands, obligations, duties of the world. Do we have choices to make about what we allow to influence us, good or bad? This puts S1 and S2 in a struggle. “I like this.” “You ought to do that.”
     We have built ourselves up through our experiences: life has been easy, life has been hard, I have certain capacities and certain lacks. Patterns. Habits. At every level. We rarely go into the soul gym.

WHAT DO I WANT?
Some of us feel that our S1 self “calls the shots”. I gave an example of a “pick and roll” choice I made to control my S1 self years ago.  I think quickly. In the corporate world, where the value is placed on “expertise”, having quick responses to situations is very valuable. In a non-hierarchical world, where team work and shared decision making is valued, relying on one person is counter productive- even rejected, it works against a team’s build-up proficiency in decision making
In basketball, you “set a pick” by stepping in front of a hard-charging opponent. I decided I would set a pick on my speedy intellect in team meetings by literally putting my hand over my mouth – shutting me up to watch the group deliberate.
One man in my class said that for him, the major motivation were his emotions, his rage. For years he had been filled with rage, that he was rage! He “set a pick” on his rage by crossing his arms in order to hold himself in an attempt not to get into trouble. His S2 was “reminding” himself.
     We discussed that when you “set a pick” and stop any opponent, you are then free to “roll” toward the basket. He sat and thought about this while the class concluded.
     Before he left, he commented about a band-aid I had on the back of my hand. I told him it was a minor cut. He then gave me a recipe to make a healing salve from an aloe juice and honey.
     How about that? He set a pick, stopped the S1 rage, and then his S2 compassion “rolled” its way through, or around, his rage. Nice.

© Copyright 2016, Jean W. Yeager

All Rights Reserved

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1 comment:

  1. Really appreciate the ideas you share in this article! Clare

    ReplyDelete