Are You in the Box?

Happy 2021??? As my favorite podcast, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, said in last weekend’s show introduction, "Now that we’re past December 37, 2020, we can officially move on to 2021!" Last week was a week, y’all…

I’m going to put something out into the universe. My husband and I have different political orientations. I’m not going into specifics; that’s not what this is about. It’s about being able to truly see the humanity in others. So, let me set the stage.


I had set aside Wednesday, January 6, as a day I was FINALLY going to finish the goal setting and manifesting I do at the end/beginning of each year. It’s a fairly long process that includes lots of reflection, thought, sitting with ideas, trying on my goals and visions for the next year, and ultimately creating some visual representations of these things. While I was doing this, my phone, which had been playing some of my favorite thinking music, started to blip with texts. Blip. Blip. Blipblipblip. And that was the way I heard about what was happening at our nation’s capital.


After the flood of my emotions, I started to think about what my husband’s perceptions and experience of these events would be. I found myself getting even more emotional and had to stop for a moment to think more deeply. The emotions were based on my assumptions—what I ASSUMED, PRESUMED, EXPECTED him to think. They weren’t based on a dialogue, curiosity, or perspective. I was already “in the box” toward him.


If you know the term “in the box”, you’ve likely read the book “Leadership and Self Deception” by the Arbinger Institute. The book is a fictional story of a company, told by its leaders, of what happens when we have chosen a belief about a person, and use that belief as self-justification for all the behaviors that follow, our behaviors and theirs. This process of self-deception leads to us actively looking for things that justify our viewpoint.( And let’s not even get into how internet algorithms and other things dictate what we see for us…. but I digress…)


Why do I share this? Because there are people in your life every single day that you already have a mindset about, and that mindset dictates how you interact with them. Think of a co-work who makes you crazy. A parent you don’t want to stand next to on the sidelines (you know, when we could stand on sidelines). A kid you hope isn't in your child’s class. A colleague that when you see their name on your calendar, you have a visceral reaction. A human where social distancing still isn’t enough.


And that’s what it boils down to--- it’s another human. Exceptionally created for this universe. Someone’s child. A unique being who has underlying needs, values, and emotions—even if we don’t agree with them. And, to be stated in no uncertain terms, our needs, values and emotions do NOT give us permission to disregard laws or incite violence. Not last week, not last summer. Not ever.


So here’s my challenge to you: think of that human who might have fit one of those criteria, and challenge yourself to go back to curiosity with them. What would it be like to see this person anew? To allow yourself to rewrite your script about them? What if you could see their needs and values, even if you don’t share them? How much better could this world be if we could see each other’s humanity?



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If you're feeling out of touch from your own humanity, maybe a 2021 Momentum Session is right for you. Just a few more weeks to take advantage of finding your inner superhero, setting your goals, and discovering your mantra.


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