Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Relationships: John Gottman's Four Horsemen

John Gottman is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington known for his work on marital stability. By observing couples' emotions and micro-expressions he has been able to predict with 90% accuracy which couples will remain married and which will divorce four to six years later.

Gottman has determined there are four destructive elements that can lead to relationship failure. He calls them The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they are:
Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness & Stonewalling

1. Criticism
Criticisms often start with: “you always…” “you never…”“you’re the type of person who …” “why are you so …” A criticism differs from a complaint in that a complaint is about something specific & a criticism is a generalization about a person's character. A complaint says "I don't like that you did this"; a criticism says "I don't like who you are".
2. Contempt:
When we communicate with contempt we are being disrespectful or mean; often using sarcasm, mockery, insults, ridicule, &/or eye rolling.
3. Defensiveness:
Protecting yourself from a perceived attack without actually listening to what your partner has said. Making excuses, cross-complaining, yes-butting & seeing yourself as the victim.
4. Stonewalling:
Withdrawing and shutting down as a means to avoid conflict. This creates distance and separation.

Also, for some proactive ideas David Parkinson's most recent post points towards some principles we might adopt when trying to get something good happening with a group of people.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dave Pollard's Manifesto

"I am not a consumer. I am not, as my friend Jerry Michalski acerbically puts it, “a gullet who lives only to gulp products and crap cash”. I am not here to use stuff up. I measure myself by my ability to live light upon the land, to consume as little as possible in the process of living, comfortably, sustainably, responsibly, joyfully, sufficiently. If I consume more than I must to live this way, then I am failing in my responsibility to all-life-on-Earth. When you, politicians and corporations, measure how much we humans collectively produce and consume, you are measuring the collective failure of our species to live responsibly and within its means, not its well-being."

Get the full text here.

visit Dave's blog at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Peace of Mind from being the Chooser and the Doer

"First, they realized that if they wanted to have a loving organization, they could not define seemingly opposite roles, for example workers and owners, as the responsibility of different people, as if these roles could be separated in time and space. Are not we all both full co-owners and co-workers of the planet at all times before we are anything else?

To have easy and freely chosen one-mindedness, it is best if the owner and the worker in a business are the same person. If I am the person who decides what movie to go to and you are the person who goes to the movie, that will seem ludicrous to us. In this example, we easily can see that to separate the choosing and the doing from one another in time and space (into different bodies) brings fear into the relationship. We will each fear that the other will not be sensitive enough to our needs and wants. The potential for conflict is great.

If I am the chooser and the doer, however, I have no fear at all. I know I will be sensitive to my needs and wants so the relationship between the chooser and doer, being both in me, is peaceful. This inner peace is the result of my freedom; the capitalist in me is happy.

If you and I are going to a movie together and we both are the chooser and the doer, then our relationship can be timeless and spaceless. If we are lovers and you want to go to movie A and I want to go to movie B, we will talk about it. If you want to go to movie A more that I want to go to movie B, we will decide to go to movie A. We will both be happy — yet in the material world I did not get anything I initially wanted while you got everything you first wanted. We are happy because we freely acted as if we had one mind. The limitations of the material world are fully accepted; we could only go to one movie together. There is peace in the relationship. This peace is the result of solidarity; the democratic socialist in us is happy."

From Mondragon: The Loving Society That Is Our Inevitable Future thanks to Dave Pollard for the link.

Four Different Ways, Four Quadrants

In Walter Truett Anderson's "Four Different Ways to Be Absolutely Right" he discusses four different world views:

"The four worldviews are (a) the postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed; (b) the scientific-rational, in which truth is "found" through methodical, disciplined inquiry; (c) the social-traditional in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western Civilization' and (d) the neo-romantic in which truth is found either through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self. Each of these has its own set of truths, and its own ideas about what truth is-- where and how you look for it, how you test or prove it."

I've been listening to Ken Wilber's interviews in an audio series called Kosmic Consciousness, and after re-reading the above article I'm struck by how well the Four Different Ways fit into Wilber's four quadrants:

The neo-romantic would be I
The scientific-rational would be IT
The social-traditional would be ITS
The postmodern-ironist would be WE

Friday, March 19, 2010

Meditation Notes from Ken Wilber

Higher Consciousness Level 1: Unified Bodymind (Body/Mind/centaur level)

  1. Lie down on your back, arms alongside, legs slightly parted, close your eyes, breath deeply and easily
  2. Give direct feeling-attention to different parts of the body; feel the deep body sensations; not conceptual thinking about those parts of the body
  3. Draw deep breaths from the throat all the way down to the abdomen; breath = "vital force"; inhale as charging up the hara/naval-abdomen with energy; exhale as pleasure/joy radiating throughout your body and out to the entire cosmos
  4. "Once this cycle becomes full, then start to allow all thinking to dissolve in the exhalation and pass to infinity. Do the same with all distressful feelings, with disease, with suffering, with pain. Allow feeling-attention to pass though all present conditions and then beyond them to infinity, moment to moment to moment."
  5. Discover blocked areas: numbness, lack of feeling, deadness, tightness, tension, rigidity, or pain; common areas of tightness and tension: neck, eyes, anus, diaphragm, shoulders, lower back; common areas of numbness: pelvic area, genitals, heart, lower abdomen, or the extremities
  • "Every block, every tension or pressure in the body, is basically a muscular holding-in of some taboo impulse or feeling."; common meanings bottom TEKW p.79, each part of the body associated with a different emotion
  • "Forced relaxation" does not work, although all of these are under voluntary muscle control; give your full attention to that area and actively and consciously attempt to increase the tension; release the buried emotions associated with the tension area; remind yourself that you are actively trying to hold something in (this will usually force the release), try to increase the resistance (which will make it give way)
  • "The block is released when feeling-attention can flow though that area in a full and perfectly unobstructed fashion on its way to infinity."
From Meditation Notes from Ken Wilber on

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You are not "the thinker"

The beginning of freedom is the realization
that you are not "the thinker."
The moment you start watching the thinker,
a higher level of consciousness becomes activated.
You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm
of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a
tiny aspect of that intelligence.
You also realize that all the things that truly matter --
beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace --
arise from beyond the mind.

You begin to awaken.

Eckhart Tolle from Practicing The Power of Now

Friday, March 12, 2010

Why I'm Not a Rational Materialist

"The upshot of all this is that we live in a universe whose age we can't quite compute, surrounded by stars whose distances we don't altogether know, filled with matter we can't identify, operating in conformance with physical laws whose properties we don't truly understand."

From Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Healthy, Happy Human Being Wears Many Masks

"the value that society places on a coherent identity is unwarranted and possibly detrimental. It means that the heterosexual must worry over homosexual leanings, the husband or wife over fantasies of infidelity, the businessman over his drunken sprees, the commune dweller over his materialism. All of us are burdened by the code of coherence, which demands that we ask: how can i be X if I am really Y, its opposite? We should ask instead: What is causing me to be X at this time? We may be justifiably concerned with tendencies that disrupt our preferred modes of living and loving; but we should not be anxious, depressed or disgusted when we find a multitude of interests, potentials and selves."

From The Healthy, Happy Human Being Wears Many Masks by Kenneth Gergen

"Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)"

From Song of Myself by Walt Whitman