Mind expansion and emotional regression
No one mindset is fixed
We don’t inhabit the same mindset 24 hours a day in every situation we find ourselves in life, but constantly shift through them. This shift can be conscious or unconscious. Certain circumstances may require a conscious shift of mindset. This means we can go through any number of mindsets in the space of a single day.
We all have the potential to consciously change our mindset.
However, we need reference experiences if we are to learn new ways of thinking and new mindsets. We can take on any of the mindsets we already have in our repertoire. As we grow, we acquire new reference experiences. New frames of mind and states of consciousness open up new perspectives. We can integrate these new perspectives into our thoughts and actions and thus adopt more complex mindsets. If we don’t do this, we’ll find these more mature mindsets difficult to relate to or adopt ourselves.
Each newly acquired mindset includes the preceding one, making it an expansion of the options for thought and action.
From an amicable conversation between equals to a heated shouting match and back again
Our mindset unconsciously changes when inner needs are not met. This can lead us into temporary regression. The deeper this unfulfilled need is, the more drastic the sudden change in our behaviour can be.
Temporary regression is normal – we all know it
It allows us to become more conscious of the different mindsets within us as well as of our own multiplicity.
Essentially, we can choose to act in a given situation from any of the mindsets we have already learned and practised.
In temporary regression we act below our potential for a short time– sometimes well below it. We forget that we can actually do much better. With hindsight, our mindlessness and lack of reflection can seem ridiculous.
Domestic arguments are a classic example. When emotions are running high, we may no longer be objective and able to see eye to eye. Instead, all hell breaks loose. Accusations and old bones of contention are dug up and fought over to the bitter end. We shout and swear and at some point it becomes all about winning the argument and not resolving it. This can happen to either party.
If, for example, we experience an outburst of anger from our partner, it’s important to stay calm. We know that it’s the situation or tumultuous emotions that have driven our partner to make this outburst. This regression is not permanent and the situation can soon be alleviated with calm and empathy. It’s important that we register the regression and don’t get drawn into it ourselves. Just because our partner is acting beneath him or herself doesn’t mean we have to do it too.
In his or her subjective perception and subjective system of thought, he or she is in the right at that particular moment. Every accusation and remark, no matter how far-fetched, corresponds to an inner truth. We can help our partner by showing understanding for these feelings and not taking offence.
Like the phases of maturity, the phases of regression can be clearly identified.
When we regress we first lose sight of the big picture and shift the focus to ourselves. Then we lose touch with our empathy. We forget that others also have their own needs and motivations. Next, our ability to think independently flies out of the window. We are controlled by our beliefs and assumptions. Finally, we fly off the handle. Sometimes we lose all sense of decency.
Here is an example:
My brother is usually a reflective person who cares about his fellow human beings. Whether cooking for the family, doing the shopping, inviting friends on outings or throwing relaxed parties, it’s important for him that everyone has a good time. He enjoys doing good for his fellow man and discussing things like the environment and life’s greater meaning.
We are now sitting at the table with a few friends and playing the board game “Risk”. All of a sudden this amiable young man, who normally inhabits a relativistic-individualistic mindset, turns into an aggressive, self-centred egomaniac. He tells us in no uncertain terms that he wants to gain world domination and wipe us all out. (In this case it is an actual objective of the game “Risk”.) Over the next few hours his mindset shifts drastically. Alone against the rest of the world, his sole desire is to wipe out all the competition and emerge as the only true victor. In an instant he has slipped back into the self-orientated-impulsive mindset. His survival mode button has been pushed.
The game caused him to temporarily regress. After the game he soon returned to a more appropriate mindset. A change in the framework conditions helped: here it was “game over”. The rules of the game and the mission to conquer others were no longer relevant. My brother could push his competitive thinking aside and return to being one of us. He was no longer fighting for survival. His security, social and individual needs had been satisfied. While preparing dinner together we were able laugh at his despotic behaviour during the game.
We need to change the framework conditions if we are to shift through the different mindsets. In this way we change the needs that have already been satisfied. What role do we play in our actions? What are our inner drivers? What needs do we want to satisfy? This enables us to help our own development and that of others.
Each new mindset is a form of consciousness expansion – and a liberation
To mature into the mindsets we need to satisfy our inner needs.
This begins with the need for security. As long as this is not satisfied, stimulus and reaction are close together. We are the centre of the world and fight for survival.
Establishing rules and order that ensure our survival helps us to move on to the next mindset. Now it is social needs that determine our actions and need to be satisfied. To be part of the group, to belong to it, has priority.
If we can activate our critical mind and free ourselves from the constraints of the group, we begin to develop personal needs. Rational thinking helps us become more individual, and we break away from dualistic approaches.
Detaching ourselves from this duality brings more complexity into our thought processes. Self-empowerment is key here. There is no longer just “right” and “wrong”, “black” and “white”. There are many options in between and we recognise that we have the power to choose freely from among these options. We are no longer held back by the constraints of the world and we recognise our potential to shape it. We can be intoxicated by our talents and external approval.
The next step is to free ourselves from this urge for external approval. For this we need empathy; for ourselves and our fellow human beings.
But we can lose ourselves in this empathy and the complexity of the world. The desire for internal detachment from these constructs, for inner autonomy, helps us enter the systemic-autonomous mindset. We let ourselves be guided from within and use our heart, mind and gut feeling to live with purpose, on equal terms, and in harmony with our fellow human beings and ourselves. This is our potential. We know that we can do it.
Small adverse moments in everyday life or unmet inner needs mean we don’t always live up to our full potential.
People in stressful situations tend to fall back into earlier – actually “outlived” – mindsets. Look at the infographics, pause for a moment, and then ask yourself: what is the mindset you are currently acting from, and is this is the mindset you really want to take on?
The following five questions can help us look at what’s going on inside of us:
- What exactly am I doing here?
- Why do I say things I don’t actually mean?
- Why don’t I communicate purposefully and on equal terms?
- What are my momentary needs?
- How can I satisfy them and get back to the big picture?
If we question our actions we become aware of what’s going on.
If we notice we have regressed, we can make a mindful decision to consciously adopt a different attitude: towards our behaviour, our thinking or life in general.
We can consciously decide which mindset we want to go through life with and if we want to live up to our potential.
written by Leila Permantier