“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” – Albert Einstein
As we have seen over the last three blog entries: creative imagination builds the context for our sympathies and resentments by building analogies from our past (“as if” experience) — which we then use to interpret the present by “living ourselves” into them.
What we haven’t seen is how the power we have can be re-imagined — once we are willing to reclaim the belief in our significance from a new perspective.
What happens to most people is that our resentments (and our sympathies) begin to overwhelm our judgment. It becomes very difficult to tell when we are being both truthful, genuine, and judicious. The line we cross is over identifying with someone else’s power (and not our own). This over-identification makes it very difficult to come back and re-discover our own power.
Let’s look at an example.
John is a neighbor to Alex. They each own separate units in a two-unit building. They must agree on maintenance procedures and expenses. They both bought into the house at the same time. Everything was great for about 6 months, then Alex began to leave annoying messages about things not being “how he wanted them.” The tone of the notes was uninviting. They were “mini-proclamations” aimed a John. As communications turned from passive-aggressive to just plain aggressive, the relationship began to deteriorate. Lawsuits were threatened and the unresolved “money disputes” created a real liability on the two-owner association.
Alex would authorize and pay for things without consulting John and then expect reimbursement. There was no agreement on how much should go into reserve and how reserve expenses should be authorized. John finally “had it” when Alex authorized the last payment on the roof (which had not be done to either John or Alex’s satisfaction) without consulting him. Why? “Because he didn’t want to have to fight with the contractor.”
I think you get the idea.
From a “feelings” perspective John is completely overwhelmed. Good will and shared responsibility lay totally in tatters. Even selling his unit was going to be difficult given the disclosure requirements. If John wanted to sell, he would have to name the specific obligations which he had not paid to the association. John’s attorney recommended that he use sale proceeds to cover his part of the growing liability. So how did John handle it?
To be truthful, genuine, and judicious, John accepted his limited ability to control the outcome. Communications might improve with effort, but the substance was probably not going to change. Making the decision to sell would put him down financially, but it would ultimately open him up emotionally. The condominium documents did not give either party control – so to accept that reality meant John had to release the belief that he “should” be heard.
The honest answer was to sell at a loss without trying to press his claim around being “right” or about having the “final” answer. John’s choice was to reclaim the power he felt in himself. How? By changing his point of view. Rather than feel stuck in what he could not control, John learned to accept what he could.
Sympathies and resentments take on a life of their own once we decide we cannot neither avoid nor transform them. We become trapped by a metaphoric picture that refuses to yield to our needs or desires. At that point, we have to reconstruct our desire from a new vantage point.
AND THAT is always an act of creative imagination.
De-rail the train by transforming tracks on which it runs. The rails are “what we choose,” but so often we forget that essential point — and instead — we choose to put all our attention onto where we think the train is heading. The misdirection is VERY human. We give away power by placing it on the outside and then by choosing to identify ourselves with it.
Albert Einstein wrote “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” The space that which creates our sympathies and resentments – is can always be described as a certain level of thinking. Creative imagination makes that space both alive to us and accessible — as power we always have — to transform our relationship with the world.
Thanks for listening!