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Psychology of change

Recent blog and internet discussion, and our practical living lab exercises of AiREAS in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, got us again going about the overall complexity of the “psychology of change”.

On the one hand there are the impressive challenges of a global shift, a true transformation of society to save our selves, demanding tremendous changes. On the other there is the powerful resistance and dominance of the world’s institutionalized economics that produces many powerful lobbies to avoid change all together. The latter brings a certain material wealth to the world and to the financial mighty. I already wrote various blog items on it but the complexity of  “change” seems an endless and highly repetitive topic. Why? Because it affects us intensely on all levels of society.

The need for change has to do with  ethics, sustainable human progress, in-dependencies,  our environment and basic human rights, as opposed to nothing of that, expressed through individual and institutional power positions. It also has to do with awareness, responsibility, dominance, different paradigms and massive manipulation as part of the huge human complexities. Both sides of the problem, the desire and the avoidance of change, are firmly established inside the kernel of our individual and collective consciousness, self reflection, evolution and the ethical structuring of our choices. Despite everything there is always a dominant situation of overall avoidance of change.

Manipulation

Manipulation may sound unethical to you but we are being manipulated all the time. Not just through conscious manipulation of powerful institutions but also by the way we perceive our own selves in general. We react primarily to our surroundings using multiple sensory and extra sensory impulses. The way we perceive is the way we react. Within this simple action = reaction there is the “human psychology” involving fear, worry, happiness, wellness, anger, hate, education, jealousy, etc. All this can be manipulated, even by ourselves, consciously and unconsciously. In fact, it takes an intense learning process to to become aware of one’s own behavior, perception and choices, to get more or less liberated from manipulation. We call this a part of our higher evolutionary awareness. Not many people reach that state and those who do often become manipulators themselves with a large array of motives.

While I write this blog and re-read it I realize that I myself am one of them. I have grown over time mostly free from manipulation. Now (before I did not) I can see that I am being manipulated in intention by a dominant money and consumer driven system. This produces some kind of friction between me and  the old generalized system. By introducing a new paradigm (sustainocracy) I also manipulate people by showing them a different truth. Despite my desire to be ethical and transparent I do create a new environment with the intention to provide people such a sense of new security that they decide to follow my views and let go of the old paradigm.

All I try to do,  which justifies my motivation and passion, is to make people aware of manipulation and help them make up their own mind, without prejudice finally about their choice, not even when they decide to turn their back to me. I see it hence as a challenge to explain myself and Sustainocracy in such a way that people start believing in it, more than the other reigning system. But isn’t that what the system of capitalist consumer economics does too? And has been doing successfully for a long time? So we both compete in the psychology of manipulation presenting two different paradigms to the people. I am of course just a beginner while the other paradigm has thousands of years of experience.

Psychology of manipulation

When it is warm we buy an ice-cream  when its cold we wear a pullover. We look around us and decide what we do, need, say, move, ….almost instantly. Our impressions do not just have to do with sensory perception, they are also colored by what we think is right or wrong, just, wishful, desirable, etc. In reality we have been conditioned to instant reaction right from the moment we were born and open our eyes to see the world. Normally we see the face of one of our parents at first, or a doctor or nurse. We see lights, colors, movements …. We smell and taste things….we hear noises, sounds, melodies, voices. All these first impressions reach us without giving it yet a conscious thought, they form however the basis of the big pile of sensory impressions to come that we do reflect consciously about.

After growing up in a certain environment it becomes so familiar, our own unquestionable reality, a specific truth. Every new observation and experience is being compared with circumstances we lived through before in the past. It enhances them, builds them up, or rejects them, until you feel at home right in the middle of those impulses from outside. This helps to react instantaneously on most issues of life during the day and makes you feel familiar with the way others react too. Together we form a culture, a set of values around language, beliefs, behavior, etc, that define us as a community. It gives us a behavioral identity. This gives a sense of belonging that remains united to our local natural and human surroundings. It is important to us because we need speedy adaptation and reaction when our behavioral routine is upset in any way. It is important for our mind to be able to distinguish between the normal and abnormal and react adequately, especially when in danger.

So securities are built up by ourselves and with our cultural environment to make us feel safe within ourselves. We auto-manipulate this feeling out of risk avoidance, fear control and sense of control. This can of course be manipulated also by an organized surroundings that is based on institutionalized principles. This then becomes also a paradigm, a worldview that is conditioned by certain values. Our current ruling paradigm is the one of capitalist economics. The one that I am introducing with arguments is called “sustainocracy”.

That is psychology of manipulation, the sense of providing external security to a community of people by the internal perception of security.

Psychology of change

People are of course reluctant to change when it addresses their sense of security. Nowadays we are confronted with a lot of information on climate changes, pollution, global warming,  financial crises, other crises, etc. When we read such issues in the newspapers and watch documentaries on TV we become worried. We still, however live our day to day, everyday life. We are worried about the large picture and yet do what we have always done. “What do you want me to do?” you would say, “who am I to do anything?”, you may suggest. “Let the government solve it” most of us would say.  And you are probably right!

Unless your name is on the list of the G7 and G20 encounter, or something like that. Which is what tends to happen. A few hundred powerful people join in global talks but fail to talk about change because they want to keep a capitalist economy going that provides perceived security to many people including the ones in power. And 7 billion people feel too small, too insignificant, too unaware, to do anything while feeling blindly secure in their day to day living experience, expecting that the big G solve it all. Until it is too late.

So if we want to change anything we have to overcome the “psychology of fear for change”. This starts with the aspect of “negation”. This feeling is normal. To accept a responsibility we have to be aware that we actually carry one. Or that we become aware that those who we think are responsible, have good reasons for themselves to avoid change and will therefor not take that kind of responsibility.

As explained above we see our direct environment as a secure cultural nest in which we were born and grew up. If we want to change we attack our inner senses of security and that creates an intense feeling of fear and insecurity. At individual level, despite the awareness that things need to change, we have the tendency of neglecting it just out of fear of the consequences. We tend to place the responsibility elsewhere, outside our own scope. You may say that this the mentality of an ostrich yet it has a strong basis of survival. If everyone would panic upon the wisdom of need for change the chaos would even be more dangerous. Human beings need some kind of leadership to address change.

The need for change grows, the negation too

Meanwhile a growing part of those 7 billion people are being incorporated into the Western example of material wealth. They feel that they have every right, just like European and Americans have enjoyed this wealth for a long time already. They are right of course. Why would they have to step back being the newcomers on the scene while the old guys made the biggest damage? Aren’t all people in the world allowed to have a TV set, a house, a car and a well stocked supermarket around the corner? Sure!

So the biggest challenge of the global shift is to change everything without changing anything. Would it be possible to keep up and expand wellness around the world without damaging it? Many scientists and business people would see a challenge in it, many local small governments also, but national large governments and bankers seem to be more than reluctant. “You can change whatever you want as long as it gives us an economy of growth” they would claim out of self interest. What they really express is their fear for loosing power, control and a financial profit. So when we introduce the need for change we also have to seriously accept the “psychology of change” as a challenge to overcome, including the powerful.

Two ways to change

There is the universal natural way, which is the traditional chaos of destruction through war, depression, recession, poverty, etc which obliges all people to change by external, non human force. When institutions keep up their opposition and negation too long they block the flexibility and adaptiveness of a population around evolutionary change and provoke a natural collapse. The human suffering is huge and so is the institutional because it collapses. It is all expressed by violence, demanding the liability of the old leaders which are prosecuted by the laws of chaos or history books.

Then there is the voluntary way, as proposed ( and demonstrated) by Sustainocracy. When we offer the current authorities the recognition of power, also in the new paradigm, then they feel secure to support change. Fear is overcome by safety, also involving the powerful. So psychology of change has much to do with communication, not just providing means for others to change but also by being the change by providing security in following. Followers show their own leadership by making choices in which we recognize the intense process of letting go of old securities. If the new securities provide a better perspective people are much more willing to open up for change, also when they have a high level position of power.

To overcome fear new securities need to be defined, also for those in power

To overcome fear new securities need to be defined, also for those in power

Yes, I can

Sustainocracy builds a new society directly in a new new paradigm using the same instruments of power and authority of the old paradigm. It is interesting to see that sustainocracy offers more security to the powerful than the crumbling paradigm of consumer economics. Executives that are value (not money) driven are the very first to support the transformation, which is also becoming a transformation of securities, not just of values, economies and ethics. Now executives have a choice and when aware of their own responsibilities they can claim: “I know I can”.

Like every situation when a choice is presented between two paradigms, a new issue arises: “explain why you made your choice”. That will be subject to subject of a new blog.

What would make a person “sustainocratic”?

After having covered the three institutional pillars of a sustainocracy (business, government and education) I now reach the individual citizens as fourth and main key to a sustainocratic society.

It is curious to have to deal with human beings in a different blogchapter than institutions. The latter are a human invention and only exist on paper. With an administrative number such institution starts living a life of its own using human beings to keep it going within a predefined mission. Institutions make products, sell services, proform scientific studies, educate, determine city layouts and regional landscaping, build houses, print money, extend loans, gather specific political interests, represent a certain belief, etc etc. So in reality institutions are human teams performing a specific task that has to do with human interests and activities. In a way they are all puzzle pieces that can be placed in certain ways to form a society of many teams of people interacting for a particular reason. Institutions keep enormous amounts of people occupied and give them something back. This is mostly a salary but also a challenge, status, a place to go, something to do, a something “to belong to”, a sense of security of different kinds. In most countries men and women can now be active in the institutions on a more or less equal basis, especially those that have developed around financial interest. Institutions around beliefs or politics are not necessarily based on equal rights.

We call this emancipation, the equality of rights to have a job for individual financial independence.

The institutionalized world has gradually occupied most of our daily lives and dominates our activities and choices. Emancipation may have ment that we can become economicly independent from other human beings but instead we have also become slaves of a system that has simplified our existance around money dependence. The purpose of this system determines the way institutions interact and how all the people find an occupation. The main institutional purpose is today blindly focus on yet another human invention: money.

The problem we face is that universal standardization of all objectives into financial means has taken our individual attention away from the real fullfilment of our basic requirements. We need financial means to gain access to our needs that are supplied by the system and we serve the system to get our financial means. We are unaware of what the system does to produce our needs and rely on it entirely. All this would be fine if there would not be a financial profitability aspect woven into the system. This makes the system speculative in its operation in order to produce maximum financial benefit for shareholders. There is no morality anymore in the processes because all attention is given to the flow of cash not the consequences of producing the flow. We have made money more important than ourselves. Poverty in the world of financial crises is explained to be “people who have no money”. In reality it are people who have nothing to eat or to live. We cannot eat money and do not live in a bank yet we organized our social dependencies that way. If poverty has food and a place to live they are not poor anymore. It has become of interest of the systen to deprive people from their needs just to get them committed to the financial system of dependency through work and debt. Dependency is control and control is power yet power is in crisis now because this system reached its limits of exploitation. Financial poverty cannot get back into the system even if it wanted to so it needs to become brilliant in finding alternatives to survive. Then people become aware and find new ways of building a complex society based on different values than just money.

A sustainocratic person has become aware of that and also that we keep this destructive “anti-ecosystem” going because of our own dependence on it for our daily needs. This awareness makes us conscious for change. To reduce our dependence we need to let go of it and become independent. That is extremely difficult. Self sufficiency is nearly impossible unless you live in the countryside. And even then you are only self sufficient for food and maybe energy but not for healthcare for instance. A sustainocratic person hence becomes aware that self sufficiency and sustainable progress can not be achieved individually. It needs to be done in cooperation, with expertise on how to deal with it productively.

When one becomes “aware” it becomes also a personal problem to remain inside the old system. It is like being trapped, made hostage in a way and deprived from all freedom while one sees how we destroy our habitat and social relationships. Letting go is a deed that can only be done if assured of some kind of new securities to sustain oneself and those who are close. Sustainocracy provides such security. It becomes a challenge to find people and circumstances to deal with it. To make things even more complicated one finds that the old system is so powerfully present in our lives that it wants to get back to us all the time. Many people suggest a conspiracy against humanity to use humankind for the benefit of a few. In fact we conspire against ourselves by creating and sustaining a powerful culture our of dependency and self interest.

When one is aware of different paradigms one can also find a transformative way between them that satisfies one’s own consciousness within a local practical reality. Finding a new balance of dependence and independence depends very much on the local possibilities that one can find.
I for instance live in a city where houses are built low and we all have a small garden. In theory it should be possible to get sustainable cooperation going for food and energy independence but human psychology interferes just as much as the old system. When surrounded by abundance of an obsolete but still very functional system why would you go to the trouble of producing your own? That would be hard work! It is difficult to see the need to make the effort also when hardly anyone does it.

Still there is a large undercurrent in society that is taking fragmented action. People become active in new mobility systems, grow their own crop, start doing this with solar panels and become conscious on the type of food they eat. Yet all this makes you a local hero but not yet sustainocratic.

You become sustainocratic when you step up your awareness to become “entrepreneur of your own life” in cooperation with other, on the way of creating a new local society. In your quest for self sufficiency you become active in platforms that give you back parts of your daily needs. You get organized in teams that produce direct local value. In fact you are institutionalizing bottom up a new society that focusses on local for local sustainable progress based on basic needs for health, vitality, safety and progression within the challenging posibilities of the local environment. This is time consuming and makes you step away from traditional employment but into a new kind of productivity and reciprocity. Within this personal transformation the art of letting go and accepting new responsibilities is delicate and often complicated. You may feel partly active in both worlds that each have different rules and manners.

When you do so you can also ask existing local institutions to reposition their powers to support you. A sustaincrat like me actively positions himself in the middle of a sustainocracy and invites old power institutions to look up their true value propositions that can be used in my own human based venture. It is a crazy thought for many people that a single individual can surround him or herself with “institutional monsters” of the old paradigm. But it is possible. Such monsters also consist of people who wish to do a purposeful activity and contribution. A hamer is meant to be used as a tool not as a killing instrument. Institutions are meant to produce benefits for humankind and if not they should be repositioned that way. As simple as that. It is democratic human working that makes this happen, as executive, civil servant, entrepreneur, student, medic, worker, parent, pensioner, etc. It becomes also a personal choice to contribute to one or the other purpose. In sustainocratic communities one can become individually active in various purpose driven communities. One is not confined to one job and income but active in various receiving reciprocal means in equal diversity. Money is not a goal anymore, it is one of the many means to an end. Human sustainable progress is the goal starting with local self sufficiency in as many basic needs as possble.

Sustainocracy is developing primarily around sustainocratic people, individuals and executives. Previously we were called cultural creatives due to specific awareness and willingness to adopt change in our lives. Now we connect this willingness to a new kind of commitment that develops outside the present dominance of financial systems. We may introduce new systems of value but they would be cyclic in a local environment. Sustainable progress is difficult for the early pioneers and so is sustainocracy that requires a multidisciplinary approach. As volume and support grows, voluntarily out of consciousness or involuntary due to crises and chaos, it will become easier.

The individual transformation and all the related choices one makes to set up a sustainocratic world also changes the attitude of the institutional world. They need to adapt or find ways to proceed without customers or workforce. In between there will be a challenging transformative time in which both systems coexist and transform in parallel. Think for instance of the foodsystem, now centralized through speculative means of production and distribution. It will grow to decentralized, direct access and with its own value system outside economics focussing on providing people with things to eat in exchange of their participation in the production process. Back to a life of agriculture? In a way, but adjusted to the situation today. Our relation with nature will change as we become aware of our environment. And in the long run we will balanse our lifestyle with climat changes rather than producing them.

A sustainocratic individual becomes a person that enjoys a higher personal awareness (self leadership) in a social system (self sufficiency) that produces sustainable human progress through purpose driven human interaction (cooperation), education and in close partnership with its local environment.