What if I told you that chaos is not only good but necessary to aid in your personal growth and expand your perspective? Even further, chaos can lead you to freedom?If this sounds like a stretch to you, then let me reassure you that I was a skeptic as well.However, there’s a process to it. Not only can you maintain a level of sanity during these uncertain times, but you can use them to your advantage to take yourself to the next level of stepping out of your comfort zone and explore how you have formed a “Worldview,” and your ability to shift it to work in your favor. In fact I’ll explore the process that works for me.
During these times of chaos, I find myself reaching for tools to put things into perspective, because otherwise I feel like I’m going to go insane. One of the tools is “openness” — that is, being wiling to believe, (or at least consider), a new thought. One of those thoughts is that Chaos disrupts how things are and in doing so, it can actually free you to create and be authentically you!
And what does it mean to “put things into perspective?” Whenever I hear that, my first reaction is to flip a mental bird at whoever is telling me to, “just put it into perspective,” or whatever. “Just,” what a stupid little word that minimizes how I am feeling. What pisses me off when I first hear it is, I think, a deeper sense that it’s not always so easy to put things into perspective. My mind fights it. My body fights it. The fight, for me, is that I like things the way they are! I like the safety and comfort of same-ness. I don’t like change! Honestly, change scares me because I don’t know what’s on the other side of it! Chaos, disruption, destruction, is change on a rampage, so I experience tremendous fear. Even when my mind gets it, my body often continues to feel fear of the end of life as I know it.
Perspective is how we look at the world around us, how we relate to it. So, changing our perspective involves changing how we relate to the world and circumstances around us. Have you ever stopped to consider where your perspective on any given thing comes from? How do you know what you know? What is the difference between point of view and perspective? Point of view is how I see the world and perspective is how I interpret it based on my beliefs, feelings, and experiences. So, we each have a “worldview,” meaning that we each have a point of view in which we see things and the thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and circumstances used to interpret it. We each have an environment we live in. All of these things come together to form each person’s own unique worldview or perspective.
Right now, I’m writing this during the global Coronavirus pandemic, sitting in South Florida which has COVID-19 cases all around me. I remember at first in early March, I refused to cancel my travel plans. I was flying to Los Angeles for a coaching conference, then to Smokey Mountains National Park and later Mammoth Cave National Park for what was sure to be some great photography adventures. Like everyone around me, I refused to believe this virus was anything to worry about. I had been through the Zika scare and the SARS scare, and it was nothing.
But, in a moment, when Italy was falling into its disaster with COVID-19, it hit me that this was real and that I must cancel the trips and take immediate action. I pulled the kids from school. I started isolating from everyone, and I stopped going to my office. I ran to the store to buy lots of shit like toilet paper and chicken and other stuff to survive. It was crazy! I felt insane, like I was losing my mind; and I’m a pretty level headed guy! However, my body had its own reaction, and that was basically that I am going to die and all my family and friends may die! It’s no wonder I felt crazy — my reality was being shredded by an enemy I could not see — like a savage ghost.
Only when I was able to experience my experience, feel it, own it, and acknowledge it, was I able to then start changing my perspective. I had to allow myself to feel it all, not stuff it down only to have it blow up in my face at another time. If we don’t initially honor how we feel by acknowledging yes I am going crazy, and yes this is insanity at its peak, and yes I am scared, then I can’t move beyond it. When I do stop and honor how I’m feeling, then and only then does changing perspective become available as a useful tool for me, and not a moment sooner.
Changing perspective is changing your Worldview, at least in part, to help cope with new things that show up in life like the Coronavirus and COVID-19. So, “just change your perspective” is a little tricky when our existing perspective has gotten us through so far. We are humans. We usually don’t like change worth a damn. Even if the change is from something that we know is bad, because we have deep fear of whether or not the change will be better or worse for us. So, most people would rather stay in a shitty situation than risk the unknown of a better one.
Then there’s Chaos. Chaos forces us, whether we like it or not, to reassess how things are. It usually forces us to come up with new ways of doing things. It is forced change. Chaos then is something people instinctively seek to avoid because it initially can be painful to experience.
Why do people avoid chaos? In many ways, it is the end of how we know it. Chaos can be a loss of life or lifestyle, both of which we’re experiencing right now. And Chaos can be the end of how we do things and even of what we know of things. Again, this is what most are experiencing right now. So, what’s with the invitation to fight back the reaction to reject Chaos, and to instead embrace it? That’s the shift in perspective that I’m going through along with others who have the courage to think like this, if you want to live life from a new perspective. Change your frame of reference. Get a new attitude. Have a new point of view. It’s all the same thing.
A little perspective on Chaos itself and chaos theory. What is the Chaos Theory? I am not an expert, and I’m certainly not a master of the Chaos Theory like Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park. But some core principles of that theory make sense here. Chaos appears to be random disruption, disorganization, the lack of order, however you want to call it. When you map a chaotic system, though, something amazing happens, there is self-organization within the chaos, involving things like “strange attractors” and “reaction channels” and the like. Again, I’m not an expert, but this is useful for facing what we call Chaos in our lives, and here’s why.
Most people, like me and you, don’t go through life in isolation. We are in relationships with our family, friends, and in our communities. We grow up being told how it is, what to do, what to think, how to act. It goes on and on; what’s good, what’s bad, the right way to do it, and the wrong way to do it. The point is: these are all fixed rules, and if you’re not with the rules, you’re screwed. Chaos burns away the rules. Chaos as we are talking about it here completely disrupts and even destroys organizations and the complacency of rules for the sake of rules.
Chaos in every way opens up all the possibilities available to us
Who makes the rules? It’s what I call “the System” – government, banks, society, communities, our parents, our friends, teachers, preachers — the System is whoever and whatever we surrender our right of self-determination to. It’s whatever we listen to to tell us how to live our lives. Take it from me, I am a lawyer and I know the System!
This is like being in a prison cell! But the real shocker of it is that you make the prison based on what and who you surrender your power of decision-making to. The System likes things the same – it likes stability. But, if you’re not successful in the way the System is, there’s only a few choices. Either you can make yourself the way the System wants you to be so that you fit in, you can buck the system, or you can be ground up and perish under the wheels of the System. Chaos is the key to opening the prison cell that you made! Chaos gives a fourth choice – disrupt the system so that it evolves into new systems that you become a part of. As it evolves, you now have a chance to participate in how that new system develops.
Chaos disrupts the System, and all of the little systems that run inside of the System. When Chaos shows up, the System trembles because it is threatened. Chaos is like a farmer tilling a field – you can’t plant a new crop until the field is plowed and the leftovers from old crop utterly destroyed. Chaos opens up the System and allows new information to enter, new possibilities to unfold. Chaos in every way opens up all the possibilities available to us, and gives us the space and the resources to achieve our dreams by turning possibilities into reality.
And how do you manage Chaos? Remember the idea that chaotic systems are self-organizing around strange attractors and reaction channels? Part of my perspective is that people are what organize Chaos, and each of us organizes it in a unique way. And, when you put two people together, they create a new way to organize Chaos. If you build teams of people, that too organizes Chaos. Relationships and teams empower you to develop new systems that are organized around the “strange attractor” that is YOU!
Ok, so this may be a great story, but how does it work for you and me? When I started thinking of Chaos like this, I realized something hugely important — everyone I meet is potentially the key to creating what I want to create in my life! I alone only organize Chaos to a limited extent. But, when I am in relationship with another person, then we together have a power to organize Chaos that is unique to us as a team, and more powerful than doing it alone. And that’s not the end of it! From there, we can build teams of people that in turn organize everything in ways that allow building and creating – just look at the success of teams like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Tesla in business. Some people alone are such powerful attractors in the middle of Chaos that they manage to shape everything around them – the Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, Jesus Christ, Paramanhansa Yogananda, and other great human spirits through the ages. The point is, look at yourself and consider how you are organizing Chaos to create your reality, and even more, who you can work with to further organize Chaos so that you are creating what you want to create. How can you shift your worldview — your perspective — to make Chaos work for you, instead of against you?
Empires have risen and fallen involving these same ideas. Old organized systems break down in the face of Chaos to make way for new systems and new possibilities. So, Chaos is your friend, if you choose to make it so. Embrace it and build your life and do it in relationship with people around you. Every person you meet could be the key to your dreams.