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I’ve wanted to write this entry for several weeks but keep getting sidelined by one thing or another.

My last two entries (in September) were about technology and its impact on our relationships with each other. I ended with “we have more choices now”.

Right after that, on September 27th, NPR’s All Tech Considered featured a possible obituary for BlackBerry by Steven Henn.(Here’s the link:
http://www.marketplace.org/topics/tech/twitter-book-reveals-drunken-lonely-creation-story).

He ends with:

You helped usher us into an age where billions of human beings carry computers in their pockets, and children, parents and spouses have to compete with tiny screens for the affection of their loved ones.

One of the downsides of connecting via the internet is not connecting with the people we are with.

There’s a lot about electronics that absorbs us and makes it hard to say “no” to them.

It’s up to us to set standards of behavior for ourselves regarding when we use our gadgets.

It’s up to us to make choices and to realize the impact of our screen time on ourselves and those we are with.

What will you choose? What do you want? What do you admire in others?

Just as isolation and loneliness can increase with technology, so can connection.

To use my previous examples:

While a switchboard operator provided a sense of community in a way, phones in every home allowed more privacy and freedom which in many circumstances could contribute to more intimacy.

Watching tv at home allowed more people to know more about the world around them and so increased awareness and understanding which opened them to the possibility of more connection as well.
With current technology, there’s a tremendous opportunity for increased connection. You can interact with someone else anywhere in the world. Your every whim and thought can be instantly emailed, texted, tweeted, or posted for many others to see.

The quality of connection is variable. Overall, the new tools give opportunities for building community and cohesiveness in groups that didn’t exist before.

And this means of communication is fraught with challenges – maybe you think someone read your communication and they didn’t; there’s so much coming in all the time that someone can share something important and it’s not “heard”; and sometimes seeing connections people have with each other, but not with you, increases isolation and loneliness.

With technology or without it, we humans have the age old challenge of getting our needs met either by communicating, collaborating, and connecting . . . or by relying on one’s self.

With technology or without, we also have the age old challenge of trust, knowing when to let defenses down, being able to be real and authentic, and growing in intimacy with ourselves and others.

And, with technology or without, we have the age old challenge of learning to tolerate disappointment, misunderstandings, and rejection.

Technology can help us meet our needs, solve problems, and accomplish goals. More responsibility is put on us to use it wisely and to stay connected with our own truth. We have more choices now.

Those who know me know that I don’t watch tv very much. Lately however, some old programs have been on that I like so I have been watching it more.

Then my tv started going out for no apparent reason. After trying several fixes, I tried to watch it online. I wanted to find the network and watch online what was on tv in real time.

I couldn’t figure out how to do that. I did find out how I could choose an episode to watch on my own.

However, I was surprised to see that I didn’t like that option . . . it brought a sense of isolation and seclusion. I never knew watching tv carried with it a sense of connection with the wider world.

I’ve heard people speak of “the community of tv viewers”. My reaction to watching whatever I wanted to watch gave me a sense of that . . . an awareness of someone and something beyond myself.

When technology brought phones to every home so the switchboard operator was no longer needed, perhaps people felt a loss of community.

The same with tv’s . . . perhaps being able to watch the news or movies in your own home instead of going to the movie theater increased a sense of loneliness.

Sometimes choice gives a sense of freedom and sometimes it increases aloneness.

I have been having second thoughts about my blog entry last week.

I’m not so sure that extending the theory that vulnerable and weak parts are the first to respond to changes in the environment can really apply to our internal world and the things we experience.

I think it has more to do with systems. So, changes in the context of a system are felt first by the parts of the system that are weakest. (Just as the weakest leaves respond first to the decrease in light.)

However, internally, our core issues, . . .

those deeply held negative beliefs (e.g. “nobody likes me” or “I can’t do anything right”) . . .

and particularly sensitive vulnerabilities (e.g. feeling threatened, worthless, or abandoned) . . .

are more activated when our internal system doesn’t have what it needs.

It could be because we are tired, hungry, dehydrated, or getting sick and so forth.

And there are other things (like grief, change, other loss or disruption in life) that require more of us at one time or another.

When our internal ecosystem is out of balance, our core issues are more likely to be triggered.

So if you find yourself feeling irritable, impatient, weepy, scared, sad, ashamed, etc, check to see if these are related to one of your core issues . . . then see if your internal system has been thrown off for some reason.  

In this sense, our vulnerabilities are a signal for us that we need to address our physical and emotional well being.

I haven’t blogged for awhile. Various threads of my own story had me preoccupied. It’s something though to have done something almost every week for 7 years, then to just stop. We and our minds are often a mystery!

I can feel that I’m ready to get started again, though I may not aim for every week anymore.

What has been catching my attention lately is the beginning of fall colors. If you look, you can see leaves here and there that are yellow or brown.

And I was wondering, why, with a whole huge tree of green leaves, would there by a few that are changing?

And I realized that it’s probably the parts of the tree’s system that are most vulnerable and sensitive to the amount of light that are the ones to show this change first.

And, so, as is my want, I applied this to us. . . . and I saw that it is true, the parts of ourselves that are most vulnerable and sensitive are often the parts that are most perceptive and pick up on changes in our world first.

Usually, and necessarily so, these vulnerable and sensitive parts are well protected and so they may not be exposed to the changes we experience.

When we check in on a deeper level, we may notice that we are picking up on something underneath our defenses.   

This gives us information about ourselves and our environment so we know what’s going on in us, what we need, and how to take care of ourselves.

Is your perceptiveness related to your vulnerability and sensitivity? Look inside the outside, down beneath your usual awareness, and notice what’s going on. Give this part of you special attention and care.

It’s fairly understandable that we don’t all remember the same things and so that we hear a story about ourselves that we don’t remember . . .

And that we would remember a common experience differently . . .

What we remember and the way we remember is related to whether or not an important need was threatened or satisfied.

For example . . .

If you proudly showed me something that you had done and I reacted as if it was nothing, your need for mastery and effectiveness would not have been met. You may be more likely to remember this event than I would because no particular need of mine was involved.

Or . . .

If I made a special effort to connect with you and you were distracted by something else and actually were annoyed by me, then I would remember feeling hurt (my need for connection was threatened) and you would remember feeling bothered (your need for autonomy was threatened).

And again . . .

If you called me for support because you had a tough day, and I was glad to hear from you and listened with interest and concern, you’d remember being supported (your need for comfort and connection was met) and I’d remember feeling caring and needed (my need for connection and to be effective and have value were met).

See if this theory holds up for you in your experience with what you remember and how you and others remember differently. . . .

It’s also an occasion to be more aware of your primary needs and to notice when they are being met or not.

A couple of weeks ago, I referenced the film “The Stories We Tell” which is about a family secret. Various people in the family had different information about the situation which became clearer with each person’s perspective.

Some family stories are held in common. Everyone has pretty much the same basic facts.

Some are very different from one another. Each person in the family has their experience and their story is the way they tell and describe that experience. Thus, everyone could have a different story about the same event.

And some have stories that the others don’t, even if they were there, because for whatever reason it didn’t register for them. Thus, it’s foreign to them even though they apparently experienced the same thing.

And, like in the film, some have more information than others.

We need to hold lightly the stories we have about ourselves, our families, and our lives . . . honoring our experience without needing it to be the absolute truth . . . and so respecting others and their stories.