Season 2 Ep 5 Feb 7.mp3
[00:00:00] Hi, this is Stefanie Faye, and this is season two. Thanks for joining. Welcome to season two, Episode five, Happy 2021. In this episode and the following few episodes, we're going to continue with concepts from systems thinking, in particular is something called systems change, which is the idea of looking for the deepest roots possible of a challenge or behavior or symptoms, rather than going for a quick fix and a miracle cure that relieves symptoms. We try to look at where those are coming from and then the deeper layers of where that might be coming from, et cetera, et cetera. So it's a deepening and a widening of what we are looking at that plays into what is happening. And I'm going to be pulling a lot from Donella Meadows, especially from her book Thinking in Systems. I highly recommend it, as well as Jay Forrester, Peter Sengh and Russell Ackhoff. So to start this episode, I'm just going to give you a question. Which one out of the two following words I'm going to give you makes you think more about the idea of resilience? What do you think is more related to resilience than the other constancy or variability and another to order or disorder? Those are ideas we're going to touch on in this episode. Thanks for joining.
[00:01:42] So the first example that I want to use, and it doesn't go into as much of an extreme as order and disorder or collapse or anything like that, but in terms of this idea of constancy versus variability, what do you think is more of a marker of health?
[00:01:59] In a sense, resilience and health, a steady, constant heartbeat or a variability in heartbeat? And some of you may already know the answer to this, but within a certain range, variability is a marker of resilience when it comes to heart rate. And this is called heart rate variability. So quick overview of heart rate variability. It's a measure of the length of intervals between heartbeats, and this reflects the heart adjusting to varying conditions. So it reflects, you know, the vagus nerve, which I've talked about in other episodes, almost putting a break on the heart or releasing that break.
[00:02:31] And this increases the ability to either engage or disengage, to have blood flow to the skeletal muscles for fight or flight response, but also to lower and restrict some of that blood flow and lower the heart rate so that a person can stay still long enough to have social engagement and intimacy and connection with others as an example and rest and digest. So it's the variability that is an indication of health and ability to restore and adapt and engage or disengage. Obviously, when you go into the extremes, that's not a marker anymore of resilience. That can be a marker of a lot of other things, such as when you have a lot of variability, too much of it, but too little variability when there is a very steady constancy to the space between the intervals of the heartbeats. That's actually a sign of sympathetic nervous system engagement, and particularly with this measure, the heart rate variability of a overall somewhat more persistent level of that. So I think that's a tangible example of what we can see of a system that uses variability as a way to adapt.
[00:03:44] This idea of resilience, there is a steadiness or even you could say a constancy to it, but in the sense of the steadiness of resilience or a resilient system is its ability to learn, adapt, complex sify and evolve in order to continuously achieve its goals and desired states. But the key there is it maintains that ability to learn, adapt and evolve and achieve its goals with the flexibility of how it's done. So the specific feedback loops or even the type of systems and structures that are going into it, those may change and diversify into new emergent types of dynamic systems.
[00:04:28] But there is a steadiness in the sense of its ability to evolve and adapt. This is in contrast to something called static stability, which is and I'll quote again from Donella Meadows, constancy or being static regardless of a situation or stimulus. And this is not the same thing as resilience. So let's just pause for a second and think about what we see in our own lives and in society of these two different types of examples. Where do we see static stability in the sense of something that stays very constant and static without learning or complex defying or evolving, regardless of anything that's changing around it? And I'm going to go into some of those bigger examples. And then what do we see as more resilient?
[00:05:12] What do we see as evolving and adapting due to collapses and disillusions and things like that and huge, huge, huge changes, something that may actually take almost a different type of form, but has adapted to what's going on around it.
[00:05:26] I'm going to give you some examples from the book thinking in systems of that static stability, one is related to milk production. So cows are injected, some cows are injected with a growth hormone. And when that happens, they are not necessarily given more food because the growth hormone channel, some of the metabolic energy from other bodily functions to go into milk production. So you get more milk and there's a static stability to that because you can almost predict to a certain extent how much more you're going to make, but it comes at a cost to other subsystems and the larger system as a whole. So that's a big feature of this static stability.
[00:06:08] Is that by doing this, by trying to create that constant, there is a sacrifice of what happens to the more complex, bigger systems that are self organizing and that need to have a lot of variability and change and diversification and all that in order to keep going. So in the case of the cows, they become less healthy. They live shorter lives and they require more human management to keep going. Another example is single species plantations, where in order to have a higher yield of wood or pulp or whatever that is, a lot of forest management techniques are to have a single species in a set area. And this increases production, increases the yield, but again, at a cost to other subsystems and the larger system as a whole. Without that diversification of species, the soil can become very fragile, very vulnerable and less able to be reused and things like that. So there's a cost, there's a sacrifice to other subsystems and the larger system at a whole when you try to create this static stability.
[00:07:18] So let's bring this back to a personal level, and I want to look at a few different things, personal well-being and also belief structures and group identities. So in terms of personal well-being, because we as human beings are complex adaptive systems and we belong to other complex adaptive systems such as relationships, families, communities, societies, et cetera. The nature of us as a complex adaptive system is too complex. Afie to create more complexity, to learn, evolve and adapt. And the human body alone, you can see already is very resilient. It does a lot to maintain things within a certain range, but it creates a lot of different systems, feedback loops, behaviors, all of that stuff to to keep that going. But in terms of our psychological safety and our mental and emotional well-being, that is also part of this complex adaptive system structure. In order for us to maintain this, maintain this complexity and align with it, we need to have this diversification of feedback loops, diversity and multiple feedback loops, as well as redundancy that one can kick in when something else isn't working. And so one thing that I have seen in a lot of people, including myself at different stages, is sometimes an overreliance on one particular feedback loop to create a desired experience within us. And even within that specific feedback loop, we actually try to create a sense of this static stability. So let me give you an example. We may start to very much rely on one particular person in her life to have a certain experience with in order for us to feel a sense of well-being. We may even do this to the neglect of other people that might be present in her life, that could offer us other things. And we some people tend to really focus, even hyper focus on one particular relationship or maybe maybe a couple Paulistas go with one for now, I call it orbiting. We tend to orbit around one person. So within that, first of all, we don't have a lot of multiple feedback loops or we may be neglecting the nourishment and nurturing of the other systems in our lives that could kick in if this one fails. But even within that, so within this relationship of this person, we attempt to almost monitor its static stability. So how many texts do you get back? How quickly do you get a text? How many words are in that text as an example?
[00:09:38] What is the frequency of the communication you have for the interactions you have? And there's almost a monitoring of this that if it ranges too much, there is a sense of instability that gets created in your own psychological safety. So we attempt to control that.
[00:09:56] We attempt to try to have more stability that if we're not getting something back that we want, if we're serving something out and it's not getting responded the way we want, we try to get more of it or increase the frequency, increase the intervals of it, increase the length of the time or the text or whatever that is. So just notice that we might be doing that in our lives if we're not doing it with a relationship. Sometimes we do it with our job or our work where we hyper focus on one thing to give us the desired experience, possibly to the neglect of other systems that can give us a sense of well-being and restoration and all of those things.
[00:10:40] A framework that I used to take a look at that to see how balanced we might be in terms of these feedback loops that we're using to help us restore and gain a sense of well-being. It's actually in my free mini book on my website.
[00:10:55] It's called The Super Regulators The Science of Self-regulation, Any Book. And there's four categories. So the first one is conditional self-regulation. This is one set of feedback loops that are also can be very diversified that we use to bring ourselves back into a desired state without needing anybody else. And the benefit to not needing another human being, to entering and restoring ourselves to our desired state, is that humans are very volatile. They're very unpredictable. They have all the other stuff and all their other feedback loops and systems that they are dealing with that can make them unavailable at different times or have a different response to what we serve out at different times. So by having one stream or one set of feedback loops that are self-regulating, where you depend on yourself is one way to kind of diversify your portfolio, which makes you less vulnerable to collapse and anxiety and being less resilient. So conditional self-regulation is the use of something external. So that can be anything you can think of honestly. Cooking, singing, walking, exercising music, taking a bath, using different aromatherapy scents, coloring, drawing, creating, writing, et cetera, et cetera. So that is one way. And it's using basically external stimulus. So your your focus is still externally focused, which can help you divert your attention away from negative self belief structures and all that stuff, which I'm also going to get into in a second. And that just diversifies that neural circuitry. The second type of self-regulation is unconditional self-regulation. The another word for conditional self-regulation is Bottom-Up, where the stimulus is outside of you and you let it enter. Unconditional is what I would call top down, where you're using your own awareness to focus your mind in a way that puts you in a desired state. So there are different ways that you can do that. You can use your what I call the beam of awareness, the light of your consciousness, the beam of your awareness to focus on thoughts such as gratitude or visualizations. That's one way that can create a desired experience.
[00:12:58] Another is what's called more the open monitoring. So a diffused out rather than a sharp laser like beam of awareness trying to focus on one particular experience or type of desired experience. It's an open monitoring where you're just diffusing out your awareness to allow whatever is happening in your body, in the environment, to just kind of come in and just soften what's going on. So rather than getting hyper focused in what I call that me, me, me network, where you're focused on evaluating yourself, evaluating what other people are doing, thinking about your emotions, your past, your future, all of that, this is just a soft diffused type of neural activation. And this can also just calm your system because you're not necessarily going into those downward spirals. So that takes a lot of practice to be able to do. And sometimes you start with ten seconds of doing it, of just allowing, you know, putting a timer for even one minute and maybe four, five seconds of that. One minute you just kind of notice the quiet in the room, your breath, the softness of the sheets, something like that. It's still somewhat external. But what you're doing is you're allowing your mind to diffuse out your attention and kind of let whatever enters it come in and notice it and let it go. Another type of unconditional in that sense, self regulation is also in terms of a meditation or using your mind, which is where you do still focus on something. But it's something that you keep steady. So it can be a mantra, a visual object, a sound, your breath, something like that. And that just allows you to kind of keep honing that muscle to allow you to direct where your thoughts go. And that's one of the keys to self regulation. When you can hone your ability to shine your beam of awareness where you want it to shine, then you have an ability to create an internal state that you choose. So that's two different types of self-regulation, so the unconditional and the conditional and then the other thing, because we are mammals, we have a biological imperative to co regulate, to use other beings to regulate our internal state.
All mammals do this to a certain extent. You'll see most mammals will cuddle up with each other or be near each other, particularly when they're young. That's the most important time for when they do that. And part of this is because we, especially as humans, are not born with self-regulating abilities. We actually need to outsource it to our caregivers and to generally what we call conspecific. So are members of the same species because they have the ability to be complex in their ways of responding to our needs. You can obviously survive at a very basic level, you know, at a certain age to be raised by, let's say, wolves. There's an example of that. But you'll see that the behavior of that, it's on a YouTube. And there's other examples of a girl that was raised by wolves that she doesn't have certain features that make her more complex as a human being, in a sense. But she survived. But in terms of becoming a more complex human and learning language and things like that, we do need to co regulate and have models and concepts of members of the same species with us to interact with and build up our brains, as well as the different systems that we use to to regulate ourselves. So we do need other people for this. And there's two types of co regulation that I've put into this framework. One is conditional regulation, which is where you use the presence of relationships that you have in your life, whether in person or online or on the phone or whatever. But you're using a certain return feedback loop with those people to regulate, whether it's talking or laughing or having joint attention, which is enjoying something together that you both focus on joint movement. Those are all great ways to actually even possibly increase the coherence of your brainwaves, which is creates a sense of well-being in a sense. So that's conditional co regulation, but it's conditional because it does rely on the conditions at place. So whether the person is available, not just physically but also emotionally and all those kinds of things, there's also unconditional type of co regulation. So that is where we can actually draw up in our mind without the person being present. And so this can be someone who has passed away. It can be someone you admire, but it's an ability to draw up in her mind a relationship and think about whatever we want within that relationship. That brings us a sense of well-being. So those are just some ideas of how we can diversify the feedback loops we have in terms of creating a desired internal state for us.
[00:17:28] And that is what can help us become less vulnerable than if we very heavily rely on one or two people or one or two very specific things to be a certain way, in order for us to feel a sense of well-being, that becomes a very vulnerable system if we do that. And many of you've probably experienced that, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of volatility, and you're not creating what's called redundancy. You're not creating other feedback loops that can step in or I won't say not creating. You're not nurturing the other feedback loops in your life that can step in. So you may even forget about them. When somebody isn't responding to you in a way that you'd like, you might just go into a dark hole of despair and do something that is very automatic and repetitive, that has a quick fix reward hormone like your phone or food or substance or whatever, that isn't really evolving or adapting. It's just instant gratification of a reward hormone in those moments. And that might be to the detriment of these other feedback loops that can be very dynamic and evolving and updating, such as these relationships or these other interests or these other types of self-regulating activities that can be very restorative and healthy.
[00:18:52] Now, the next example of static stability is in terms of identities and belief structures, so we're going to divide this into personal and then group. So in terms of static stability, of a personal identity for you, self identity or a belief structure, first of all, what we see is in static stability is that it stays constant no matter what the stimulus or situation, how much that is changing around you and being updated that structure. And we're going to we're going to call this your belief structure stays constant. And the other element of this static stability is that it does this to the detriment of other subsystems or the larger system as a whole. So I'm not going to call this good or bad. It's more just if a belief structure that you have within you is is leading you to act in ways or have very possibly repetitive behaviors, behavior patterns that are coming at a cost to other subsystems.
[00:19:49] So let's say you eat excessively or you drink a certain you use a certain substance or and so that's coming actually to the detriment of the biological health of your other systems. Or you are engaging too much in one particular thing to the detriment of other, you know, feedback loops in systems or you're a certain type of belief structure is kind of sucking you into this dark spiral to the detriment of all the other neural resources and belief structures you also have. So this static stability is doing something in a way that sacrifices the overall functioning and well-being of other subsystems and the larger system that you are and are a part of. So that's part of what just to look at in terms of if you're thinking about resilience or static stability. So that's a belief structure, let's say. And so some of our belief structures are going to come from the very earliest points of data collection that we have, which is from our early childhood. And I've explained that in a couple of episodes, we don't have billions of people to give us different perspectives of ourselves. We have a very, very limited number of people between one and five to seven at most, usually over and over and over again when we're first entering the world and doing this serve and return kind of brain building.
[00:20:59] So you build up these belief structures and they're very much based on the reactions of the people around you. And remember, too, that the reactions of the people around you are also based on their own belief structures that have come from their upbringing, which comes from the era that they grew up in, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So a lot of stuff interplaying, but your little brain doesn't really have the capacity yet to understand all that complexity. So it's creating a lot of these cause effect models. I went over that, I think, in episode to season two. And so some of these belief structures can be related to something very deep within you that becomes a paradigm that you use to interact with the world. So it could be something like you may have gotten a lot of reinforcing feedback from achieving something academically as an example or doing something really well, like drawing really well, doing something really well and maybe not as noticed when that wasn't happening. And so there might be a belief structure that gets built that says I'm only of value when I achieve really high results according to certain standards. So the belief structure about your value and what makes you valuable might be something that's somewhat solid and reinforced and established within you.
[00:22:10] What happens is then if you don't achieve or you don't perform the way you think is desirable, you may start to have thoughts that you are not valuable then. And that can create a lot of anxiety or depression or isolation or withdrawal or things like that, fear of rejection, etc.. So if that belief structure does not get updated with new information, if new information is coming in, that might indicate you have value even when there is no question of performance in that sense, you have value that is related to very different things. If that belief structure doesn't get updated according to this new information, then it means it's not evolving and diversifying and learning, which means it doesn't reflect this idea of resilience. It's creating the static stability. So you may even try to have a large sense of control over the output of that by having very strict regulations on yourself as to how you're going to achieve this. And that might come at the cost of other things. So that's one thing to think about. Another belief structure could be something like your needs are too much to be met by other people. That's something that can happen from a very early age, depending on the tiredness of the caregivers.
[00:23:23] How many other people are involved there, neural and behavioral resources. There might have been little what I call social bio signals going back and forth of when you have needs that it was too much for someone else to handle. That could be a belief structure that if it stays constant over time and is still there today and doesn't get updated with input from other situations, other scenarios and the relationships, then again, it might and I'm not saying that it is, but it might be coming. To the point where if you have let's say this, my needs are too much for other people, it might be creating behaviors in you that become very repetitive and isolate you from other sources of support that could actually dissolve that self belief, that belief structure. So you might continuously perpetuate behaviors according to that belief structure without allowing it to be updated. So it becomes like a self-fulfilling prophecy of very perpetuating kind of cycle. So that's something to think about in terms of our personal belief structures. And next, we're going to talk about group identities.
[00:24:34] Something also just to add to the self belief structures, which is going to come into play with the group identities, is this idea of hyper coherence. So that's something that we can see in different types of brain maps, such as quantitative electroencephalogram, where if there is too much communication between different regions to the point where they're almost rigid and locked, that can be considered hyper coherence and it may come to the detriment of allowing other regions to communicate with each other.
[00:25:03] There can also be hypo coherence where there's not enough communication in different regions for them to be. It's not efficient communication in a sense. hyper coherence that would be happening in these belief structures where certain associations, you know, word, neural emotions, sensation, biosocial signal network associations, et cetera, might have hyper coherence where they continuously feed into a belief structure. And so a way to get out of hyper coherence is to diffuse some of the activity, to allow other regions to be communicating and entering their data into the system and allowing for that to be communicated overall.
[00:25:40] We also see this in the idea of group identity. Static stability in the sense of a group identity is again, this is not good or bad. But if a certain belief structure, for example, in this in the is I'm giving in terms of a group identity, if it's creating behavior that is not creating a desired experience, if it's creating an undesired experience or it's just not creating a desired experience, if that's happening, then it's likely that this group identity is leading to behaviors that are not evolving and learning and adapting and achieving the goal because a goal will be a desired experience. We don't have to even list what that is, just a desired experience or in episode five of Season one, to call it, feel better and better. As always, context dependent. So static stability within a group identity could be related to the belief structure that the group has in place. So we were talking about personal belief structures. Now we're going to go into a group belief structure. So if this group belief structure is that certain groups of humans are inferior to that group based on some category that they have selected, whether it's color of skin, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, political belief, age, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, humans are very, very, very good at creating categories and creating hierarchies of what is inferior or superior. I'm going to go into that into in another episode. So if this group identity is based on this belief structure that other groups are inferior to this group, what can happen very similar to the self belief structure is it can become a very self sustaining structure.
[00:27:19] Sometimes when we think of resilient, we think, oh, well, then it's resilient in a sense, because it's withstanding any kind of changes or perturbations to the system. It's slightly different. It's not resilient in the sense that it's not becoming more complex or evolving or adapting. In that sense, it's staying stable. So it might not be quite what Donella Meadows was talking about in terms of esthetic stability. But I want to just go along the same lines in terms of what I'm talking about here, which is that there is a first of all, there's a hyper coherence of the communication within these groups, and that will be in almost a locked in type of way that keeps out other information that could dissolve some of these beliefs. And so there's a hyper coherence of these networks of communication within these group identities that keeps reinforcing the group identity and that belief structure. And again, the issue here is that as human beings, as a species, as a society, it is a complex, adaptive structure, which means that complexity is one of its features. And so when you don't align with the features of complexity, which is to create more complexity, adapt, evolve and update according to new information, you're going against nature. In a sense, you're going against what is a very inherent aspect of the design of human systems socially, neurologically, personally, etc.. So that would include that, let's say if there's a belief structure that one group of humans is superior to the other. If this is constant over time, it means that it's not allowing the entrance of new data, which could be a very personal relationship with somebody that's in one of those other systems or other subgroups, for example, to come in to update the belief or just general information that would contradict what some of this belief structures are, then that's going to stay locked in place just like a hyper coherent network in the brain.
[00:29:16] The only way to loosen up that hyper hyper coherence is to allow other communication from other subsystems and in a sense, subgroups of humans to allow that to come in and activate new circuits new. Works, we actually see this in communication patterns that groups of people who enlist the study, if I can find it, this is from a long time ago that I read this, but groups of people who are in regular communication with each other tend to just share very redundant information in a sense of repetitive, nothing particularly new or novel. When there is communication that enters some of these networks that are not usually communicated with, all of a sudden there's a huge increase in the sharing of novel information. So communicating outside of usual hyperconnected networks allows for the entrance of new information. And so that's part of what diffuses these hyper coherent networks.
[00:30:09] But the other piece as well, in terms of the maladaptiveness of these group identities that stay constant over time, regardless of what is changing around and updated information that is available, it's also mis aligning with the complexity of collective human intelligence, which is just an aspect of the species of humans. We are communicators and universal constructor's. The feature of collective human intelligence is its ability to adapt and become resilient in that sense. And so when certain networks are excluding the information from other nodes and so I've kind of called humans the neurons of the planet just like a brain. We we are the communiques. We're sending signals across different regions and all that when a certain network is too rigid and locked in and excludes information from the rest, it's denying the power and ability of the collective nature of intelligence that is the feature of the human species.
[00:31:14] And so the human species as a whole will become less flexible, less able to adapt to changing circumstances and perturbations. So it's a detriment to the entire species as a whole, the entire larger system as a whole to have group identities that stay constant over time without being updated. So that's just something to think about.
[00:31:43] So a quick review of this episode is that we talked about the idea of resilience versus static stability and that resilience has a diversity and rich structure of different types of feedback loops and different ways to restore so so it doesn't get locked into very specific methods all the time. It has lots of different ways of restoring itself. And we looked at that as in contrast to static stability, where something stays constant and static regardless of the situation or stimulus, which is not the same thing as resilience, that we looked at how this applies to personal well-being and how we might not diversify enough of our feedback loops and other systems that we use to gain a sense of well-being. And I talked about conditional self-regulation, unconditional self-regulation, conditional and unconditional co regulation as ways to diversify those loops. Then we looked at the static stability of identities, in particular personal belief structures that might be staying constant despite situations or stimuli that could update and even dissolve part of those identities as well as group identities.
[00:32:49] And the same thing happening there with a sense of hyper coherence in certain networks to the detriment of being updated with new data, new stimulus, in order for there to be more flexible, flowing, dynamic type of resilience and adaptation to different situations, which comes to the detriment of the complex nature of human intelligence on a personal level, as well as the complexity of collective human intelligence and species wide thriving as a whole. So three reflection questions. I want to leave you with what might be some belief structures operating in your life that have stayed constant over time, but that have possibly led to repetitive patterns of behavior that don't quite lead you to a desired experience or state.
[00:33:32] So these might be related to a belief about your value, your lovability, your your needs being met, your ability to meet your needs, etc.. Second reflection question. What are some groups that you are a part of, that you are a part of that may have within their identity that they are better than another subgroup of humans? So let's not point fingers at other people just yet. What are some groups that you are a part of that have within their belief structure that they are better than another subgroup of humans? And do you see within that a pattern of hyper coherence and communication in the sense of repetitiveness, of information and repetitiveness, of emotional messaging and things like that? And might this be to the detriment of allowing other information from other subgroups to enter into the communication and the belief structure? And then finally, what structures in your life, for example, relationships, habits, sources of security or even numbing in a sense, are you trying to keep exactly in the same form? And is it possible that this form of whatever it is that you're trying to really hold on to in the structure that it is exactly as it is now?
[00:34:42] Is it possible that this form could collapse and dissolve, but that you could still find a new way to achieve the same purpose or goal of what you think that specific system or structure is giving you? So those are just some things to think about. And I want to let you know of a couple of things happening. One is I'm going to be holding one on one coaching and consulting sessions so you can check those out. So that's on my website. Stephanie Frank, Francom Consulting. And I'm going to hold a private Facebook group. Many of you know, I'm not a fan of social media and definitely not a fan of Facebook, but I think it's also important for us to find ways to use what exists intentionally and to be possibly a voice that can help add to the conversations that are happening there, since I don't think it's going anywhere. Facebook's I think here to stay. I thought maybe I'll just add my drop to the bucket in that. So the title of that Facebook group is The Science of Mindful Systems Change. I don't even necessarily know what I'm doing yet, so I hope you join me in what could potentially be pretty comedic failure. anyway, so you can check all that out at Stefaniefaye.com, which directs you to my whole site.