Inside-Out: an anecdote on paradigm shifts.

Paradigm: The way we “see” the world—not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting.
—Stephen R. Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

***

For someone who claims to believe that I have control over my own life, there is one glaring relationship and one glaring paradigm I have not addressed in my life.

Today, while clearing the ice with my little brother for our freezer, I told my brother that he was taking too long to clear the ice and that I should remove the ice with the shovel and that he can go sweep the ice (the less fun thing to do).

My paradigm of him is that I view him as inferior because I needed to feel superior to him.

I have based my thinly veiled sense of confidence on him. Like you read in my last post, my brother was a part of my insecurity. I felt that I had to show him I was a perfect person, that I have to be a good example and be better than him. Simultaneously, I wanted my parents to lower their power dynamic with him like how they did with me and have them trust him more.

But this was all hypocritical, because basically since he was conceived, I had held the belief that I had to be better than him.

I’m waiting for him to come home now, because he deserves to be treated like an equal, deserves to hear my honest thoughts like how I am now more open and honest with my parents, my friends, my peers and even online. Everyone except for him.

I consider it a paradigm because this frame of reference underlies all the interactions I’ve had with him. My tone, our topic of conversation, advice I give, etc. I would worry about his grades, assume he was gaming and being unproductive.

But my frame of reference is wrong and it overshadows and ignores items that don’t fit it. My brother has a hilarious sense of humour, is incredibly curious and charismatic, and is a great debater. These items do not fit my narrative of him and my mom has had to remind me that these aspects are very special and fragile; and she strives to protect them.

I am both ashamed and liberated by the realization. I dread my brother coming home but I want to apologize and work together on how to rebuild this relationship and rebuild my view of him.

I’ve been fiercely protective of and very close with my little brother, and I do have unconditional love for him. However, this paradigm of wanting to be superior to him… it could even lead him to have a very low self-esteem. This realization honestly breaks my heart…

***

When he did come home, I asked him if he had some time and I told him how I felt and treated him more as a friend and an equal. Naturally, he started talking about his day; something that I had been prodding him to do every meal. I ended up playing a game of toss with him with our feet, which was very fun!!

The only drawback was that I forgot to respect his time because I forgot it was Sunday and that he had homework. It wasn’t too much, but alas, it was still 45 minutes of his time spent. I do hope he did not feel that it was a waste of time, because I sure didn’t.

I am very thankful though of the realization I made today, and will be making a more conscious effort to think of him as my equal and not subordinate, just like how I think of my parents as my equals and not higher up.

 ***

I highly recommend that you read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Even before Stephen Covey dives into the seven habits, listening to the preface on paradigms and the particular section “The Way We See the Problem is the Problem” (ctrl+f search that part in this PDF) while running gave me the realization of the incorrect view I had of my brother.

I will work hard to maintain this new view of my brother as an equal and not to fall into my old habits of thought. But this epiphany and truly understanding that my locus of control only lies within me, it’s a very powerful thing.

I’m going to keep learning and re-learning the concepts in this book of course; just because I learn and practice it now in this scenario doesn’t mean that it occurs to me every scenario. Stephen R. Covey himself says he re-reads his own book and gains new insight each time he does read it.

For me, I’ll just keep the audio version playing in the background during my runs and commute!

 

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