This I adore, six ways from Sunday. So much fun!
Also, Mika? Really awesome.
This I adore, six ways from Sunday. So much fun!
Also, Mika? Really awesome.
Pace: “The Usual Error is assuming other people are just like you.”
Kyeli: “...And we all do it all the time and it’s totally okay.”
Hello there, faithful citizens of Earth! It’s soooo muddy here!
The Boundaries workshop was my first opportunity to re-attend a Usual Error session. I’m going to quote some of my older notes from the first time I attended, because they were originally posted privately. Since then we’ve all discovered the benefits of workshop notes (and liveblogging, hell!) so this makes a lot more sense. ;}
Larissa came to this workshop to get video of everything, and I think the Boundaries workshop is a great workshop to record—there’s just something about it that really resonates with me. I think it does that because I sometimes have problems with setting healthy boundaries…!
Kyeli described boundaries as a circle you set around yourself. The outer edges are your boundaries; between you and that outer edge exist your comfort zone, and your responsibilities. Everything inside that circle is Your Stuff. Everything outside that circle is Someone Else’s Stuff. It’s where you feel familiar and comfortable, and where it is your responsibility to get your needs met. (Some of you are already noticing that I’m overflowing into Ethical Slut material here—I didn’t do it on purpose, and it’s really interesting.) You can set and reset these boundaries as you so choose—if you find out that you didn’t get it quite right the first time, it’s completely okay to change your mind and adjust as necessary. Sometimes figuring out how to adjust them can be tricky, but once you’ve found the sweet spot, and held firm, it’s really, really good. So much better than fluctuating constantly. And it just occurred to me to compare boundaries to blood sugar. If only I knew a little more about blood sugar. Huh.
So! That reminds me of something I didn’t really take notes on—that if we set our boundaries too tightly or too loosely, they tend to fluctuate dramatically when met with too much discord. For instance, if we set our boundaries too loosely, taking care of everyone else’s stuff, we’re going to hit a brick wall and burn out—and suddenly our boundaries will be upset, paranoid, and very tight. The fluxing is what seems to happen when we haven’t found our proper, healthy boundaries yet. It sounds exactly like what Christiane Northrup described about blood sugar—if your blood sugar levels aren’t healthy, they will go up and down and make you crazy. (And apparently, that’s what happens to most of us… but I still don’t quite understand it completely.)
(Interlude: Holy shit! That Northrup book is not even fourteen bucks now! It used to be twenty! And it’s a huuuugeass book, holy crap! The urge now to buy a copy for everyone I know is unbearable, and my bank account still won’t support it… but dude! Price change! Yowzah!)
I actually wonder if many things are like that—moderation gets you stability, but excess results in fluctuation. There are a lot of directions I could go with that. Something to think about.
Being a big girl! (Or boy!)
The part of this I have the easiest time relating to is the concept that I have to be able to trust that a person will speak up if there’s a problem, if they’re feeling something I need to know—their stuff is their stuff. It’s not my stuff. Plenty of people don’t speak up, we know this… but if we don’t trust them to, if we don’t expect them to, they’ll never learn that they should. They need to be a big boy, or a big girl, and take care of themselves by making sure other people have the information that allows them to help! By expecting this of them… we are giving them authority over themselves! (Even if they don’t want it, ha ha ha!)
When we talked about being a big boy (or big girl), we also talked a little bit about cultural social boundaries. This is something I’d like to explore a little more, but I’m not sure where to go with it just yet. Suggestions?
In keeping healthy boundaries, it’s best to treat others as though their boundaries are healthy, too. I really like this concept and want to implement it, but it is often very challenging to get going. I have a feeling, though, that once you do it a few times… it gets easier. Because to be perfectly honest, as we also talked about at the workshop, unhealthy boundaries are manipulative. I’m making you take care of me, my stuff, or I’m taking control of you, your stuff, and taking away your opportunity to control it yourself, even to learn to control it yourself. We want to trust others to take care of themselves… and trust ourselves to take care of ourselves. Important, important.
The Myth of Boxes! (Or something like that.)
To be FIERCE is to maintain firm, healthy boundaries. To be FIERCE is to be assertive in taking care of yourself. If I can find some construction paper, I may cut out big page-sized letters and pin FIERCE to my office wall…
Some things we talked about in regards to fierceness: There are buzz-phrases that scare us away from being fierce. “Bitch” is one of them. “PMS” is another. I used to feel constantly that when someone realized I had PMS, it instantly invalidated everything I was feeling. I used to try to hide that it was that time of the month during important conversations, lest the other person realize what was going on and, in one fell swoop, make all my communication attempts worthless. It was very frustrating. I don’t feel that way quite as much now, but it’s important to remember that PMS doesn’t invalidate feelings—it just intensifies them, or puts you more in touch with them. They’re not wrong. They’re still very right and very valid. (Christiane Northrup talks about that, too!)
In business, I am often afraid that my fierceness will be met with verbal violence—because I am afraid that my fierceness will be interpreted from the beginning as violence. I’m starting to get over that, because some people do get it, and resume healthy boundary-keeping. I have also realized that the people who don’t get it… are the ones I don’t want to work with anyway. And that’s very, very interesting.
There is a lot to be said for the Usual Error as applicable to business, and I’m going to explore that later. (It really fits into my Plan for World Domination, that’s for sure!)
Axe 4 Wat U Need / No 1 Can Read Ur Mind
Yeah. It is that obvious. It’s obnoxiously obvious. I can’t believe more people don’t automatically get this.
This is the myth about the prince, the one on the white horse that appears out of nowhere and solves all your problems. He comes and he knows so well exactly what you want and what you need, that you don’t even need to communicate! Haha! (I think Pace said that last bit. It gave me glee.)
Of course, this person… if he exists… is completely taking away your opportunity to learn to take care of yourself, and to ask for what you need. In Somebody’s Perfect World, this would be great. But here, on planet Us, we usually aren’t dealing with psychics and we must ask for what we need if we expect to have some chance of receiving it.
There’s a corollary myth that asking cheapens it. And… dude… that’s so wrong.
I admit to you now that I have often been struck with the fear of asking, because I “shouldn’t have to”, or something crazy like that. But if I don’t ask, I won’t get it. And getting what I need is more important than this insane stuckness that happens when I don’t ask. Sometimes… I’m still stuck. But I think when that happens… I haven’t quite pinned down what I actually need. So I’m working on that part.
Kylie: “You’re not green. He can say you’re green all day but you’re not.”
This comes right back to the realization that any other person exists to us as a very limited model. We can understand some things—over time, many things—about a person, but ultimately we are still filling in the blanks with our own experience, with familiar bits. So someone saying things about you... that you’re green, for instance… probably doesn’t really know you. At least, not enough to know you’re probably people-colored like the rest of us! He can’t give you a better assessment of you than you can. And he can talk all day, but he’s still just sticking pins in a little doll that looks like you, his idea of you, his representation of what he believes you are. He’s sticking pins in something that seems like you… with many, many pieces filled in from his limited mental model of you. He’s not sticking pins in you.
So unless you believe in voodoo…
Okay. Right. (I haven’t told you guys about the voodoo car yet… my god. I’d almost forgotten.)
This idea makes such a difference to me, because I often take someone’s words (or ranting) to heart when there’s no point in doing so. I second-guess and blame myself, blah blah blah. It’s very silly, and this idea flips a switch in my brain—especially the part about the voodoo doll—that makes it all better for a little bit. More signs for my office.
We live in a world built from our own concepts, our own imagining. Everything else, everyone else, is a reflection of our own selves in some way. It’s alarmingly, fabulously like dreaming, where we are everyone and everything else in the dream. This needs more exploration as well.
Whew! I think we’re going to need a Part Three…
Boundaries happened the 28th of April—oops! I guess a lot has been going on around here, dude.
The first thing I want to write is about how I have this question, all the time. Boundaries is a humongous subject. It certainly expands far beyond what the Usual Error workshop covers. Everyone has specific sets of boundaries in addition to their overall boundaries in relation to other people. We have safety boundaries, sexual boundaries, sleeping boundaries, social boundaries. And my question, more often than not, is answered by that realization. The items in the Boundaries workshop apply overall and specifically, if I think about it. It’s just such huge subject matter. Boggles my brain!
But there’s still more to that, and I’m having trouble explaining it. If we talk about healthy boundaries, you take care of your Stuff and I take care of my Stuff. We don’t take care of each other’s Stuff—and we don’t allow others to take care of our Stuff. We are respectful and responsible. That’s a kind of “boundaries”.
But there’s a whole other kind of boundaries. There’s the kind of boundaries where I’m not comfortable being cuddled by complete strangers (most of the time). There’s the kind of boundaries where I want to feel safe in my relationships. This is the actual Stuff—not the system that allows us to decide who takes care of whose Stuff. Is this making sense?
There are boundaries inside the Boundaries. Like there are layers inside layers, meta on meta, communications inside other communications. Hell, the world is a complicated place. But this has been bugging me for awhile and I wanted to get it out there. Do we call both these things Boundaries? Do we clarify in some way?
Despite all of this, I have really felt that Boundaries is a rockin’ place to start, even though it’s not at the beginning. I don’t know why exactly that is, but it’s interesting. And I’m sure I’ve said it before; I’m biased, I started on Boundaries. So… that’s probably it.
I wanted to post some of my basic thought processes here, so I’m going to do another more detailed post in a moment. They feel separate. Here we go!
Whew! It’s been a busy week, somehow, and now we’re nearing the end of it and I still haven’t processed my latest Usual Error notes. The triad gave a condensed version of their entire presentation this last weekend, during my fabulous Bastrop camping trip, and I picked up a few extra bits and pieces to add here. Many of the subjects they covered I’d already heard once or twice or more, but because their project is organic and growing, they keep explaining items in new and fabulous ways! I think I’ve already mentioned how that’s one of my favorite parts… gush… :P
I wanted to get these notes processed and blogged today, because of course there’s another workshop tomorrow! This is going to be about Boundaries, and it was so frickin’ useful to me the first time I went. (I have a boundaries thing. And yeesh, I’ve been having boundaries things lately, too! It’s weird… a lot more solutions can be found using boundaries-related ideas than you’d think.) Even if you missed the first one, Boundaries is a really great workshop to start with. I think it was my first one too, not counting the overview presentation I attended when the Usual Error was a younger concept.
So, here are my notes. Are you ready!?
First of all, I was reminded that the technical term for the usual error is “projection bias”. I really like keeping things like that around in case I need them, to research or expand on a concept—also, “projection bias” is kind of a sexy phrase. Ha ha. :P
When explaining the usual error at the beginning of the presentation last weekend, Sera said something that resonated with me. She said, we have a limited model of other people. And what she’s saying is that other people are always going to be at least a little bit of a mystery to us—we’re not inside them, we can’t experience what’s happening in there. And this means that it’s extra-easy to fill in the blanks with feelings and understandings from our own experience, and it happens all the time, and it’s the Usual Error! I think I had been searching for new ways to explain that idea, that we have a limited model of other people… and although I’m going to keep searching for something even better, I really like that one.
A part of the presentation dealt with communication styles, and we talked about “idiolect”, which in other words is “idiosyncratic dialect”—the way you say things, the way you express them. The grammar and syntax you use, the sorts of phrasing, the way you learned to communicate. I think this is a way interesting topic all on its own—and actually, Vixen lent me a book called That’s Not What I Meant! which is all about differing styles of communication. I’m not very far into it yet, but it’s really nifty.
Speaking of sexy terminology—I’m jumping away from the Usual Error for two seconds now—during another discussion I had last weekend, we were talking about how different phrasing affected different kinds of people in different ways. (I bet if you do a search for “different” in my blog you will come up with billions of instances…) For instance, “have a seat” versus “sit down”. Each version would garner a more successful reaction from a certain kind of person. I don’t understand it extensively, but it’s very neat. I don’t remember who was there talking with us who suggested it. But I was trying to come up with a word that described that idea, and Pace jumped in with “implicature”. And implicature is all about what someone directly means instead of what they have literally said. And I love that! So I got all flushed and started fanning myself. Whew! Sexy terminology, like I said, hee!
Anyway, stepping away from my curious fetishes…
I have often noticed how smoothly the Usual Error material integrates and blends with all of the interests I have right now. All of the other reading and research I’ve been doing in the last year or so covers very similar blocks of concepts; communication and learning and understanding how people function with one another… and even, in a way, my exploration into business development theory, and information on sexuality, and what I’ve been reading about hypnotism and neuro-linguistic programming. I feel really lucky to have been discovering Pace and Kyeli and Sera as friends, I feel like I’m traveling the right path. It feels good.
There was some talk during the presentation about not being psychic. This is pertinent because so often we expect the person we’re communicating with (or not communicating with!) to just know what we want or what we need, to just do what needs to be done without having to be told what that thing is. And even knowing this, I hint—god how I hint!—because often I feel that what I want is unreasonable. Unreasonable for me to want it, unreasonable for me to ask for it. I so often don’t know what to do about that, don’t know how to solve it, but I think it’s possible that the reason I feel that way is because that thing that feels so unreasonable isn’t what I need. That’s why it feels so nebulous and unspeakable. But… if that’s the case… what it is I need?
I believe we were talking about the ways that computers make it easy to remind ourselves how other people care about us…
“Love + technology = awesome.”
~ Serafina Smith
And the last thing I have written here is that somewhere near the end of the presentation, I think it was during the part about Fierceness, Pace was explaining and said, “Passive is peaceful, docile is doormat…” and I thought, we’ve already joked about the Usual Error Jr., and now we have the Usual Error, as presented by Dr. Seuss!
I love Dr. Seuss.
So really, that’s all I have. I had a great time. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. Can you imagine that? I’m looking forward to attending a workshop I’ve already attended—a workshop I already took extensive notes on, no less. Dude. This rocks.
Boundaries is happening at the Human Potential Center tomorrow, April 28th, from 4pm – 6pm. The number is 512-441-9899, ask for Bob or leave a message to RSVP, and come have fun with us. :P
I’ve never been to the Human Potential Center before. I wonder what it’s like?
Today I engaged in a massive reclaiming of my office. I spent just about all day doing it, fueled by tuna fish salad and pure determination. Marty went to dinner with Heather and I’ve done a little bit of gaming with Angel, munching cereal. Tomorrow I will sleep late, and then I will find the Human Potential Center!
Sera posted the topics for the Communication Dynamics workshop tomorrow afternoon—some of them are new and different and I’m excited to see how everything has changed and evolved since the beginning! I love how organic the whole thing is.
Here’s the info Sera posted!
A Usual Error workshop
Saturday, April 14th, 4-6pm
Location: The Human Potential Center
Attendance: $20 sliding scale
Email [email protected] or call Bob at (512)441-8988 to register.
Topics in Communication Dynamics:
- Checking in
- Being Yohn
- The Usual Error
- Differences in communication styles
- Differences in personality types
- Yeah, I already know this, but I just need to hear you say it again.
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Feeling considered
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, here’s my original post about the Usual Error (and the ensuing Positivity excite-o-blogging). ;}
If you aren’t familiar with the Usual Error workshops, you may want to read my previous post about the triad and their Positivity presentation. I’m posting their upcoming workshop schedule here to increase the chance that someone may happen upon it, and to provide it to you, my beloved visitor. Yes, you! Just for you! If you’re in Austin, TX, or are planning to be, get revved up and read on!
I’m really excited that these are scheduled earlier in the day and twice a month now, so that more people may have the opportunity to come and learn. If you have any questions about the workshops, you can comment here, email me (worldmegan at gmail) or just email the triad at —they’re really nice and they love to help people out, so I’m sure they won’t mind!
Saturday, April 14th, 4-6pm
Saturday, April 28th, 4-6pm
Turning Conflict into Communication
Saturday, May 12th, 4-6pm
Saturday, May 26th, 4-6pm
Saturday, June 9th, 4-6pm
The first is only a week away! The ones listed here are located at the Human Potential Center. The fee is on a $20 sliding scale, which means, please come and pay as much as you can afford! You’ll find out very quickly how valuable this experience is. To register for any of these, email or call Bob at (512) 441-8988. And remember that seating is limited, and we’d all love to see you there!
More information can be found at the Usual Error website. Join us, it’s like a communication-learning-experience-PARTY!
PS: Yes, I will blog. If you come, you get to be in my blog!! omg!
PPS: Er, only if you wanna be…