August 17, 2021

When reality breaks, thinking of Afghanistan

It shocks our system when reality breaks. It puts us in a limbo moment. We now exist in the in-between space of what was and what could be.   

For some right now it’s Afghanistan.

For others it’s their business that they are convinced will come back when Covid passes.

For you it’s anything that can happen that you would say, “I could have never imagined this happening.”

1. Reality breaks for everyone.

Reality is dynamic not static. It’s like the weather. You can predict patterns but there are so many layers and interacting forces that things can change and change fast. No one is spared from many changes in life. Some realities that break are harder for us than others. Sometimes the circumstances confirm our worst fears. Sometimes like in Afghanistan it’s a mass event. Either way it puts us in limbo.

2. We build our identity around our reality.

We commit to whatever our version of reality is. We get meaning from it. It initiates our action and helps us form our logic. Our intuition is shaped by touching the stove when it burns and what it feels like to get a safe hug. Over time as our reality becomes particularized we form specific feedback loops built on our beliefs and convictions. Twenty year olds that grew up in Afghanistan that weren’t under the oppressive regime are the only long term chance Afghanistan has. 

3. We break when our reality breaks.

It hurts. It’s sad. It’s a loss. Accepting it is hard. We can’t believe what is happening to us. Our eyes seem to be playing tricks. This is why people can become delusional upon hearing facts that confront their reality. Sometimes it’s easier to become delusional and force a reality that is just isn’t true. Psychotic thinking isn’t chaotic. It’s forcing a false order to the chaos that overwhelmed their view of reality. Brain chemistry and genetics aside, it's easy for people in leadership to become delusional. This is what top down leaders miss when they make grand plans like building a nation. Then people like Zarifa Ghafari pay the price. And our soldiers. And their families. It’s possible to sacrifice your life for an illusion. People do it all the time.

4. Doubt follows the reality break.

There will always be endless armchair quarterbacking. But for those who made decisions to trust and bank their lives on a new reality like the women that were trained in the Afghan army or the employees at WeWork that trusted their equity would matter or the leader that made a decision that cost momentum, the one companion that will show up is doubt. Unless they take the route of psychosis, which is what makes politics so distasteful right now. Delusional leaders have the keys to the kingdom. The doubt is intense and can’t be covered up or ignored. It can’t be hyped through. You explore it.

5. Calm and clear is hard.

As you explore the doubt it might get worse before it gets better. Most problems are worse underneath the surface than what they appear. And as the doubt hits we freak out. We sit on a plane’s landing gear hoping that we will be ok but instead we fall to the earth. Who among us has faced a truly terrifying mass delusion like Hitler’s Germany or the terror of watching your homeland collapse? Do we have the moral mettle to stand against the tide of a false and racist reality like Germany experienced? Statistically most of us would have gone along with the program. Do we have the foresight to know when a situation has crossed a point of no return and we need to leave extended family or all we have known to find safe passage out before it’s too late? I’m always fascinated to talk to people who left war torn areas before collapse. They knew that quickly taking the right action in a calm and clear way was essential to the safety of their family.

6. We find a way forward when reality breaks. 

For those who choose to accept reality and not stay delusional they will be building a new model of reality. It might be an overhaul or a few tweaks. Some will build a passive identity. They will exchange one set of beliefs and behaviors for another one. Some will build an aggressive identity. Determined to never feel the hurt again they define themselves by who they are not or what they will not allow to happen to them. And some in the breaking of reality find a deeper and more true vision to who they are. They have a desire based identity. And what is true for individuals is true for groups but it takes a long time for individuals. And it takes generations for groups and nations. 

7. Do what’s right.

While time is marching on, your character is formed as your reality is in pieces. It’s not really a deep forming of your character to live according to your chosen values when it’s easy. The hard part is doing what’s right when it costs you something. But these are the moments that the formation of your character transforms you. As you transform by habituating your values in deeper ways you start to see how you can create the reality you want to exist in. May courage flow through our veins in these coming days. For many reasons that I won’t go into here, reality will be fracturing in many ways for many people in the coming years.

8. New character formation leads to new data and intuition.

When your reality breaks you now have to open your mind to new facts and new data. As you accept these new facts you find yourself with new learnings. These new learnings upgrade your intuition so you can move faster and more effectively in the new terrain you find yourself to now exist in.

9. You can’t take someone else with you if they don’t want to go.

You can’t force your new learnings from your limbo on their limbo. They too have to go through their own process. You can help accelerate through your words and learnings. You can go even faster if you have a process that helps you make sense of what is going and generates insight. (i.e. SightShift) But you can’t force anyone to change if they don’t want to. Even a nation.

10. Reality will break again. 

After growing into an upgraded model of reality and developing a more richly informed intuition there will be some cruising. But there’s no cruising altitude that lasts forever. Changes occur. Whether it’s the changes thrust upon us or the ones we seek out to improve we will find ourselves having to accept some part of our reality that is difficult. And we begin, again.

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