Sunday, October 26, 2008

Behind the scenes of decision making

To continue from last week's thread [below] about impermanence and suffering, this post is about the criteria we base decisions on. And whether or not it's the real truth behind people's behaviour.

In our day-to-day lives we are always going to encounter situations where someone states something unpalatable, hurtful, or full of negativity. The initial reaction is to react! But maybe it's a good idea sometimes to stand back a bit like a tree and look for the origination of the behavior.

Timeless redwood and rhododendron in Wanaka Station Park - a challenging subject due to perspective for a landscape photographer...
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While we don't have to take this examination back to a molecular level, usually if we gather some information and thoughts about the person's life we rapidly see things differently, and then when we do respond it's usually going to be somewhat modified and even moderated. There is of course an inflection point in this process when we can ask ourselves "do I want to make this person's day worse or better?" A distinct focus on breathing helps buy the time to find the one true and positive answer.

In the late 1980s I found myself doing quite a lot of serious Search and Rescue work - usually picking up bodies at high altitude. This involved very fine decision making on high mountains with helicopters, and sound planning and timing. A premise to base decisions on was taught to me irrespective of whether or not it'd been a fatal accident: "a bad situation has developed, so when approaching it ensure you don't make it worse!" Obviously this is a black and white safety related statement, but it also applies very neatly to dealing with a stressed person in everyday life - some acting outside the norm., or within their norm. It's a good centering place to start from before embarking on what's needed for a good outcome!

Simple climbing decisions being carried out at Mt Cook on deceptively steep ice: The belay/ropework seemed safe and expedient at the time, but I shudder now as I look at it. Probably in this case dehydration and altitude distorted reality...
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The last serious New Zealand Search and Rescue work I did was the retrieval of the bodies of a dad and mum from a gorge near here. The first inkling that something was wrong came from their two children, [age 8 and 5] not finding anyone at home when they got out of school. This event essentially burnt me out, but taught me a lot...

These two kids were, in an ill conceived instant, deprived of their parents, and while this is bad enough, so often in life I see children, often born as a result of an ill conceived event, that needlessly have the same sort of deprivation placed on them. Often this manifests with one parent and the child being denied their rights to experience each other in the day-to-day life of parenting. It's a raw deal that could easily be negated if whichever parent or system imposed this division on them, was encouraged to stand back, observe and not attach, and examine the true origination of all relevant behaviours and apply proven enlightening techniques.

This photo to me typifies an aspect of life all around us: confused folk [fearful even] in a fog, but the photographer is outside it, and can easily see a different reality, just as you, the reader see yet another! The originating truth: members of our New Zealand Armed Forces on an alpine skills course...
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I think I'll end though with a playful and sunny Hobbit like disposition in Wanaka Station park again...
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