The Core Concept of Kaleidoscoping
This week’s Core Concept is Kaleidoscoping, looking at and reflecting upon the world around you to discover a multitude of perspectives and new ways to understand everything and everyone.
Kaleidoscoping is the TNM concept and tool for opening your mind to a multitude of perspectives, the ultimate out-of-the-box exercise for creative thinking. With practice, you can use it to break negative-thought loops before they take over, or even better, avoid them in the first place.
The world bombards us with constant stress, compounding the anxiety inside. Sometimes, we’re able to expand and easily adjust to changes. Other times it’s just too much. You become overwhelmed and go into “fight-or-flight” mode, where you become so singly focused it’s impossible to think creatively.
The goal is to shush the noise of blame, shame and futility as soon as you realize you’re spinning out. Step away, take a break or lie down and close your eyes until you calm down. You can do this on your own or with a witness.
1. Hand-to-Heart. Begin with the simple act of connecting to yourself through any method that works for you. In TNM, we use the Hand-to-Heart approach which can be used anywhere and at any time:
Close your eyes, and imagine them meeting at your third eye, the place of intuition. Breathe deeply and rhythmically.
Firmly place your primary hand on your heart. This is your strength, the adult-you taking control. Feel the reassuring hand and let it calm you like a loving parent. To feel more held, cross your other arm as well and hug yourself. Tell yourself, “I’m here. We’ve survived every other day of our life. We’ll get through this, too.” Notice the duality: the parent and child, working together.
2. Clarity. Once you are more relaxed, describe the problem until you can condense it into one concise sentence, i.e., “I am past the deadline and am still not finished.” Write it down or speak it aloud to yourself or a witness.
3. What else is true? Repeat the concise sentence and ask yourself, “What else is true?” At first you might say, “What else is true is that I screwed up royally and it can’t be fixed!” Or, “What else is true is that this exercise is stupid and I don’t have time to waste.” Rather than blaming and shaming yourself for not immediately calming down, tap your heart with your fingers to wake yourself up.
4. Self-soothe. Neither anxiety nor depression respond well to being yelled at. Start over. Hand to heart, breathe, connect to who you are beneath the anxiety. Refine your concise sentence. Try to be half as compassionate with yourself as you would be with someone else in the same situation.
5. Repeat. Continue the exercise until you get underneath your feelings and are connected to your creativity. You might eventually say, “I can’t finish the project today, but I can call my boss to apologize and ask for an extension. If that is not possible, I can ask her how she would like me to proceed.” Even if the exercise is not fruitful today, with practice it will get easier.
Keep in mind that the thought patterns that land us in balls of emotion are usually built upon childhood events — over which you had no control — and conclusions that are based on your child-mind. Let the hand on your heart remind you that you are okay, even if the situation is not. Even when we understand the cause of our insecurities, even when we “deal with them,” “process them,” “work them out” – they leave scars that sometimes need a little salve.