The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Introducing a new word: "psychotensegrity"

“There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly.” 

“No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have to work hard,” my Mom told me one day.  “So find something that you love to do.”

Maybe the single most important thing that she ever taught me.  

So, loving something gives you the motivation to keep going, keep pushing, even through the pale times.  And things will ALWAYS get sticky at one time or another: the “Hero’s Journey” promises us that: if you are engaged in an activity that has the potential to change you, you WILL hit the “dark night of the soul” at some point, and unless you have an overwhelming reason to keep going, you will retreat.

But there’s another saying: “Love and Fear compete for the same place in your heart.”    To the degree that this is true, then, the primal emotions, the most basic aspects of our emotional life, are these two (and their offspring, such as lust and anger).   And if you concentrate on what you love…what about fear?

Well, if you love enough, the fear retreats to the shadows.  But…what if fear is present?   And for most of us, especially those of us without a powerful connection to love, fear is a constant companion.

Well, there’s yet another saying: “put your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell.”

In other words, if you arrange your life, balance your focus properly, you can and should use both positive AND negative emotions to power your actions.  

In the 60’s, Buckminster Fuller melded the words “tensional” and “integrity” to create the term “tensegrity” which relates to a healthy structural tension between parts of a whole.  Everything is connected to everything.

Scott Sonnon introduced me to the term “biotensegrity” which suggests that every part of the human body relates to every other part, leading to brilliant, simple movements like “Be Breathed” which teach you to use the whole body together, to wonderful effect.  In essence, there is no such thing as “isolation training”: you can’t twitch your nose without wiggling your big toe.  

Today, here and now, I propose the creation of the term “psychotensegrity”: the conscious structural integration of the different emotional/psychological aspects of our personalities, such that we not only support our conscious intentions unconsciously, but have access to more of our innate potential.

The Ericksonian “Parts Party” where you imagine introducing aspects of your personality to each other (“courage? Meet Caution.   Ambition?  Meet Fear.   Intimacy?  Meet Freedom…”) so that they can resolve their issues and cooperate.   Psychotensegrity.

While the seven stages of the chakras are my favorite view of human development, and within the range of what we can juggle psychologically (seven plus or minus two pieces of information), considering that our egos will do anything they can to stop us from growing beyond them, one of the favorite tactics is confusion and…well…stupidity.  Literally denying you access to your full intelligence and memory to slow you down.

THIS is why I believe that the classic triad of “Body, Mind, and Spirit” was such a foundation—it was considered the generative minimum.  I generally avoid suggesting people aim directly at “spirit” because of the lack of measurable external results, or cultural agreement upon the meaning.  “Emotion” measured in internal and external loving relationship seems to work much better, but open the door to the exact same growth.  Likewise, the other two aspects each open the door to aspects of human existence such as finances, social commitment, athleticism, and so forth.    But if you choose things that are internally significant, generative, and externally measureable, balancing them so that they support each other, there is an emergent quality to their interaction that is more than the unbalanced can believe or have experienced.

You can know quite a bit about hydrogen, and oxygen, without having the slightest idea about the behavior and properties of water.

If you want to try applying “psychotensegrity” in your own life, start small and basic.  Take your goals in the three most basic areas, and interweave them.  Let’s say you have goals of:

1) Mind.  Increasing your income by 30%
2) Body.   Decreasing body fat by 20 pounds.
3) Spirit/Emotion.  Finding and bonding with your Soulmate.

Take each of these and develop at least five reasons why each is connected to each of the others.  For instance:

1) How will increasing my income develop my mind? (I’ll have to learn.  To gain greater clarity.  To develop a more accurate reality map, etc.  To learn to focus for longer periods of time, etc.

2) How will increasing my income be good for my body? (I’ll be able to afford insurance.   Better doctors. Eat better.  Afford a coach.  Have time to exercise because I’m earning more per hour.  Etc.)

3) How will increasing my income be instrumental in finding my Soulmate?  (Increased confidence.  Ability to travel and meet more people.   Ability to “feather my nest.”  To dress better, and find a fashion sense that expresses my personality.   Increased life satisfaction, which projects as joy and positive emotions.  Etc.)

People who complain of lack of motivation simply don’t have enough reasons to do it.  Do the above exercise with EACH of the three goals.  If you can’t interweave them, they are either trivial goals, or you haven’t thought deeply enough.

And what of fear? Well, in each area you can include thoughts relating to how the goal will allow you to move away from pain:

1) Money allows me to avoid the trap of debt. (Mind)
2) Allows me to heal sickness and injury.  Avoid crippling stress.
3) Money problems cripple relationships more reliably than infidelity.  Having money provides a safety cushion for children, mates, friends and family: with financial security I can lift my parents from poverty (etc.)
Weaving each of your goals into each of your areas means that every part of you begins to see how every action, every thought, every feeling relates to everything else.  You will begin to exercise, set goals, organize your time, meditate, make client calls, fulfill your deadlines, or anything else more automatically and without internal resistance, because on every level you know the costs and benefits of everything you do.

Psychotensegrity.  Hey—you heard it here first!   Thank, Bucky!


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