We don’t do introspection

“We don’t do introspection”, they said to me. “None of this fluffy, self-indulgent, navel-gazing here”, they continued. “We do action.”

Of course. If you’re going to lead as they were, in a global organisation, then right action is critical. But what they meant by “we don’t do introspection” was “we aren’t prepared to look at ourselves”.

If they had an inkling, and most of us do not, of how much their actions were being shaped, out of their view, by

their personal preferences,
by their fears,
by years of habit,
by their avoidance of reminders of childhood experiences (mostly shame),
by the expectations their parents handed them,
by their inner critic,
by their longing to be appreciated, liked, respected, feared, in control

then they would perhaps have taken introspection or some rigorous self-observation more seriously. They would have been brave enough not just to look at their actions, but to look upstream at what was giving rise to them.

But they didn’t.

They had asked for help because they’d been amazingly effective in taking action – action that had landed them and their organisation in deep trouble.

And now they were trying to get out, with the same excuses, and by doing more of what had got them into difficulty in the first place.

Crazy, and sadly all too common.

Photo Credit: RomainBihore via Compfight cc

2 thoughts on “We don’t do introspection

  1. Hi Justin,
    This caught my eye and seems to reflect an experience I had last week and I’m wondering how to best help a group to self-observe.
    I’m wondering how to do it gently? And maybe gently is not the right approach, maybe rigour would be more useful. Hmm…

    • Hi Geraldine. I think rigour helps a lot in this. How about invite them to stop three times a day and reflect back on the period leading up to them stopping – making some notes in a journal so they can track progress (I think journalling is very helpful for this). I don’t know the specifics of your situation of course, but how about having them ask themselves 1. What did I do during this time period? 2. How did I decide what to do? (you could have them look in different places over time here – when was I responding to an emotion or body sensation, and what was it? When was I responding to the demands of my inner critic? when was I trying to avoid an experience I didn’t want to have? etc) 3. What will I do with what I’m learning from answering these questions?

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