We love blaming our fellows. It’s the easiest way to explain our suffering to ourselves. All the world’s problems could be solved if people just behaved differently. Right? Wrong! Blaming doesn’t solve anything, it’s actually the cause for a lot of our suffering. We could have it so much easier.
What is this context thing all about?
Interpreting human’s behaviour as a result of their environment isn’t new of course. However, only a few decades ago the German sociologist Niklas Luhmann took this view to another level by introducing what is called the “new system theory”. Although his theory is considered state of the art within the scientific scene, it is still surprisingly unknown, especially outside of the German speaking countries.
I’m a massive fan of Luhmann’s work. I use this perspective on a daily basis to navigate through life, to advice top execs, improve my relationship to my wife and friends, parenting, you name it. It has brought me a well of personal peace and tolerance towards other people’s behaviours. It takes time and practice to get used to it.
As an amateur surfer I like comparing it to the skill of riding a wave. You can get an initial thrill out of surfing but it takes an awful long time to master. The same holds true for looking at life through the lens of system theory. But it’s well worth the effort. Over time you will be able to find out more about system theory in my YouTube channel that you can subscribe to here.
Supporting questions to ask yourself during your challenge
When trying to explain your peer’s behaviour by finding the source for it in the environment they are exposed to, try using the following questions as guidance.
- If I was in his/her position, why would I be inclined to act in the same way?
- Could the surrounding culture (i.e. the culture of a country, religion, company, family etc.) explain his/her behaviour?
- What would change if he/she stopped behaving in that way? What “problem” might this cause? What would get lost?
- Do other people act in the same way? Hence, could his/her behaviour be a pattern everyone seems to comply with instinctively?
- Which desires or needs does he/she satisfy by behaving in the observed way. Think of our natural urge to attain certainty, recognition, connection and growth.
Where am I?
Did you stumbled upon this page accidentally? It’s part of an eight week series about the way I challenge conventions and how this enabled me to live an unconstrained and free life. Find out more here.