Embrace Chaos and Actualize Your Potential
From individuals to families, from private organizations to government, chaos is most often misunderstood and feared. The exception is babies — who don’t know they are in chaos, as they are too busy just being — unfolding as a seed into a flower. Similarly, when people form new organizations (or nations) and implement new ideas they do not recognize they are in chaos because they are engaged in moving towards a goal.
An artist staring at a blank canvas, holding his palette is in chaos until he organizes the image he wants to convey. Listen to someone learning to play a musical instrument and you will hear a pure manifestation of chaos! Teach your feet and arms the individual steps of a dance and you will feel the chaos until dedicated practice allows your body memory to take over and you gracefully become one with the music. By embracing, not fearing, chaos you will find yourself achieving your goals with greater ease and creating results you had never before even imagined.
Generally, chaos has been regarded as randomness, a formless state, unpredictability, confusion, or order-less change. In Greek mythology, chaos is a gap or abyss at the beginning of the world, the initial formless state of the universe. The Greeks thought of chaos as a condition to be balanced by order or an initial formless state out of which order forms, calling the order state “cosmos.”
In 1990, computer scientist Christopher Langton coined the phrase “edge of chaos” to refer to the behavior of certain classes of cellular automata. This idea has evolved into the concept that some physical, biological, economic, and social systems operate in a region where complexity is maximal — balanced between order on the one hand, and randomness or chaos on the other.
Like the Greeks, I consider chaos to be separate from order. However, rather than considering chaos and order as a balance, I prefer to focus on the “initial formless state” with all its potential for creating the answers to long-standing problems.
Let’s use the example of a newborn baby who, while physically formed, is in an initial formless state in terms of expression and mobility in the world. Sounds and movements are chaotic, and the learning process we call growth organizes their sounds into initially vague, then increasing subtle, sophisticated communication. Anyone who has ever cared for a newborn knows a baby’s simple cry effectively voices every need. The learning process also organizes a baby’s movement into examining of hands and feet, crawling and walking.
On an organizational level, a first planning meeting is often chaotic at best until finally a leader is determined. Then a purpose is declared, after which individual members create a plan and process for attaining that purpose. A government, (other than a system of absolute rule) is formed out of the needs of the people in order to establish mutual protection and create a system of rules to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the individual members.
Learning is organizing what is already known and adding to the knowledge base. The danger is attempting to learn while believing you know the result of the process. This is evident in the “cup is full” metaphor illustrating the absolute need to “discard” what you already know in order to learn something new. This is also why your “cup is full” with childhood vows until you discover and release them. Adult affirmations cannot take root when childhood vows are still in play.
In learning by experimentation, when the experiment fails, the results often seem chaotic — although there is clearly something to be learned from the failure. Our brains require understanding and organization, causing change to appear chaotic when unexpected and, to a lesser degree, when deliberate — when one is in the learning and growth process.
Chaos can always be viewed as a teacher. If we choose to become its students, we can live our lives consciously and joyfully. As parents, we must study chaos to avoid reactive conclusions about a child’s pace at achieving developmental milestones, what toys they choose to play with or even the child’s chosen method for investigating his world. Unconscious parenting forces a child to be evaluated by certain “markers” that attempt to force all children to be the same. While such a cookie cutter approach makes it easier for parents, teachers and doctors, it retards and even may eliminate the unique characteristics and abilities of a developing child.
Chaos always brings change, and change is always an opportunity to develop competence in a new arena of life. If it is embraced as an opportunity and not something to be feared, the individual grows, and his experience of life expands. When a person leaves his change-fearing brain in charge, he almost never has new experiences.
By listening to the words people use as they speak, it is easy to notice their level of willingness to change. If they say “I can’t” they have declared they are incompetent and are usually unwilling to risk failure. If they “I won’t” they are stating that they must remain in the illusion of being in control and that their brain’s interpretation is in charge of their experience.
It is easier to change “I won’t” or “I’ll try” or “I will” than it is to change “I can’t” which almost always needs to be changed to “I won’t” first. This indicates the unwillingness to risk. The change also usually requires a letting go of fear of failure which generally results from forgiving oneself for “failing” one’s parents, who might only have seemed to give love when the child succeeded. Life is explained by man y to be a struggle to attempt to balance chaos (or lack of control) in reaction to life events) with being in control.
Many times, we are told to “control yourself” or that self-control is the answer to many of life’s challenges. A much more empowered way to experience life is to constantly remain aware of life as a dance: a constant interaction with change. In this interaction we find ourselves competent or incompetent.
The challenge is to realize when we have made a non-working choice in relationship to our goal. Hence, the brain’s illusion (the brain’s box) is the struggle to balance chaos and control. An empowered life outside the box is a dance, the dance partners being competence and change.
Kat Sohn is a Life Coach, public speaker and writer, and the CEO of Body Memory Process, LLC. After the passing of her beloved husband David Sohn in late 2019, Kat retired from a 36-year career with the federal government to focus on raising their two children, Benjamin (12) and Sarah (8) and continuing David’s novel work, the Body Memory Process. To share this powerful healing process as widely as possible, Kat has created courses, articles and seminars about the work. You can learn more about the Body Memory Process at bodymemoryprocess.com.