Differentiation of Self is a 'cornerstone concept' of Systems Theory, to coin a phrase from Dr Roberta Gilbert.

I used to think it was 4 things at once. But recently I have added a 5th thing that I think it REALLY important

A brief thread.

The original 4 things at once:
1. Managing your reactivity from erupting into others.
2. Not catching the reactivity coming at you.
3. Staying emotionally connected to the person.
4. Clarifying your own values and convictions.

Now with the 5th:

1. Managing your reactivity from erupting into others.
2. Not catching the reactivity coming at you.
3. Staying emotionally connected to the person.
4. Clarifying your own values and convictions.
5. Aligning your values and conviction with reality.

It was bugging me, just the 4th thing. What if my convictions and values are just objectively wrong? What if they keep me obtuse and a frustration.

I've noticed some people digging into their convictions where they would be freeer to hold them looser.

...or really test if these convictions are best suited to this circumstance.

I remember after Andy Stanley wrote 'Choosing to Cheat' about work/life balance.

Excellent book. Needed corrective. But some younger leaders wielded it against us when we needed hustle.

Their conviction to work less violated what the situation required. Andy wrote it from a posture of 'I'm working too much' but some of my leaders read it from a posture of, 'I'm already not doing much' and the book reinforced their false conviction.

Because in reality, most jobs that really matter, and many kingdom endeavors require a lot of work some of the time. Andy was writing against workaholism, the mistress of work, neglect of home etc, but I bet he's done more than a few 60 hr weeks.

It was more about a rhythm than a rigid line to never cross.

So often, our convictions and values are simply wrong. We need to realign to the truth of reality.

But when we're anxious, we're infected by a POV that keeps us from reality.

Jesus said the Truth shall set you free. Of course he was pointing to himself as The Truth, but what is also true is all truth always sets us free and all lies always keep us bound.

And chronic anxiety is always trying to sell us a lie.

If we can sift what we believe through the lens of what actually is, we can be free.

This is hard to do on our own. We often need trusted friends to help us see if we are seeing what is, or what we THINK and FEEL is.

Olaf, in Frozen, had convictions and values. He LOVED summer time. He sang a delightful song about it. The problem is, he is made from a substance that must stay frozen for him to be ok.

He is most free when he can let reality inform his convictions.

Jamie Tart from Ted Lasso is on an interesting journey with reality right now. He is grappling with the family propaganda from his dad, with his reputation, with what he wants, the damage he has caused.

if he aligns his values with what is true, he can truly be free.

So now when I teach differentiation, I'm adding this needed extra step. I'm still sorting out how to help people get to it. Truth can feel elusive to us, ESPECIALLY when we're in the grip of anxiety.


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More from @stevecusswords

13 Sep
I get asked a lot 'how do I know I'm not ok?'

It is actually an excellent question. Leaders and care givers can often be the last one to know that they are not ok.

Some tangible things to look for, a thread.

1. You can measure your level of reactivity. Reactivity goes up when calm goes down and vice versa.

You're paying attention to reaction time (0-100 right away) AND duration (ruminating for hours or days.)

2. Check your shock absorbers. Are more things than usual getting to you? Are you more easily offended by a wider number of people and topics?

Might be that you are 'bottoming out' over more bumps in the road.

Read 14 tweets
11 Sep
Ted Lasso S2E8.

"Multi Generation Transmission Process" is one of the 8 core concepts of Systems Theory.

We all inherit asset and liability traits from our family of origin. What isn't processed is transmitted. Differentiation is most difficult within families.

Roy is on a journey of making sense of what he has inherited and what he wants to pass down. His vulnerable chat with Phoebe is (IMO) up there with the Dart Scene from S1 as one of the great TL scenes.

Roy grapples with sharing the worst of himself with her. She blesses the best of him and he is able to receive it because he has been on a multi episode journey of self reflection and opening his heart. Roy is moving from detached to differentiation and emotionally connected.
Read 15 tweets
10 Sep
Alrighty Fellow, Bipeds, thanks to @YvetteCherry20 for the nudge and by popular request:

Systems Theory fleshed out in Ted Lasso.

1. Opening sequence. 'Health infects ill health.' Ted sits down on a blue chair in the football stadium. All chairs covered in graffiti. Ted's 'health' slowly spreads out as chairs clean up and change color.

Marcus Mumford joyfully sings an extended 'yeeeahhh.'

2. Ted being exactly human sized.

Press conference. Ted doesn't know how many periods in a game, what to call the pitch, what offside is.

The mob is incensed. He is who he is without catching their anxiety.

Read 27 tweets
9 Sep
Differentiation on the screen.

At first it is easier to see Differentiation of Self than it is to practice it. It takes training and can feel conceptual, so seeing it in action can help.

Here are a few examples from TV and Movies

but first....

Differentiation is 4 things at once:
1. Managing your reactivity from erupting into others.
2. Not catching the reactivity coming at you.
3. Staying emotionally connected to the person.
4. Clarifying your own values and convictions.

Ted Lasso.

S2: Keely is differentiated. She attaches to others, but is not enmeshed in them. She manages Jamie, Roy and Roy's niece with compassion even when they come at her highly anxious.

She is a calm presence.

(A minor setback in E7)

Read 13 tweets
9 Aug
Three ways to lower leadership anxiety:

1) Pause.

Leaders too often 'push through.' We are others focused, vision focused. Some of this is selfless, most of it is fool hardy.

When you notice your reactivity rising, you can stop and tend to yourself, notice God.

2. Locate the anxiety.

Where is it in you? Spinning mind, racing heart, tightening body?

Anxiety is usually obsessed over one thing or one person.

Beware '3rd space' anxiety - the space inside the other person.

When you're thinking, 'what are they thinking' or 'what do they think of me?' You are in 3rd space.

Locate it, trust that person to God. Move on with your life.

Easier tweeted than done. But you can stop the incessant spinning today.

Read 14 tweets
22 Jul
A quick reminder of some basics of Systems Theory.

1. Chronic Anxiety spreads in 4 spaces.
2. God exists and moves freely in those 4 spaces.
3. Anxiety tends to block our awareness of God.
4. Awareness of God's presence and goodness tends to cast out anxiety.

Chronic anxiety is a specific form of anxiety. It is generated by:

- False belief.
- False need.
- Assumptions.

Other forms of anxiety: PTSD, Grief, Generalized Anxiety, act differently and require different tools - often specialized professional attention and medicine.

So expecting the tools for Chronic Anxiety to help, say, PTSD won't work.


Chronic anxiety is the most common and pervasive form of anxiety flooding leaders and parents.

We carry SO MUCH pressure, expectation, assumption.

Read 19 tweets

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