Different spaces of possibilities

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This page is a rough draft full of leftover pieces!

Variation and selection

If I decide to talk about things in terms of variation and selection, then I might want to keep this sentence: Often, it’s that your teddy bear setup helped you to tweak things a bit (where the tweaking is the source of variation), and then things jump out at you (get selected) and voila the different pieces of the puzzle come together in new ways.

Misunderstanding as a source of helpful variation

One source of helpful variation is one that you might find surprising. Not surprisingly, group problem solving typically yields better outcomes than having people work on solving a problem by themselves. What you might find surprising is that research has shown that one reason for this is that people often misunderstand each other when solving problems in groups. Misunderstandings are a rich source of helpful variation! Everyone’s mind is engaged in coming up with possible solutions. What’s going on in your mind is different from other people’s. Instead of hearing what someone means, you hear what you are expecting to hear. Because of what was going on in your brain, you weren’t able to take in the intended meaning and so you misunderstand what you're hearing, but it fits as a piece of the puzzle you needed with the solution you were working with. This often leads to a good solution, and voila a misunderstanding helps to lead to a good solution.

Let me make the connection between the previous two paragraphs clearer. Misunderstanding what you’ve said is a source of variation. That can be a way that teddy bears contribute to your process. Now that I’ve made the connection clearer, let me now add something else to that. Instead of a misunderstanding, it could be that they left out an important point (while mirroring back what you said) and leaving it out helps to highlight it for you. This might cause you to then say it again or rephrase it for your teddy bear or flesh out more of why it’s important to you, and you might find doing one of these things to be particularly helpful.

We’ve looked at the idea of the teddy bear getting to be in the driver’s seat as to when it initiates mirroring things back to you and thus what you get to be listening to them say. Alternatively, you can have it so that the teddy bear gets to do a wider range of things than only mirroring things back, but you get to be in the driver’s seat with telling the teddy bear what you want it to do and when. For example, you might be writing something up, and you could ask the teddy bear to be the one to flesh out one of the ideas, to think of an example or to provide an explanation, or to spell something out in greater detail. You get another mind to help you explore the space of possibilities, and you get to see how that helps you to bring yourself to the ideas in a different way as you have different reactions and thoughts about what you’re listening to the teddy bear say. You might even only be half listening to what they are saying while you’re busy having your own thoughts. You get to do that. You get to have them provide that kind of environment for you with all its different sources of variation, and you get to see where that can lead you.

Playful Participant

A helpful framing may be to imagine yourself not as a controlling dictator of your mental processes but instead as a playful participant.

You can vary how the space is held, small shifts can make big differences

Let’s say that you need to write something (like for an email or a class assignment) and you’re wanting to get clearer on what the most important points are that you need to make.

There are lots of different ways to have the space held differently with different teddy bear setups. With using a recording device, who is it that you're talking to? Notice how different it would be to have some different people in mind as the teddy bear where their personality or what they already know about you and the situation can come into play. Or what is it like if you are talking to your teddy bear as if they were just anyone.

What if you talk as if you don’t have any intention of sharing the recording? Or as if you will probably share the recording?

What you can ask to have mirrored back to you

It might be that they are mirroring back a part that you seem particularly excited about, or one that you seem to be trying to talk yourself into but aren’t really that excited about. Or, it could be a mirroring back of a part they found confusing or didn’t make as much sense to them.

Shoulder time and shoulder-to-shoulder time

When do some kinds of connection get to happen?

Shoulder time

We can be briefly flipping into and out of teddy bear mode

I knew of an arrangement that a graduate student had with his advisor where they would meet everyday in the morning. On some days, they would have something that would benefit from being talked about and they'd talk about it. On other days, they would just say hello and say that there wasn't anything that day. Having the default be that there would always be a check-in made it easier for the conversations (that could be helpful to have) to actually take place.

The gift of getting to witness/accompany and experience the journey

Serving in the teddy bear role can provide us with the opportunity to hold the space for people in a way that develops our capacities to deeply listen.