The other day I came across a post from a young lady educating her timeline on botany. She showed us a plant with a withered leaf. This leafs dilapidated state is due to redistribution of nutrients to a new leaf that is in the early stages of growth. This made me think of paradigm shifts.
Pulling nutrients from a full grown, worn out leaf, the plant prioritizes the younger leaf for new growth.
In other words, one part of the plant has to die in order for another part for it to grow.
In that moment I had an epiphany. One part of us has to die in order for another part to grow. Paradigm shifts are necessary in order for us to experience growth in all aspects of our lives.
Many of us hold onto old ways of doing things. Without considering a shift in paradigm, we end up stagnating as a whole.
Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different result.
This is how we humans operate. We operate out of a force of habit that becomes stagnation and void of any growth.
Taking a birds eye view of our lives helps us see where we are withered. We need to realize that this is the prime opportunity to make a paradigm shift for growth.
Redistribution of the nutrients of our attention allows for growth in all areas of our lives.
In this article, I’m going to talk extensively about paradigm shifts and why they are important.
Before we go into paradigm shifts, what is a paradigm. Let’s take a look at Merriam-Webster’s dictionary for the definition.
Let’s also take a look at the New Oxford American Dictionary:
A paradigm is a “pattern.” It is a framework that may be used for many different applications.
Paradigms exist in many different contexts but the context we are going to be speaking about here is the context of life, of personal development and how it relates to our growth in many facets of life.
Now what is a paradigm shift?
A paradigm shift is a movement away from the old models. It’s a movement away from the old frameworks. These frameworks might consist of the traditional way of doing things because they are no longer applicable to the current culture and society as a whole.
Paradigm shifts are the ridding of the old and moving to a framework that may not necessarily be “new,” per se but practical for a specific context.
We find these shifts of perspectives much more prevalent within the context of our personal lives than any other context.
For instance, someone who was carefree in their early years are the type of people known for taking risks with their body, mind, money, etc. This is behavior stemming from a paradigm that encouraged risks because of how rewarding it can be.
The reward might come in the form of pleasure, financial success, etc. This is to be expected of a young person who “has their whole life ahead of them.” This paradigm was also prevalent in successful people who once took many risks in their earlier lives as well.
This same person who was once young and carefree, may be evenly keeled in their form adult years. Adult years require paradigms that are pragmatic or cerebral.
Why do we have paradigms?
We as humans need routine. We feel comfortable within our little routine boxes.
The familiar is our home. When we have a framework, pattern or model for doing things, we feel safe.
When we have a paradigm for the way to look at the world we feel educated. We can navigate our environment in such a way that provides for us.
We also have paradigms due to the fact that our brains have limited resources. Fitting things into a predefined pattern is a sure fire way to keep the brain working efficiently.
Imagine not having a model to approach each and every situation with. We would go into each situation blind not knowing what to do.
In each situation, we would have to start from scratch each time. This can be useful in contexts where complex problems present themselves. Sometimes it is necessary to have a “fresh eye” with which to approach a problem but starting over each and every time is not conducive to our survival.
When does our paradigm shift?
Our paradigms shift when we can clearly see that a specific pattern isn’t there anymore. This may be due to an environmental change, social structure change or maybe we have changed in some fundamental way. This is the preferable way for our paradigm to shift because it is a rational, wise way to approach life. Going through life “learning the hard way” is not preferable. It is a waste of time as well.
When we can clearly see that a certain situation doesn’t require a specific pattern anymore, we move on from it willfully.
Our paradigms can also shift after some sort of life altering event. Suffering causes us to change our old ways of doing things. Or maybe a sudden change such as bringing another life in this world refreshes our whole outlook on life.
Our paradigm shifts when our unconscious content forces us to acknowledge it. Content that is buried deep within our shadow by way of subconscious forces may rearrange itself to appear in a way that forces us to deal with it.
Carl Jung says that if we refuse to make the unconscious conscious, it will present itself as fate.
When we don’t deal with things that demand out attention, it manifests itself as situations in physical reality.
When these subconscious situations spill into our waking lives, we are presented with the opportunity to shift our paradigm and grow from it. A majority of the time we have no choice as to when our paradigm shifts due to an impending psychotic break.
But alas, many of us don’t learn from these kinds of tragedies or situations. We tend to stay “stuck in our ways” and are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again while using the same paradigm.
Why do hold onto these paradigms and what’s the danger behind it?
We hold onto old paradigms because they worked for us in the past. As mentioned before, we humans are creatures of habits. We like the comfort of the familiar.
Our comfort zone is what holds us back, individually and collectively. We are currently being faced with a collective conundrum. Either we go through a wholesale paradigm shift, or destroy ourselves. This is becoming more apparent each year.
This is true for the individual as well. We hold onto old ways of doing things but it is unproductive to say the least.
We love to hold onto old paradigms because it gives us a sense of power. We feel in control over our lives we because we are living from a familiar perception of what we see in our day to day lives.
Despite everything burning down around us, we behave as if nothing is wrong. This is called being in denial.
Then we rationalize it away and vomit platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason.”
This highlights another reason why we hold onto old paradigms. I’ll put it as crude as possible: we are lazy.
We say everything happens for a reason but we refuse to address this reason(s) out of shear ignorance or by choice.
Whether it be willful ignorance, refusing to investigate the reason or involuntary ignorance, the danger is our demise.
Just like precession, which is the era changing shifts in the earths rotational axis, we must shift our modes of thinking.
It is our responsibility to evolve. This is one of the most capable of things we are gifted with.
As above we must be willing to do the above stated, we must be willing to let go and in even some cases be willing to kill off our old ways in order to encourage new growth in all aspects of our lives.
I use to wonder why my aunt was cutting pieces of her precious plants off. It was later that I discovered that she was “pruning” the plant in order for it to grow beyond its current limitation.
I was doing a podcast the other day when the landscapers kept interrupting me with their hedge clippers. It was annoying. I had to keep starting over.
This is an analogy of what happens when we are due for growth. We have to stop what we are doing in order for the pruning to be had.
Pruning gets rid of that which is unnecessary in order for what is left to be strengthened.