What was the Context? Context, Love, and Empathy

What was the context?The past two weeks I’ve been reading and giving feedback on a manuscript for a book about context and design. Context means “the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.”

The book will be aimed at people who work in product development, technology, and user interface designe (user experience); think smartphone apps, websites, etc. Its purpose isn’t to explain ‘how to design an app,’ but rather how to think about context — everything around (and inside) the app — so that you can be inspired to design good, high-functioning stuff. The book takes a fascinating deep dive into how to think about context.

Clearly the book he’s writing has nothing to do with dysfunctional families and intimacy, and yet — wait, as I was reading the rough chapters, I realized, “hey this has relevance. This is fascinating.”

Here are a couple excerpts from the book — and these are the questions I had in mind while I read them, “When we’re getting to know someone, what does it do to our knowing when we see them in their environment? Can I know someone truly without having observed them in various environments, in a variety of contexts?”

The book is tentatively titled Designing Context by Andrew Hinton. These are the excerpts that struck me and inspired this meditation/post:

We understand context because of information we perceive about the object and the circumstances. The foundation that undergirds our comprehension of things in the world comes from our evolutionary history as animals in environments, perception that’s grounded in physical information.

In modern life, many of us don’t encounter a lot of wild animals, but we’re familiar with pets as independent agents in our midst. Other humans “interface” better with us than animals (usually…) because we share more of an umwelt with them, including the full capabilities of human language.

That was a bit of a setup; I mean, the question is rhetorical — no, we can’t know someone devoid of their environment and in captivity. Imagine trying to study wildlife in a cage in a lab. Nothing doin’. Could you really get to know your lover without seeing their home? The books on their bookshelves? How they experience food, the act of preparing and eating it? Without meeting their family? Without taking a stroll down the street in their childhood neighborhood? Without eating at a restaurant in their hometown? And vise-versa — sharing your contexts informs the ones who love you about who you are. The process of getting to know someone, truly, deeply, must involve context. (Have you ever tried to date someone whose house you’ve never been to? If so, you might feel at arm’s length and for a damn good reason.) Environment, context, and situation all inform our actions – and it’s fascinating to see how it does so. We think “I don’t know who you are” when we see a new side of someone, how they behave at a party which may differ from the “them” we knew while planning a camping trip; yet, what was the context? What can we learn? We’re dynamic — show we a dozen contexts, and I’ll show you a dozen sides of an individual orbiting around a solid core of Self.

The message I took away is this: we must share ourselves.

Share yourself in your best context. Share yourself in a variety of contexts. Visit other contexts. Visit the contexts of others. The act of experiencing the contexts of others cultivates compassion, it cultivates empathy. It is an act of intimacy. Intimacy is the holy grail, folks. Peer into those you love and are getting to know (that new love interest!) in different contexts. And try it with your eyes, heart, and mind open.

–be kind to yourself

“Crafting Your Environment” sample page from The Kind Self-Healing Book

I’m sharing this sample activity from my book. It’s part of the last section, which focuses on ways to create a nurturing environment.

Sample activity page from The Kind Self-Healing Book.

Sample activity page from The Kind Self-Healing Book.

And these are the book’s 5 promises:

Working through the book will itself be an act of healing and The Kind Self-Healing Book offers help with:

• Learn the process of cultivating self-esteem so that is more of a guiding constant in your life, much less hit or miss.
• Discomfort felt when advocating for yourself will become less scary and will no longer keep you from doing so.
• The purpose that drives your actions will shift to your desires and needs away from anxiety and what you think others want of you.
• You’ll learn how to remain centered and calm in the face of criticism (or perceived criticism) and more comfortable expressing your true self.
• You’ll become more comfortable in intimate relationships and won’t be distracted by a desire to control situations because you’ll have moved from living in your anxious head to living in the present moment.

Get updates about the progress of the book on the Facebook page for The Kind Self-Healing Book. (Like, “like” it!)

Thanks!

– be kind to yourself

My Interview with Empowering Solutions about the book project for The Kind Self-Healing Book

I got the opportunity to talk about my book this morning with Susan Smith on Blog Talk Radio. So cool. We just wrapped up a 30-minute interview on her show Empowering Solutions! We discussed my book project, The Kind Self-Healing Book, and the IndieGoGo campaign for it.

You can watch my project video about the book as well as support it here: IndieGoGo campaign for The Kind Self-Healing Book.

You can listen to this morning’s show here.

Discover Self Help Internet Radio with Susan Kingsley Smith on BlogTalkRadio

In the show, we talk about:
* Who the book is for
* The perks of donating (free copy of the book! life coaching! and more!)
* What’s inside the book
* How to add to The Big List of Feelings

Here’s a page from the raw manuscript -

photo 1

Please spread the word about this project so that I can make this a real book. Here’s a short link you can cut and paste, Tweet, and share with friends: http://bit.ly/kindbook

Every share helps. Every donation helps.

And these are the book’s 5 promises: 

Working through the book will itself be an act of healing and The Kind Self-Healing Book offers help with:

• Learn the process of cultivating self-esteem so that is more of a guiding constant in your life, much less hit or miss.
• Discomfort felt when advocating for yourself will become less scary and will no longer keep you from doing so.
• The purpose that drives your actions will shift to your desires and needs away from anxiety and what you think others want of you.  
• You’ll learn how to remain centered and calm in the face of criticism (or perceived criticism) and more comfortable expressing your true self.
• You’ll become more comfortable in intimate relationships and won’t be distracted by a desire to control situations because you’ll have moved from living in your anxious head to living in the present moment.  

Here’s another raw & unedited page – one of the activities!

photo 2

I mention a comfy couch at the end of the interview, and here’s what I was referring to – The Comfy Couch.

Get updates about the progress of the campaign and the book on the Facebook page for The Kind Self-Healing Book. (Like, “like” it!)

Thanks!

– be kind to yourself

TheFix.com Featured my Post “They Did the Best They Could”

Screen Shot 2014-06-26 at 8.12.34 AMI’ve received a lot of comments on my post about the phrase ‘They did the best they could,” and recovery site TheFix.com just picked it up on their site – very exciting! Here’s the piece: On the phrase: They Did The Best They Could.

Have you watched my video about my let’s-make-it-a-book for The Kind Self-Healing Book? Please watch, and please be a part of making my book a reality.

Thank you.

Be kind to yourself

The Kind Self-Healing Book campaign!

Guys! It’s happening! I’ve just launched the funding campaign for my first book, The Kind Self-Healing Book.

Here’s a video all about it – please click, watch and be a part of making this a real book!

Find my campaign on IndiGoGo right here, The Kind Self-Healing Book.

–Thank you!