Michael Townsend Williams mentioned to me in a discussion about his app Breathe Sync that I might want to look at the work of Dr. Alan Watkins. I watched Dr. Watkins Tedx talk and perspective is very clear and explains a lot of the science behind coherence. I also popped his book on the Kindle and have been reading it. A lot in there, and the idea of the hierarchy of physiology, emotions, feeling and thinking brought a lot of clarity to the measurement work I have been doing with Upsets.
Watkins says, “Ask men how they feel and they tell you what they think.” That is precisely what has been happening in how I have been reporting my Upset reactions. And when I plough back through the data and look at the entries it is clear at the feeling level something else was happening entirely.
Looking at the frequency of the Upsets and their regularity, I could not imagine why I was getting Upset every two minutes. It was oddly regular. So much so, that it reminded me of my experiences doing open water swimming. The most efficient swim stroke is having your head in the water and keeping a horizontal position, but with open water swimming you have to break stride periodically and look up. It is inefficient because you disrupt your horizontal position but as a whole far more efficient than swimming smoothly and off the course. Are my “Upsets” really just a version of this navigation to ensure I am steering correctly?
I found that using work plans to focus on one thing for 25 minutes at a time removed a lot of Upsets. With that focus I did not have to question whether I was doing the most efficient activity or not. I was “in the right place” for that 25 minutes. I still was triggering based on elements of what I was doing but the entire set of questions regarding how I was using my time disappeared. I created a mental space of focus, and those navigational triggers around whether my activities were the best ones to be done at the time dropped.
I have started applying the structure to the trigger states, and sure enough each one has a feeling that can be described in roughly navigational terms. Sending a note to a friend I am judging whether it is “on the mark” or “off base,” following up on a new contact I feel that I am “moving too fast and getting too close” in the wording of the note. My hypothesis is we chunk relational information about people and how we are navigating relative to them and adjust our position accordingly using a feeling of steering to the right place. That will be the basis of my next set of measurements.