29 Nov A Fascinating Paradigm: Exhaustion.
A Fascinating Paradigm: Exhaustion.
I listened to a fantastic program on Radio 4 on Wednesday, 27th November 2019 at 11am. The program was highlighting and considering the issues of contemporary Exhaustion among society and the natural world. I cannot urge people enough to listen to it. I don’t think anyone is not affected by a resident exhaustion in their lives. And anyone who perhaps thinks it does not apply to them is suggesting they have been fortunate and dropped out of the dominant system, structures and even off the grid. Or maybe, like many of us, they are in denial and so enmeshed in the exhaustive structure of society’s systems they fail to notice and do what ever it takes to keep up.
The program took us chronologically through how Exhaustion has been perceived through the centuries. It was fascinating to listen as each different, yet entirely familiar theory, that we have all been introduced to as theories in their own rights were introduced in relation to ‘Exhaustion’ and the cause of it. It opened up so many conflicting feelings about not truly appreciating how issues of Gender/ Sex stereotypes developed from many of these theories. It also highlighted how creative and visual the explanations have been over time. For example, as far back as Ancient Greece, Hypocrites believed the 4 humours: black Bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm caused all illness in humans. The belief that too much black Bile in your body caused Exhaustion informed thinking through the medieval and renaissance periods; hugely influential in how Exhaustion was treated. Furthermore, the psychology of Exhaustion was discussed in relation to Sigmund Freud’s theories and the belief that the suppression of ‘urges’ drained our life force and caused Exhaustion. And let us not forget the Gothic theories. In particular, Vampires in literature, film and culture in society can be explored in relation to their life sucking role in explaining and expressing Exhaustion. I am only touching the tip of these fascinating theories. They are explained succinctly on the show.
One of the key elements of the program was the change in modern thinking and an acknowledgement of how society has become ‘set up’ throughout the digital age to believe we are responsible for addressing our Exhaustion. Increasingly, employers are also acknowledging their role in supporting their workforce to improve their effectiveness in the workplace by addressing issues of Exhaustion through mindful activities. It is a common belief that if we do more sport, or take on a new hobby or activity like yoga to manage our stresses and pressure that may be leading to this Exhaustion then we some how solve it and become more productive. The relationship between Productivity and Exhaustion is key to understanding where we are today in terms of Exhaustion in society and the planet
With the onset of the industrial revolution communications quickly became more sophisticated through developments in telecommunications and transport and this set the precedent for creating new values on resources; one of which being human beings. Increasingly we become little more than a commodity to be organised and our potentials realised. Thus, setting the wheels of Exhaustion turning even faster. And here we are now so advanced digitally that we struggle to even notice the loss of space for effective rest and down time. Even the opportunities we are creating are full of exhaustive processes designed to measure effectiveness and value for money and time.
However, whereas the Radio program ended quite down beat I actually felt really empowered by the knowledge that had been imparted. As I said at the start this is nothing that we don’t know. We know we are exhausted! We know the planet is Exhausted! We know we want to address it. It seems to be in our nature to take responsibility! However, having the process so succinctly explained in the program leaves me feeling I have more choices than I ever realised as do each and every one of us.
Every commitment and obligation we feel under may seem to have occurred under a belief that it was essential and the ‘right way to go forward’. But it’s ok for us to reflect on this and decide if it is our right way now or if we are simply being caged by the trappings of a society that is failing in it’s overall purpose which I believe must be to connect us as people. The theory that I continue to live by and that uplifts, when I am at my most Exhausted, is that of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. In particular : We need to feel love and belonging We all have the potential to show our love to each other and to the planet and it costs nothing. If like me you feel trapped by pressures to meet standards that are not even your standards then stop and reflect and take heart from knowing that you can make decisions that reduce your exhaustion immediately.
The most inspired part of this new you is that you do not have to compare your decisions with anyone else because society increasingly tries to put you in to a category but I am declaring we are each in a category of our very own. Make your category personal to you and grow and develop within it with lots of new Energy that has come from walking at your pace rather than running to keep up with someone else’s. I find myself constantly chasing my tail because I have forgotten that I do not have to conform to an outdated work ethos that measures every minute of our day in relation to productivity. Most of the time we do this because we are comparing ourselves constantly to an entirely inefficient work philosophy. I am committed to re-balancing as of right now! Fatigue ends here!
I’ve been reaching out to society through my social media posts and have loved engaging and connecting with individuals through Art and Place. I hoped that I was in charge of my own wellbeing but I can clearly see I am equally caught up in the social fabric of our exhausted society and our planet as the next person even though I appear to be suggesting I have found a solution. I have to believe there is a solution simply because the alternative is devastating. However, the simplicity of the solution involves us reconnecting with our environment using all of our senses and committing to avoiding those systems that insist we turn off our senses and plug in to an artificial, simulation of life. I don’t want us to feel that we are the problem but rather to understand we are the solution. We can end our exhaustion by breaking the cycles. We need to cut the electrics off, unplug and begin to feel our way around our world again and notice first hand where it takes us rather than get carried along by consumerism and digital systems, deciding what it needs us to see and feel. If we can do this I believe the exhaustion will dissipate like the seed heads on a dandelion or like spores flying through the air when you knock a fungus with your shoe out in the countryside. Both these images suggest a freedom, an energy and joy that we can all feel if we unplug.
I fully appreciate I am using a computer to articulate my thoughts and currently rely on social media to share my work but I am also committed to working with communities and individuals to facilitate this transition back towards balance. I am currently developing my workshops to create more opportunities for people to explore local environments and connect in this manner. If this is something you are interested in please get in touch and we can personalise the format to suit your interests and ideas.
Thank you for listening!