©2019 by David Westerlund. Photo credits: Ramona Laird, Alvin Shim, and David Westerlund.

Shifting the Question





Last Fall I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Gabor Mate speak. His research into addiction, stress, disease, ADHD is fascinating and insightful. We now know that the mind and body are one system; they are not two separate entities unaffected by each other but are rather in relationship and conversation with each other.


During the Q&A time the conversation steered towards our current political and social situation in the US. One of the participants asked in a quite agitated state, “But what are we going to DO about it!!?”. Mate responded from a calm, grounded place, “I think the more useful question is,


‘Who are we going to BE in the face of it?’ ”


I keep returning to this question over this past year, because I think Mate is really on to something. If I am stressed and anxious, I am going to respond to my circumstances in a much different way than if I am calm, and grounded. When I am calm and grounded I have a much wider range of options of how to respond compared to when I am being controlled by fear and anxiety (with the amygdala running the show). Furthermore, I have a greater ability to connect with my colleague, my daughter, my friend; I can discern priorities and let go of what’s not as important; and I am more creative.


We are in an age of change and uncertainty. And it seems like we have lost an ability to have engaged, present, embodied conversations in the midst of difficult situations. To be sure, this is a difficult task. And it’s a work that is worth investing time, energy, and resources to enhance our abilities to have difficult conversations. If we cannot connect with each other, our relationships are hampered, distrust increases, and our ability to have cohesive workplaces and a civil society erodes.


In neuroscience we learn that the synapses that fire together, wire together. We form a neural pathway. This happens not only on an individual level, it happens on an organizational level too. Our organizations have neural pathways, particular habitual ‘’ways of being’’. Often changes are attempted without altering the underlying patterns.


My workshops are about cultivating a particular way of being through giving participants a visceral experience of support, joy, connection, trust, and collaboration. The methods and principals of applied improvisation shift the energy, shift the patterns. And when our organizational-neural pathways change, we increase our efficacy, our joy, our resilience.


When we shift our way of being together, it’s a game-changer.


Who do you want to BE in the face of it?


#drgabormate #neuralpathways #appliedimprovisation #appliedimprov #teambuilding #organizationalhealth #bepresentdiscoverjoy

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