Provision #405: Avoid Inferior Thinking

Laser Provision

Do you think poorly about yourself and your situation? Or do you just think poorly? Either way, this Provision has something for you. If you have an inferiority complex, of any sort, or if you fail to function and think at the top of your game, then this resurrection-day message will offer you both hope and strategies for turning things around.

LifeTrek Provision

When it comes to spiritual wellness, today is the day for many people around the globe. The celebration of Easter, when Christians memorialize the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, culminates a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) when Christians pay special attention to their spiritual lives.

Reminiscent of other symbolic 40-day periods, such as the days of rain in the life of Noah, the days on the mountain in the life of Moses, under the Bodhi Tree in the life of Buddha, in the wilderness in the life of Jesus, and in the cave in the life of Mohammed, the preparations that lead up to Easter are designed to assist people in the ways of spiritual wellness.

By the time Easter rolls around, Christians are ready for some good news. Many have sacrificed perks and pleasures during the preceding period. Then come the observances that memorialize the popular rejection and political execution of Jesus. It’s a challenging period, and a difficult story, all the way through to the bitter end.

Fortunately, rejection and execution are not the last and final words. The resurrection represents a powerful turning of the tables, as life wins out over death. As such, it gives each and every one of us reason to avoid inferior thinking.

  • Are your ideas being rejected, or even persecuted?
  • Are you alienated from people at work or at home?
  • Have you tried and failed to accomplish your goals?
  • Have you been told that you’re not good enough to do what you want to do?
  • Do you lack the resources to make your dreams come true?
  • Do you live with chronic pain or another physical disability?
  • Do you feel depressed and discouraged about life?
  • Can you hardly remember your last good day?

These are but a few examples of situations and circumstances that can lead to inferior thinking. But we do ourselves a great injustice to go down this path. Whether we are Christian or not, news of the resurrection reminds us of life’s ability to overcome adversity through persistence, mystery, and miracle. As long as the sun still rises, there is no excuse for inferior thing.

Nor is there any excuse for superior thinking. In last week’s Provision Click, I noted that superior thinking arises when we take credit for success, as though it were a product of our own ego and effort. Christians succumb to superior thinking when we take ownership of or credit for Easter. We turn the story into a case statement for our religion instead of a hopeful message for our world.

But the resurrection does not belong to Christians or to any other particular group. The resurrection is the dance of life itself, coursing from one generation to the next. It is the ark in the storm, the message on the mountain, the enlightenment under the tree, the spirit in the wilderness, and the poetry in the desert. It is a metaphor of possibility rather than a mandate for presumption. It is a byproduct of divine grace rather than a product of human striving.

As such, it leaves us with no basis for either superior or inferior thinking since, in the end, it was not our doing and it is not up to us to either contain or control. Keep that in mind the next time you are feeling full of yourself (superior thinking) or out of gas (inferior thinking): there is an indomitable spirit, coursing through life and not dependent upon us, that has a way of setting things right.

Another metaphor for the resurrection, beyond that of the dance, might be to speak in terms of divine flow. The resurrection is what happens, to paraphrase Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, when the divine capacity is fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable. There’s no way to predict when the conditions will be just right, but we can become more sensitive to their emergence by using what Malcolm Gladwell calls our instinctive intelligence in his excellent new book, Blink.

Blink is about learning to trust and to master our inklings in the pursuit of life. Inklings come and go quickly, in the blink of an eye, so it is easy to both miss and dismiss them. The more wedded we are to rational intelligence, to the cold calculus of capacities and challenges, the more likely we are to succumb to both superior and inferior thinking because we get lost in our own thinking processes and we fail to see the entire picture.

In case after case, Gladwell demonstrates how instinctive intelligence, properly understood and used, can both make us smarter and give us hope. It makes us smarter because we start paying attention to our hunches (in addition to other information). It gives us hope because we know there is more to life than meets the eye. And that “more” can often mean the difference between success and failure.

When we learn how to master the power of “thinking without thinking,” as Gladwell likes to say, we “quickly get below the surface of a situation” where we discover a whole new world of possibilities • possibilities that can snatch victory from defeat and even life from death.

People who seem to have the magic touch are people who know how to make good use of their instinctive intelligence. They do not make as many mistakes, and they do not suffer as many self-esteem problems, because they have learned to how to employ their intuition in the service of meeting challenges and developing skills. Life becomes a joy not because everything always works out but because no situation is beyond hope when the full picture is seen.

One might say that people who are highly-intuitive are dancing their way through life. They avoid both superior and inferior thinking because they recognize themselves as channels of instinctive intelligence. Things happen through them more than to them or because of them.

From this perspective, they can avoid taking either the credit or the blame for the vicissitudes of life. And what a powerful point of view to come from! Whether they are winning or losing, whether they are up or down, whether the odds are in their favor or stacked against them, these people seize each and every moment as an opportunity.

So let that be your frame of mind on this resurrection day. Avoid inferior thinking. Don’t think poorly about yourself or your situation. And certainly don’t think poorly. Instead, expand your thinking to include instinctive intelligence. When that happens, there’s no telling just what might happen next. You may even see the resurrection.

Coaching Inquiries: Do you trust your instinctive intelligence? Does it more often help you out or lead you astray? How could you master the art of seeing every situation as an opportunity? How could you become smarter about life?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob..

Great Provision, as usual, on Superior Thinking. However, I have two questions: 1. What does “proleptic” mean? I’ve never seen the word before and didn’t really get it from the context. (Ed. Note: “Proleptic” is the adjectival form of “prolepsis,” which literally means to “look ahead” or to “anticipate.” “Proleptic” is often used in reference to living as though a desired future state were already true.)

2. You wrote that “stimulating work, active hobbies, and meaningful social relationships are pursued vigorously not as means to an end but as ends in themselves. They are enjoyed for their own sake, not for the attention or benefits they may generate.” This is why I am not good at networking or negotiating. I see them as a means to an end, not as something worth doing for its own sake. How does one make the shift? (Ed. Note: Until you connect with people as intrinsically valuable, rather than as means to an end, your network will not work.)

It was through the “Internationalnetfriends” website of Albert Morin, a member of the AdlandPro Community, that I noticed the opportunity to sign up for your free newsletter. I have been browsing through the commentaries on your site and am very impressed with the integrity of your organization. The content of your site is very encouraging so I just wanted to introduce myself and to say God Bless You All!!!

May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School
Immediate Past President, International Association of
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

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