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June 2015




What Is It Like To Be...?

"What is it like to be a bat?.”

… Thomas Nagel, Philosopher

Visit The HubHave you ever seen the movie Bambi and become tearful when Bambi's mother is killed? How about the scene in Shrek when Shrek feels heartbroken when he overhears Donkey and Fiona discussing her curse and thinks she is talking badly about him? Did you feel emotional then?

Whether you did or didn't get emotional in those scenes, many people did. Yet we know that these characters are not real beings, but animated either by hand or computer. Regardless of this knowledge we still find ourselves relating and emoting in response to joy and pain. We do this because the animators are very good at creating characters who have a human quality to which we can relate.

The mystery of consciousness is one of my pet interests and one of the early seminal thinkers in consciousness studies, Thomas Nagel, posed the very simple question, "What is it like to be a bat?" He used the question to challenge materialism and to further explore what we mean by consciousness. He ultimately drew the conclusion that consciousness relates to 'subjectivity'. In other words, we assume an object is conscious if it has its own internal subjective experience of the world.

For example, what if we asked the question, "What is it like to be a mug?" We would most likely answer, "nothing", as we believe that a mug does not subjective experience being a mug. However, although it is easy to see a bat as having a subjective experience of the world and therefore being conscious, we cannot know what it is actually like to be a bat as they have a very different structure to us and therefore a very different way of being cognisant of the world.

Yet, if we go back to where we started these musings, we can see how easily people assume the consciousness of another being and relate it to their own. This is both a blessing and a blind spot. It a blessing as it allows us to relate to other living, or apparently living, beings. It is a blind spot because it is all too easy for us to assume that another's subjective experience matches our own.

It has been said that personal growth is movement away from egocentrism. Egocentrism is often misconstrued as putting oneself at the centre of everything but actually speaks to an inability to separate one's self from others. In other words, egocentric people assume their experiences are shared by all. As a result, highly egocentric people are unable to take on any other perspectives than their own.

The question, "What is it like to be... ?", is central for personal growth as it forces us to at least consider other beings' experience. Ironically, we can never really know the answer to this question. I cannot know what it is like to have your subjective experience and vice versa. However, the inquiry in and of itself allows us to appreciate and hopefully accept others' experiences as being legitimate for them. In doing so, we not only grow as a person, we may well find we understand those around us better.

I invite you to now take a few minutes for your own growth, pick someone you know well and ask yourself, "What is it like to be them?" Then maybe you could share your thoughts with them. Who knows, you might find out something you never knew!

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.


Mind Health Matters

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

"I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.”

... Johannes Kepler, (1571-1630) German mathematician and astronomer

The Approval-Anxiety Loop

Over the last 15 years I have seen the gamut of human emotions in my coaching conversations. Our human emotions are generated as a response to the things that happen around us and the way we perceive those occurrences.

The combo that has shown up with alarming frequency across all levels and types of people is the link between approval seeking behaviours and anxiety. When those two get together they are experts in creating a tail-chasing cycle that can tie people into complex emotional knots. Those knots then become tighter as anxiety rises until all semblance of effective behaviour is lost.

Like so many aspects of professional and personal development the key to more effectively managing the approval-anxiety loop is awareness. The earlier you are able to identify the loop starting the faster you are able to stop it. If you are all too aware of your pre-disposition to get stuck in an approval-anxiety loop, what can you do to stop it?

The first step is to note your approval-anxiety signs.

What are the thoughts that pop into your head? Are you worried about what others will think of you? Are you concerned you will let people down? Do you think you are useless?

What are your most likely emotional responses? Do you get irritable easily? Do you get teary? Do you feel worthless?

What are your physical responses? Do you get the jitters? Do you perspire? Do you find it hard to breathe?

When you are aware of your early warning signs you can then make a choice to put strategies in place to shift the behaviours. Working out those strategies is your job. Here are a few questions that might serve as ideas or guides for strategies that might work for you.

  • How would you like to be feeling right now? What will help you get there?
  • How would you ideally like the situation to be? If you could wave a magic wand over the situation what would be happening?
  • What conversations or actions could make that happen?

More often than not the approval-anxiety loop generates unrealistic self-expectations. Caught early enough asking yourself, “What can realistically be expected here?”, can be helpful. Alternately asking yourself what a trusted advisor would realistically expect here could be useful. And if that’s not working call or find the most level headed person you know and ask them about realistic expectations for your current situation.

Sometimes it can take a while to catch your warning signs early enough so as not to go into a tail spin. With awareness will come new choices. With new choices will come more effective conversations, emotions and actions!

Remember, your mind health matters!

If you’d like me to speak about mind health matters and resilience at your conference or to your organisation please contact me at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com or +61 (0)412 741 531

Play Create Elevate offers your organisation the opportunity to hear first-hand, from a lived experience perspective about the signs and symptoms of mood disorders, how to give and get help and how to build and sustain resilience. PwC have released a report that says for every dollar spent in creating mentally healthy workplaces that an ROI of at least $2.13 is possible… What are you waiting for?  It’s time to speak openly and comfortably about mind health matters!

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

More on Mind Health Matters next month!


“Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength- carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.”

... Corrie ten Boom

Want to Learn More About Ontology?

Our mission at Talking About is to share the ontological work with as many people as we can. Our aim is to make the world a better place. To that end, we have initiated a self-directed learning experience we call 'Ontological Foundations'.

In the coming months, we will be building on this initiative and adding more self-directed learning material covering topics such as learning, conversations and moods and emotions. All of this material will be freely available to anyone who wants to explore the ontological approach.

Ontological Foundations

So what are we offering?

Ontological Foundations is designed to give you an opportunity to gain some familiarity with the basic principles of the ontological approach. It is also designed to give you a chance for self-reflection and self-observation. We do this by offering you a detailed paper on the foundations of the ontological approach and an assignment that we will review and return to you with comments if you wish to send it to us when you have completed it.

How you want to approach this is up to you. You can simply request the Ontological Foundations paper, or get the paper and the assignment and work through them on your own or you can complete it and send it to us for some further thoughts. Ultimately, it is up to you. If you are interested in finding our more, please click on the Ontological Foundations image above or write to us at info@talkingabout.com.au.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Here is Something You May Not Know


"Some people hear or feel sounds, and this odd form of unified consciousness is surprisingly common. Many young children have synaesthesia but the effects usually disappear with age, leaving something like 1 in 200 adults as synaesthetes. Synaesthesia runs in families, is more common in women and left-handers, and is associated with good memory but poorer maths and spatial ability. It is especially prevalent among poets, writers, and artists.

In the most common form of synaesthesia, numbers or letters are always seen as coloured. These experiences cannot be consciously suppressed, and when tested after many years most synaesthetes report that exactly the same shapes or forms or colours are induced by the same stimuli. Many synaesthetes hide their abilities, and for a long time psychologists doubted they were real, but recent research has confirmed the prevalence and stability of the effects.

Synaesthetes may have more connections between the different sensory areas of the brain, and Ramachandran argues that since numbers and colour are processed in adjacent areas this might explain the most common form of synaesthesia."

... Blackmore, Susan (2005-03-24). Consciousness: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 20). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Hey, did you know?

"But I Feel Good" Radio Show

Radio Show

Did you know that since November 2013, Jacqui has been hosting a weekly radio show called ‘But I Feel Good’ …talking about pink elephants and black dogs.

The show is dedicated to speaking openly and comfortably about the ‘black dog’ of mood disorders from a lived experience perspective and the ‘pink elephant’ strategies and practices that build emotional resilience and inner fortitude.

It covers a range of topics related to mind health and plays a great mix of music in between interviews with subject matter experts and related content.

The show goes live to air, streaming on www.MAINfm.net so it can be heard AROUND THE WORLD every Monday from 1-3pm AET. Its official broadcast base is 94.9 MAIN FM which extends across the Mt Alexander Shire in Victoria on the wireless. You can also tune in on your favourite smart phone app at 94.9 FM Bendigo.

You can listen to abridged on demand episodes at www.jacquichaplin.com/bifgondemand.

The Monthly Diversion

Some random thoughts from the parody Twitter account of Bill Murray

  • I procrastinate so much I’ll probably put off death and never die.
  • Never look at your beer as half-empty. Look at it as you’re halfway to your next beer.
  • Remember… it’s only embarrassing if you care what people think.
  • When life throws me a curveball, I try to duck so it hits someone else.
  • Happiness comes from within. That’s why it feels good to fart.
  • People who respond to your weird facial expressions with equally weird facial expressions are the best kind of people.
  • I gave my cat a middle name today, so she knows when she is really in trouble.
  • Sometimes I spend whole meetings wondering how they got the big meeting table through the door.
  • That awkward moment when your sarcasm is so advanced that people actually think you’re stupid.
  • Monkeys made it to space before we did without even trying.
  • Isn’t it weird that after 30,000 years of eating bread, everyone is gluten allergic now?
  • Education is important but happy hour is importanter.
  • “Lazy” is a strong word. I prefer to call it selective participation.

"A smile is a curve that sets everything straight."

… Phyllis Diller, (1917 - 2012) US Comedian

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also invite to offer your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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