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Oct 13
2013

Anxiety, Engagement, and Structure

Posted by dvstralen  filed under What is HRO   0 Comment(s)    Add a Comment  comment-icon.png


I was talking with my daughter about anxiety. I had previously discussed with Tom Mercer my ideas that people respond to uncertainty or the unexpected by engagement and problem solving vs. structure and authority. Both enact different futures but failure in the first instance is failure from action that can be corrected. Failure in the second instance is failure from inaction and failure either cannot be identified or even recognized. Here, failure is not failure; rather, it is the state of being. While talking to my daughter I realized that responding to uncertainty and unexpected by withdrawing to or creating structure and authority is actually an anxiety response.

We see structure that is not there because we do not calibrate our sensemaking or we find refuge in structure, any structure. I recall that Frank Lloyd Wright said there are two types of structures - caves and cathedrals. Caves have low ceilings; they are comfortable and secure. Children drape sheets over chairs to create the security of a cave. This is the comfort in a room with low ceilings or the cantilever design of his prairie style homes. Cathedrals create awe and can intimidate, almost be scary. When you enter a home with a high entrance it is not as comforting as one would have predicted predict. The confines of structure can be reassuring to the anxious.

Authority attracts us for a number of reasons; reassurance and passing responsibility are high on the list. And we create these authorities through operant conditioning. The authority acts in a manner that people find reassuring so they listen and give positive feedback. This increases the behavior in the authority that creates more reassurance in the people that increases this authority-seeking behavior in them. This occurs because people do not calibrate their faith in their authority with what is happening in the environment.

Rules and policies provide authority and structure to the anxious.

HRO is the means to live free and explore.


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