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ecophilia - fasting, fractals & fungi - How we can change - some results from 10+ years of research

Jessica Böhme
Jessica Böhme
Day 44 of 108 of fasting, fractals & fungi

How we can change - some results from 10+ years of research
One of the questions I find most compelling in my research for transitioning towards the Ecocene is the simple question of how to change. And one way I go about this is to understand what makes change for me personally possible, even if it is hard. Such as fasting. Moreover, I assume that change is fractal. Meaning that when something or someone changes on the micro-level, it also affects change on the macro level. I don’t see it as a straight line of cause and effect but rather as a field, similar to what Rupert Sheldrake calls morphic fields. He states, for example, that 
“The more people who learn a new skill, such as snowboarding, the easier will it be for others to learn it because of morphic resonance from previous snowboarders.”
In my understanding, the morphic field is the ether of fractals. The micropatterns in my own life repeat themselves as the macro patterns of the world and vice versa. If I am greedy and competing with a colleague, I find greed and competition in the world. The more I practice greed and competition, the more likely it is that there is greed and competition. 
I obviously can’t prove that this way of thinking is correct. Though, I find the logic from people like Sheldrake and Bernardo Kastrup about idealism and Jung’s archetypes compelling. 
What I specifically appreciate about the fractal nature of reality is that it puts me in full responsibility to take action, which gives me a great sense of meaning in my life while at the same time acknowledging that the systems co-constitute myself. I am not a bounded individual that is independent. But to the contrary, I am a relational being entirely dependent on the rest of the world. 
This way of thinking brings me into a paradoxical situation. It merges two opposing worldviews: individualism and relationality. One understands the individual as separate from the world. The other understands the individual as a dividual that is co-constituted by the world. I believe both are true. 
Worldview and Change
Our worldview determines which theory of change we are likely to follow. For example, if I have a mechanical worldview, I believe that the world functions as a machine and thus can be improved like a machine. The result is that I look at the individual parts and try to make them more efficient. I likely equate progress with technological improvement and economic growth. This worldview also enforces the idea that I am a separate individual who can’t change anything given the scale of transformations we can pursue for a more flourishing future. Many argue that this is the reason for the sense of meaninglessness many experience.
The oversimplified, mechanical view of the self really betokened an underlying lack of belief in the dignity, complexity and freedom of the person. Most people now, therefore, are able to find good external “reasons” for their belief that as selves they are insignificant and powerless. For how can one act, they well ask, in the face of the giant economic, political and social movements of the time? May Rollo
I already talked a bit about the two familiar stories of transformation in a previous article. Now, I will briefly overview the most dominant theories of change in the sustainability discourse (and beyond). Within those theories, there are two dominating differences. One is that change happens from the outside-in. The other that change happens from inside-out. Inside refers to the individual. Outside refers to anyone or thing that is not me. 
Outside-In
1- Tech
Theory of Change: technology will fix it. Be it climate engineering or a supplement to make me healthy. I don’t have to change myself. Technology will do it for me. Progress = technological progress.
Worldview: mechanical
Responsibility: technology
2- Authorities
Theory of Change: politics and people in power will fix this. Or a doctor / coach / therapist will cure all my problems. 
Worldview: pre-modern 
Responsibility: authorities
3- Higher Power
Theory of Change: I am powerless, and a greater being has the power.
Worldview: pre-modern 
Responsibility: God (or the Universe or the Spaghetti Monster or whatever happens to be your cup of tea)
Inside-Out
4- Healing trauma
Theory of Change: I need to cure my trauma, and only then can I live in a more beautiful world. 
Worldview: mechanical
Responsibility: individual
5- Changing habits
Theory of Change: my behavior is determined by my habits. Habits can be manipulated (e.g., through nudging) and changed. Because I function according to a mechanistic schema (trigger - behavior - reward), I am a failure if I fail to succeed by applying this schema.
Worldview: mechanical
Responsibility: individual
6- Mindfulness
Theory of Change: Whatever happens in the world is equally good and bad. If I can become an objective observer without judging others or myself, I become at peace with myself. And if everyone does that, the world will be at peace.
Worldview: leaning towards the relational
Responsibility: individual 
Conclusion
All of these theories of change work to some degree. Until they don’t. The most significant shared flaw is that they are uni-directional and not multi-directional. They are either outside-in or inside-out oriented. One way, I have no control and willingly hand it over to others (outside-in), or I have complete control over myself. 
If we want to transition towards the Ecocene, we need to build theories of change grounded in a relational worldview and take multi-directionality into account. One such theory is storytelling. Storytelling is a relational practice. No story, such as this one, is that of an individual person. Instead, it is that of countless people, places, materials, non-human beings, the weather, music, etc. We just forget to give credit. 
I aspire to live a multi-directional theory of change. My lifestyle experiments are embedded in a context that is unique to me. At the same time, new habits of knowing, being, and acting may self-repeat through the morphic field as fractal patterns. I have neither complete control of my experiments nor do I have no control. I try to feel responsible for everything I do, while I acknowledge that others are not individually responsible for anything because they are co-constituted beings. I hope my dividual actions are a foundation for telling a different story
Warmly,
Jes
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Jessica Böhme
Jessica Böhme @eco_philia

Ecophilia is an in(tra)dependent, journal-like newsletter exploring ecophilia - a lived philosophy for the Ecocene. It is rooted in the intersection of ecology, spirituality, and science. I share the best things I learn, science & experienced based.

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