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Many of us have had the experience of telling someone about a disappointment and they responded, somewhat cynically, with, “Welcome to the real world.” Or perhaps you told someone about an idea or a project you’re really excited about and they responded with, “That will never work in the real world.” In these situations, people referring to the “real world” are expressing what we’ll call the Conventional Paradigm.
A paradigm is a worldview — what you believe to be true about the world, how it works, and your role in it. The Conventional Paradigm is the dominant cultural worldview of the western developed world, dominated by capitalism and colonialism, patriarchy and supremacy. It can be characterized by six interrelated mutually reinforcing beliefs: scarcity, individualism, competition, greed, resistance, and fear.
The Conventional Paradigm is full of win-lose propositions. You win through control, intimidation, secrecy, power plays, manipulation, exploitation — and by causing other people and the planet to lose. We tend to experience and express the Conventional Paradigm when we’re engaged with the “real world.” We experience and express this paradigm when we’re stressing about work, obsessing about something on social media, resisting someone else’s ideas before understanding them, or buying yet another thing we don’t need.
Those of us working to forward environmental or social sustainability consider ourselves to be values-based; however, our decisions and behaviors are often driven by the current dominant cultural paradigm, even though it does not reflect our personal values.
Living with the belief that you have to align yourself with the “real world” to succeed — or even survive — can lead to endless blaming and complaining, cynicism, paranoia, polarization, and shame. When we operate from this paradigm we are not our true, authentic, best selves — and we cause harm to ourselves, others, and the Earth in the process. We are not able to reflect our personal values or Nature’s Paradigm.
How and when do you experience and express the Conventional Paradigm? When this happens, how does it make you feel, think, and behave? Is this who and how you want to be in the world?
If you’d like to explore this further, I invite you to download the [free] Tiny Transformation Workbook which will give you tiny peeks into the “Conventional Paradigm” and the “Natural Paradigm”, and then a tiny experience of intentionally living from your Natural Paradigm.
You might also be interested in the book Re-Aligning with Nature, Ecological Thinking for Radical Innovation.
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