Practical Philosophy

Articulate chaos into order

Why is it that, when we feel lost, confused or in despair, talking to a friend can make us feel so much better? The answer is that articulating our experiences can help us better understand what happened, and how we can use this information in the future.

When I experienced a pretty serious financial emergency running my business last year, it made me question a lot of my perceptions. Was my business model valid? Was I a terrible business person? Was I a failure? In an emergency (emergence-y), the scary and unknown emerges and creeps into our world. What was once order is now chaos.

To deal with emerging chaos, we have to articulate the situation, and quickly. Articulating problems helps us organise our thoughts. It can help us bring together separate instances into a coherent narrative.. so we can establish what to do next. We need to ask ourselves what happened (the past), where we are now (the present) and what we are going to do about it (the future).

First question, what happened? Ok, I bought way too much inventory and ignored my budget. Terrible move. I know I have a tendency to be less organised, and that’s why I created a budget in the first place. For the first time, I ignored it and spent too much.

Second question, where am I now? I have $5,000 in the bank account. I have just enough money to pay for taxes, but I won’t have enough to re-order inventory. I feel incredibly guilty about this and the stress is overwhelming.

Third, how am I going to move forward? I will create a website sale to get some immediate cash-flow, and I will inject $5,000 of my own money into the business to keep it going. I will forgive myself for making an honest mistake (other people have done the same thing). I will move forward, following the budget from now on.

By articulating my emergency, I confronted the chaos. I pointed a flashlight into the dark and scary tunnel of the unknown and illuminated it. This made it much less scary, and the stress much easier to bear.

Thoughts from 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson.

2 replies on “Articulate chaos into order”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *