S.W.I.M.

Travellers in the Dark Web (apparently) love to use the acronym S.W.I.M., meaning “someone who isn’t me’. (Of course, with repetition it will become abundantly clear to everyone which alias is which ‘me’.)

There’s a vein of dissatisfaction with the self, sometimes a shame, bound up in the use of an alias.

Dissatisfaction with the self can be expressed in all sorts of ways, and in the work place some of those ways can become surprisingly aggressive.

Have you ever been part of a team where another group is routinely criticised, vilified or scapegoated?

It seems to be becoming more common.

We seem, all of us, to be echoing the current fervently binary political atmosphere.

As with most of our behaviours, this serves us in some way.

One team with which I work has begun to default to this almost habitual blame quite naturally and easily. There is some stuff facing them that just feels too hard, too difficult.

Much, much more comfortable to concentrate on deficiencies elsewhere than begin the long sticky process of dealing with the mounting complex difficulties closer to home.

‘War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace’ said Thomas Mann (rather dourly).

But he refers to something we all experience.

Ambiguity, stuff that is difficult to sort and solve, can become too painful and onerous.

We begin to find ways to defend our fragile selves.

We ‘split’ off the parts and topics that are just too much.

Our political representatives (other terms are in use at the moment, I know) are finding it impossible to navigate the tangled, ambiguous, virtually unresolvable problem of Brexit and are instead resorting to binary simplistic stances. Wherever there are difficult problems to solve, teams are tending to revert to ‘us v them’ thinking.

There is only one way through that has any chance of success.

The trick is to begin to ‘bear’ the horribleness of not knowing what to do, to begin to live with the fiendish complexity of the thing.

The answer lies in working with that other part of ourselves, rather than vilifying it.

It is as if S.W.I.M. must become S.W.I.M.B.I.T.S.T

Someone who isn’t me, but is trying to sort it too.

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