Aside: Systemic Reorientation

In the context of Quadernity’s Goal-Setting Program, Systemic Reorientation at the human psychological level is a process that adjusts our internal systems & behavior to a new personal paradigm.

The new story-of-self that emerges from Systemic Reorientation comprises intellectual beliefs in mind about the changes being faced, biochemical responses in body, emotional reactions that follow, & physical actions that we take within the new narrative of our lives.

Significant transitions necessitate Systemic Reorientation before moving forward. Somewhat counterintuitively, reorientation can be stressful whether the change is voluntarily or involuntarily wrought, whether initiated by an event that is perceived as pleasant or painful, whether the outcome is experienced as wonderful or devastating.

A job promotion or layoff, marriage or divorce, buying a house or being evicted from one’s home, having a baby or having our children grow up and move away from the nest, all prompt Systemic Reorientation.

A Systemic Reorientation can be sudden, like finding love at first sight, or like being diagnosed with a terminal disease.

Systemic Reorientation naturally occurs in stages over time as we practice re-inventing ourselves incrementally: growing up, getting through college, or getting settled into a new relationship, home or job.

To create or accept a change in our life’s trajectory, we must adopt a congruent new internal life-story.  This narrative can be consciously chosen to resonate with our I am state; otherwise it will unconsciously revert into the direction of homeostasis.

Of course people resist pain; what is counterintuitive is how we resist pleasure, yet difficulties arise when we try to elevate our status quo. It is not easy to develop a new story of Efficiency against the undertow that inexorably pulls us back toward mere Sufficiency.

Human-interest news items periodically cover the stories of people who achieve a fortunate windfall and then fail to secure and optimize their newly expanded opportunities. Why is this so common?  What happens to people who win the lottery, or receive a large inheritance? Most react in one of two ways:

  1. To winners who considered the windfall a temporary lucky break, along with holding the belief that the luck had already run out, they may opt to rapidly spend all the money on luxuries for emotional satisfaction, soon ending up with the same financial status they had before the windfall.  Their old story of Want persists; or
  2. To winners who use the change as an opportunity to rewrite their self-identification story, deciding to believe that this one-time leg-up is a breakthrough, they may enable themselves to pay off debts, establish investments and sustain themselves more comfortably than ever before.

Revising our internal story remodels our comfort zone and pulls us through a Systemic Reorientation.

Even if the outcome of the precipitating event is beneficial, Systemic Reorientation might fail, overpowered by the draw of the familiar comfort zone.

Why is it so often the case that a person who has worked diligently to lose considerable weight, and who feels better than he or she has in decades, will give up the beneficial new behaviors for their old habits and add back all the lost weight, and some extra to boot?


Here is an example of a positive change that would either require a systemic reorientation or provoke compensatory losses:

  1. Say we lose considerable weight, by depriving ourselves.  The weight loss is not sustainable because we feel uncomfortable everyday.  Plus, we may be uncomfortable with the attention we are attracting from others.  Under these conditions, we are likely to regain our weight and maybe some extra.
  2. On the other hand, if we lost our weight by healthy, sustainable life-style adjustments, returning to health-robbing weight would be unthinkably painful, whereas a diet of fresh natural foods and the extra energy that comes from exercising would become pleasurable.  The new friends we are making at the gym and health food store are an added delight.  Under these conditions, we would be unlikely to gain back our weight. In this case, a systemic reorientation establishes a whole new comfort zone.

Tasting financial freedom and blowing it, and losing weight and regaining it, and trading one abusive relationship for another are three examples of employing Compensatory Losses to avoid a dreaded Systemic Reorientation.

The time has come to unravel the underlying problem that prevents so many of us from maintaining our hard-earned gains.

Whereas goal-setters are warned against the tendency to set goals that merely negate the negative, we should also be warned of our tendency to use compensatory losses to negate the positive.  The former prevents goal achievement and the latter prevents evolutionary advancement (sustained and growing gains).  Both occur by subconscious, emotional sabotage.

If we set goals that will take us from one state to a higher one (for example, from Sufficiency to Efficiency), before changing what we believe about ourselves in the context of our stories, a powerful, yet little-understood, force will be working against us.

Our storied self will reject a positive Systemic Reorientation just the same as a negative one.  Whether from elevated circumstances, or enhanced opportunities, the reorientation will be fought as fiercely as one caused by a serious illness, a lost body part (surgery or accident), job loss, the end of a life-partnership, the death of a loved one, a home foreclosure, etc.


When our lives get out of sync with our adopted/accepted stories, we face an identity crisis.  This is uncomfortable, for ourselves & our loved ones whose self-identifications have developed to cog in with our own. .

Identity crises don’t always happen suddenly or circumstantially.  At first we may not know what this strange urging is or how to deal with it.  We may begin to feel called by something beyond our small-self, who has always been accustomed to rapid-response gratification.

Eventually, we understand that this calling cannot be quelled by throwing resources at it.  We cannot eat it away; we cannot drink it away; we cannot sleep it away; we cannot shop it away; we cannot exercise it away.

The so-called middle-age crisis tempts those who have long been living the default version of themselves and they realize at some point that they have a choice about how to live out the remainder of our their time.  Yet, we do not know what to do; we just know what we can no longer do.  Yet, just because we know what we can no longer do does not mean that we know what we must do. Lots of trial and error ensues.

Mid-life crises are generally stigmatized, as are the therapy sessions that could help us triumph.  Keeping the disruption a secret, and hoping it will magically resolve itself, is a popularly chosen alternative.  The ineffectiveness of this option is soon apparent.
We begin to wonder if the person we have long-assumed ourselves to be is really the person who we are meant to be.  We do not know how to be a new self, yet being our old self is beginning to feel foreign and a bit distasteful.  This is quite unsettling.

Disorientation might arise from any significant changes in the life-stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, whenever the old story is untenable and the new narrative has not yet taken hold.

Disorientation may be protracted and debilitating from either rejecting or rushing the steps of Systemic Reorientation to an involuntary, irrevocable, and devastating disruption of our lives, such as loss of a loved one.  (To be able to temporarily rest on rungs of the ladder as we go through a difficult Systemic Reorientation such as grieving, it helps to be consciously aware that, in the resilient human mind, only change is perpetual until the level of ECP.)

When life changes how we have subconsciously seen ourselves, successful Systemic Reorientation means that ultimately, we become reoriented, rebalanced within a renewed realistic relationship between our stabilized self, our stories and our circumstances.

Our souls compel us to re-prioritize.  A soul’s calling may grow so intense as to make emotionally prompted urges fade in comparison.  What has happened to the fear of the unknown, which has ruled our decisions up till now?  Weirdly, the unknown has become more appealing than the familiar.  Inspired by what seems irrational, we dissuade ourselves of doubts and keep falling forward, as we do when we fall in love.

As long as we identify with and cling to our old assumed stories, we will experience an identity crisis when we are forced to face that we are between stories, even when the new narrative has been eagerly anticipated.  Lingering in this disorientation can diminish the life force that feeds physical, emotional & mental health.

Three common responses resolve an identity crisis:

  1. Return to the comfort zone of the old story, which is only sometimes possible, only sometimes desirable; or…
  2. Accept a new story, better if consciously crafted, and best if aligned with one’s soul’s purpose, as mindfully discerned through self-reflection of I am, aided by purposeful steps of goal-setting; or…
  3. Learn to live comfortably in the continuing present, with tolerance for the unknown, without dependence upon maintaining a story from the past or obsession with the future. Enlightenment is being aware that conditions change all the time, so as not to be fazed by change, even when we ourselves are confronted with the phase-changes of life.

Choosing our own story is an act of empowerment during Systemic Reorientation.  Developing a narrative that aligns with our highest purpose, our I Am, transmutes or I Need and our I Want into I Can.