A paradigm shift for fundamental change

A paradigm shift involves a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions. It creates a situation in which the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely. There have been those rare individuals who have had the genius to challenge thinking in their time, and create something novel and different as an alternate to the accepted approach. Those, who have been courageous enough to present their ideas, and promote them in the face of opposition and often hysteria. Others, who have been open to receiving these ideas and joining in the journey to explore their validity and authenticity.

Charles Darwin in his “Origin of Species” was such a man. He spent years observing, collecting, analyzing and developing his ideas although they were a direct challenge to the accepted ideas of his day. He put down his ideas and waited ten years before he published them, as he knew the trouble they would cause. His greatness can be found in the full expression of his theory of evolution through natural selection, something we have grown up accepting as part of the way the world is-so simple and intuitive. But the real legacy he left is the social and political influence of his ideas that have endured and had a vast impact on the last 157 years of history.

Darwin contributed in many areas of science, but of great interest are the changes he brought about in the concept of what it is to be human. The Creationists had proposed until this time that all things on earth were made by God, and that he had created every separate living thing, which were all a tribute to his greatness. Darwin cut across this, with his suggestion that humans have evolved from animals, being the apes. This was seen as dehumanising human nature, and created the divide between atheists and Christianity that continues today. Darwin did not provide all the answers, and we still have yet to determine what it is to be a human, but he changed profoundly the path of science and religion, and the way we look at the world.

Fisher and Ury could be seen as creating a paradigm shift in the world of negotiation with their classic text “Getting to Yes”. This encouraged a different approach to reaching agreements by focusing on underlying interests and needs, rather than positions and outcomes. Instead of taking a stand at opposing ends of the spectrum and seeing who could hold out the longest to draw the other to their side, the idea was to understand what the motivation was, what was important to each, and to try to be creative and find a solution to allow for mutual gain. The adversarial haggling was converted into joint problem solving, where instead of a win/lose result, there was a win/win.

Kim J Wright in her book “Lawyers as Peacemakers” also advocates for a paradigm shift. She proposes that lawyers should not be consumed by legal factors and resolving a legal problem, but in taking a more holistic approach. By looking at a dispute in the context of the whole person and their overall circumstances, this can be viewed as a journey to develop life changing skills. Working in a multi-disciplinary team with a creative and open attitude, conflict can be viewed as an opportunity for change, growth, the development of resilience, and the foundation for a better world.
Working with families in conflict, they are often stuck in the past and frozen into a particular way of viewing their circumstances and dealing with their difficulties. As professionals, our obligation is to use the skills and tools that we develop with training and experience, to move them from this rut to a better place that offers hope for a brighter future. One idea, is to encourage and facilitate them to experience a paradigm shift, where they might change their assumptions about their world, see it through different eyes, and develop new and effective strategies to move from their dark and deep trench, and out into the bright light of a better future.

This is the approach that we seek to follow at Creative Family Law Solutions. We are keen to find others to work with in a similar way. If you are interested in perusing this, contact us to start a conversation

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