The Social Construction Series Part 5: The Social Construction of Time

7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

How often do you run from here to there, and back, checking the clock on the wall, in the kitchen, on your wrist, or on your phone? Yep, normal, we all do it, or, rather, have done it.

Time is such an important part of our life. We construct our whole lives, in fact, around it. Yep. Time. When we get up, when we eat, when we work, how we work, when we sleep. All of it.

Yet, time also provides people with tons of stress and anxiety. Really. How often have you said, or heard, or both, there’s just not enough time in the day? Yep. We’ve all said it, say it, and have heard many, or, rather, most people say it.

Phew. It’s tiring. Really.

I remember a time in my life where I was more concerned about what time it was, then about what I was doing with my time. Maybe you can relate?

Either way, time is not what we think it is.

Time is actually socially constructed. Meaning, it doesn’t even really exist, except for that we create it, agree upon it, and as has been aforementioned, organize our lives around it.

A social construction, you ask? Sure. Here you go.

social construct

Pronunciation /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/

NOUN

A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

Lexico

There we go.

Now, time, you ask? Well, I think we can all agree upon the definition of time, yet, let’s go ahead and define it anyway. Here you go.

time

Pronunciation /tīm/ /taɪm/ 

Translate time into Spanish

NOUN

The indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.‘travel through space and time’

1.1 The progress of time as affecting people and things.‘things were getting better as time passed’

1.2 Time or an amount of time as reckoned by a conventional standard.‘it’s eight o’clock Eastern Standard Time’

1.3 The personification of time, typically as an old man with a scythe and hourglass.‘Power began to flow out from Father Time’s scythe.’

Lexico

That’s fun.

Alright, so here’s what we have so far.

A social construction is something that is constructed and agreed upon by a group of people, of which time, as in the continued progress of existence and events as in the past, present, and future, is one. Phew.

You may now ask, well, there is a past, present, and future, therefore time exists. Yet, I would invite you to really think about that. Does the past really exist, or the future for that matter?

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Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Think about what you are doing right now. Does the past exist in the present moment? Does the future? Nope. They don’t.

The only thing that ever really exists is the present moment. Right now; and, then right now, and now. That’s it.

Therefore time is in many ways irrelevant, an illusion actually. Yet, we continue to create our whole lives around it. Pretty powerful.

You may now be saying. Okay. Fine. Yet, why is understanding time as a social construction important? Very well.

Let’s take a look at

7 Reasons Why Understanding Time as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

1. Increased Flexibility

When we hold time as a social construct, we are more flexible because we understand that there is an infinite amount of time to do all that we’d like to do. Really.

We become more flexible as we continue to consider time as something that we can choose to release ourselves from. We know at a different level that, yes, we need to move our work and lives forward, however, we also know that there is plenty of time to do so.

2. Less Stress

As we become more flexible, holding the awareness that time is socially constructed, which takes practice, we then realize that we can release the stress that we create about time-bound situations and events. Yep.

We can release that stress, and replace it with a renewed interest in being present. Present to everything in our lives, in each and every moment. Precious.

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Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

3. Reduced Anxiety

Holding time within ourselves differently, which creates less stress, also reduces our overall anxiety levels. There are so many people on this planet that have high levels of anxiety.

Yes, about lots of things, yet, considering time as one of the most important aspects of our lives causes a ton of that stress and, yep, related anxiety.

Yet, releasing that time-bound stress, releases the anxiety. Very helpful.

4. Greater Understanding

We also learn more about ourselves, and then have a greater understanding of, yes, ourselves, and about all people. We can connect with people on another level entirely. Why?

Because, we have connected to ourselves on an entirely different level. It works that way. We become more aware of our time-bound habits, and then can see them more clearly in ourselves and in others. Helpful.

5. More Grace

As we are more aware of our own behaviors related to time, and practice releasing the stress and anxiety that develops as a product of time-bound thinking, we can give ourselves more grace. And?

We can also extend that grace to others. If there is one thing on this planet we can all us more of, it’s grace. Given to ourselves and to each other. Important.

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Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

6. Deeper Compassion

Along with granting ourselves more grace, we also develop a deeper level of compassion for the human condition. Most all of us are socialized to place importance on time.

With that knowledge, we can release ourselves from any blame or shame for the stress we’ve caused ourselves and others at the expense of time-bound thinking and acting.

And, as we deepen the compassion we have for ourselves, we also deepen the compassion we can extend toward others. Lovely.

7. More Peace

With our practice of holding time differently in our awareness, we also have more peace. More peace about all aspects of our lives that we once associated with time-bound situations and events, and the associated outcomes, or results.

And, when we have more peace, we can also extend that peace out to everyone. Phew. That is important.

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Photo by Christopher Sardegna on Unsplash

Alright, there are 7 Reasons Why Considering Time as a Social Construction is Important to Your Life. Fun.

Remember, time is only important, when we create that importance. I’m not saying that we don’t take our commitments and agreements that are time-bound seriously.

Those time-bound commitments and agreements are very important. My days are full of them; and, I mean full. All day, every day.

Yet, we don’t have to associate time-bound commitments and agreements with a stressful conception of time. It’s a paradox, like most things in life.

You can both hold time as a socially constructed illusion and as an important aspect of your life in regard to meeting our commitments and agreements.

It is really in between the two, considering ourselves as bound in time and not, where you have the power to live, laugh, and love with less stress and anxiety, and way more flexibility, understanding, grace, compassion, and peace.

Be well. Consider well.

#anxiety, #compassion, #flexibility, #grace, #humandevelopment, #peace, #philosophy, #selfimprovement, #socialconstruct, #socialconstruction, #sociology, #stress, #timeasanillusion, #timeasasocialconstruction, #understanding

From Confusion to Clarity Part 2: Think About Confusion and Clarity as A Relatable System

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Why is understanding the world as a system important? Hm. Well, if you consider all that you know, feel, and see as unrelated, it feels precarious. Like we are sort of floating around, devoid of any relation to each other, and all that we see, feel, and know.

If we, however, consider the world, and all that we know, feel, and see as a connected system, it provides a grounding of sorts.

In From Confusion to Clarity Part 0: Change As A System of Related Parts, I write about considering confusion and clarity as part of a related system. And, then in From Confusion to Clarity Part 1: From Confusion to Clarity in 5 Simple Steps, I write about 5 steps you can take to move yourself from confusion to clarity.

Now let’s consider confusion and clarity as a system using the system we used to consider change. Ready? Let’s go.

First, let’s redefine our system of change, and the related parts. It looks like this.

Alright, now let’s take a look at confusion and clarity within this same system. It looks like this.

Alright, there we go. Now, as we did with change as a system of related parts, let’s go through each of these.

Order and Clarity

When things are ordered we feel a sense of clarity. When they are not, we don’t. What does it really mean to have clarity?

Let’s define clarity.

clarity 

noun/ˈklærət̮i/ [uncountable] 

  1.  the quality of being expressed clearly
    1. a lack of clarity in the law
    2. The brilliant clarity of his argument could not be disputed.AWL Collocations
  2. the ability to think about or understand something clearly
    1. clarity of thought/purpose/vision.

There we go.

Now, if the external world is occurring in a way that makes sense to us internally, we can say that we have some sense of clarity. And yes, clarity, like most things, lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people have more clarity, and some less.

There are, of course, other internal factors that contribute to our sense of clarity. What are those? How we eat and drink, and how we exercise and sleep are very important in the clarity department.

As we can see then, there are two ways to think about clarity and order. That which we see as ordered externally, and that which we feel as ordered internally.

Either way, when a change occurs externally or internally, it can disrupt our clarity, and cause disorder. What kind of change? Any change really. However, the larger the change is, the more disorder we will know, feel, and see. And, the more subtle the change, the less disorder.

Know that there is always change. Sometimes the change is so small we don’t actually notice it. However, when the change is large, like COVID-19, we definitely notice.

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash

Disorder and Confusion

When there is a large change, there will be lots of disorder, both external and internal. The level of disorder and the confusion that follows will depend on your particular context. Meaning, how much you are affected by the change.

Now, let’s define confusion.

confusion

noun  /kənˈfjuːʒn/ /kənˈfjuːʒn/

  1.  [uncountable, countable] a state of not being certain about what is happening, what you should do, what something means, etc.
    • The announcement caused a lot of confusion.

Very good.

With a change like COVID-19 the level of external change for everyone has been high. However, the level of change still lives along a continuum. For instance, if you work in the medical field, your level of change is very high.

Likewise, if you are a small business owner, very high as well. Depends on what you do, where you live, and how much the change is impacting you and your life.

The higher the external change, the more disorder and confusion you may know, feel, and see. However, the level of disorder and confusion is directly correlated to the amount of internal disorder and confusion you feel.

If, for instance, you have high levels of resilience, you may feel less disorder and confusion than someone with lower levels of resilience.

Therefore, someone with higher levels of resilience will begin reordering their life and perspective more quickly than someone with lower levels. Important.

Because clarity and confusion are a relatable system, we know that disorder and confusion will eventually stabilize for everyone. Because human beings are resilient, we are always reordering that which we know to be true about the world, even when we are unaware of doing so.

Photo by Jeff Frenette on Unsplash

Reorder and Translate

As we begin to reorder our perspective and lives, we essentially take the new information (due to the change we’ve experienced), and translate it into chunks of information that fit into our worldview.

We then assimilate the new information into what we know, feel, and see. We, in essence, make the change we’ve experienced, or are experiencing, “normal.”

Meaning that we shift what we know, feel, and see to ensure they are conducive to our new reality.

There is always the possibility of resistance. Of course, this also happens. Yet, to survive any change, we must, at some point, begin to reorder and translate our new reality into something we can understand. Something we can understand and ultimately thrive through.

Yet, like all concepts we’ve discussed, thriving also lives along a continuum. Meaning that some people will thrive more during change, and others less so.

There is also a correlation between thriving and resilience. Therefore, the higher your levels of resilience, the more likely you are to thrive during change.

And, guess what? Just as we reorder our internal and external realities to thrive during the present change, another change happens, and the confusion to clarity system begins anew again. Yep.

Again, with smaller changes, we may not be aware of traveling through the system from clarity to confusion, and back again. Depends on our level of awareness, how observant we are, and how sensitive we are to change.

Photo by Caleb Lucas on Unsplash

Order and Clarity

Back in an ordered world, both externally and internally, we have more clarity. We know, feel, and see more clarity. We’ve done the work necessary, whether we are aware or not, of moving ourselves through a relatable system from clarity through confusion and back to clarity. Phew.

Imagine that this system happens over and over and over again. Again and again, all the time. Anytime we face a change, no matter how small or how large.

Of course, as was aforementioned, the larger the change, the more we are aware of moving from clarity through confusion, and back to clarity.

Why is it important to understand confusion and clarity as a relatable system?

Well, confusion can be scary. When COVID-19 began to take hold here locally, I was very confused. I remember being at work, sometime around March 12, and saying or thinking, not sure which, something like, nah, they won’t close the college. Phew, little could I have imagined what was about to occur.

It is important to understand our own confusion, where it comes from, and why we have it when we do.

Likewise, understanding confusion and clarity as a system can reduce anxiety and fear of the unknown inside of larger changes, like the pandemic.

Knowing that we will eventually work ourselves back to order and clarity is important. We must know, however, that confusion will come again. It has to. The world is full of chaos and confusion.

We believe the world is ordered and stable. Well, philosophically that is not so. And, it is also not practically so. Both.

If anyone you know has ever argued against the last statement, ask them now. COVID-19 has shown everyone that the world they know, feel, and see as stable and constant is not constant and stable. Constancy and stability are an illusion.

The world is chaotic and unstable. Yet, remember, change, like clarity, comes and goes, just like everything else on this planet. Including us.

Definitions taken from Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries.

#change, #chaosandunstable, #clarity, #confusion, #confusiontoclarity, #covid-19, #disorder, #externalchange, #fromconfusiontoclarity, #increaseyourclarity, #internalchange, #levelsofresilience, #order, #orderandstability, #philosophy, #reorder, #resilience, #resilienceandchange, #systems, #systemsofchange, #thirving, #thrivingandresilience, #whatwefeel, #whatwesee

The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important

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Have you ever heard of the phrase a social construction? Maybe? Well, I hadn’t heard of it until I went back to school in my early 30’s. I was in a class on gender, and the professor said something like, gender is socially constructed.

At first, I was like, wait, what? I had no idea what the professor was talking about. Nope, not at all. As the professor continued to explain the concept, I almost fell out of my chair. Seriously. I was so baffled, confused, and interested, all at the same time.

I grew up in a family where ideas like social constructs were unavailable. Not a judgment, just reality. And, it’s okay. There are many, many families across this country that don’t have access to these kinds of ideas, and knowledge. Part of my passion and mission. Dissemination. Here we go.

Let’s define social constructionism.

“Social constructionism is a general term sometimes applied to theories that emphasize the socially created nature of social life. Of course, in one sense all sociologists would argue this, so the term can easily become devoid of meaning. More specifically, however, the emphasis on social constructionism is usually traced back at least to the work of William Isaac Thomas and the Chicago sociologists, as well as the phenomenological sociologists and philosophers such as Alfred Schutz. Such approaches emphasize the idea that society is actively and creatively produced by human beings. They portray the world as made or invented—rather than merely given or taken for granted. Social worlds are interpretive nets woven by individuals and groups.

Oxford Reference

Alright, so the basic idea is that all of life, all if it, is socially constructed. Meaning, simply, that all that we know is created again and again by people. These creations are then shared between and within groups. Shared meaning is derived from these created social constructs, or concepts. What concepts you ask?

Tree. Sun. Love. Life. Health.

Photo by Miha Rekar on Unsplash

All things we see and know. They are all socially constructed. Sometimes groups share and agree on their meaning across cultures, sometimes there are variations specific to particular cultures or geographies.

Why does it matter?

Because if everything we see and know is socially constructed, then all that we argue about, disagree about, and sometimes fight about is based upon ideas and ideals that are created. Created by people.

Understanding that the world is socially constructed is very important.

Important to individuals and how they internalize and understand their place in the world; and, it is also important to how groups understand their relation to each other.

When we know that everything is socially constructed, we have freedom from ideas and concepts, because we know they are not naturally occurring.

You may say, well, love is love and I know what that is, and how it feels to be in love. Yes. And, I am saying that love, even though you feel it, and know it, is still a concept. It is a concept associated with a particular way of being and feeling.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

And, guess what? Naturally occurring, or biological concepts, are also social constructions. Tree. Yep. Biological, right? Yet, a tree is still a concept. Believe me. There was a time when a tree was not called a tree. A tree is a concept.

Alright, let’s look at 7 reasons why understanding social constructions is important.

  1. Gives us freedom from concepts.
  2. Creates access to new knowledge and power.
  3. Provides us a new perspective on how the world occurs.
  4. Empowers us to understand why we internalize concepts as real, even when they are not.
  5. Helps us understand each other on a deeper level.
  6. Assists groups in understanding each other; either how they relate, or how they differ.
  7. Creates an important distinction about language. How we use it, and how it affects how we see and experience ourselves, each other, and the world.

How can you use this information?

Question everything. Important. Here is a quote about questioning that I love.

“We awaken by asking the right questions. We awaken when we see knowledge being spread that goes against our own personal experiences. We awaken when we see popular opinion being wrong but accepted as being right, and what is right being pushed as being wrong. We awaken by seeking answers in corners that are not popular. And we awaken by turning on the light inside when everything outside feels dark.”  -Suzy Kassem

Awaken the Greatness Within

You can find quote after quote online about asking questions. Really. Asking questions is that important. Questioning that which others take for granted as real, or right, or wrong, gives you an immediate advantage. How?

Because most people won’t ask. They believe in what they see, hear, feel, and think they know. Why? It’s easier. More comfortable. Not a judgment. It’s okay not to question.

However, when we ask our questions, and actively participate in the contexts we are living in, we get back much more. Much, much more.

My invitation to you is to ask questions. You know, the ones that you’ve been holding onto for years. You know they’re there. And, it’s okay. It’s even okay to hold onto them, if you want to. However, it is way more fun to ask them. Way more. 🙂

Alright, that concludes the first part of the social construction series. Next time? Funny you should ask. I’ve already come up with it.

The social construction of knowledge. Will be fun.

Until then, question.

#concepts, #groupdevelopment, #individualdevelopment, #internalization, #knowledge, #language, #learning, #newperspective, #philosophy, #power, #poweroflanguage, #social-construction, #socialconstruct, #sociology