The New Skill: Ecological Thinking


We humans have been running on left-brained, linear thinking for a long time. It has accomplished a lot but its limitations are evident also.

What Is Linear Thinking?

Linear thinking is thinking that is based on the idea of sequential events and therefore a line. Sequential events lead to a story, reasoning and narratives.

Linear thinking is very cause and effect. It’s objective is to create a kind of solidity. Because it connects everything in a line, it is very surface in what it treats as valid. Linear thinking pervades our culture:

  • are you in line
  • are you out of line
  • are you above the live
  • are you on the line
  • line up

Linear thinking is a way of measuring ourselves and each other. Linear thinking is at home with our inner critics.

Why Linear Thinking Fails

Linear thinking omits a lot of information from what it considers relevant. Natural cycles are ignored, denigrated and denied in the linear world. The linear world believes that through our efforts we can control the ups and down of life. Many years and untold effort have been dedicated to the goal of permanent positivity. Natural cycles do not recognize our yearning for a life with no pain or downside.

Linear thinking creates structures and systems that require the use of force to maintain. The structures themselves become what people depend on. It is a lot like putting a roller coaster ride in the middle of the ocean and expecting it to be safe.

Natural cycles operate in a natural process of give and take which creates a circular process of renewal. Linear thinking does not consider renewal as necessary. The need for renewal “takes away” from the goals of the linear system.

Cyclical Thinking

Where linear thinking is more structural, cyclical thinking is process oriented and aligned with natural cycles of life. Cyclical thinking takes into account physical limits, the need for physical and other forms of renewal, stages of the life cycle and the interdependency of living creatures and systems.

Cyclical thinking promotes a way of life aligned with nature. It supports a thoughtful adaptation of human to the reality of life processes. Cyclical thinking places humans in the web of life, not outside it and not over it.

What Is Ecological Thinking?

Ecological thinking is post linear thinking  It is flexible thinking which rejects fixed cultural structures that are not tied to the natural cycles of life.

Ecological thinking is the manifestation of wholeness in ourselves and the natural world, a result of embracing the interconnectedness of all life forms.

It’s a way of interacting with all of life that respects the limits and gifts of each life form. It respects the need for nourishment and renewal of all life. It embraces the complexity of the natural world which includes us as well as the natural intelligence and benevolence of the universe.

Ecological thinking sees life as a large web of beings which support each other and an endless process of living and renewal. It recognizes death as part of the process. Ecological thinking does not elevate one species over the others. Each species contributes to the whole so to protect one over another disturbs the web of life.

Ecological thinking recognizes the balancing mechanism that nature is and respects and supports it. By continually aligning with the need for rebalancing, humans can live in harmony with nature.

Ecological Thinking And HSPs

Ecological thinking is a natural way for highly sensitive people to live and think. It allows our pain to be part of the natural rebalancing process in our lives and lets our sensitivity serve the interdependent whole web of nature and life. It makes our sensitivity valuable to ourselves and others.

Ecological thinking and living restores HSPs to their rightful, respected place in human society.

Additional Reading:

Linear Thinking vs. Cyclical Thinking

Are You Ready For The Great Turning?

It’s in the air.

A change that is inescapable, long overdue, and very welcome.

Are you ready?

What’s Coming

I am going to make a bold statement.

We are going to go through a HUGE overhaul of the way we organize ourselves and how we live.

It’s called The Great Turning.

The top-down hierarchical structures of the past several thousand years are inadequate to meet our current needs and too destructive to maintain.

Top-down hierarchical models concentrate knowledge, power and resources in the hands of a few people. There is no guarantee that those few people are wise or interested in the common good. Recent events have reminded us of that fact.

What is needed is a more organic way of organizing our shared reality, one that offers us greater potential for creating lives with high well-being.

The End Of The War Model

We are currently in what is called as the Great Turning. The Living Economies Forum does a wonderful job of explaining the change called The Great Turning from war based dominator cultural systems to a new partnership model of human existence.

The dominator model has dominated human culture for at least 5000 years. The dominator model can also be thought of as a war model or as an empire model.

5000 years is a very long time. It is so long that, to many, it is THE definition of reality because that is what they know and taught from one generation to another.

However, war is a structure just like any other and there is nothing sacred about it as a model for human cultural systems.

So What Is The Great Turning?

The Great Turning is a change in the basis of human society, in the ideas upon which human society is built.

And it is necessary.

War-like dominator cultures leave a lot of wreckage. The larger the size of the human race, the greater the wreckage. Now that we number more than 7 billion, we cannot afford so many people at war with each other. Even if only some are at war with each other  the cost is more than we can sustain.

We are on a collision course over our natural resources. Wars consume a huge amount of resources. So do 7 billion people. Something has to give. What has to give is the war-based empire model. At some point we have to deal with the consequence of this reckless approach to living or totally destroy our natural home.

If there is one advantage to the large numbers of people on the planet is that so many are giving voice to the need to change in order to prevent catastrophic environmental collapse, although the hour is late. According to the Human Development Index, 14.6% of the total world human population is located in highly developed countries. This means that those who are most advantaged by the existing system are vastly outnumbered.

Recent global movements demonstrate a willingness on the part of many people around the world to seek new living and governing solutions. After all, the past 50 years has been devoted to increased education and empowerment all over the world. People are ready for change.

The combination of  a large human population, peak oil, climate change and the empowerment movement creates the conditions where change becomes necessary and inevitable.

So What Does The Great Turning Mean For Our Lives?

I think there will be a lot of great changes coming from this important step in human society:

  • economies will become local and regional because we cannot afford to ship food and goods all over the world any more. There is not enough oil.
  • communities will want to provide for their own basic necessities including food, water and fuel.
  • people will turn more and more to alternative health since our allopathic system is heavily oil based. Everything in a hospital including medication requires a lot of oil to produce. In addition, unhealthy eating and other poor health practices will be eliminated since the resources to sustain them will not be available.
  • maintenance of our bodies, communities and environments will become a top priority to wean ourselves from a war culture. We will become much more serious about illness prevention, to which we only pay lip service now.
  • basic needs will trump all luxuries. When people can expect that their basic needs will be met, there is no need to go to war to secure required life supplies. This will reduce and eventually minimize the need for a military, police and jails which will increasingly be considered a very wasteful use of resources.
  • we will all share more as we become more resource smart out of necessity.
  • cooperation and partnership will replace adversarial governance.
  • there will be a long period of recovery. It may last a century or more since global warming is on a path to exceed “safe” temperature increases.
  • technology will evolve human interaction to an equal basis. The internet will create an organic communication system of shared knowledge that will replace more controlled information systems. It cannot be stopped. The internet may become the new education system.
  • after a period of transition which will be challenging, people will enjoy more freedom than at any time in the past.
  • everyone will need to develop new skills to participate in more egalitarian community structures in more open societies.
  • the return to craft and making your own clothing, food and other products will accelerate to replace the capitalistic retail system of securing goods. The new self-reliance will be a foundation for increased freedom in the future.
  • any institutions that are resource intensive will be reconsidered: cultural, economic etc.
  • marginalized groups especially creative and healing ones will be valued.
  • there will be an interest in supporting all life on the planet not just the lives of a few.

I think this will be a Golden Age for highly sensitive people. HSPs bring empathy and healing at this important time in our history. All that is needed is understanding how to contribute to the important changes that have to be made.

In spite of all of our problems, I am very encouraged by desire of so many people to create a more compassionate world, for humans, animals and the environment. I am encouraged by the growth of the animal rights and human rights efforts.

Many times I have wondered why we humans have not created cultures that offer a way of life worth participating in. War, competition and mindless consumption are not uplifting life strategies. For all of us who have wanted our purpose to align with our more compassionate natures, the Great Turning is a dream come true.