Freedom is the ability to choose. Being free allows us to choose between several options. Life itself sometimes puts us before the difficulty of choosing between different paths. Sometimes we do it instinctively, without knowing if the chosen direction is the correct one. But what if the decisions weren’t good or bad? Behind this innocent question is a deep reflection that helps to alleviate fear and overcome uncomfortable emotions, as defended by the renowned Chilean scientist Humberto Maturana. I had the pleasure of working with him over a decade ago. He died last week, at the age of 92.
Maturana had a doctorate in Biology from Harvard University, won the National Science Prize in Chile, worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his findings. Although, what has transcended most of his work has been his exquisite sensitivity to understand the human being. To understand it from different approaches: neuroscience, philosophy or the impact of biology in organizations. Together with former student Francisco Valera he created the so-called autopoiesis, which combines two Greek words: auto (himself) and poiesis (creation). According to this theory, living beings, unlike machines, are continually being created, repaired, maintained and modified.
This concept greatly influenced currents of human growth a few decades ago. The coaching Ontological and his way of understanding life has penetrated so much that even the Dalai Lama himself acknowledged having been inspired by him after his meeting with the scientist. According to Maturana, To improve the regeneration process that we all develop, it is important to attend to our language, also what we say to ourselves. In the Chilean researcher’s philosophy, and as he learned from his mother, whom he deeply admired, decisions are not good or bad, but appropriate or inappropriate, timely or inopportune.
Let’s think about when we decided to start a relationship, leave a job or change projects. We made the decision with the information we had at the time and possibly did the best we could. Grieving afterward is a pretty sterile sport. Knowing the things of life a priori is a chimera. Nobody has crystal balls to see the future and get it right.
Judging a decision according to a higher moral, good or bad, limits us, makes us suffer and does not always help us in the regeneration process that we carry out, Maturana indicated. What we are is also related to the story we build of our life. With what we tell ourselves about how we were when we were younger, our successes, our heroes and, of course, our failures. The self is built with memories and interpretations, but always loaded with words and images. Therefore, to forgive mistakes or to face certain risks in some decisions without falling into guilt, we must lower the bitter tone with which we treat ourselves and measure what we do according to the advice of the Chilean scientist: can it be appropriate for the circumstances or timely for that moment?
Reviewing our inner language is also a way to be freer, to free ourselves from our fears, as encouraged by Humberto Maturana, a man with a fragile appearance, but with a privileged and creative mind who gave us a beautiful legacy.