Systems thinking and economic indicators

I’ve been reading about Internal Family Systems (IFS) again recently, and so I’ve been freshly re-exposed to that systems thinking way of seeing. Viewing our behaviors and reactions as interdependent/interwoven, as opposed to as independent symptoms that can be individually targeted and “fixed.” For instance, the book No Bad Parts includes a case study that illustrates how one woman’s suicidal, manic, sleepy/dissociated, and abused parts are all occurring in relationship to one another. It can be easy or tempting to pathologize various parts, but targeting one part without an understanding of the reality it exists in—or that it perceives it exists in—can lead to an increased sense of threat and further spiraling, as the system bounces back even more intensely.

In recent circling contexts, I’ve also been engaging in systems thinking in the form of the concept of leading and lagging economic indicators. “A leading indicator is an economic factor that tends to change before the economy starts to change. A lagging indicator is an economic factor that changes only after the change in the economy has already taken place.”1 Apparently leading indicators may be not always be accurate (I’ve never studied economics), but as a concept, it seems that leading and lagging indicators point to/utilize the causal and interconnected aspects of the economy. 

Applying this concept to circling reminds me of the benefit of keeping a broad and open perspective, not only in the present moment but also, importantly, through time. This shift in awareness counteracts a particular kind of hyperfixation that I can get into, especially when I’m (even slightly) triggered. In this hyperfixated state, I over-index on the present moment, neglecting positive past evidence and the possibility of a beautiful future. But actually, through the lens of interconnectedness across time, the past and future are both actually present. The past created this moment, and so is embedded into it, and the future is being created by this moment, and so seeds of it are already being and becoming existent. (Also time might not be linear??)


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