Interview Runa Magnusdottir and Nick Haines
I am very honored to have interview Runa Magnusdottir, founder of the Change Makers and Nick Haines, founder of the Five Institute about a wonderful book called: “The Story of boxes, the good, the bad and the ugly.”
Follow the discovery of how we place people in boxes in this conversation and become more aware of why we do it, how we do it and how we can prevent it.
Why did you wrote this inspiring book together?
Runa: the reasons why we wrote the book together is really because we simply can’t stand the fact that people around us start to put themselves and us in boxes.
It is often limiting us and preventing us from who we really are. We suffocate ourselves and others until we have no air to breath. It is dividing us and it just does not make any sense to do that in the year that we are living in.
It is essential for humans to wake up as these boxes are invisible and we have to do something about it.
Nick: as soon as we say men are like this and women are like this, millennials are like this and certain people are like that. We put people in boxes and it is all made up, that limits women, men and all of us to be a certain way.
Why people put themselves and others in boxes?
Nick: In the book: “the good, the bad and the ugly,” and the title is really important as not all boxes are bad. Some are actually quite good, others are bad and some are really ugly.
In the book we talk about the 7 main drivers that make us do it in the first place. Here are some of them:
1. The world is complicated, if we put people in boxes it kind of makes it all simpler and we can classify.
2. Boxes can make us feel safe
3. A situation of defense, you are like this and we are like that.
4. Share an experience. So us as a group as stamp collectors, we come together to share our stamps and knowledge, this is absolutely beautiful.
Runa: It is true we are stronger as a group and it is a wonderful thing. However, if we take the example of the stamp collectors, if the stamp collectors start to divide themselves, as we only collect stamps from the year 1900. The stamp collectors from 1901 are not really our type of people, then you start dividing and that will become us and them.
From something small to something big
Nick: You can take that to an extreme as followed: I believe that as people we should ride on horses, wear white hoods and wear burning crosses and certain people of certain colors and certain nations are not as us and suddenly you got the KKK.
You can say certain people are like this and others are like that, therefore that justifies our decisions to vilify and exclude them and even persecute them. This was what the holocaust and slavery was about, so you can go from stamp collectors to mass genocides and you can do it in a heart beat. It happens so subtly and it can happen to all of us.
Where can we set the limit to avoid extremes like the holocaust?
The limit should be about our awareness, it is impossible not to do it as we will. What is the consequence of this box for me and society, you are to ask yourself?
Runa: the consequences can be good, bad and simply ugly. You can find yourself as life goes on with a full intention of this is a good box for me. I nurturing myself I am loved and I feel appreciated.
Take an example of loving relationships, when you enter the relationship you fall in love, you go into that relationship and it is such a rosy and nice thing. But then before you know it, it is when it sneaks in and you understand that it is not nurturing you anymore.
You are no longer able to do what you want to do and that is when you could start growing diseases within you such as depressions.
Awareness is important, where am I and where am I putting you. Am I loving and kind to myself, so I can be loving and kind to you. And I will allow me to grow and have a space to grow and explore the life as beautiful as it is and am I allowing you to do the same?
It is like any other muscle we train, we can become better and better at this and for everyone who is reading this, you will think about boxes for the rest of your life and that is good! And have fun with it.
Nick: one of the powers of this world in the form of boxes is that once you see you start to do it. You see how you limit yourself and others, and once you get in the conversation of boxes, you can just tell other people you have been putting them in boxes and it can be a fun thing without blaming people.
Recently, we were in Washington for our workshops. We talked to a woman and she said to Runa, I love the Icelandic style and then she said: “that all america women dress badly.” Then she realized that she did it herself and started laughing.
How can be become aware of which box we belong to?
Runa: The first step is being aware that there are boxes, awareness is key. Then you can take a look at the 7 drivers as described in the book, but another tool that really helped me was to find out where am I struggling? in what area of my life am I struggling? This will bring you an indication that you are currently not in the right box and you might have to reconsider.
Nick: what is being said about men in general and how do I perceive myself? you could be looking at the gender boxes, your history and life experience. So I have had this life and this life has told me certain things and they have created my boxes. It might be how you are perceiving yourself concerning your talents and gifts.
“Examples of how Runa and Nick have been put in a box”
In my case, I was dyslectic and in school they put me in the stupid box as they did in the 1960’s / 70’s. This led me to thinking I can’t write this book because I am stupid, as that is the box they have put me in.
However, when I removed myself from that block I was more than fine writing the book. Most of my time right now I spend writing as I love it.
Runa: It is very difficult to see feminine values as one and masculine as one. As an example we could say we see the feminine values as being caring, co creating, someone who is loving and collaborative and then we put in the masculine box, strong, driven, fast-forward hiking.
We talk about when you are a woman this is what you should have and how you should behave and this is what you should have as a men. I have done this test with many mixed gender groups. Would you say you are more this or more that, usually it splits, women and men split equally there is no division. We all have traits of both feminine and the masculine, we differ as human being.
“Why wouldn’t you behave more like a woman instead of being so driven and masculine”
“You have to man up more”
Even us when we work together we discover so much more about ourselves, but we need to get one thing cleared to replace it with something new.
Does Social Media influences putting people in boxes?
Nick: the problem with Social Media is that it narrows down a lot and it makes us instant judgments.
Those will be inherently and utterly wrong, they can be totally wrong and limiting. We see kids and people making judgments of how people should be behaving and distinguishing different groups and if you are not part of that group you are not belonging.
Same goes for the unconventional and unique people that divide themselves from other groups and say you should be free-spirited and not following the crowd, judging people who are.
How do you think extreme boxes like homosexuality in religion can be removed/ softened?
It starts with a deep understanding of curiosity, compassion and kindness. I kind of get why you need to have people in that box, because it might be helping with your fear about homosexuality. It might be coming from a place of feeling secure with solid faith and religion.
Create a compassion, but also at the same time making the boxes evaporate, as people realize it is a make-believe.
It is like a movie, that you become very afraid and then realize the fear is an illusion.
It is about breaking down the little ones in a fun way, and the big ones will disappear because there is nothing supporting them.
What the boxes do to us is there are symptoms that create poor self-esteem. So if I have poor self-esteem so I have to put myself in a box that looks better than I actually feel.
Then I put you the one working next to me someone in a lower box. In this way I feel better about myself. But when you do this you have to question yourself: “What is the reason I am not fitting in in my own box?”
What is The Change Makers movement about?
Runa: with The Change Makers we want to come together with groups, which are called The Change Makers Breakfast club, and break-through events, so we can create a safe place for whatever we call into our lives.
Nick: The idea of the movement, the box just become a common language, we can call out what is good about it and what is bad about it.
The aim is to understand how we can share it and how do we get it into the workplace, politics and in those bigger conversations. We can reduce all the big stuff that we are battling with at the moment and create a high-level awareness that they exist. We work as a collective and visit conferences to speak about it.
Runa: The Change Makers are a group of international thought leaders coming together to empower humans to be the change they want to see in their world. We offer various opportunities to do so, one of them is to participate in our #NoMoreBoxes Breakfast Clubs and Break-Through events, offering safe space for deep conversations around the boxes that are holding us back from becoming the change we want to see in our world.
Conclusion about boxes
I want to thank both Runa Magnusdottir and Nicolas Haines for their time and for sharing their amazing knowledge. The Change Makers Movement and the book are a great start towards a better world.
It is all about the awareness of which box we are in, thinking out of the box while not judging on other people’s boxes.
Wish you all the best and a great day.
The Mindful Magazine