second order thinking in your relationship
Our experience of our relationships - whether we realise it or not - is the sum total of our daily decisions. The decision to come home late from work (again). The decision to buy flowers, or not to. The decision to text someone else while your partner is speaking.
Second order thinking is a tool to help us make better decisions. Its premise is simple: consider not just the consequences of your actions (first order thinking), but the consequences of those consequences. It’s thinking through the immediate consequences of your actions, and then asking yourself; and then what?
When you decide to buy flowers for your partner, first order thinking says; “my partner will appreciate these,” and leaves it at that. It’s second order thinking that says; “is this the kind of relationship I want to cultivate?”
When you get into an argument. Inevitably, as all partnered people do. It’s first order thinking that says; “I am right and you are wrong, and I am going to continue pushing until I win this argument.”
Second order thinking says; “Is winning an argument ever really winning? Do I win if my partner loses?”
In its essence, first order thinking is about examining the surface level of our relationships.
Second order thinking is about examining the undercurrents. Our values, our beliefs, our attitudes. Those of our partner. The kind of relationship we want to have.
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
- Albert Einstein