Bounded and Centered Set Paradigms

Ever heard of this whole idea of bounded and centered sets? The focus of one train of thought is to determine who is in and who is out. The other paradigm is a bit more fluid and seeks to understand the direction a person is traveling rather than in or out status.

The classic example of a bounded set is a religious one - people who think like "me" are "in" and the others are "out". In that same scenario the centered set paradigm seeks to understand which way people are going - are they moving closer to God or away from him. I think that the latter is a helpful mindset when interacting with people because it helps us, not to judge them with regard to in/out status but, encourage them to move closer to God.

I think these paradigms are applicable to other areas of life. A person with bounded set thinking is less likely to embrace change in other people because they have a historical perspective of the people that they know. Parents with this view can often have a difficult time embracing the best in children who have had behavioral problems because they have put the child in a behavioral box. On the flip-side, parents with a centered set mindset will see a child's behavior as fluid and believe the best for them. I think that people with centered set thinking see the best in people.

I have to admit that most of my life I have embraced a black and white bounded set view. These days I am learning to embrace a centered set view. Which paradigm do you most resonate with? Which do you see the most in the world around you?


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