I love Venn Diagrams, as a way to show where we are not in alignment, and how that causes our frustrations and failures. It becomes obvious when you see that you are only overlapping ever so slightly and when you are near total alignment.

The first Venn Diagram I’d like to consider is the one that shows where success and failure come from. Put simply, when you are experiencing frustration, difficulty, and failure, it’s because your understanding of how the world works and how it really works are out of alignment. 

It’s possible to be in terrific alignment in one area, and wildly out of alignment in another. You might have great understanding of how your business works, but terrible understanding of how parenting works. And it’s important to keep in mind that we’re not talking about huge, general principles here. We’re talking about your specific situation, in this moment. Your understanding can change very quickly, and the reality around you can change quickly, too. The key here is to recognize that when you are experiencing frustration and failure, you need to stop and ask, “Where is my understanding out of alignment with reality?”

Happiness Venn

The next application of the Venn Diagram is about happiness. Our suffering in life is a result of wanting things to be different than they are. This isn’t the same as desiring change, which is great. This is about arguing with reality. This is when you think things should be different than they are. That you should have done something other than what you did. That people in your life should feel differently than they do. That you should have gotten the results you desired, rather than the ones you got. All of this serves no purpose except to cause us suffering. It hurts to want the world to be different than it is, because our mind is trying to tell us that such thinking is pointless and damaging. If you can accept that the world is as it is, learn to love it as it is, you can be happier and more at ease. And from there, you can start to create the things you want to see in the world. But you have to start in reality, in the now.

Authenticity Venn

The last place I love the Venn Diagram is in examining what authenticity is. We have a true self, that version of you that you would be if you had no fear of what other people might think. That person free of faulty thinking and insecurity, the person who is free to give love, to get excited, who doesn’t pretend, but always comes from love. And then we have the self that is concerned with judgment, that is insecure, and fear driven. If we let that ‘shadow self’ create our behavior, the person we present to the world will be out of alignment with our true self, and we will be inauthentic and insecure. No one likes to be around the person who is self-conscious, hesitant, timid and scared. And even if the false self you present is assertive and loud, that version is still insecure. That’s what we call an ‘asshole’. You don’t want to be that.

Venn Diagrams are great for looking at business, relationships, artistic pursuits, etc. They are a great way to think about ‘Edge Effects’ where two different disciplines overlap, and creativity truly flourishes. Maybe I’ll write about that later 🙂