Andrew Lang - The Wednesday 1-2-3

Consent/Closeness + Our Stories of Thanksgiving: The Wednesday 1-2-3

Published 3 months ago • 3 min read

Happy Wednesday Reader!

As many of us in the United States travel to see family in the next couple days (both chosen and related), I’ve found myself thinking about stories of upbringing.

Or more specifically: the stories we're told during childhood that teach us who we are, who others around us are, how we might relate to the Universe, and who ultimately belong in “our group” and who don’t. The stories that, in one way or another, tend to shape our initial posture toward the world.

The teaching today is based on a model developed by a colleague of mine, Catherine Quiring, called the Consent/Closeness Matrix. I hope it's helpful for you in the lead up to tomorrow's holiday.

Here it is, with a couple questions and resources to go with it:

1. Teaching

This is the Consent/Closeness Matrix:

As you look at the matrix, you’ll notice two axes:

  • Low consent - high consent (along the X axis)
  • High warmth - high distance (along the Y axis)

These axes, when placed together, contextualize four different quadrants: paternalism, authoritarianism, radical acceptance, and radical autonomy. I like to think of these as different contexts or energies from which stories come out of.

Here are some examples:

Paternalistic Narratives (low consent, high warmth):

  • “I know what’s best for you – now, here are six ways (you didn’t ask for) that you can be better.”
  • “We know what’s best for them – they should do this, this, and this. We can show them how.”
  • Children’s Book Example: The Booklets’ baking boo-boo: A story about obeying by Ken Gire

Authoritarian Narratives (low consent, low warmth):

  • “Do this or I will question your goodness/worthiness.”
  • “Good people do this, like us. Bad people do that, like them.”
  • Children’s Book Example: Pig Will and Pig Won’t by Richard Scarry

Radical Acceptance Narratives (high consent, high warmth):

  • “Try it out – I’ll be right here if you need support.”
  • “We work together to make sure everyone can love who they love and be who they are.”
  • Children’s Book Example: Lynx: Trust Yourself by Callie Christensen and Kelly Oriard

Radical Autonomy Narratives (high consent, high distance):

  • “You do you!”
  • “We all have the ability and capacity to make choices for ourselves.”
  • Kid’s Book Example: Welcome to Consent by Yumi Stynes & Dr. Melissa Kang

Obviously there are a ton of complexities and nuances within this matrix, but here’s a basic practice for you this week:

Take some time and reflect on your upbringing. Think about your experience of how these quadrants shaped the stories and teachings you were offered.

For each of the guiding questions below, try reflecting on the stories and teachings offered to you by 1) your family and individual family members and 2) communities you were a part of and specific community members.

Then, imagine where those stories would be placed if you were to put them on the matrix.

From which quadrant did you receive your foundational stories about…

  • how to behave?
  • who to hangout with?
  • what justice looks like?
  • how to view your body?
  • the Divine/God/Universe?
  • your ability to make choices?
  • your role in social justice work?
  • how to remain in your in-group?
  • finances and financial responsibility?
  • your sexuality and sexuality in general?
  • gender identity and “what it means to be a __?”
  • what to do with anger, sadness, and other big emotions?

To watch Catherine do a deeper walkthrough of this tool, check out her video here.

2. Questions

  1. From which quadrant did your story of Thanksgiving primarily originate? Who was involved in the teaching of this story to you?
  2. How has your understanding of Thanksgiving changed over the course of your life? What might that change look like if shown on the matrix? How have you embodied this change during the Thanksgiving season?

3. Resources

⏪ If you missed last week's email:

I shared a teaching about the wheel of power/privilege.

Sending you good vibes,


A Guidebook for Our Inner Work & Communal Healing

With a blend of reflection questions, body practices, and action prompts, Unmasking the Inner Critic will help you engage your inner narratives and step into the world in a new way.

Andrew Lang - The Wednesday 1-2-3

Weekly resources for your inner work

I support folks who are questioning the stories they were handed (by religion, by capitalism, by their families) and who are seeking new practices that resonate with their evolving sense of purpose and identity.

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