How M&Ms Helped Create Order Out of Chaos
Order. Predictability. Pattern, routine, habit. All of those can be comforting, calm, even restorative.
But if we’re trying to control — if we are seeking to create our own order from a world that seems chaotic — we can be in for some unpleasant experiences.
In short: We can only really control ourselves — but living in society means interacting with others and addressing circumstances as they come our way.
I was reminded of my own struggles with the search for order when reading a fabulous article by Dana Leigh Lyons.
Here’s the short version:
Whenever I was asked about a “fun fact” or interesting story about myself (usually at some work-related team building function), I’d always talk about my penchant for sorting M&Ms by color and then eating them from most to least.
People usually laughed at this tale — and sometimes bought me M&Ms (I LOVE chocolate, so yay).
Here’s the background:
From a young age, my life was quite chaotic. I could go into great detail, but I’ll summarize: primary caregivers prone to physical abuse, verbal abuse (of each other and their children), substance abuse, and financial irregularities.
The bottom line: I wasn’t sure what my days would look like when I woke up each morning. Sure, there was always food, and I went to school (a refuge), but otherwise, I was uncertain from day to day what would happen — what surprise (not good surprises) would occur that day.
I craved order. Stability. Predictability.
School provided that for the hours I was there.
I also developed coping mechanisms/habits.
My favorite was related to M&Ms. Sure, chocolate itself was soothing. But I turned my acquisition of M&Ms into a game.
More than a game, a chance to control — to create order.