The Japanese box metaphor “Himitsu-txik”

The concept of these puzzle boxes was born at the beginning of the 19th century in the region of Hakone (Japan)., Where they were given as a souvenir to people who visited the baths in the area. Its creator was Ryugoro Okawa.

It is a type of box that can only be opened by a series of very precise movements. Some boxes just need to slip a few pieces into the right place; others force them to make millimeter movements in each of their pieces.

You can watch a video about these boxes below:

What are Himitsu-txik boxes?

This week, the Mensalus Institute team explains the importance of understanding and respecting “difference” through the metaphor of Himitsu-Bako boxes.

What metaphor is behind the puzzle box?

For starters, each box is unique, and so is the way it opens. As we mentioned, they are made with different levels of complexity. For this reason, simple models barely require two or three steps to open them, while more complex models require a minimum of a thousand movements.

Something similar happens with conflict resolution. Each situation is unique, regardless of its complexity, and requires a unique intervention strategy.

Every day we face situations that share similar processes. When there is learning and routine, the problems we tackle and solve are like simple boxes. Yet every moment, every scenario is exclusive. Likewise, throughout life we ​​also find complex boxes that require time and attention. The solution requires more elaborate movements and of course many failed tests.

In the case of simple and complex boxes, trial and error is what indicates which part we will need to drag. Solutions come from practice and take shape through learning and patience.

Does the box metaphor also apply to people?

Of course. Each person has unique tools (resources) that allow them to connect with the world, relate to themselves and others, to cope with adversity, etc. This skill set is reflected in your system of thoughts and emotions. Each of us, in each situation, will think, feel and act differently (it will behave like a single puzzle box).

What does this individual difference tell us?

Understanding that each person is a box and functions as such helps us to understand that there is no one reality and only one way to look at life, while reminding us of the importance of being empathetic. with the “box” of others.

Sometimes it is difficult to adapt to the way the other works …

Is right. And not only because of the difference in views, but also because of the difference in vital rhythms. For example, what for one is a moment of reflection or expectation, for another may be a waste of time.

Like life rhythms, in teamwork, respect for the “alien box” is a very important issue to address. The Himitsu-Bako box metaphor is a very graphic way of explaining that the intervention strategy will not only depend on the objective, it will also depend on the people involved and the synergies that will be created in the working time.

It can also be extrapolated to other systems (for example, family or couple context). The difference in pace when solving everyday problems can become a serious problem. When this happens, preserving an assertive communication style is one of the main challenges.

In this sense, what aspects can help to respect the rhythm of others?

First of all, avoid imposing our rhythm as the only valid structure. Rigid positions lead to discussions featuring failed communication strategies such as ‘climbing’ (raising the tone and aggressiveness of speech to seek recognition) or omission (shutting up and hanging on without sharing opinion) .

Understanding that the other person operates from their own way of interpreting reality reveals a world to us (new perspectives) and complements our vision, either by reinforcing or subtracting the power of our constructs (those words that shape our speeches and explain our values).

In an age of ineffective communication, how can the box metaphor help us?

If we do not understand the box, we will hardly be able to open it (solve the puzzle). This understanding involves recognizing the other’s need, stating one’s own need, and analyzing the situation from both points of view.

Remembering the Himitsu-bako box metaphor is a way of explaining the difference that characterizes each human being which, in turn, defines their essence (their way of thinking, feeling and acting).

Accepting difference makes us more flexible and efficient in resolving conflicts. In addition, this acceptance facilitates connection with others and allows us to take advantage of the appeal of the exclusivity of each “box”.

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