The last few days have been interesting. A lot of conversation had arisen from some posts I recently wrote – discussion about being, about loving people, about letting go of right and wrong while still speaking your truth. I am blessed to have heart-centered friends share their perspectives with me.
We are all so different in what we see and in in what we are able to see – each of us sees different aspects of this thing called life.
I feel like each of us upholds, or represents, different ways that God manifests. We are variations on a theme. This includes everyone – even the unsavory, the “broken”, the lawless. And I know this is a view not everyone shares – it is how it seems to me.
But these things are hard to talk about. Meaningful things are hard to talk about. Because these conversations happen in an invisible framework of set assumptions that inform how we see and experience.
These invisible assumptions opaque our ability to see differently than the assumptions allow. When one person steps outside of these invisible frameworks, or brings a different invisible framework, commonality is lost and this creates breakdowns and disconnection.
We all want connection. We’re wired for it. So when we are in different invisible assumptions, problems in connecting are inevitable when we are unconscious that this is what is going on.
There are so many things taking place in a single conversation. There is the subject being discussed, there are invisible assumptions (these can be cultural beliefs, “rules”, religious beliefs, judgments, etc.), and there are the deeper needs or wounds of each person invisibly vying for attention.
Many people unknowingly project their psychology, their assumptions, and their wounds onto others during conversation. And this drastically complicates the dynamic.
It’s not so much a problem that we do this, as we all have our stories. It’s that we do this unconsciously, which means the conversation is not really about the topic, but that the topic is now a way to get unmet needs met and wounds tended to.
I’m not a huge fan of psychologizing things, but there is a validity to it. We aren’t all imprisoned by our psychology, we can certainly be larger than, or have space for, our wounds when we are conscious of them and have done some work on ourselves.
Knowing this then means that when you pay close attention to conversations you can see and hear and feel that there are many things going on besides the subject being discussed.
Each of us is responsible for our own needs being met – this doesn’t mean we need to meet those needs ourselves, but that we must tend to them, ask for what we need, and not make it someone else’s job to be aware of or responsible for them without their express agreement. (I’m talking about functioning adults here, not children or someone who is mentally disabled for instance)
So the psychology of each person is a factor. And so, too, are these invisible assumptions.
In talking with a friend about the blog posts I wrote a couple of days ago, it came to light that one assumption he is making is that there is a right and wrong. So he was having a conversation about whether what happened and how I handled it was right or wrong. And he assumed I was trying to defend that I was right. My entire blog post about the situation was making the point (in my little world) that there isn’t a right or wrong, but our personal truth and that we need to express our truth and not judge it so much, to trust ourselves.
So as he was sharing his view with me, I realized there was an assumption going on that I did not share so I clarified it with him. And he confirmed that it is, indeed, about right or wrong and was making a case for the futility of trying to get someone to see that you’re right. But since I wasn’t trying to make anyone see I am right, I wasn’t able to be in that conversation with him and his frustration with me is what led me to look for what different invisible assumptions were at work.
Even though we were using the topic of the situation I blogged about, he and I were not discussing the same subject. He was discussing right or wrong and I was discussing expressing your truth without making anyone right or wrong. Super different conversations overlapping making it seem like we are having one conversation when we were actually having two conversations. This is not a formula for connection.
And this happens all the time.
I can be as clear as I can possibly be, can put something in black and white, and people will bring their assumptions and needs to the conversation and respond to things I didn’t even say or did not mean. (I do this to others, too) There were at least 10 different conversations that arose from that one post. And I don’t mean someone taking something and starting a new conversation. I mean someone not being in my meaning but being in theirs and so my words meant something totally different to them than they meant to me.
We fill in stories in our heads and don’t realize we are doing it. It’s the way the brain works. But when we fill in stories with our unmet needs and unconscious wounds and invisible assumptions, we actually create a different story.
So if you create a different story and don’t know you are doing it, then respond to me under the guise of responding to what I said, not to what you just made up, and I respond thinking we are talking about the same thing, well, problems are going to arise!
A very wise friend of mine who is a super cool human said “Boy, you really painted a bulls-eye on your chest with that last post Sadee.” I asked him why he said that and he said that people in Seattle do not operate first from truth, they operate first from kindness, so my speaking the truth and being public about it was going against the social agreement of the city and that was going to push some buttons. And it did!
I had a number of people tell me why I was wrong to feel how I felt and to do what I did and then suggested ways I could have been kinder. (As if speaking the truth is an unkind thing to do!) Even more interesting, some people went so far as to imagine that when I did speak to the woman’s manager that I did it with an agenda of being punitive. I did not post about the conversation I had with the manager so that part was completely filled in by the reader – completely made up – and the people who did this actually got mad at me for what they made up!
It is very revealing how we fill in the gaps in conversation. And we all do it.
These days I am constantly asking myself what assumptions I am making, what needs I have, what is really driving me in conversation. And I do this not so I can learn about myself, but so I can be more present to, and more connected with, the person I am with in the moment.
I actually think that when we argue, what is underneath the argument is that we are fighting to find a way to get the connection we seek. We get angry when we don’t agree not because we want to be right, but because being wrong often means disconnection or symbolizes rejection. And I have found that when I tend to this deeper need of connection in conversation, and affirm connection even in the midst of not agreeing, the conversation is much more positive and smooth and loving.
I am not interested in being right. I am interested in truth and authenticity and I am interested in connection. And the truth I am interested in is my truth and the truth of the moment – not in the ultimate truth that we both have to conform to or agree upon. I want your truth, even when it is different from mine because I dig that you are doing you.
The older I get the more I celebrate how differently each of us journeys through life. And I marvel at how we can share the same space and time together and have completely different experiences.
I think that when we operate with the idea that there is a bigger right way and a bigger wrong way and try to conform ourselves to this, we try to get others to conform to this as well and this means we make a person right or wrong, not just their behavior in the moment, we actually make them a good or a bad person in our own minds. And this means that we think someone is valid as a human being or not. I am not interested in determining if someone is a valid human being. Besides the fact that that is beyond arrogant, it is just so invalidating of life.
There is so much going on in our conversations, so much more that influences what we experience and what we are able to see and hear and think when we talk. And being unconscious of this inevitably leads to disconnection.
What motivates your communication with others? There will be many factors depending on the person, the topic, how much sleep you’ve each had, etc. But there will also be larger themes that you can identify in each conversation – your own deeper needs and assumptions you carry everywhere, all the time.
Are you seeking validation? Truth? Kindness? Harmony? Positivity? Healing? To better know yourself? To better know another person? Connection? Mirroring? Proof that you exist and are real? Proof that you are loveable?
There is nothing inherently wrong with bringing any of these things to conversation. But if you are not conscious of it, then you are not going to be having the same conversation with another person and this will inevitably lead to breakdowns. And these breakdowns will directly antagonize your wounds and your unspoken needs, which means those things can get reinforced rather than healed. And that’s just not a nice thing to do to yourself.
In addition, the themes you identify for yourself will not necessarily be the same for the person you are talking with. So we need to be conscious of this, too. If you project your needs onto me in conversation then you will see everything I say and do as being motivated by what motivates you and this will really block our ability to connect because it means we are not having the same conversation. If you need to be validated, then you may spend a lot of time looking for opportunities to validate me in conversation. And if I do not need that then I will feel weird and wonder what the heck is going on. And that will feel invalidating to you so now we have a very awkward spiral.
In the little world I live in, people would voice their needs and say what their real agenda is in conversation and ask the other person for what they really need. And the other person would then know what was really going on and agree or renegotiate or whatever but both people would be on the same page in all the different layers. This in and of itself is a connected way to communicate, so even if the conversation were not aligned, if needs were not agreed to be met, etc., connection would still be the dominant foundation and outcome.
I wish we trusted ourselves more and judged ourselves less. And I wish we trusted each other more and judged each other less. Because if we did, there would be a lot more honest communication.
Regardless, I am grateful to all the various and sundry ways people share and comment and engage because we are all, in our own ways, connecting. And that’s a beautiful thing.