Tuesday, May 29, 2012

How We Identify with Ourselves Affects our Communication Skills

Communication is so critical to good relationships.

Isn't it fun when someone states the obvious in the first line of text?  I'm laughing because it IS so obvious, and yet... it is a universal struggle.  Even the best of us, who communicate for a living, struggle in our intimate relationships with effective communication.

Why, you may ask?  Why is it so difficult?

Well, let's analyze it for a moment.  We are all the same, and yet we are all different.  Even within the same family structure, we are raised with different ideas about who we are, and who we aren't.  This information is programmed into us from the time we are born.  We're the pretty one, or the smart one, or the good athlete, or the slow-learner (or just plain stupid).  We bring these imposed identities into our mindset and they radiate out of us, creating a filter which dictates our reactions in our communications and experiences.  All on a subconscious level, that is.

Did you ever notice how easy it is to be triggered by someone when they say something that either validates or contradicts the imposed self identity?  For example, you're in the grocery store and you ask a clerk where an item is and he goes on and on about what the item is and how it is best used in a know-it-all sort of way (probably just eager to share some passionate information), but you feel yourself pull up inside and get defensive, and maybe even snap at him, "I KNOW what it is!  I just wanted to know where it was! I'm not stupid!"  Whoa... you may think to yourself, "did I just way overreact or what?"  And you did, because that part of your subconscious identity was threatened somehow by the imagined implied message that he thought you were stupid.

Lets take this to the full reality now.  Each of us have these little programs running inside of us that make us react positively and sometimes negatively, to the world around us.  As we become more enlightened, we learn that these are constructs that truly have nothing to do with our true selves, our higher selves.  But, in the meantime, if most of us have these patterns running in the background, and they're all different, how do we communicate effectively with each other?

Here are some suggestions for you to start being conscious of your own programming so that you can start with yourself.  And then, as the acceptance and understanding of self is developed, it becomes very easy to start recognizing the patterns in the people we communicate with the most frequently, and you can be conscious of communicating in a fashion that they will receive your message as accurately as possible, and maybe even more importantly, you will receive their message accurately also!

  1. Make a list of who you think you are in this world.  IE:  I am tall.  I am blonde.  I am smart.  I am a hard worker.  I am healthy.  I am a good athlete.  I am cranky in the mornings.  I am ..................
  2. Now analyze this list to see how much is really in alignment with who you are, rather than what you do.  IE:  Using the statement, "I am a good athlete", I would extrapolate that I have been at times a good athlete, and that I can still fair well at most sports when I try them.  However, when I look even deeper into my soul, I realize that I am able to manifest being a good athlete because all my life I was told how strong I was, capable, coordinated, etc...  This incarnation has created a person who can be a good athlete, but who I truly am has absolutely nothing to do with athletics.  If I never did anything sporty well again in my entire life, I would not cease being me. 
  3. So, now that you've extracted the bottom line of who you are in this world, take it a step further. As you analyze your new data, and the beliefs that you've identified with, you may find that it's easier to see the way others' identify with themselves, using yourself as your model.  You can now understand that some parts of your "identity" may not be obvious to others', and therefore others' may have parts that aren't obvious to you.  And, how much of how we identify with ourselves is subconscious and constructed by others' that you have been in contact with in your life.  And, the self-identity that they have, influenced who they decided that you were.  You see this slippery slope, a vicious cycle of being human?  
  4. Putting it together into a daily practice is necessary for success.  Not to say that you will always be perfect at this, but just like when you are on a diet you have to remind yourself that you need to drink more water, eat smaller portions, eat more vegies, stay away from chocolate... hehehe... You have to do the same with your mindset.  When you find yourself being reactive, ask yourself, "where is this reaction coming from?  What part am I feeling threatened by?  What is the person really trying to communicate to me?"  Breathe.  Be gentle with yourself.  Allow yourself time to process.  Journal your feelings, or use a little mini recorder to let your thoughts and feelings out.  Open yourself up to healing and love, one thought at a time.
  5. It's much easier to be empathetic to your own and others' responses in life when you are able to get in touch with your identity, and the learnings that come from it.  How much easier is it for you to be patient with someone in your conversations when you can understand that they too are taking in all the information you are sending their way and processing it through their filters, which have been constructed subconsciously, often by things outside of their control!  Whew!  Feels so good to let go now, doesn't it?  People are going to hear you the way that they hear you, so the best way to communicate is by listening without letting yourself get triggered by their words, and responding as best you can from a space of love and acceptance.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Don't Should on Yourself

Have you ever wondered about your beliefs?  Where they come from?  Why you choose what you choose?  Act the way you act?  Hate or love the people you hate or love?  How you learned to hate at all...?

Much of this comes from social constructs.  It's a topic that has been coming up a lot in my life lately, and in my clients' lives.  From the time we are born, we are being taught what our society, family, and religious beliefs believe to be right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable.

That could mean that we dislike certain people or races because of the way that they look, even having never met a person of that race.  It could mean that we decide that we are fat and ugly because we don't look like the covergirls on the magazines.  Or, it could mean that we choose to not be in uniquely defined relationships because they aren't the same as everyone else's.

When did we decide that other people's ideas were more valuable than our own?  Why do we as a human race, tend to put people on pedestals, and often take pleasure in seeing them fall off?  We are all perfectly imperfect.  I may have something wonderfully profound to say one moment and something completely ridiculous the next.  Am I insightful or an idiot?  Can I be both?  Can't we all?

So, I thought and I thought on this and I realized that for my truth, I can see that we are all connected and we are all doing our very best, as often as we can, to live in harmony with one another and we need some structure to help that along.  What we don't need, however, is judgments upon one another when we do things that are different.  Sure, lets go ahead and judge a little when someone harms another, or says mean, spiteful things.  But judging who one chooses to love and how they choose to express their love, is pointless and negative.  How we choose to decorate our home, keep stuff, toss stuff, exercise, be lazy, dance in public, or pretend to be a mime--this all should be moot.  A topic for an interesting conversation, and a reflection of ourselves and how we choose to live, perhaps even the "why" around it, but not the negative judgment that is so often made.

Next time you notice thoughts of "should" (should do this, or should've done that), explore where they come from.  Is the "should" really in alignment with YOUR core beliefs and values?  Or is it a social construct that you "should" do only because you've been programmed that if you don't do it that you're doing something wrong or bad?  Who decided that it's wrong or bad?  Check in with your gut.  Is it hurting yourself or others?  If the "should" isn't in alignment with your values and it isn't hurting anyone to not do it, or to do it differently, then perhaps it's time to let go of the "should".  

Someone once told me a long time ago, "Don't should on yourself".  And, I think he was on to something.  If you decide that you should have done the "should", then extrapolate the learning and apply it to your life immediately so you don't repeat the cycle.  And, perhaps apologize to someone too, if applicable.

The bottom line is this, when we check in with ourselves, and we move through life as often as possible from a place of love, the "should's" just disappear.  Explore the possibilities!  

Oh!  I almost forgot!  A wonderful side effect of dumping the social constructs and "should's", is FREEDOM!  And the anxiety melts away like snow in the spring!  Enjoy the peace!