Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What's Your Evidence?

Are you telling people what you think using language that masquerades your story as truth?

I believe the quality of your life depends on a few things, one being the language you use and the words you say.  For that reason I offered you this question.  I think with a few tweaks here and there in what you say, you will feel more free, more open, more empowered in your life.  And, I think it starts right here with how to share what you think.  And why you might not share it all.

When intending to connect with another person, offering them a peak into your inner world is  an invitation to know you.  Sharing what is important to you and what meaning things have for you is connecting.  So is the inverse.  Listening for what is important to someone else.  And this can be quite alluring and connecting even if what is important to you is different.  Unless, of course you are talking about your interpretations as truth.

Most often you are so quick to do this, you don’t notice.  You may have difficulty pulling apart the ‘what is’ from the meaning you make about the ‘what is’.  When was the last time you said, “It is a beautiful day!”  or “That is such a great restaurant!”?  Interpretation.  What is the evidence you use to make the determination of a ‘beautiful’ day?  Perhaps, the temperature, how many clouds you see?  In language it seems like nitpicking, in the experience of the person listening to you, it is a challenge and a suggestion. 

What if you love sunny, brisk days, and your friend loves the gentle rainy ones.  In the sentence “It is a beautiful day!” there is no invitation for your friend to have a different experience of the weather.  And, really, there is little sharing about what is important to you.  Very little revealing of your inner world.  Try this on:  “When I feel the warmth of the sun on my face, and the breeze in the air, I feel so happy and alive.  I am so grateful for this sun-shiny day!”  Now your friend knows exactly what is important to you in the moment and how you feel about it.  S/he can share in your joy, even if s/he prefers rainy days.  Connection is made.

If you say, “it is such a great day!”, your friend actually has very little information as to why.  No understanding, no connection and there is no invitation for your friend to have another experience of the weather than the one you declared as the truth.

Let’s break it down a bit.  Static language – it is, you are, s/he is.  Nothing exists as static.  If you use these words, you will be mixing your interpretation of the facts as a declaration of the truth.  In a situation more important than a discussion of the weather, you will most likely receive a response that you do not want ~ if the person doesn’t agree with your interpretation.  Instead, offer them the evidence, what you notice, how you feel, and what is important to you about it.
What can you notice?  Three things ONLY!
1.  Things outside of you
2.  Your bodily sensations and emotions
3.  Your thoughts

That’s it!  Nothing more.  

You can notice what someone says or does, how you feel about what they say or do and what you think about it. 

Here are two possibilities...
Your boyfriend comes in a closes the door more loudly than you are used to.  It has happened in the past, when he was angry.   You greet him by saying, “What are you so pissed at?”  He replies, “F*ck you, I can’t believe you just said that.  I am so sick of your self-obsession.  I wish, just once you could be caring about me.  I just saw two guys fighting outside, and its pretty bad.  I’m going to call 911.  Just leave me alone.”  So now what?  This conversation needs an intervention.

Your boyfriend comes in a closes the door more loudly than you are used to.  It has happened in the past, when he was angry.   You greet him by saying,  “Oh my!  I am thinking something is up for you given how you shut the door.  Will you talk about it with me?”  He replies, “I am so glad to be inside.  There are a couple of guys outside fighting pretty seriously, I want to call 911.  Will you make me a drink and wait for the cops with me?”

In the first situation, you confused your interpretation of the sound of the door shutting (noticing) with your boyfriend being mad (interpretation).  You shared it as the ‘truth’.  Basically demanding that he buy your assessment of the facts.  While there was a question, there was no invitation to share what was happening for him.

In the second situation, you offered what you noticed, your guess as to what was happening and an invitation for sharing.  What you got back was connection.

Take a minute before you speak ~ especially in difficult conversations, to separate out what you notice, and the meaning you are making.  Share them as two separate things.  I believe the quality of your relationships and your overall experience of the world will be richer, more connected and you may have more freedom in all of your relationships.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pain Wheel

If you didn’t have pain, what would you be doing differently?

I have a client who has been in physical pain for many months, off and on approaching years, in fact.  She has attributed it to a car accident.  Science tells me in her case, 2 things.  One is that the ‘damage’ to her spine is not likely the cause of her pain, and the other is that it is unlikely that the accident she had could actually cause the ‘damage’ she does show up on x-ray and MRI.

Week in and week out, when she comes in, she tells me in exquisite detail, over and over, the woes of her physical life and her social life.  Every week, I ask her to focus her attention on the progress she is making, the decreased amount of pain, the increased distance she can walk without pain, etc., which she also reports.  It seems that celebrating and savoring these changes is quite difficult for her.  Her focus is her pain, no matter what else she is experiencing.  She just keeps asking when she would be out of pain.

Recently, I asked her what would she be doing differently if she was out of pain.  What is missing now, what can’t she do now because of the pain she is in.  My intention was to bring to the foreground of her attention her intention.  What did she want from life?

Her answer surprised me.  She said that if she felt better she was afraid that people would want her to do more.  That she wouldn’t get the help she needed.   As much as I prompted, She did not actually say what she did want.   In the end, the needs ~ what is important to her ~ seem relatively clear.  Support, dependability, nurturing and ease come to my mind. 

Her strategy to get these needs met seems so tragic to me.  She is in pain, and unhappy.  And, she doesn’t ‘have to’ do the thing she imagines people would ask her to do if she were well. 

Is this familiar to you?   How aware are you of what you are wanting in your life?  How stuck are you in the one or two strategies that you have discovered over time get those needs met (no matter how tragically)?  Are you on the PAIN WHEEL?

In the case of this client, I would love her to free herself from her belief that if people expect and even ask her to do things, that she has no choice but to say yes.  It isn’t true and the prison of pain she is living into is devastating to her happiness and joy of life.  For my client, learning the skill of being able to say yes and no to requests gracefully and compassionately would be quite empowering and dare I say, make her life more wonderful.

If you are in chronic pain ~ emotional or physical ~ sure, being out of pain would be quite delightful.  Just make sure you ask yourself why?  Ask the deeper questions.   Questions you want the answers to.  Questions that can actually be answered and will make a difference in your life. 

Here are some examples:
What experience do I want to have in my life? 
How can I have more of this regardless of my pain? 
What is my pain keeping me from experiencing?