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Shedding Old Shackles

(Internal Prejudice, part II)


Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.

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August 7th - 10th, 2008

The 1st Biennial Integral Theory Conference

Integral Theory in Action:

Serving Self, Other, and Kosmos

Friday, August 8, 2008

Session IV - 2:45 - 3:45pm

"Accessing Multiple Perspective Consciousness

 Using the Enneagram" w/ Ian Blei

Presented by John F. Kennedy University and Integral Institute.    More Info  or Register Now!




Shedding Old Shackles

(Internal Prejudice, part II)

Tough to Know the Players Without a Scorecard

Last September, we addressed the concept of Internal Prejudice, and how we unconsciously (or consciously) look down our nose at our own natural processing styles  (how we take in and sort the world around us).  This concept is too big for a single article, and there are plenty of light switches to flick on, so this time we’re going to look a little deeper, to sort out the useful from the unproductive, and the relevant from the habitual.  First up is identifying some parts. 


The term “Internal tug-of-war” is something people relate to.  Ever try to identify exactly who’s pulling in which direction?  It turns out that there are many players and many sides.  You’re literally getting pulled in all directions.  Each is a perspective, with its own agenda, communication style, survival strategies, and defense mechanisms.  What’s more, beyond the choir of your own perspectives, you have the voices of your parents, teachers, peers, and more, all contributing their perspectives.


Invariably, our own natural ways of processing the world around us are different than those of our parents, teachers, et al, and rather than be told, “my, how creative and interesting!”  we are usually told, “No.  You should see it like this, do it like this, be like this.”  That throws it to our very different survival strategies, and some of us identify with rebelling against this indoctrination, while others question and doubt the value of our own perceptions.  So another splintering takes place, and these voices in our heads become that much less connected to a unified sense of self.


This creates an awful lot of communication going on inside of us that isn’t conveying much beyond chaos, confusion, and anxiety.  Thus the most common defense is to detach from, or anesthetize this over-abundance of input.  Unfortunately, this defense works against our best interests.  The input is valuable; we just need to take it in, without the sheer volume scaring us into shutting down.


Our brains take in some information, our emotions take in other information, and our body-sense or intuition takes in still other information (as if in different bandwidths, if you’re familiar with light or sound frequencies).  None of it is superior, anymore than fire is superior to water or air.  The more sides of a story you have - the more dots per inch - the clearer and more accurate the picture.  Any prejudice we feel toward one part of ourselves, denigrating our thoughts, emotions or intuition, is an example of that Internal Prejudice, which doesn’t serve us.  Let yourself recognize this, and set an alarm for yourself.  Awareness is a great first step; change is inevitable.


The Flow

There are natural reasons for us to be drawn or repelled by processing styles.  This doesn’t mean they’re right or wrong.  Our perspectives and worldviews are dynamic; always in a dance of reaction to life.  When you’re totally stressed, you see life differently.  When everything is going wonderfully, and you’re on top of the world – well, the expression itself speaks to that perspective shift.  The world didn’t change, yet the way you take it in changed; including a different way of processing.


If we’re generally more in our feelings, we might get more thinking-oriented in stress or security.  If we’re more thinking-oriented, we could become more emotional.  And of course, if we’re more naturally intuitive, we’ll be pulled toward our brains or heart as life changes.


It’s very important for you to understand that this flow is neither good nor bad, and is nothing to correct or fix.  The flow itself is part of what defines you.  There is however, a very definite sense of the movement being positive or negative.  This is where the potential gremlin lives.


Without a truly conscious decision being made, we are drawn to the processing center where we have our historical experience of security and confidence.  Conversely, we are subconsciously repelled by that processing center we associate with stress.



Guilt by Association

This couldn’t be more natural or normal.  So where’s the catch?  Each way of processing has its own set of filters, problems, and resources.  Crazy as it may seem, there’s a downside to the way we process in confidence, and an upside to the way we process in stress.  Those states are within us for a reason.  They are part of the package, and when we exclude or diminish the value of one or the other, we lose a bigger, more inclusive, informed perspective.



Let’s look at how two different people were affected by this, and how we helped maximize their performance.  Joe is a successful, busy guy.  When he’s under stress, his normally fast, focused way of being seems to hit mush.  He loses direction, priorities, and his “go get ’em” attitude.  Now he’s processing the world more from his gut or body, and he associates that as a negative thing.  When Joe’s feeling confident, his competitiveness melts into a more “focused on others” team orientation, with all kinds of thinking, strategizing, and planning.  What's also happening is Joe associating his “better self” as a thinker.


An underlying prejudice toward thinking and away from what his body is telling him forms.  As with most prejudice, this is due to incomplete information.  Joe’s gut has a lot of important data to bring to the table, but because he associates it with being stressed, he discounts it.  Furthermore, he builds his life around the premise that thinking is the “Holy Grail,” preferable to intuition or even more damaging, his natural processing center: his feelings.


Thus, the domino premises fall into place as well.  “Solutions are found in the brain (not the heart).”  “Life is better when you’re in your head,” and so on.  These premises are self-deception at its finest.  In fact, Joe found his happiness when we re-connected him with the valuable information his heart and intuition had been trying to share.  His brain kept connecting him to thingsThings weren’t satisfying or making him happy.  The information from his heart and intuition connected him to dreams and people.  This is where he found his life; his satisfied, happy, even more successful than before life.


Mary is organized, grounded, and pragmatic.  When she’s under great stress, a wave of emotion can overtake her, leaving her feeling moody and depressed.  When she’s confident, her brain is a wonderland of ideation and planning.  Can you guess how she feels about thinking vs. feeling?  The problem is that it’s not her feelings that are at fault, although they’re getting the blame.  They are suffering guilt by association with stress.  And just like Joe, although her brain is certainly more active when she feels confident, it isn’t her brain that’s the “hero.”  Her feeling side infuses her with a connectedness to art, music, and people.




By learning exactly what our different parts are contributing, we can get out from under the yoke of compulsions and the limitations of internal prejudice.  We can know and accept ourselves for who we really are; celebrating the variety and breadth of our processing styles.  We can use resources we never knew we had, and not waste time pursuing ways of being that won’t ever fit.  We can integrate the varied and diverse perspectives within us, and recognize them in others.  We can make life work for us in a way that nourishes and supports us.  When people speak of “balance,” this is what they want: everything clicking in harmony.  It can be done.  First, you meet each of your perspectives.  Then knowing what they’re each about, you integrate them as your team.   When you’re in command of your team, you’re in the driver seat.  The rewards that follow are infinite.






Quick Communication Tip


Keeping Pace

Along with our different processing centers, we have different time-sense and pacing as well.  Some of us are focused on the future, some in the past, some in the present.  Some of us talk fast, some slowly. Some of us have ready access to our language and vocabulary.  Some of us feel things strongly, but don't have ready access to the words that would describe them.


Rather than assume the person you're interacting with is an annoying inferior version of yourself, dump your assumptions, and listen carefully.  Notice their pacing, their way of describing their experience.  If you can, try to match them, keeping their pace or working with the language choices they make.  Do they talk really fast about what they want to do?  Do they talk more slowly about what they're feeling?  It's all useful information if your desired outcome is actual interaction, connection, and understanding.


Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward?  Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.






Resource Links:


Conscious Communication - the podcast series

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"

Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)

Communication Excellence (full interview)

Interview for Entrepreneur Magazine Radio w/ Romanus Wolter

Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ Jason McClain

Kind Ambition - 2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? come visit the Blog.

Character Driven - Ever want to create characters that were so believable, that people forgot they were characters?



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