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September

2012

 
Shedding Old Shackles

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

Feature Article 

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Quick Communication Tip

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Shedding Old Shackles
(click for podcast)

 

It's Tough to Know the Players Without a Scorecard
I've addressed the concept of Internal Prejudice previously,  and how we unconsciously (or consciously) look down our nose at our own natural processing styles. This concept is juicy enough for more than one look, so I'm not going to aim for covering every aspect here. This time out, let's just shine a light on what this struggle is about, and how we can best manage it.

The term “Internal tug-of-war” is something we can all relate to, especially when we're trying to make decisions. Have you ever tried to identify exactly who’s pulling in which direction? There are many players and many sides and we're literally getting pulled in all directions. Each is a perspective, with its own agenda, communication style, survival strategies, and defense mechanisms. Beyond the choir of our own perspectives, we have the voices of our parents, teachers, peers, and more, all contributing their diverse perspectives.

Our own natural ways of processing the world around us are often quite different than those of others, and rather than be told, “my, how creative and interesting!” we're usually told, “No. You should see it like this, do it like this, be like this.” When we hear this, some of us rebel, while others question and doubt the value of our own perceptions.

All of these multiple voices with multiple agendas create an awful lot of communication going on inside of us that isn’t conveying much beyond chaos, confusion, and anxiety. Because this isn't much fun, 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 red is superior to green or blue. The more sides of a story you have - the more dots per inch - the clearer and more accurate the picture. When we belittle our own thoughts, emotions or intuition, we're participating in 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.  We do however, put positive or negative associations on this movement, and that’s where the gremlin lives.

Without a truly conscious decision being made, we’re 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’re 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, other premises fall into place, like  “Stay in your head (not your heart).”  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 things.  Things 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’re suffering guilt by association with stress.  And just like Joe, although her brain is certainly more active when she feels confident, her brain doesn’t offer superior data.  In fact her feeling side, although more active in stress, infuses her with a connectedness to art, music, and people.



Conclusion
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, get to know each of your perspectives.  Then knowing what they’re each about, 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.  Your benefits will be smarter, more complete decisions, better relationships, and real fulfillment in your life.



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Quick Communication Tip

Use All Three Processing Centers
Each of your processing centers: Brain, Heart, and Gut take in a different kind of information, and each kind has its own value.  We’ve all recognized when we “should’ve listened to our gut” and because we didn’t were sorry.  Likewise, we’ve all experienced closing off our feelings, and going with our logic, which usually stopped us from aspiring to something big.  It’s not that any of them are superior or inferior; it’s just that we need to use the right tool for the right job.

Our brains are fantastic threat model analysts, and will logically weigh out rational, linear data.  Our feelings are empathic and enable us to “read” one another, thus connecting on a deeper and more fulfilling level.  Our intuition or “gut” has an unexplainable way of just “knowing” when someone is “hinky,” or not to be trusted.


By trusting each part of ourselves to do what it does best, we can take in far more information on far more levels, and always be in a better position when decision-making.


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.


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Resource Links:


Conscious Communication - the podcast series

KG Stiles: "Conversations that Enlighten and Heal"
Ian Blei on Kind Ambition and the
Integram (TM)

Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Communication Excellence (Podcast Snippets)
Communication Excellence (full interview)


Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain

Kind Ambition -
2nd Edition now available

Got Blog? c
ome visit the Blog.

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

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The Optimizer
Ian Blei,
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Institute for Integral Enneagram Studies and
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