Some years ago I began to realize that I was missing signals. When I entered into a conversation with my family, friends or people that I worked with, I realized that I wasn’t hearing what they were ‘really’ saying.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t listening; rather I was missing the main point and often the underlying theme or issue. It occurred to me that instead of being focused and present on the person and the message, I was focused on what I was going to say next.
I began to see that I was not an innate listener. The word innate is defined as a characteristic or ability that is already present in a person or animal when they are born. So, some people have the innate ability to listen and hear and be present when another person is speaking, and some don’t. I was in the latter group.
Seeing and understanding the concept of innate abilities was like discovering the Rosetta stone for me. I began to observe other people and their effectiveness communicating and how they had the ability to instantly understand what the speaker was ‘really’ saying.
The awareness of this ‘seeming’ flaw, or gap within me became the catalyst for a long journey in re-learning how to process information, and share and communicate with the people in my life.
The process began of peeling away the layers and layers of conscious, subconscious and unconscious internal programming. Added to the mix, was the internal need to express myself clearly and transparently, and the realization that the world was becoming smaller and smaller. I became aware of the need to discern the continuous planetary information stream flowing through the internet – which could be a slippery slope…
There are many tools available to us today to help us understand what makes us tick. And, as the saying goes ‘there are different drums and different drummers’. We are all different from one another and it’s easy to fall into a trap of trying to change someone or something, or of making the mistake that the person you are interacting with understands you. So, I felt that if I wanted to understand someone, I needed to understand myself first.
I’d been a student of a number of archetypal type studies by ancient philosophers, dusted off by Carl Jung and re-presented by Isabel Myers, called the Myers-Briggs Type indicator (1). In simple terms, the Myers-Briggs system gave me a spot on view of my temperament. And based on this view I could begin to discern the style preferences that I was comfortable with when I communicated, and how and why I communicated the way I did. Today, there are many processes available.
But the Myers-Briggs also showed me that everyone had every type within them. It was simply that we were stronger in some areas then another. So, my Rosetta stone showed me how, when and why I was missing the signals. It was very simply that the other person had a different communication style and preference in the way they spoke or explained something – and, most important, what they expected from the conversation.
The gift of the Myers-Briggs, for me, was that it opened a huge door to seeing and understanding the ‘types’ of others, and why I interacted the way I did. And, since I understood the differences, it was my choice to adjust my style to listen and really hear what the other person was saying.
I realized that the while I may not have been born with the innate gift of listening, it could be learned through the internal work of self-awareness.
There are layers and layers of perception both conscious and unconscious that we use when we communicate and discern. These layers are called filters. The filters perform distortions and generalization processes within us, and we organize them in layers.
Common filters are: Values, Gender, Culture, Race, Ethnicity, Education, Bias, Prejudice, Economics and Memories.
For example, if I have a racial prejudice, my communication with a person of a different race might be skewed. I might think that I have to speak to or listen to the person differently. I might take on a different personality, or believe that I need to try to relate to that person by being more like him or her. I might avoid people of a certain race through fear or because I believe they are bad.
If I am triggered in a conversation, and don’t have knowledge or experience with filtering, I might project the trigger of fear or envy by thinking negative thoughts. For example, one of the types in Myers-Briggs is the ‘perceptive person’. If my type is not perceptive, then I might justify my triggered fear with a judgmental thought, ‘oh, that’s so typical of a perceptive type’.
What I’ve come to realize is that we embody all types or styles. But, we make choices about how to react in any given situation. Innate gifts merge the heart and mind into a balance and alignment that allows us to respect, know and thus open ourselves to the possibilities of an expanded perception about a person, place or thing.
The Journey Continues …
The awareness of filtering can become an awakening tool that causes us to pause, identify the filter – such as prejudice, listen without the prejudice and simply be present to the other person. I feel that the same rule applies to any pre-programmed filter that may have originated in one’s family of origin, through life experience or overarching values.
Once I became aware that distortions or miscommunication could be the result of my own filters, I began to look at what the filter was, where it originated and how it affected me and my relationships. And, poof – it dissolved.
I began to realize that in the listening process, my mind was moving through a series of perception filters. How could I possibly listen when the filters were popping up all over the place? The filtering acted as a block that prevented me from listening. I was interpreting my interactions with people based upon the filters of unconscious programming. And, it helped that the filters actually had names.
The awareness opened up the realization that moved beyond personality or ego. The awareness manifested a new understanding of the value of diversity and a detachment from blame and shame, into the higher realities and acceptance and forgiveness. I no longer need to label or judge another person as being different.
Did I become an innate listener? Actually, I would answer the question this way – the release of multi-leveled filtering programs have opened a space of clarity where heart-centered balance and alignment, guidance and trust and love can manifest. Life has become a journey of awareness.
Over the years, other tools, teachings and practices have dropped into my lap. They’ve aided me in deeper and multiple levels of awareness. I’ve always looked at Astrology as a companion tool to understanding what makes us tick. And, there are other modalities such as, The Enneagram (2), which focuses on the balance between the heart and mind and is well known in Lightworker circles.
My journey has taken me on the road to understanding personal Conflict Modes and how we react in a crisis, heart-centered Meditation designed to clear a space within our individual beingness to be present to people or groups, and Restorative Justice and Mediation which I feel is peace-making because the process facilitates a conversation between two people or groups in conflict.
Each step of the way, down the road to understanding self has been a gift of insight and expansion.
But, I have to say that the mother of all tools, at least for me, has been parenting … But, that’s another story.
(1) Myer-Briggs Type Indicator
Written for Gaia Scenics’ View
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