Let’s imagine we are animals without a common language. We are part of a wolf pack, for example. The tone of our growls, the howls, the nuzzles with our mates, are all part of how we communicate with each other. The pack as a whole has a language. And the alpha leader has command power in their communications that all the pack members are required to pay attention to and obey.
As partners and lovers, we have a similar language we are building between us. Much of the messages are unspoken. They are felt, implied, assumed, and imagined. But, when we speak, we have an opportunity to communicate with more clarity than an animal. If we are aware of our language, we can use our words to great effect. Words carry meaning well beyond the dictionary, and even beyond the Urban Dictionary.
Thinking is mostly comprised of language. Feelings and moods can be influenced by chemicals, hormones, touch, smell, sight, sounds. Think of the last time you heard a song and found yourself reliving a part of your past. That is the feeling part of our brain. Then notice the words in the music you are being influenced by. Do any of the lyrics hold a deeper connection for you?
Here’s an example. This song
It is lovely. And happens to be the opening theme for Portlandia. For me, watching Portlandia was during a very difficult time in my life. The humor and love in the show were mixed with a sadness that things were not going as planned in my life. The other day, I was in my car heading to a meeting when this song came on. I was immediately transported to that time, sitting on the couch in my cold rental home binge-watching Portlandia on my laptop.
Here’s the opening sequence of Portlandia.
Feel It All Around
I never heard the words in the Portlandia version. In the actual song, I didn’t really hear the lyrics either. But it was the feeling I was grooving too, both during my Portlandia moment and my current moment vibes.
Here are the words to the song:
In spite of all the things you did / We’ll work it out
But here is my point: the song hit me viscerally yesterday as I was driving. No words, no images (I was in my car and it was on Spotify). And I felt all the feels. I didn’t have any idea until today what the words were. They are a bit painful actually.
You’ve got your feelings. You’ll feel LOVE again. And in spite of all the things you did, we will work it out.
That’s a good message to my ex-wife as it relates to my angry post from yestereday as well. (SEE: Understanding My Co-parent’s Malfunction: My Easy Indifference)
My Easy Indifference
Let’s lean into the easy indifference of the things that are painful to us. Let them go. Release your pain into the smoke of a distant Winter fire that you are no longer required to stand around. You past can be burnt up with prayer and meditation. And sometimes, some yelling and releasing with a plastic bat and a pillow. Let it all out.
Now, let’s return to the words again.
Pay attention to the words you are using in your relationships (personal and professional) and watch for the feedback the person (animal) you are trying to communicate with is giving back. We can tell a lot by the other person’s body language, the message in their eyes, the way they are setting their jaw or lips, and if they are attentive or checked out. WATCH what you say, but also watch the effect it is having on the people you are trying to communicate with.
Each. Word. Carries. Power.
There is more data in the words than we pay attention to. But there are plenty of studies around the power of WORDS and what you are SAYING as well as what you are THINKING.
Before you speak, take into consideration these ideas. (Repeated here to “put a bow” on my post. (Or in Portlandia speak, “Put a BIRD on it.”)
- Is what you are saying true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
- What are you trying to communicate?
- Is there DATA you are trying to add to the programming and processing of your partnership?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, reconsider your need to use words, and try just using your body, your breath, and your feelings. Hold their hand (if they are partners.) Or just give the silence a moment, give them a chance to fill in the gap with their words, their intentions, their message.
I don’t do a great job of it, but I’m getting better. I’m learning in my Zoom meetings that if I MUTE myself I’m unable to add the quick wit or joke to the conversation. In business, this is a win. I don’t need to slow things down by trying to show of with my words or Robin Williams-like humor. Nope. Silence is better. Mute is often a mode I should get into more often.
Don’t speak if you’re message is unimportant. And when you do speak, pay attention to the words and the way you are communicating. Then, stay in the feedback look with the object of your attention, and tune to their energy and attention. When you TUNE more closely with the people you are communicating with, you have a better chance of delivering your message with clarity and potency.
Speak if you need to. Be quiet more often. Listen with focus and eye contact.
Epilogue: I’m working on my “easy indifference.” For now, I’m a bit more into “weaponized indifference” as it relates to my ex-wife and her odd husband. (fairly odd parents, comes to mind). But easy indifference is the next level, of “let it go, and pay little or zero attention to things that are not working for you. For YOU. You no longer have to care or pay attention to THEM or their wants and needs. None.
How I Can Help
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- The Soul of Sex: Cultivating Life as an Act of Love Thomas Moore
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Then go watch some Portlandia.