Welcome to Following the Whispers blog

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit. Hope you enjoy your stay. I blog here whenever I feel the need. This blog was created at the time my memoir came out, in February, 2009. Its motto was: creating a life of inner peace and self-acceptance from the depths of despair. Now, my focus is sharing this journey we call life.

“Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth, and that is not speaking it.” Naomi Wolf

“We are called human beings, not human doings.” Wes Nisker, Buddhist teacher

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs…(And) if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Telling the Truth Tuesday - Feelings and communication

It's no wonder that no matter what we do, world peace eludes us. If two people with differing backgrounds, different personalities, differing perspectives, and different ways of communicating can't settle their differences, how can entire countries do it?

If only we could accept and acknowledge each others' differences without judgment. If only we could have empathy and understanding for a challenging point of view. If only we could realize that if someone's intentions are honorable, we needn't judge the outcome quite so severely.

When I first began my healing journey in 1978, I didn't have a clue what I was feeling, why I was feeling what I was feeling, and least of all, what to do with my feelings. When I began attending 12-step meetings (my parents weren't alcoholics, but the dysfunction in our family was similar to the dysfunction resulting from alcoholism or mental illness) one of the first things I learned was "Feelings aren't facts." Just because I feel angry because I think someone slighted me, doesn't necessarily mean that I was slighted. It's my perception.
The feeling is valid. The reaction is my choice.

What I learned to do is examine the incident by asking questions like, What did you mean by that? I look at the person's tone - sometimes what is said isn't so bad - it's how it's said that hurts. I try to come from a  place of reconciliation and collaboration. I look to take responsibility for what I say and how I say it. I am not afraid to apologize if I feel I've miscommunicated or hurt someone.

If we are afraid of what people will think of us, it hampers our ability to be truthful about our feelings and actions. If I admit I was wrong, they'll think such and such of me. I guess one of the best things that happened as a result of turning 60 is that I care less and less what people think. No, that's not true. I care. I just don't alter my words or my behavior based on what people might think. There's a big difference.

In the end, feelings and communication are all we have in terms of negotiating our way in the world. If only we could all use empathy and understanding, both for ourselves and others, in the way we do it...



Crystal Clear Proofing said...

How true your words are, Karen! I have also come to a point in my life (thank goodness) where I have no problem taking responsibility for how I communicate with others, and when necessary for my peace of mind, asking others if what they said of did (that I took offense to or took personally) was a result of their interpretation of something I said or did. Most of the time, people simply do not realize, in their haste or because they have/had something else on their mind, how their words come across to others.

The problem I encounter more these days than actual face-to-face encounters is due to the age we're now in. With so much interaction and correspondence happening via the internet, it's sometimes very difficult to ascertain the tone with which a person *says* something. Therefore, is my reaction valid? Am I just being too sensitive?

There has been the rare occasion where I have emailed back and asked, just as I would in person or on the phone. Most people are not malicious by nature. Some just lack the skills to communicate their thoughts effectively. Being of empathic nature, this is something I work on fairly regularly.

Mason Canyon said...

I agree. Great post.

Jen Chandler said...

Hi Karen!

These are wise words. I've been learning (slowly) not to base my decisions, reactions, ect. on what others think. I have had a struggle with basing my life on caring what others think. It's a terrible prison to be in but I'm breaking free!

Thanks for your wonderful comment on my blog Friday. I haven't given up on the story. I just have a feeling there's a better way to communicate it. Looks like it's back to the
drawing board...again!


Patricia Stoltey said...

This is so true, Karen. I've toughened up over the years, thank goodness. I also finally learned that people often don't communicate well. As a result, their words and intentions are frequently misunderstood. Like you said, if helps to ask straightforward questions if we really need to know...

The Old Silly said...

Well said. Especially this-

"If only we could all use empathy and understanding, both for ourselves and others, in the way we do it..."

True dat and "amen!"

Marvin D Wilson

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I find it easier these days to let the tacky or rude things people say slide without reacting. Maybe it helps that I developed the thick skin necessary to be a writer.