I have had millions of conversations in my life with people of all backgrounds and around this small world on which we live. The one lesson I can pass on is that you need to listen for intent far more than content.
This excerpt from a post I wrote about one of Miguel Ruiz’s Four Agreements will lay a foundation for this discussion: “Everyone sees the world through layers and filters built from their families, their teachers, their life experiences. Everything they see, they see through their life filters. Understanding this is the starting point to understanding that everyone you see is a reflection of your experiences, and has nothing to do with them, or very little…”
This is true of you as well, and this is why “Intent” is the most important thing to understand when communicating! All of us experience this effect, this filtering through our life filters.
I can get all psychological here, but the best way to communicate is to keep things simple and relatable, and that is my intent… see what I did there. Building relationships based on open communication is the strongest foundation you can have. We are literal landmines of cultural influence, easily triggered by false impressions of others intent, and things that do not look like we “expect” them to. We have decades of cultural input setting unrealistic expectations, all designed to sell us on the “perfect” relationship, lifestyle, employer, etc. What we find is disappointment and frustration despite our best efforts. It is a wonder we get together at all, and no surprise that we are so easily led into the us or them rhetoric used to divide us.
It is a wonder… and it is all too much. We cannot control what others perceive, or say, or do. We can only control ourselves, and our intent. This starts by understanding our intent and being honest with ourselves. This is an unfortunately challenging task, made harder by the constant input in our lives. You must find a way to create a space for yourself where you can cut the “noise” and see more clearly. Without getting too spiritual, or psycho-babble here, I will share my tool for finding this space. First I call the “noise” my monkey voices, chittering around my head making it hard to hear myself think. When I need to get away and find the peace to “be me” for lack of a better description, this is what I do: I visualize a corridor in my mind, where I walk to the back of my brain. At the corridors, end is an old deco elevator that I take down to my sanctum, my man cave so to speak… There it is quiet and I can really look at what is real and what is noise that affects my thoughts and actions. There I can remember that it is both about me, because, well I am me, and not about me. Here I can look at what is real and what is a reflection of my filters. Is this perfect, no, but it is a darn sight better than letting the noise churn and delude me into believing that what is spewed by the noise is real. This exercise allows me to set my intent and measure the intent of others more accurately. This place lets me keep the fear pumped by the noise 24x7, down so that I can make better choices. This practice allows me the possibility of building stronger relationships based on honesty. This creates the space so that I can know my intent, and measure other's intent more clearly.
If it were easy anyone could do it… Wait… anyone can do it, in fact we, as humans, are wired to connect, to have community. Look around, does real community even exist? Does what your church offers equated to real community? Have you ever found real community at community centers? Of course not, they are illusions created to create the appearance of filling a need that is core to us, without actually creating the space for relationships to build.
I want to thank a young lady named Deanna, who reminded me that relationships need space and time to build. They also need clear intent and honesty. The truth is that creating community and building relationships is hard when the cultural framework we live in is delivering noise that tells us not to trust, to stay divided, to look for romance, by hammering the messaging and creating confusion. The cultural framework intent is clear, divided we are easier to control, together we are unstoppable. The cultural framework, as I think of it, is an organic program designed to prevent change, and maintain the status quo. It does this even when we are heading toward extinction… Before we can fix this problem, we need to fix ourselves, we need to learn to think, and connect, and be human again. Only then can we begin to reprogram the Cultural Framework to reflect our humanity. This is my intent, not revolution, not extinction, but intentional evolution, one step at a time, a journey toward our humanity. One relationship at a time, one neighborhood, one community.
We do not plant a shade tree so that we can sit under it, we plant it so that our children, and their children can. I would love company on this journey, together we can plant seeds and create a more human space on this world…one step at a time.
Something to think on…
Mark Boatwright-Frost Executive Director of Resilient Ecosystems, champion of community resilience. It is all about coming together and finding commonality, build capacity and thrive