I think it is safe to say all men on earth and all women too, actually, have experienced one or more variations of the scenario bellow:
Man: Were you wearing those jeans yesterday?
Woman: Are you calling me dirty?!
Man: What? No, I…
Woman: Oh, so you’re saying I’m fat…
Man: … what the…
Woman:. …you’re calling me fat because you know these are my “fat” jeans and I have been wearing them a lot lately….
Mam: … actually….
Woman: …. well if I have gained weight it is your fault!
Woman: You are always taking me out to these restaurants and making me eat like a pig, so it is your fault I put on weight! And for the record, I know how fat I am ok, so you don’t need to bring it up!
Man: (inner dialogue) wtf! I actually like those jeans on her…. Crazy!
Admit it, we have all, at one point or another jumped to conclusions.
We have basically “heard” what the other person said from an ungrounded, closed off point of view.
We have allowed our selves to believe the lie that everyone is out to get us, regardless of who they may be, so when we are having a conversation that is not “safe” (like not talking about the tv shows we watch or how Brad and Angie are so cute together) we automatically enter the conversation prepared to attack should the need arise.
We have believed for so long that everything is about us and that people are always out to get us, criticize us, and undermine us, that we have started to believe this lie and have taken the unconscious decision to enter honest conversations ready for combat when in reality, there is no war to be waged, only listening to be done.
I am the very best at this. I am the top fighter and the top assumer out there. Sure, a lot of it stems from my ego, as it constantly tells me the world revolves around me and all comments, thoughts, conversations or actions are about me, and therefore, when someone cuts me off while driving, it isn’t that they are not paying attention or are in a rush to get wherever, it is a personal attack on me, and so, my mind goes, “that *^%##, he/she totally cut me off on purpose!” or if I go to dinner and someone glances in my direction more than once, I think, “Do I look ugly? Why are they staring at me? They are totally criticizing me” while all the while, people are allowed to look wherever they want, including the television set behind my head, and yeah, even my lovely self, and think or say whatever they want. Of course, as stated in a previous blog, if I feel judged, it is because I am judging others myself, but I digress.
The other part to this situation, is that, because we have so many thoughts, assumptions, anticipations and pre-conceived notions about life running though our heads on a daily basis, we tend to allow ourselves to become scattered, and ungrounded. We forget to take a moment to breath and really ground down, and instead, we allow a parade of thoughts to prance through our brains at any given time, in absolute chaos.
So it is no wonder when someone asks about the weather, we jump down their throats. We have allowed ourselves to get caught in the stream of ideas and in doing so, we have cut off our ability to listen and understand what the other person (who also has their ungrounded self to deal with mind you) is truly trying to say to us.
We have also become completely closed off. Try to become aware of your physical self the next time you are in a heated conversation. What I have noticed is, my body will tense up, my shoulders will rise to meet my ears, my arms will cross and my fists will contract, as if ready to punch someone. These are all physical manifestations of an internal state. When you have allowed yourself to become so completely closed off to any kind of input from other people in fear that you are being attacked, you allow yourself to go a step further, and close off outwardly as well, and this reaction, triggers the same kind of closed off, aggressive reaction in others, because now they feel threatened; and so the cycle continues.
So what we need to work on, and I am at the top of the list here, is grounding down, opening up, and listening. Truly listening, not assuming we know what is being said, because nine times out of then, we do not.
I find that my body, mind and spirit learn lessons together, and so, what I have been doing to better comprehend this little tid-bit has been spending lots of time working on opposing forces on the mat. I have been working on rooting down while at the same time opening up, which feels like two opposing actions, but when combined, can bring forth an incredible array of freedom and opportunity.
At the same time, it is important to be able to take these lessons off the mat, so I am trying to find a way to ground down when I am feeling adrift in a sea of assumption, anticipation, judgment, and disconnect.
It isn’t easy, and it can sometimes feel a little strange and off-putting (like grounding down through the legs as you stand at the top of your mat and at the same time goal post your arms to find a deep, grounded back-bend) but it is necessary because conversations are critical to our interactions with others. And if we don’t find some time to ground down, and release our “stories” about what is being said, while at the same time opening up to the possibility that no one is out to get us and that what is being said is not meant as an attack; we will never be able to listen properly, and we will be adrift, closed off and in constant strife with those around us.
What if, the next time you were having a conversation that was being taken over by your stories, you took a second to take a breath, ground down (a.k.a let go of what you think is being said and instead pay attention to what is being said with out assigning meaning to it) and open up (meaning, allowing yourself to be vulnerable enough in a conversation that your immediate reaction is not to attack or defend your self but to pay attention and receive the true intention of what the other person is saying to you) and finally listen to what is being said.
How much nicer would your conversation be? How many arguments, or fights would you prevent? How much happier would you and everyone around you be?
Will it be easy, heck no! the best things in life never are. Will you forget? Sure! You are human and you can not help but become ungrounded every now and then, but, if you can begin to at least become aware of the fact that you are ungrounding, closing off and not listening, then you would have at least taken a step in the right direction. And the more you practice, the better you will become at it, and the more you will be able to listen. And who knows, maybe there will come a day where you will no longer go to your story mode, maybe there will come a day when you automatically ground, and open and listen.
Until then, practice, practice, practice.