Have you noticed how we rarely wait to hear the whole of a statement before we mentally begin to formulate our response to it? How we make assumptions and draw conclusions about things we see without taking the time to examine and really look at what is being presented? How we interpret the intention behind an action as if we have full understanding of what is in the heart and mind of another?
In other words, we do not “hear” the words that are being said or “look” at what is being done because as soon as someone starts speaking or taking action we are going through a mental program that is filtered through thoughts that have nothing to do with the words or action. For example:
Do I like this person?
Do I respect their opinion?
Do I want to argue with them or agree with them?
What am I going to reply to make me look good?
What does this person know about this?
Do they want something from me?
Are they winding me up?
He’s scruffy. I don’t like scruffy people.
I haven’t got time for this.
All this happens before we even hear what is actually being said or look at what is behind an action! And because our response is formed from our initial thoughts, we don’t wait for the whole picture!
Our response to what we see and hear in a given situation is often based on assumptions and conclusions drawn from our own mental “programming”, and filtered through the veils of our own beliefs, attitudes, opinions and prejudices.
Those veils and filters that prevent us from “clean” interpretation and response to what we hear and see have many sources - our parents, our family, our teachers, our culture, our religion, our environment, our society, our governments, and of course the media. We are being “brainwashed” from the day we are born!
Even relying on our own experiences to determine our responses can be faulty in many cases because our interpretation of and response to those “experiences” has also been filtered through veils of pre-conceived ideas, beliefs and opinions.
But we are also guilty of the lazy acceptance of other people’s interpretations. Isn’t it easier just to “go with the flow” of opinion, to accept without question someone else’s version of “reality” without checking it out ourselves?
Examining one’s own thought processes and seeking the source of our deep-seated beliefs, opinions and prejudices is challenging and often uncomfortable, so we just continue listening, hearing, looking and seeing in the same old way – our responses and reactions mirroring our programming. How often have you heard someone say (or have said yourself!), “That’s just the way I am”?
When we are already reacting and responding without fully listening or looking, we are hearing and seeing what our minds have been programmed to hear and see by any number of external influences that have become internalised.
Therefore, we are not actually allowing the information given to us to be received, interpreted and processed cleanly. We are also denying the validity of someone else’s reality! Reality is subjective and our understanding and interpretation of what we ”hear” and “see” can only be “clean” when we “listen” and “look” fully and openly, i.e. without filters.
When someone says something to us, our first subconscious reaction is to interpret it according to our own internal programs, and unless we pause to listen and hear “cleanly” and fully, our reply is also an automatic reaction rather than a considered response. That’s how relationships break down and wars start! But if we simply listen to what is said fully, and then check if our interpretation is the same as that of the speaker, we may find vast differences in communication and understanding.
The same applies to what we see in an action or behaviour. We can interpret something as a personal attack or insult, we can interpret something as “wrong”, we can interpret something as “dangerous”, we can interpret something as “inconsiderate” or “selfish” or “thoughtless” or “stupid” or whatever, assuming that we know what the intention and emotions behind it are; or we can look and see “cleanly” and consider all the possibilities before we respond. Perhaps your first reaction was right, but perhaps not and it’s too late because you’ve already “responded”!
I am reminded of a person (imaginary) who had formed the opinion that wearing odd socks was stupid and by extension anyone wearing odd socks was stupid. In discussion with a person wearing odd socks their automatic response to anything the sock-wearer said was to find it wrong. Before they had even heard what was being said, their mind was already formulating a response based on the odd-sock prejudice!
So why not try “clean listening, clean hearing, clean looking and clean seeing”?
Perhaps the secret is as simple as a Pause Button.
Try not interrupting when someone is speaking to you. Press Pause so that you hear everything they have to say.
Allow others to express themselves fully. Press Pause so that you understand where they’re coming from.
Don’t assume you know the heart, mind and intention behind an action. Press Pause and look “cleanly” before you respond.
A Pause is very powerful – they say that Nature abhors a vacuum and it is surprising how much more information someone gives you when you pause before responding and they feel the need to add something to fill the space!
The problem is – when I pause and wait, as soon as I come to respond I have forgotten what I was going to say! :)
Something to think about.....