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a little matter of communication

by on February 3, 2011

These days it is common for people to look for ways to express themselves in positive ways. Meaning they try to articulate what they want, instead of what they want to get rid of. For instance, they say ‘I want to be healthy’, instead of ‘I don’t want to be sick’.

This is a useful trend, because traditionally people have been expressing themselves negatively, emphasizing problems, instead of visions and solutions.

While I agree that it is important to have a clear picture of what we want, it is also necessary to understand and express what we don’t want. I’ll give a few examples of why this may be relevant.

– In Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) there is the concept of meta-programs. There are several of them, the relevant one to us is called ‘Outcome Preference’. It says some people are motivated by getting rid of a certain problem (moving away), others are motivated by a positive vision (moving towards).  I’d like to add that both modalities are in us all, although each individual emphasizes one them. So when we are communicating with a group, we need to be aware of this meta-program operating in our audience. Therefore we should explain both the problem and the solution.

– In the Tarot we find key 16, the Tower.

The basic meaning of the Tower is that of error, that needs to be destroyed for truth to be implemented. In the picture we see the lightning, representing insight. This insight destroys the old construct of error. What it means is, that in this reality that is continuously transforming we always leave something behind, while moving towards something else. Both parts of this process, getting rid of error and moving towards truth are necessary. So why not communicating about both of them?

– And then there is the Great Communicator Himself. Jesus has us say in the seventh verse of His prayer: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. A nice juxtaposition of a do and don’t.

In short, it is very relevant to communicate about what we want to leave behind. Also in our inner dialogue we should give sufficient attention to what we want to mend. There is no use in ignoring the negative and it is not true that negativity goes away by ignoring it, or that giving negativity attention makes it grow.

The opposite is true: ‘Not this, but that’ is a very powerful way of expressing ourselves, bringing us closer to our target.

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4 Comments
  1. interesting, inspiring little post. would appear courageous in certain parts & social circles on the west coast; would appear obvious in others &c on the east. many on both coasts thus missing the point — i think —

    what i hear you saying is: the point is — the point. let x=x. and — its ok to say what i don’t want — followed up (do you think this imperative?) with what i do —

    2 questions:

    do you think that expressing emotions, often labeled :acting out” (rather than just describing them in a calm objective manner, i.e., “when you did this i felt this” and with care made to employ words widely recognized to express emotion rather than intuition or logic) — in your opinion, is this behavior a) disruptive of real communicationb)instrumental in real communicationc) evidence of the relative importance or seriousness of the matter or of the situation to the speakerd) evidence that the speaker is manipulative, codependent, dysfunctional, etce) evidence that the conversation is finally “getting somewhere”[write your own]

    choose any/all of the above, and/or explain your position with reference to your own philosophical principles …..

    be seeing you.

    • Well, like I said in the post, we need to express what we want to move away from and where we want to go. Of course, it is better to know one of these things, than none at all, but both are more powerful.

      I think expression of emotions has its place. But we need to understand at all times that we are responsible for them. In this way we can show our emotions, without claiming they’re ‘somebody else’s fault’.

      To my mind a little emotion just shows somebody is alive. The purely clinical/rational expression, does not make much of an impression.

      Of course, if somebody is just breaking apart all the time, I would consider that a clear symptom of non-well being emotionally and that person probably should be looking into that.

      On the other hand, we have our fears, there is something like ‘righteous anger’. We have love and joy, and there is great beauty and power in expressing these in a fitting way.

  2. Diogenes permalink

    I like the message and the concept. Yet, I would like to mention your reference quote from the Lords Prayer as something that has been mistranslated when the New Testament was translated into English. Before its English translation the Latin and Spanish translation of the above quote was understood differently than the English. The older texts (Latin and Spanish) translate it into something a little different, “Let us not into temptation”.

    In other words…Please be there for us. If you think about it why would, “God” Our Father want to lead us into temptation?

    • Instructive and thought provoking. Thanks!

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