It takes 72 muscles to speak. Of course this is not counting those who are gesticulators, pokers and overly dramatic. That is pretty impressive and when you pair that with the brain activity that it takes to create speech, then you are talking a mission more complicated than getting pre-schoolers to go to the bathroom. Even with all that, listening is still the biggest accomplishment of human-kind. The miracle of hearing begins with the outside of the ear capturing sound waves and funneling them through to the three tiniest bones of our bodies vibrating and sending the message to our brains to decipher the sounds, piece together words, then phrases, then sentences. But all of this process is left in the dust when we try to interpret what those words mean. Why did they use those words? Why did they say it like that?
Lee says: We have spoken about the conversations in our heads before. These are particularly loud when we are speaking with our partners. ‘Why did he say that?’ ‘What did that mean?’ ‘Oh God, this is going to be bad…’ are just a few things our little inner worry-wart says while we should be actively listening. It’s a wonder any couple makes it. With all the chatter we provide in our heads it is a wonder we can hear anything.
Our word filters catch certain vocabulary and make sure to distort and twist it so that we can maintain a sort of poor self esteem homeostasis. For example, your partner says ‘I love you’ and you hear ‘I pity you’. Your partner says ‘Honey, you are so beautiful’ and you hear ‘If you lost a few pounds you might look O.K.’. You know I’m right! This is why you respond to these beautiful statements with ‘sure’ and ‘yeah right, you’re blind.’
Your partner speaks what is true for them and you discount and misinterpret and distort the final product to the point that it sounds like a pop star after the sound engineers have done their magic. Any evidence to the contrary regarding our personal beliefs about ourselves is met with denial, confusion and negation. We may as well call our partners liars because that is in essence what we believe. We are of the mind set ‘if you only knew me you would never be with me.’ This is virtually universal.
We are programmed to be self-effacing. We are told at an early age it isn’t cool to accept compliments with a ‘thank you, I know.’ That is considered conceited and lacking in humility. In fact, our favorite past-time in this country is watching icons fall. This societal edict of what is proper is so engrained in our psyche that we even feel a little funny when people accept our compliments. ‘Gosh you were great!’ ‘Thanks!’ Our first thought is ‘conceited ass!’ But, if they come back with ‘gee thanks but I sucked today’ is interpreted as ‘what a nice person. So down to earth. Another schlub like me.’ These filters are the root cause to most relationship issues.
As I mentioned on Monday, and they bear repeating, are the tenets of The Four Agreements. However the most important ones for us here are the agreements ‘Do not take things personally’ and ‘Do not assume’. Can you imagine how a relationship would be if you eliminated these two things. I would add for relationships the agreement that when complimented you say ‘Thank you, I know’. It’s good to ring your own bell and bring down those filters. Trust me, you are missing some beautiful sounds.
Paul says: Liar…Liiiiiaaarrrrrr. Yell this like Carol Kane in The Princess Bride and you have the voice in my head. She dresses the same too.