So You Think You Know Me?

One idea that constantly occupies some aspect of my thoughts is how transparent people really are. I can think of a couple of examples immediately and in each case, I confess I am often troubled and upset by it. It seems to me that these people believe they know me. They plainly have a picture of me in their mind. A sort of working model. The problem is is that while that picture may have my outer appearance, it is almost certainly a facet of themselves that occupies that outer form in their mind and yet, they do not know this. It makes for an endless source of irritation in our communications. It means that everything I ever say or do is seen against their expectations of how I will behave and their responses are informed by this. In the end, we never actually talk with each other at all but with ourselves. A constant stream of miscommunication in fact. Knowing this, I have changed my approach altogether now and simply ignore the reaction as far as I can in an effort to focus on the actual point of the communication.

It’s hard to explain what I mean here but I will try.

We are our experience. We are shaped by our beliefs and experiences and we project these onto others. We interpret what others do and say by comparison with our own motives, thoughts and feelings. We react. We don’t actually listen, observe and think.

As we reflect on ourselves – dissecting what we are and why we are – an entire lifetimes work for those that do this (Know thyself). We do begin to see this. We are in constant projection and reaction mode through life unless we start to do the work and even then, we only chip away at the problem – at least in my instance. We are also so quick to react that often the actual thinking and reflection only comes later and our insight into what was really taking place in a communication comes after the fact – and usually too late.

One benefit though is you start to see the patterns of behaviour. I now listen when I remember, to to the questions I am asked. They shed great light on the one asking. I try now to bite my lip and not react when I see another’s reaction. They didn’t actually see what I asked or said. They saw their own question or statement – they feel how they would feel and do not gain a sense of how you felt when asking or communicating. The entire world is in your own head and you are constantly talking to yourself – reacting. It is the basis for almost all miscommunication in the world but it can also be a source of intelligence about who you deal with.

Don’t react. Pause, think. Ask yourself what emotional reactions does someone’s words evoke within you? What does this say about you? What part of themselves are they projecting onto you? I’m new to this but I am learning quickly and I’m learning to see myself and others in new ways.

4 thoughts on “So You Think You Know Me?

  1. A book called The Toltec Way by Susan Gregg might be of value to you. In the first chapters there is much reflection on the theme of your post. In the philosophy put forth in the book, suffice to think of the world as a mirror, where you see only what you want to as you subsconciously place your own thoughts,values and assumptions onto other people and the world in general, like a rose-colored filter, completely in reaction mode and never really seeing or listening to anyone. It’s quite an interesting book, even if you aren’t very spiritual it has some interesting philosophical concepts.

  2. Friends and colleagues invest in the “you” they believe they know and are often really resentful when we have the gall to behave in a way different than their idea of us. This used to baffle me, but I eventually realized that the problem isn’t that I’ve changed because we ALL change, or are supposed to. They are the ones who don’t want to change and don’t want to deal with someone who isn’t “what they are supposed to be.”

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