So often when we’re communicating, we’re stating, not the actual or the whole truth, but what is for us the emotional truth – what we feel to be true.
The typical exchange that occurs then is that the listener may say, “That’s not true.”
No, it isn’t the complete truth. It’s the truth of how we feel.
If the listener holds out for the complete truth – which the speaker is often not aware of and which communication of the emotional truth is a step towards – he or she is missing a valuable piece of the puzzle.
We miss a bet in not accepting the emotional truth as an important step in seeing the other person’s total message.
Moreover, any road in can be the spark that ignites the “Aha!” moment that listening so often results in.
When I listen to another’s upset, I listen in stages – vertically and horizontally.
Vertically recognizes that most of us talk in chapter headings. Any one sentence, I find, can be unfolded profitably. What the listener does is keep in mind the totality of what’s been said so far and weigh which chapter headings would best repay unpacking.
Horizontally means I listen in passes for aspects of the truth. The first aspect is for me to get the story. (1) After hearing the story from beginning to end, I then circle back, asking the speaker “How do you feel about all that?”
We then work our way through the emotional truth on the second pass.
The third pass may be to see what conclusions the speaker has reached and what decisions flow from that.
At any point in the listening, the speaker may have an “Aha!” moment. Once they’ve seen the picture that the puzzle was, I usually don’t go further. To do so risks plunging the person back into the upset.
I know I’m repeating myself in what I’m about to say next. I’m doing so because the point is so important that I think it needs a bit of repetition to really impress itself on our minds and hearts.
In my considered opinion, what is most important to human beings – more important than anything else I can think of – is how we feel.
Some might say that money is more important, or having a house, or marrying and having kids.
But I think that everything we do is overshadowed and shaped by our desire to feel a certain way – loving, blissful, joyful, peaceful, etc.
My favorite example is the couple who pay $6,000 for a vacation in Hawaii, all for that magic moment when they stand on the balcony and look out at the land and sea: “Ahhhhh.”
For that “Ahhhhh!” has the $6,000 been spent. (2)
I know that the divine qualities reside in my heart. As a result, I don’t need to spend $6,000 on setting the stage and hoping for the result.
The result would be me drawing bliss up from my heart anyways, $6,000 or no $6,000.
The other scenario is that we stand on the balcony in Hawaii after spending much of the $6,000 and we don’t feel bliss. We didn’t draw it up from our hearts for whatever reason.
After all, that bliss does not reside in Hawaii, in the airlines, or in the restaurant we had our last supper at. It isn’t a characteristic of the landscape or seascape. In the final analysis, it’s what we bring to the party.
So the emotional truth just may in the end prove to be more important for us as listeners than the actual truth.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, we’re not trained in school or anywhere else these days to get in touch with our feelings. Most people I’ve run across, when asked, do not know how they feel.
Or they say “I feel that…” That’s not a feeling.
After the Reval, I’ll be trying to kickstart the human-growth movement again for the purpose of allowing us opportunities to actually get to know how we feel.
Feelings are part of the experiential level of reality, which is juicier, more alive, and more rewarding than the intellectual level. In my view, we need to discover or recover the ability to know and contact that higher level of existence.
Next stop after that: The realizational level of existence.
(1) Many listeners often look down on the story, considering it a “head trip.” I think that everything a person communicates in an upset is important to unlocking the meaning of the upset.
(2) And then we furiously snap photographs to remember this magic moment, even though the act of snapping the photographs interrupts the very feeling state we’ve worked so hard to stage.