When I communicate with my friend, it is like giving him a glass of water. Unconscious communication is often muddy water; muddy water contains debris that is not necessary for the communication that is taking place. Muddy water often has debris from:
- Assumptions. Assumptions are false beliefs or stories that were fabricated by connecting the dots–the ‘facts’–and creating closure despite a lack of information. In the past, I have unconsciously made up stories about why a boyfriend did not call when he said he would, or was unavailable when we were supposed to talk. Sometimes those stories were exaggerated and had little to no basis in fact. The stories are also fueled by our emotions from past unresolved situations.
- Unresolved, unrelated emotions. When we hold onto feelings from situations, and do not clear them, they become emotions. When the emotions are used as fuel for judging new situations, they become toxic. For example, I have fear of abandonment because of early childhood issues, so now when I do not hear from a boyfriend, I may relive those toxic emotions and give juice to my stories if I react unconsiously.
- Unspoken needs or expectations. Often we have an expectation of how people ‘should’ be treating us if they cared about us. When those expectations are not met, we may get upset…dredging up the old emotional baggage. But if we take a look under the surface at the expectation, and actually speak or write the expectation…bringing it to the light…we might realize it is not reasonable. We might realize our ‘need’ is something we must fulfill in ourselves.
Conscious communication demands self-awareness, composure, curiosity, and trust. Self-awareness is listening to the thoughts rolling about in our minds, and paying attention to the feelings or sensations in our bodies. Composure is being able to sit in an uncomfortable, unresolved, unknowing space…without immediate answers. Curiosity is asking a lot of questions of yourself, and the other person, to identify and dispel any assumptions that are being made. Trust is believing it is safe to open your heart and mind to the other person.
I work very hard at communication that will nourish my friends and loved ones. I want to give them a crystal clear glass of water. But I am human. Sometimes my communication still has debris. Identifying the debris takes a willingness to put the communication aside for a day, or write everything out so all the thoughts are exposed to the light. Conscious communication requires a willingness to correct oneself later, upon reaching a new insight or awareness that makes you wish you would have said things differently, or not at all. Most of all, conscious communication requires patience with yourself, and compassion for the fact that each communication with another person is a learning experience.