Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!   

No, we really can't read each others minds

            I read a post today on Fetlife that suggested we improve our ability to ‘read others’, that it is the crux of social cooperation and emotional closeness. I was stunned.

I mean no offense to those of you who believe this. Instead, I offer you a perspective that will lead to true intimacy. Honest communication. Radically honest communication.

            To be honest to the point of transparency; to communicate our wants and needs; to understand others in our life and truly ‘know’ them, we must communicate, we must talk, we must ask questions, share hard truths, and yes, sometimes the others in our lives feel hurt, pain, sadness.  The honoring of them, of ourselves and our  relationship demands that we are honest, and that we hold those in our lives as creative, resourceful and whole. We do not need to protect them, we need to include them and be honest, open and learn trust. Anything else is simply a degree of co-dependency.

Many of us have been raised to believe it is never right to be part of hurting another persons feelings. In some ways I agree.  It is RARELY right to intentionally hurt someone else (let’s remember, some folks like it or in rare occasions, we need to physically protect ourselves). Yet, in those most heated of moments, we feel hurt, anger; we lash out at those closest to us. One way to avoid this, is to STOP mindreading and enjoy honest conversation.

Here is the Fetlife post and my response:

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Mind reading

I was watching TV with *my friend this evening. The baby cried and she said “I know what he is thinking and what he needs.” Oh yea, how do you know? My friend told me that he has different cries for different needs. Hmmm, I have never noticed.

With a baby it is relatively simple. If he ate two hours ago he is probably hungry again but how do we read people?

I am not talking about some kind of superhero power mind reading, but the more we discussed this after dinner the more interesting it became.

When we engage with another human being, even in this medium [at least with people we care about here] we draw on our memories of what we have observed previously. We use the power of reason, observation; we intently collect information in our attempt to better understand the person we are engaging with.

It is a critical human skill; it is the way we make sense of other people. ”Mind reading” gives us the ability to negotiate, cooperate, compete, and have emotional closeness. It lets us know when we are being manipulated or seduced, fooled, appreciated, valued.

This is social intelligence. Do it well, you can get along and function, do it poorly and the consequences are serious, resulting in failed relationships, do it poorly and it incites violence.

There is uneasiness amongst BDSM groups/society/families/etc., all asking, how can we all get along?

How we can improve our ability to read others, even when others may not know their own minds?

.

My Response: **

Baby’s, along with children, adults and animals DO have certain sounds that mean certain things.  Once you KNOW what they mean and you hear them again, it is called calibration. The “knowing the ‘hunger’ cry and the ‘I’m wet’ cry” does happen. Similarly, when we greet others, we outstretch our right hand in hand shake or open our arms for a hug. These are “shared” expressions.  Although in the latter they are “greetings” the subjective meaning of each greeting is likely much different unless they are intimate and have openly discussed and agree on the shared meaning.  This is one of the things that occur in intimate relationships, much like they baby crying. Shared understanding is much different than mind reading. Interesting post… and I must disagree. Mind reading is not helpful at all, in fact, it is a linguistic violation: something taught to ‘watch for’ in dysfunctional relationships and yes, it happens commonly and all the time.

They Say: When we engage with another human being, even in this medium [at least with people we care about here] we draw on our memories of what we have observed previously.

I say: This is called projection. It is a psychological mechanism we use to project our memories onto those in our physical and ethereal worlds. It leads to less intimacy, less self-awareness and living in ‘pretend land’. I highly recommend against it!

They Say: We use the power of reason, observation; we intently collect information in our attempt to better understand the person we are engaging with.

I say: A remnant of chauvinistic thinking: why not use intuition? A felt sense? Or even, ask questions, become involved in meaningful and radically honest conversations?

They Say: It is a critical human skill; it is the way we make sense of other people. ”Mind reading” gives us the ability to negotiate, cooperate, compete, and have emotional closeness. It lets us know when we are being manipulated or seduced, fooled, appreciated, valued.

I Say: Mind reading does not: intuition, felt sense and SOMETIMES observing/hearing inconsistencies in story, word and/or deed.

They Ask: How we can improve our ability to read others, even when others may not know their own minds?

My Response: NOT! Let us improve in our abilities to communicate openly…to stop mind reading and ask questions, delve deeper into relationships. Stop the mind reading… share!

You call it social intelligence, I call it “making nice”… it is a thing I avoid most of the time, it is the kind of socializing that goes on at family events, neighborhood bbq’s and school gatherings. It’s a lot of adults standing around making conversation all for the sake of “making nice”… lots of talking all for the sake of sending the message: we like you, you like us, aren’t we all great together.’. A whole lot of ego stroking, identity confirming and social activity that reeks of surface relationships.

The value of really knowing another is a hallmark of intimacy… the less we live in our own head…well…the less we live in our own head and in the world “with” others.

.Here is a quote from the book “Soulcraft” that speaks to radical communication.

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Namaste Magnificent Soul

Jim

“James Hollis suggests that both the value and process of soulful romance rest in what he calls radical conversation, in which one intends, continuously, to discover more and ever more about oneself and the other.  Through such an exchange between two mysteries, one draws nearer to the central mystery of life.  Hollis lists three components to such a soul-to-soul encounter:

  1. The partners must assume responsibility for their own psychological well-being.
  2. They must commit to sharing the world of their own experience without reproaching the Other for past wounds or future expectations.  Similarly, they are to endeavor to hear, without feeling defensive, the experience of the Other.
  3. They must commit to sustaining such a dialogue over time…Only radical conversation, the full sharing of what it is like to be me while hearing what it is really like to be you, can fulfill the promise of an intimate relationship.  One can only engage in radical conversation if one has taken responsibility for oneself, has some self-awareness, and has the tensile strength to withstand a genuine encounter with the truly Other.

 

Loving the otherness of the partner is a transcendent event, for one enters the true mystery of relationship in which one is taken to the third place—not you plus me, but we who are more than ourselves with each other. .

Radical conversation has emotional, imaginal, sexual, and spiritual dimensions as well as verbal ones.  And the conversation is approached not only with skill and intent but with innocence and wonder.  Neither the other nor the self is a fixed thing.  The bottom is never reached. One hopes to be forever surprised.”

From: Soulcraft, pages 284-285

For a NeuroLinguistic Programming (NLP™) reference to Mind Reading, see my article: Mind Reading

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