Bad Coffee & Communication
How's your heart this week? Are you finding ways to stay grounded? Or is the weight of all the world's tragedy closing in on you? Something else?
I have been thinking a lot this week about the power of narrative, the power of the stories we tell ourselves, and the stories we create from the assumptions we make.
When I'm teaching about relationships, I often say, "It is all speculation until there's communication." This means that we don't really know how another person is feeling or what they're thinking unless we ask, unless there is communication. It is all too easy to witness a person's behavior, to notice how we feel in response to that behavior, and make assumptions about the other person's motivation. These assumptions can easily become the truth, the story.
One challenge of relationships is that there is not one objective experience between two people. I am having my experience of you, myself, and my environment, while you are having your experience of me, yourself, and your environment. Me and mine, You and yours - there isn't much of an "ours" when it comes to experiences... because we are each having our own experience.
For instance, You and I are hanging out in my backyard and I've made coffee for us both. After you leave, I notice that you only drank about a quarter of your cup of coffee. I could easily assume that you didn't like the coffee and tell myself the story that you don't like my coffee. Next time we get together, I might offer you a different beverage that I didn't make. Now, I'm living this story that you don't like my coffee.
All the while, you didn't drink the coffee for some entirely different reason... Perhaps you'd already had enough caffeine, or you were enjoying the conversation and forgot the coffee was there... Any number of possibilities could be true, and I can speculate infinitely unless there's communication - unless I ask you about the coffee.
It is so much easier for me to make my assumption than it is to summon the courage to ask you about your experience and listen to your truth - especially when your truth is different from mine or painful for me to hear.
The same is true in our relationship with ourselves. As easy as it is for me to make assumptions about you, I can just as easily make assumptions about myself. It takes courage to ask you about your experience, and it takes courage to be honest with myself about my own experience. What are some of the stories you tell yourself that no longer serve you? Those messages in your mind that stop you from loving yourself unconditionally? These are a few of the self stories that have been shared with me recently: I don't deserve to be happy. I'm broken and I'll never be fixed. I can't trust anyone. I'll never find love. I deserve to be punished. Things will never get better. I won't survive if we break up. I'm not strong enough.
The path of personal growth requires us to check in with our stories, to be honest with ourselves about the assumptions we've made. Is there some bit of communication that could support you in the next step of your growth? What stops you from communicating?