Who Am I Talking With?
A handful of years ago, I was asked to give a chapel talk at my school on bullying. One of my friends suggested sharing about how there are actually 6 people present when we’re in a conversation with another:
Well, it might feel like there are 6 people present in that conversation. Actually, there are just two people present, and the more we’re focused on what we’re thinking about ourselves and them, the less aware we are of either of the two people actually in the conversation.
Thought is infinitely creative, powerful, and beautiful, and at times it can distract us from the people we’re actually with or the world of life and color and shape and beauty always all around us. It honors others and ourselves when we focus more on the people actually there instead of the people we've constructed in our minds.
One trick that helps me is to repeat in my mind what the other person is saying; it puts my focus on them and their words instead of my own thoughts. It usually just takes a sentence or two to bring me fully engaged in the conversation.
As far as getting more in touch with who the people in that conversation really are: in addition to the subjects we already study in school, education can also be about developing an understanding of who we really are, fundamentally, beneath all concepts and thoughts about who we are. One goal I have for this summer is to develop and pilot a program for adolescents that does just that.
In the meantime, breathe a little bit, repeat their words in your thoughts, and grow to appreciate the people you’re with - this is an ongoing practice, and it's worth it in my opinion. After all, our thoughts will always be with us, but the people in our life may not be.
I hope you have a great day. ❤️
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