It can be a daunting challenge to think clearly about emotionally charged subjects.
Clarity of thinking depends on the quality of distinctions being used.
Applying a few new distinctions can create useful possibilities in even the messiest of conditions. This article hopes to offer a few thought tools for more easeful online communicating in the Ecosystem Restoration Cooperative and Camps.
Trying to use online messaging platforms for human interaction is like trying to get a nourishing meal at a fast-food restaurant. Messaging leaves out so many essentials that human communication starves, often triggering survival-level emotional reactions that can cause deep wounds and disappointments. This article hopes to describe why this happens and proposes some practices for improving outcomes.
Person-to-person communications involve all four human bodies simultaneously:
1. Physical body (arms, legs, torso, head with movements, gestures, looks, etc.).
2. Intellectual body (mind with thoughts, constructs, meanings, opinions, ideas).
3. Emotional body (heart with feelings and emotions).
4. Energetic body (Being with presence, intuition, will, commitment, declarations).
Online messaging, such as WhatsApp, SMS, emails, Loomio, Discord, and so on, limit exchanges to the intellectual body. This automatically excludes three-quarters of what makes human communication work, and can instantly ignite communication failures into emotional conflicts which the ‘Gremlin’ part of ourselves simply loves to feed upon.
Each of us has a Gremlin as part of our personality. It is the part that originally helps to defend us in childhood, but when initiated into adulthood becomes a powerful source of nonlinear possibility and courage for delivering our true gifts and accomplishing our original mission.
Since most of us have not yet been initiated into conscious use of our Gremlin he serves unconscious purposes, hungrily devouring intimacy, vulnerability, love, and possibility by creating ‘low-drama’ interactions.
Low-dramas are any interactions designed to avoid responsibility, such as, for example, playing the role of a victim. A skilled victim can make a persecutor or a rescuer out of anyone… do you know what I mean?
If there is no victim, there cannot be a low-drama. This makes the victim the most powerful player in a low-drama.
Each role in the victim, persecutor, rescuer triangle creates low-drama.
The unconsciously angry PERSECUTOR is saying, “You are not good enough to exist so I will get rid of you.” Excluding, rejecting, disregarding, making negative comments or jokes about someone.
The unconsciously frightened RESCUER is saying, “You are not good enough to do it yourself so I will do it for you.” Interrupting, assuming, taking over, completing sentences, going faster, impatience.
The unconsciously sad VICTIM is saying, “Poor me. I am not good enough.” If you feel like going away this can indicate a victim position.
And the unconsciously glad GREMLIN is saying, “Yippee! A low-drama! Look how much life-energy I can eat!” (Burp!) If you compete and think, “Ha-ha! I got you! I win! You lose! I am right! You are wrong!” Or perhaps the flip side: feeling secretly superior, sneakily arrogant, not the real loser, taking your ball and going home, undermining, creating confusion, threatening to leave, name calling, they will regret it when you abandon them...
As exciting as all this may seem, low-drama is not life. No matter how much you may complain, blame, justify your righteousness, make someone else wrong, hold a resentful grudge, make up really good excuses, or plot revenge, nothing really changes. This makes sense because the purpose of low-drama is not to change anything. The purpose of low-drama is to feed your unconscious Gremlin. The only thing that changes when you engage in low-drama is that you get older, and maybe more exhausted.
If you want to change things then you engage in high-drama. But we can’t even begin to talk about high-drama until you become aware of how thoroughly your daily life is involved with low-drama.
Online messaging narrows our interactions down into an information vacuum. It may seem exciting at first to receive answers or comments almost instantaneously compared with waiting weeks or months for a written response returned by ship across the ocean. Even a hand-written letter contains far more information than an online message (for example, the scent of perfume on the paper, how cramped or steady the handwriting is, tiny cross-outs and corrections, the pressure of the pen on the paper, extra diagrams or doodles). Online messaging cuts us off from three-quarters of the information! The physical, the emotional, and the energetic!
For example, we don’t know how they are doing PHYSICALLY. Are they hungry? Tired? Headache? Lonely? Bored? We miss their volume and tone of voice, pauses in speaking, subtle facial twitches, phrase timing, undertones, overtones, hand and body gestures, breath patterns, physical tensions, posture, facial flushing, smiles, frowns, stomach growls, tapping feet, clenching teeth, finger fidgets, brightness of the eyes, eye movements, tears forming, squinting, wide eyes, head shaking or nodding, and so much more.
We don’t know how they are doing EMOTIONALLY. What are they actually feeling right now? Is it anger, sadness, fear, or joy from the present moment? Or is it an emotion that hangs around in their body ready to trigger survival (lizard brain) emotional reactions that actually have nothing to do with current reality? (HINT: if anger, sadness, fear, or joy lasts longer than 3 minutes it is NOT A FEELING. It is an emotion, a gateway to a useful emotional healing process, but not useful for handling the current situation.)
We don’t know how they are doing ENERGETICALLY. Are they centered or being adaptive? Are they grounded or ungrounded and therefore available for use by any passing energetic vampire entity? Which character of their personality are they identified with and are they aware of it? Are they consciously navigating the responsible high-drama purposes of their communications? Or are they being navigated by their unconscious low-drama shadow-world purposes? What are the Principles of the space they are holding?
Using online messaging to communicate with other human beings is like being deaf, dumb, and blind, trying to play pinball!
High-drama is any action designed to take radical responsibility. Taking radical responsibility during messaging may mean to make no assumptions about understanding or being understood.
It is a set-up for low-drama to assume that you understand what the other person just wrote to you. In fact, you have probably leapt to conclusions based on your own hidden agendas, such as supporting an interpretation that you hold to be the truth. In fact, the meaning between the lines could be the direct opposite of the meaning of the lines and you might not have noticed this. If you perceive the writer as an enemy then the same words will land in you as threats, attacks, and insults as might otherwise land in you as compliments, appreciation, and great ideas if you perceived the writer as a friend.
It is a set-up for low-drama to conclude that the other person understands what you just wrote to them. In fact, they probably made several nested assumptions based on their own unconscious needs and reactions of the moment. Your words were interpreted by their old wounds, forgotten vows to protect themselves, hidden fears, and unspoken agendas. And they probably made their own conclusions trying to second guess who you are and the power games you are up to, all the while trying to avoid being manipulated, deceived, or blamed.
So what can you do about all this? Certainly, refusing to message and to only communicate in personal meetings or video calls on Skype, WhatsApp, or Zoom is one possibility. But our project relies on ongoingly weaving together hearts and souls of intelligent experienced enthusiastically-committed colleagues around the world into productive teams. Conscious messaging is a central tool for this. Here are some painfully-learned but hopefully useful suggestions for developing more conscious messaging skills:
1. ONGOINGLY SELF-OBSERVE Continuously observe your own emotional state. If you feel angry, scared, or sad, automatically assume that this is an emotion and not a feeling. Self-observation will help you determine what is triggering you. If you are beating yourself up about what you observe about yourself it is not self-observation, it is masochism. Self-observation is absolutely neutral. To observe yourself, split off a piece of your attention, move it outside of your psychological Box, turn it around to face yourself, and notice your actions, reactions, and non-actions in all four bodies. Simply notice what you are up to. The instant you notice that you are triggered then stop communicating. Write, for example, “Oops! I notice that I am getting triggered about this. I will pause here and connect with someone in the Evolution and Transformation Circle to engage me in a healing process about this.”
2. TAKE RADICAL RESPONSIBILITY If someone responds to your writing with anger, fear, or sadness, assume they did not understand what you are saying and that it is your fault they did not understand, not theirs. Take radical responsibility for communication breakdowns. Instead of getting triggered by their reaction (which your Gremlin part may be very hungry to do…) simply write something like, “Could you please say more about that?” Or, “Let me try to say this with more clarity...” Or perhaps best of all, “Could we telephone about this for a few minutes right now? I think it would help if we could speak.”
3. ASSUME YOUR COMMUNICATION HAS FAILED Whatever communication you make, assume it has failed. This is far more productive than assuming it has succeeded. Assuming your communication failed keeps you in a cautious state of readiness to:
a. Proceed slowly and cautiously.
b. Apologize and try again.
c. Re-check for misunderstandings or confusions.
d. Ask if you could reveal more about what is going inside of you about this.
e. Make space for questions.
f. And especially, keep your own Gremlin on a short leash. Until you learn to feed your Gremlin other things he is always ready to justify being righteously hooked into a low-drama feeding frenzy, regardless of the consequences (like losing friends, being right but being alone, returning to normal life, avoiding evolution, keeping things familiar even if that includes suffering, and so on).
4. AVOID MAKING STORIES A story is an interpretation of what is. What is, has no stories attached until a human being attaches a story. The world has no meaning until a human being applies their story making skills to it. The skill of being non-attached also applies to being non-attached to the stories you have made up about things. A hint for avoiding contaminating your life with myriads of stories is to keep a minimized NOW. Your experience of NOW can extend far into the past by dragging incomplete childhood experiences and interpretations along with you, and also can extend far into the future by fearing that whatever happened to you in the past could happen again in the future. Interacting with the world with such a large NOW keeps you burdened with many heavy stories which severely restrict your freedom of movement. If you make your NOW small enough that it can slip sideways through the gaps between moments then your NOW will be too small for stories. Stories exist in time because they include the past or the future. In a minimized NOW there is no time. (You may not at first understand this, but give it a 3% chance of being useful, and over the next days and weeks try doing a few experiments with making your NOW too small to contain stories. NOTE: Please do not try this while you are driving!)
Perhaps you already heard of some of these distinctions and suggestions for avoiding emotional interactions on messaging platforms and already use them.
Perhaps you never heard of some of these suggestions before. This does not make them invalid or nonsensical. It means you may have cool new stuff to learn.
Yes, that is true: “It means you may have cool new stuff to learn” is a story. But it is not a victim story. It is a High-Level-Fun story, a challenging invitation to an adventurous new future.
REVIEW OF DISTINCTIONS
Distinctions offered in this article include:
There is a difference between low-drama and high-drama.
Low-drama is any action designed to avoid responsibility.
Taking any of the roles: victim, persecutor, or rescuer is low-drama.
High-drama is any action designed to take radical responsibility.
In radical responsibility it is impossible to be a victim.
The ‘responsible victim’ perceives themselves doing something responsible while actually being a victim of it. “Somebody has to finish this job and nobody else is, so I may as well do it… but I will certainly tell them about it in the morning!”
Low-drama is not life.
Low-drama is Gremlin food.
Each person has a part that you can label as ‘Gremlin.’
The Gremlin is not bad.
Before being initiated into adulthood your Gremlin serves shadow-purposes that keep you in survival.
There is a difference between surviving and living.
An initiation is the process by which you take responsibility for something you never imagined could be taken responsibility for.
There are thousands of authentic adulthood initiatory processes.
You will find authentic adulthood initiatory processes at the center of regenerative human cultures.
The initiated adult uses their Gremlin part as a powerful force of courage and nonlinear possibility for delivering their true destiny.
Human beings have four bodies: physical, intellectual, emotional, and energetic. You communicate using all four of your bodies simultaneously.
Internet or telephone messaging limits you to communicating between intellectual bodies.
There is a difference between feelings and emotions even though feelings and emotions can feel the same: anger, sadness, fear, or joy.
Feelings come from you in the present moment, are useful for handling things, and when used are gone in less than three minutes.
Emotions come from three sources: 1. External authority figures (parents, religion, corporations, media), 2. Your past (incomplete childhood feelings), or 3. Your Gremlin (serving shadow principles such as revenge, superiority, being right, or making someone else wrong). No matter how you express emotions, nothing actually changes. Emotions last longer than three minutes (maybe three hours, three days, or longer). Emotions are valuable gateways to emotional healing processes.
Emotions might also be mixed, for example, mixing anger with sadness is depressive, mixing anger with fear is aggressive or hysterical, mixing fear with sadness is despairing or isolating, mixing sadness with joy is melancholy or nostalgic, etc.
There is a Phase 1 and a Phase 2 in feelings work. Phase 1 is learning to consciously feel. Phase 2 is learning to apply the energy and information of your conscious feelings for creating high-drama. It does not work to do Phase 2 before you have accomplished Phase 1.
(NOTE: for more detailed information on some of these themes please refer to the books: Directing the Power of Conscious Feelings, or, Radiant Joy Brilliant Love by Clinton Callahan.
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