Thursday, April 14, 2011

What I say is not what I mean

One the of the applications in understanding the power of the primary thinking error is the recognition of hidden or unspoken motivations that subconsciously shape our reactions to others. Frequently we are often saying two (or more) things at the same time. It is not surprising that in the end, we get exactly what we mean and not what we say. I have two examples.

Often people say, “I want to be connected to people.” A subconscious thought might be, “I don’t want to be hurt. “ As a result, the hidden thought shapes the behaviors with others. These behaviors might include hiding information, looking for ulterior motives, or otherwise not trusting people. After a while, the fear of being hurt grows in intensity to the point the individual sabotages the relationships confirming how he/she is hurt in relationships. It is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The self-fulfilling prophecy reflects the title of the post: What I say (I want to be close to people) is not what I mean (don’t hurt me).

The second example is similar. “I want us to be connected” is the statement, but often underneath is a statement, “but I don't want to fight.” In this second case, the relationship is set up to have conflict simply because of the fear of conflict. It’s as if you look for the conflict in an attempt to avoid it. As a result, the potential of conflict has more power than the statement “I want us to be connected.”

The primary thinking error shapes our behaviors at a fundamental level. In my opinion, one way to step outside of the struggle is to simply not struggle. Somewhere along the line I heard the term, “non-change.” You can’t change the primary thinking error, but simply placing awareness on the primary thinking error transforms it. It is paradoxical. It is about naming and expressing what you mean, and not emphasize what you’re saying. Talking about the amount of fear of being hurt in the first example, and the fear of conflict in the second example is the way to step out of the cycle. Another analogy, “I can’t consciously change my breathing until I am conscious of my breath. “ As the saying goes, “you get what you ask for.” The key to transformation is awareness that the primary thinking error is often expressing what you are asking for. By placing awareness on when we use the primary thinking error (what we mean) to shape our behavior, we can truly choose something else to shape our next action.

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