Hello friends and lovers. I'm sitting on another runway headed back to Los Angeles. I tend to fall really deep into my thoughts when I'm sitting on a plane. I'm not sure why that is.
Over the past few months I've been thinking more than usual about the way people communicate. Maybe because the way I communicate in life and also on social media has changed quite a bit over the last year, and I've been exposed to so many new methods of expressing myself. There were years of my life where I didn't know how to express my truth. I'm still learning, but I'm getting there. For whatever reason, I've recently found myself über-aware (ugh, I hate when a company takes a word I use a lot and ruins it for me) of the different types of communication around me. My current thoughts are as follows:
On communication and anxiety: Speaking important truths is critical to a healthy relationship of any kind, but also most effective when you are feeling calm. Humans by design are impulsive under pressure, be it emotional or physical. Our reflexes are there to keep us safe, but sometime we get ourselves into trouble if we can't control our words. I've found that anxiety can disable normal communication skills. Maybe we think we mean the things we say in those moments, but chances are we may not feel that way when the feeling has passed. I know when I'm really anxious the words that come out of my mouth are jumbled and short, sometimes not even real words. Whether I like it or not, my emotions plant themselves on my sleeve for everyone to see. I'm incredibly obvious. To make matters worse, hindsight gets the best of me in those situations and I feel the need to defend myself and take things back and apologize. But those apologies are often made from a state of anxiety as well, resulting in an even less authentic encounter. (Not to mention at a certain time of the month I am convinced that everything is the apocalypse, so I act accordingly... What's that? TMI? Clearly you're new here.) I'm insanely irrational and emotional in my mind sometimes, but I'm usually aware of that when it's happening and I've learned to find other outlets for that energy. Instead of quarantining myself in these times for the sake of not totally destroying my life, I find it's much easier for me to express my feelings in writing. If I write down everything I'm feeling, knowing that I am in an emotional state, then I can go back when I'm feeling rational without having lost any of my creative, emotionally-driven thoughts, but now having the ability to take out things that don't feel true to me anymore, or are absolute lunacy that shouldn't be projected onto anyone else. ;)
On communication in silence and presence: Recently at World Domination Summit in Portland, OR, I was challenged during a talk by Lewis Howes to pick a stranger in the room with whom I would have to perform an experiment. (They also had to pick me back.. I wasn't subjecting someone to this against their will. Duh.) The rules were pretty simple. While he spoke I had to stare into this person's eyes, and vice-versa. We weren't allowed to speak any words to each other. We couldn't introduce ourselves or giggle awkwardly and make a joke about how we were going to get to know each other real quick. Just keep our eyes locked and remain in silence. That's it. How hard could that be? The whole experiment probably only lasted about 5 minutes, but have you ever tried to stare someone in the eyes for that long? Some people don't even look anywhere near my face when I'm speaking to them, let alone into my actual eyeballs. Myself and the woman next to me smiled at each other and silently agreed to be partners. He started to talk about emotions and struggles. He asked questions and told us to raise our hands if we had experienced that particular tragedy or event. The things that I felt during this experiment were so unexpected. She started to cry... and then I started to cry.. and it was one of the most vulnerable moments I've ever had.. and with a complete stranger! I connected so deeply to her on such an untarnished emotional level. I had no knowledge of who this woman was, or what her life had been like up until this moment, but I felt closer to her than a lot of people who have been in my life for years. Most of us never take the time to connect to people in that way. I've always tried to look at a person when we are engaged in conversation, but since this experience I have a new appreciation for those who look back into my eyes. We spoke afterwards and she ended up being such an awesome woman. I think everyone should try this experiment with someone today. A stranger or someone you love. Maybe someone you have had trouble connecting with. It doesn't matter who it is. Just silently read someones emotions through their eyes. It's so powerful.
Communication through music: I've done some studying over the years about the way music affects the human mind. It's seriously miraculous what sound can do to heal and to trigger memories. I used to think when I was really young that if I learned the lyrics to too many songs I wouldn't have any brain space left for anything else. Haha... And now that I think about it, I may still believe that. I still remember songs I made up in 5th grade science class to describe where protons and neutrons were found, and while I can still sing every word of that song, I can't remember things I learned last week. Hm.. Curious.
You know when you hear a song for the first time and you're like "YES! That's exactly how I feel.. but I couldn't explain it because I'm not an eloquent lyricist?" Those moments are awesome.. well, not the part about realizing you can't express yourself, but when you have that feeling that you're not alone because John Mayer has been there too. Even the vibe of a song sans lyrics can communicate so much. One thing to note: If the song you're relating to is a depressing one, I don't recommend playing that on repeat. Play it once or twice, cry it out, (one of those ugly cries where you end up laughing because it's so ridiculous,) be grateful that you're not alone in those emotions, and then put on some positive tunes. You don't see Taylor Swift dwelling in sadness all the time. She gets the emotions out and then continues to kick ass. It probably doesn't hurt that those sad feelings she puts into song form bring her billions of dollars. That would help me get past my heartache faster too I'm sure. During sad times I used to listen to sad music that I felt resonated with what I was feeling but often that led me to feel even more sadness. Now, I try to remember to listen to songs that make me feel empowered (ie, Sara Bareilles- Brave, Kelly Clarkson - Catch My Breath, etc)
How do you best communicate?