“You can’t not communicate. Everything you say and do or don’t say and don’t do sends a message to others.” -John Woods
The most challenging place for me is the place of no communication. It leaves me to spiral into the depths of my dark imagination, attributing the lack of response to a litany of what went wrong, usually beginning with me. This has been improving slowly with the positivity quest, although it is still my first impulse. Now after 88 days, I can sit with the discomfort and alienation that accompanies the lack of communication for maybe half an hour at a time.
Miscommunication is not nearly as difficult for me, misunderstandings are part of the communication process. It takes time and patience to know what you are trying to say, and even more time and willingness to listen to someone else. Often the problem with our communication with others starts with the idea that it has been accomplished. There is nothing but process when it comes to communicating; it is at the core of what it means to be human and essential for a life that works. As John Woods wrote: “Our words don’t describe things but our relationship to things. In this lies the heart of misunderstanding.”
When people I care about or work with refuse to communicate, it triggers a feeling of helplessness in me. This helpless place often makes me physically ill and the discomfort makes me desperate to find a way to connect. It is my version of crawling out of my skin. Sitting still and holding onto this helplessness is the most intense form of being stranded for me. I am afraid of places where I cannot find a way out.
The bridge out of this place is recognizing that those who won’t communicate, usually can’t communicate. Many people do not have words for their own experience or the ability to know how to say what is in their heart. I continue to learn and re-learn that other people’s inability to communicate deserves compassion, not anger. First I have to find compassion for myself and let myself off the hook. It is a work in progress.