Listening – Hearing – Acknowledging – Understanding

Listening is an acquired skill and at best an art form. Our mind usually begins to wander to interpret through our own life experience, so a bit of retraining is needed to actively listen and be fully present. When listening we need to be actively engaged with the person/persons in front of us. This means aware of them with our attention on them, and our intent to hear. We need to be focused on the subject at hand, and a lot the time to be fully present, in present time available to hear what is being communicated.

Hearing is our ability to get the words that are being communicated to us with the emotion and feeling of what the person is trying to convey.

Acknowledging is the act of confirming to the other person that we heard what was stated.

Understanding is being able to comprehend, and have empathy for the person and what they just communicated. In the Native American tradition it is to "Stand Under" someone. In the act of standing under someone you are in their space and clearly see and understand how they feel. You are in their shoes for a length of time, to understand what they are thinking and feeling.

Understanding does not mean agreement. You can disagree with someone yet understand his or her point of view, or viewpoint. This is the place from which they are standing and viewing the situation.

Our point of view in life is created by our life experiences: Family, Peers, School, Education, Society, Culture, Race, Politics, Groups, Crisis, War, Religion, Beliefs, Poverty, Wealth, Privilege, Responses from others, Authority figures, Biological, Physiology, Physicality, Mental and Emotional acuity. These life experiences and influences create our filters for us. We all have them. They color how we view the world. Our filters create our interpretation of the world around us and how we interact and interpret the world’s interaction with us. This type of viewing is a projection. This is like the projection of light from a movie projector. Whatever color of light is projected on the screen alters the image on the screen. Project a blue light and there will be a blue hue. Project a red light and there will be a red hue. If two people have two different color lights their perception will be altered by the color of their filter. In this way each person’s perception is "right" per their filter. This does not mean that the perception is accurate to the present moment. Both parties are being affected by their previous experience/s (filters).

We relate to our world, others and ourselves through perception and projection. Most of the time it is through projection; which is our own past life experiences. To a certain degree this cannot be avoided as we live in a subjective universe. However, if we tend to relate more from projection than perception it means are past is unduly affecting us, and that we are not in present time. When we perceive our world mainly through our filters time and time again, we tend to have more difficulties in our interpersonal relationships.

100% perception is all but impossible. However there is far less projection in a clear perception. This is a perception from someone who is aware of the process of projection and who has cleared a lot of emotional issues, beliefs, insights, and mental constructs so that they are able to perceive purely what is being enacted and communicated in front of them in the present moment.

Projections are present when there is emotional charge, whether perceived positive or negative. The emotional charge signals that there is a trigger in this situation, and that an experience from the past and how we felt about the experience is affecting the present situation. (A trigger is a word, look, or situation that links us up to a past experience. Usually this happens on a subconscious or barely conscious level.) A trigger springs us unconsciously to a state conditioned response pattern. This is a response that is subconscious and made up of unconscious complexes and impulses. This state is our relating pattern. (This pattern can be altered or changed via innerwork.)

In a situation where there is a feeling of numbness, shutting down emotionally/feeling level, or resistance to what is being communicated a projection is taking place. Anytime we react with intense emotion or held back emotion a projection is occurring. The projection is not bad… It just is. However, we as humans tend to like and gravitate toward what we perceive as "happy"/"positive" projections and repel and contest the "sad", "angry"/negative projections. Perhaps and rightly so we all prefer to experience "positive" projections. For example the experience of falling in love is preferred as opposed to the experience of "falling out of love." As long as we recognize the projection in either situation we retain our self-empowerment and self-esteem. We then realize the truth that we are responsible for naming our experiences and our feelings.

In owning our projections we are in a position of self-responsibility and take back your power. The feelings and mental construct of the "other", whether a person or a situation having all the power is insidiously inherent in the projection. "He or she made me feel this way!" This mental construct and feeling gives all the responsibility to the "other." The other is seen to have control over your thoughts and feelings. We may not like what is being communicated, how we respond is up to us. If some situation or person is continually not in alignment with our personal perceptions perhaps there are issues of different values, value system, goals and lifestyle.

Perception is experienced in a neutral state.

This state is not a high or a low. It can be described as a feeling of connectedness, yet with the ability to allow your sense of self to be maintained. One is aware how they are connected, or similar to the person communicating. In this neutral state one is not merging with the other, or taking on their feelings, thoughts or emotions. One is feeling their experience and honoring it. It is in this state that it is easier to relay what one has just heard or experienced, and ask: "How can I be there for you?" "How can I help you." Or, perhaps, "What do you need from me?"

In this neutral state we are not imposing what we would need, or assuming what someone else needs. We know to ask; to honor someone’s process by asking what they need; not what we "think" they need.

This opens up a shared dialogue process. In this process each communication is seen as a complete cycle having a beginning, middle, and an end. Or, one could say a conclusion or resolution. And if the dialogue is opened up again, the process begins anew