Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Importance of Being Personal

I have been struck lately at how easily people (myself included) can misinterpret others hearts and actions. We each have baggage from the past, circumstances in the present and fears about the future that skew our view of what transpires around us. For example, if we are sensitive in a certain area of our lives because of past wounds in that area and something happens that reminds you of that wound, your mind will instantly create a connection between your wound and the happening (ie. you have been made fun of about your looks before, every time someone looks at you, your mind connects your insecurity with their look, "They are looking at me and smiling because they think I look funny"). The mental connection, of course, has nothing to do with reality. Standing at a distance from a situation, it is very difficult for us not to project on it assumptions that are not true.

Now, I am not really thinking about this right now so from the perspective of getting better at reading situations or people and their hearts. I am wondering how we can get better at communicating. That is, at not being misunderstood. How can we make sure that people do not misunderstand our hearts and actions?

I think the only way is to be personal. To be in relationship. To meet them and be with them. Actions from a distance are easy to misunderstand. But the closer up, and the better I know the person doing the actions, the harder it is to misinterpret them.

Recently, I had a situation where I felt my actions might be misunderstood by a person I had never even met. I longed to be understood correctly and for her to know my heart. I could have blamed her for her misinterpretation. I could have send her a letter explaining my actions and heart. But I knew the only right thing to do was to meet with her, get to know her and let her get to know me. Then and only then could I explain my actions in light of my heart and hope to be understood correctly. When I did meet with her, I discovered that my actions had indeed been grossly misunderstood. I am not sure that the meeting corrected all the misunderstandings. But I am sure the personal nature of our meeting increased the odds of proper communication.

It is easier to be lazy and blame everyone else for their misinterpretation of our hearts (ie. "Well that's their problem"). It is safer to be impersonal . But it is right to share our lives with others, even with the pain and work involved.