Messages we hear...
It is easy to be selective about what we hear and on social media, or even conventional media, filtering is needed or we risk being overwhelmed with information and messages.
We often unconsciously filter the messages we hear based on them reinforcing the emotion that we habitually feel or that we are feeling at that moment. If someone says “I like your socks, but I don’t think they go with your shoes” some will hear the compliment about their socks and others will only hear the criticism.
The theory of Transactional Analysis (as set out in Games People Play: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Eric Berne, 1964) states that we have certain patterns of behaviour and we filter the messages we hear from other people to reinforce those.
Over the holiday period often means spending time with our extended family and sadly that often leads to disagreement. Part of that comes from the fact that we have established emotional relationships. This means that we think we know how they feel about us.
“I have always been a disappointment to…”,
“I am not a good/accomplished/pretty as…”
“They love me, but…”
Often appear at this time.
Any critical comment will be taken in the context of that expectation and only heard if they feed your expected narrative.
Changing what we hear...
It is, however, entirely within our own ability to change the messages that we hear. To try and understand the intention of communication, rather than only hearing what we think they are saying. Sometimes that means we need to ask them to elaborate. At times we just need to take a second before reacting with emotion.
I am not saying that you have to deal with unhealthy or abusive relationships. Sometimes it is possible that someone is being constantly negative about, and to, you. It’s also possible that they are not intending that, that you are hearing negativity in what could be a positive and supportive relationship.
It is also possible to separate the messages you hear from others from your own sense of self. Just because someone says or believes something negative does not make it true.
We can choose to hear the full intention of communication from others, both good and bad, by being aware of our own unconscious filters. We can also choose what messages shape who we are and which we reject – making us happier and healthier individuals.