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  • Resilient Practice

How to Challenge Contaminated Communications

You're under no obligation to be the same person you were 5 minutes ago – Alan Watts

In our recent article ‘How to Speak your Truth,’ we discussed how common it is for our communications to become contaminated when our words are not aligned with our intentions. We explored some of the reasons why this might occur and suggested ways to keep it in check:

But what about when we are on the receiving end of such behaviour?

When we have worked hard to clean up our interactions and consciously construct our responses so that our words are aligned with our intentions, we can very become frustrated when others do not do the same. If you have been following our articles closely you may not be surprised by the following suggestion:

When we are upset by behaviour that we perceive to be ‘passive aggressive’ in response to our cleanly communicated intentions – this is our stuff.

Just because we may be on a path towards enlightenment and self-mastery, this does not imply that everyone else should do the same. We may believe it to be the case, but this is only our perception.

Of course, we advocate this as a path towards resilience and better mental wellbeing, but the fact is that no-one in your life is under any obligation at all, to undertake a journey towards self-awareness.

In fact, their failure to comply with our new set of rules (for which there are obvious benefits) only triggers us because we have yet more work to do. This is a case of the old (contaminated) way of communicating being seen by us as obsolete and therefore rejected, disowned and pushed into our Shadow.

When we see behaviour that reflects our Shadow, we become uncomfortable. As always, when we are triggered, we are being shown where we can work on the Self. For this, we are wise if we are grateful. For more discussion about Shadow follow the link below:

To have mastered the art of aligning words with intention is a great ideal, but to do it consistently with no reciprocation and without becoming frustrated is a step further along the path towards becoming more resilient.

In our articles we have regularly spoken about engaging our Observer, the aspect of Self that is able to witness all thoughts, emotions, and behaviours without engaging in them. We advocate stepping into this role when we want to observe our responses to external provocation and respond consciously.

Although it is wise to communicate in a clean and aligned way, there are sometimes occasions where we might choose to package our message differently. For example, when delivering bad news, we may consciously choose our words in such a way as to lessen the impact on someone who is not ready to hear the whole harsh story. We may wish to drip feed the information to them so that it can be digested and understood in stages. When a clinician suspects a frightening diagnosis, they may withhold the information until such time as they are sure because a long period of worry could itself be detrimental to health. These decisions can be made consciously and for the greater good of all

As long as we are behaving in a conscious way having observed and taken responsibility for all of our internal responses, and taken care that they do not adversely affect the situation (unless we are choosing to let them) we can be sure that we are making progress!

In Shamanic Practice this is known as ‘hollowing out.’ You can read more about this in the following article which we wrote about how to receive what is yours.

And you can find more information on the important core skill of ‘Observation and Choice’ in our book:

With all of the above said and having accepted responsibility for how we feel in all situations, we still need practical ways to approach contaminated communication when we are faced with it.

Try this:

When you notice that you have become irritated or frustrated by the contaminated communication or perceived passive aggressive behaviour of another person towards you:

press pause:

Take your awareness to you breathing – this brings you into the present moment and discourages you from overthinking.

Now, as you have done many times before, step into the shoes of your Observer.

Remember that this is the part of the psyche that can record every detail of what is going on within you in response to the external environment, without getting involved.

You are consciously stepping back from emotion.

As always you are wise to acknowledge that the fact that you can witness that you have been provoked is a gift. You are being shown where you can work on Self. A gift is something for which you can foster gratitude. A grateful mindset is fertile ground for growth and abundance.

Remember that the real (and not perceived) problem when faced with contaminated messages is essentially a lack of clarity.

It may be clear from a person’s demeanour and tone that they are angry or upset with you, but their words do not match the situation and it is difficult to respond other than by mirroring with further word play. If you want clarity, then ask for it with your intentions cleanly matched to your words. Take care though to set pure intentions because, if you do not mean what you say, the response will sound ingenuine or even sarcastic.

Let us look at two of the examples we used in the article we spoke about earlier:

1. “Will you load the dishwasher and put the bins out?”

“I suppose so, even though I have been at work all day and I did those jobs the last three times they needed doing.”

A clear request in response to this might be:

“Are you saying that you would like me to load the dishwasher because you have been at work and would like to rest?

2. “There is dog mess on my lawn.”

“I’m so sorry, I will clean it up immediately and fix the fence where our dog has come through.”

“Other people I know who have dogs watch them when they are outside, and better still, walk them twice a day, especially after meals!”

You may gain clarification here by saying something like

“I sense that you are angry or upset that this has happened. Apart from cleaning up and mending the fence, is there anything else that I can do to remedy the situation?”

As much as everyone is entitled to communicate in whatever way they choose, you are also entitled to ask for clarity. When someone is engaging in messy and contaminated communication, requesting clarification of their position, and asking how you can be of service provides a full stop. It makes demands of them.

If your clear communication aligned with pure intention with clarity upsets the recipient, then the issue is theirs. They may have work to do. They are not, of course, under any obligation to do it!

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