When I worked in corporate the one thing that always came up as needing improvement was Communication. Errors of all kinds, interdepartmental slip-ups, not meeting deadlines, and not reaching targets were all put down to insufficient, incorrect, late or vague communication.
Once senior management admitted that, yes, communication could improve, the clarion call did not dissipate. In fact it seemed to increase. I used to wonder about this. It felt too easy to blame this ubiquitous issue of Communication on all our woes. It felt disempowering.
When the ever present complaint about Communication arose, I would ask: “How are you communicating? What can you do to improve communication in and around your department or division?” Even then I was a supporter of “It starts with me”. Take responsibility, be accountable, if you want change, be it.
Lately the subject of communication has turned inwards. It has become a personal journey of self discovery and growing awareness. In the work that I do, the approach advocates coming back to your body. It asks that we reacquaint ourselves with how we feel. Inside and out. And then learn to interpret the signs and signals correctly so that action can be taken to appropriately support the action and behaviour needed to heal, become healthy and thrive.
In a year where themes of increasing mental and emotional distress are both surfacing and being buried, the question is how well are you communicating with yourself? Are you connected to your inner self, your voice and self talk or is the disconnection a low hum of discontent?
To be connected does require quiet. It requires a purposeful process of being in silence, if only for a few minutes. Having turned off the noisy distractions you are able to go inwards and listen to yourself. How tuned you are to the messages from your body, mind and spirit will be determined by how at ease you are with the practice.And it takes practice. Even then, the false gods of fear and failure can slip in to drown out the urgent messages to stop, lean in and listen.
Being in communication with yourself includes how you speak to yourself. What voice do you hear in your head when you make a mistake, forget something, feel clumsy, fail or receive criticism? How does it speak to you, what words and tone does it use? Does it berate you and cause you to shrink in shame and whisper words of damnation to yourself in an eager thrashing of self-hatred?
It is okay. Shameful as it may be to admit that this is what happens, it happens to many, many of us. I do it. Too often. I would never speak to another person that way so my task is how can I find the gap of self compassion to halt doing that to myself? Becoming aware is the first step.
A growing self awareness, however, can be disturbing and uncomfortable. With the numbing lid removed, the discomfort may increase. The desire to scuttle back to the ignorant, unknowing, automatic way of being seems tempting.
When you begin to notice how you ignore the messages from your body and start to witness how often that harsh tone and hyper critical response steps in, it can be a bit shocking. In spite of this perseverance is necessary and a growing tolerance of the discomfort. It rarely disappears completely and it tells us we are growing.
If we are to be more connected people, better parents, managers and business owners, then the place to start can only be with ourselves. We need to learn to communicate better with ourselves in order to be better connected to ourselves and then as a result to others.
Like any communication issues, if I want to change, it starts with me. Again. There is no-one else to complain to and I certainly will be wasting valuable time moaning to myself. There it is again, wanting to rise up, that voice of criticism and derision. This time it was caught in the almost-act, so to speak.
To be authentic requires honesty, openness and vulnerability. Firstly with myself and mostly with compassion and care. If I can speak up to myself, then speaking up for myself becomes easier and boundaries become clearer. I can then operate with authenticity and integrity for myself and with others.