The secret of attentive communication (& frustration as a sign of exhaustion)

What results would most attract you? Could you benefit both from more rest and from better focus?

Why can rest and focus be important? Why do you value the specific results that you value the most?

For some people these seem like really easy questions. However, most people have not explored them as fully as we are about to do.

Many people report that they would benefit from more rest and relaxation. They may report trouble staying focused because of a lack of rest.

Imagine someone who is very sleepy and starts to read a paragraph a few times because they are too sleepy to make it to the end. They get half way, then start over. They get half way again, then start over again. They do not have enough alertness to get to the end of the paragraph, yet each time that they fail, they keep starting over.

Why do people keep starting over without taking a break? They are exhausted. They are so exhausted that they are not alert to the ineffectiveness of their own pattern of behavior.

In the case of trying to make it through an entire paragraph, that example may not seem important to you. However, many people live most of their life from that same state of exhaustion!

What is it like for them to live their lives from exhaustion? They have a target, then they never quite get to their target, yet they keep the same target and the same method. In many cases, they experience discontent and disappointment and even frustration.

What does frustration indicate? Frustration is a signal of exhaustion. An ineffective method has been attempted several times and still is not working, so the experience of frustration arises. A particular method just is obviously not working. What are some different ways that people can relate to noticing that a method is not working?

Normally, when a method does not work, people just stop doing it. Maybe they find a new method or maybe they give up in disappointment, but they do not experience the more extreme distress of frustration (and wallow in regret, blame, resentment, contempt, and so on).

Unless someone is already exhausted, then they simply do not continue to repeat the method to the point of frustration. In some cases, people are so exhausted that they experience resignation, cynicism or “being jaded,” which can go to the extreme of giving up on the entire possibility that a new method could be useful. That is how much they need some rest and relief and relaxation!

They are not just casually giving up on a particular method as soon as they notice it is not working. They tend to say much more extreme things like “I am giving up ON LIFE.”

However, if they are already exhausted, then it is predictable they may lose their focus in the middle of whatever “paragraph” of their life that they are in and they reflexively just keep starting that same paragraph over and over and over. They are extremely vulnerable to repeating ineffective methods many times, which may seem quite naive. While they may seem cynical in regard to certain options, notice how devoted they can be to a method that they even admit is not working!

So, people may have a variety of targets in their life that they talk about as important yet they consistently fail to meet those targets and still they keep trying the same methods. Naturally, they eventually experience frustration. This is probably a familiar pattern to you that is very simple to recognize.

Who is this presentation for? This presentation is for people who have experienced frustration repeatedly, even so often that finally we are motivated to try something new.

Will we try only one new thing whether or not it works any better than the first thing? If someone is exhausted already, then switching methods once may not be enough.

The idea here is to change methods exactly as little or as much as really works well for you. Which methods are the best for meeting the targets that are most important to you? That is a question that an alert person will naturally explore.

However, when someone is already exhausted, then they may get stuck trying only one old method. If they do switch methods for any reason, but are still exhausted, then they may end up repeating that new method even if it stops working well or never even works well at all.

Many of you may be familiar with the idea of doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results. That is a very common development. It is not unusual. Again, it is simply a sign of exhaustion.

What behavior fits with exhaustion (what actually works)? Simply slow down what you have been doing or even stop completely. You can start again, but at any time you can slow down, pause, or totally stop. You can change your pace as often you like- however long it takes for you to refocus and relieve the exhaustion.

How can you produce relief? That can be as simple as taking a relaxed breath and briefly holding it. I recommend breathing in through the nose. If you take a few slow, relaxed breaths in to your belly, plus briefly pause before exhaling, then that can help you to relax and improve your focus. To help you focus on breathing in to your belly, you can place a hand on your body to feel the rising and falling with each breath.

Breathing slowly like that actually allows for your brain to get more energy than breathing fast. If you are familiar with hyperventilation, that means over-breathing. By exhaling too fast, that actually results in starving the brain. Slowing down the exhalations results in improving the capacity of the brain to be alert and focus and concentrate. Calm breathing has specific neurochemical results (which are the opposite results of hyperventilating, which can create an experience of distress called a panic attack or asthma attack or anxiety attack).

Now, if you take a few slow breaths through the nose and in to the belly (with or without some relaxed pauses), you may already be more relaxed than when we started. We can start now to speculate about how we could benefit from practicing this new approach to adapting to frustration with relaxed breathing.

Most of us may have practical priorities that we are not fulfilling as well as we would like. Why can rest and focus be important in promoting the results that we value most? Because exhaustion can be very frustrating!

So, perhaps it is not just a lack of focus, but a misplaced focus. In some cases, we may be focusing too much on certain details or issues to our own disadvantage.
There may be a sense of discontent, stress, anxiety, and even frustration. Those experiences can motivate us to explore new patterns of behavior. One realm of behavior is communication in general and the use of language in particular.
We can explore that next. If you have only rarely considered the possibility of experimenting with new ways of communicating, is that because of total satisfaction with all of your current communication practices? Or, do you sometimes find that communication can be frustrating, at least with certain people?

If you find that communication can sometimes be frustrating, then that could be a sign of exhaustion. When you have been doing something while exhausted, you might already be disappointed with one method and yet you kept repeating the method in spite of your disappointment… because you were so tired. You might even have said “I am just so tired of this.” You probably do not say it like this though: “I am just sick and tired… of the results that I have been producing (!) by using the same method over and over again… even though I am aware that the results of that method is disappointing.”

Did you notice that one part of the statement that I just made was very familiar to you, but then another part of it was constructed in a way that probably did not fit with your most familiar habits of using language? Here’s how we will improve the results of your patterns of communicating with more effective practices.

First, we will notice what patterns you have been using. You can also notice similar patterns in observing other people.

Next, we will notice the results that people get when they use the different patterns. Note that people respond to the labels or evaluations that they construct in language. People do not just respond to what they observe directly. People also respond to the experience that they organize through language from their direct observations.

How do certain patterns in language organize their patterns of activity? How do certain narratives select certain details as important and fit those details in to a pre-existing theme or pattern? What presumptions or linguistic concepts guide how they interpret their actual observations, project specific intentions on to other people, and then respond to the projected intentions?

We will observe how most people communicate. We will observe the kinds of results that they get, such as frustration, from using language inattentively and from a state of naive exhaustion.

We will also notice a few contrasting patterns in the use of language. We can exaggerate certain patterns to add contrast and clarity. We can go to extremes of both vagueness and precision, plus both simplicity and complexity. We can contrast the extremes of blind presumptiveness with tedious inquisitiveness.

We will explore absolutely any contrasts that allow us to dramatically increase our satisfaction with the results that we get from communication. If we can get valuable results from a particular contrast, then we will develop the ability to communicate according to the vocabulary of that particular effective frame of reference.

As a sidenote, why is it that so many people can be so frustrated with the results of their communication practices? How is it that they maintain investment in ineffective practices? Who benefits from that pattern?

We know that there are institutions which train people to use language in certain specific ways, such as schools and churches and the mass media. Why do some people form those institutions to promote certain patterns of linguistic behavior? Why do some people support the perpetuation of those institutions or even the expansion of them?

Consider this. An empire values terrified, compliant “human resources.” The human resources are influenced so that they perform the functions that make the empire survive and thrive. The survival and thriving of the individual organisms is certainly not essential to the health of the institution or empire.

In fact, the linguistic empowerment of the masses is contrary to the interests of the rulers. The target is a state of constant exhaustion, blind reactivity, contained dissent, programmed antagonisms, paranoias, and hysterias, plus unwavering compliance to the essential rituals and sacred beliefs of the governing empire.


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