Sunday Homily: Learning To Communicate

How We Think

How We Think

How We Think Impacts How We Talk

Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes it takes a little while to find out what the reason is, and others it becomes obvious from the start.

Being a political junkie, I typically start my Sunday’s with the morning News/Political debate programs. Meet the Press is my most favorite. A few weeks ago I was getting my morning cup of coffee and preparing to watch the morning debates when one of the cats decided to turn the channel while I was out of the room. As I returned to the tv, there was a discussion with Blair Underwood and Vanessa Williams.

I assumed this interview was in the news for some reason and the Sunday morning debate was playing a snippet of this interview. It took a few minutes to realize the channel had been changed to BET and I wasn’t watching what I thought I was.

What I discovered however, was very interesting and I watched the remainder of the program. There was a reason for the kitty-cat intervention. Ok, kewl.

Ms. Williams was discussing a book she had read, What Could He be Thinking by Dr. Michael Gurian. Her synopsis of the book piqued my curiosity enough, that I had to pick it up myself. It’s a great book on how our brains work differently and the science behind that. It’s not a bad or degrading study suggesting one sex is smarter than the other. Merely a study in the way we process information differently within the human brain.

As a Spiritual Counselor, this kind of scientific and psychological study is something that truly interests me. The more we understand about how we process information, the better we can communicate and resolve issues. Not only in our relationships with partners and family, but in society as well. How we think and process information during our varying emotions is a key component to understanding how we put our choices and actions into practice.

For instance, we know that in many species, not only human, female and males activate different parts of  their brains in similar circumstances. That activation isn’t the same across species for the same sex either. For instance, males are not always the protectors as one might imagine. Females aren’t always emotional nesters either. These differences can be very interesting in the study of our world and our connection to nature. They remind us that assumptions across the sexes and species can create misunderstandings on top of being dangerous in some circumstances.

For Metaphysical practitioners we strive to live in balance and harmony with all things in nature. But as humans we often make assumptions that animals think and react the way we do. That’s the dangerous assumption. But we do that same thing when we’re dealing with each other. Men and women make assumptions about what the opposite sex is thinking, but they’re doing it from a brain that is wired totally different.

At the University of Pennsylvania medical school, a study discovered how human men and women fire off connections between the various hemispheres of the brain. “On average, men connect front to back [parts of the brain] more strongly than women,” whereas “women have stronger connections left to right,” said study leader Ragini Verma. Additionally this study suggests that male brains may be optimized for motor skills, and female brains may be optimized for combining analytical and intuitive thinking. – LiveScience.com

From a metaphysical perspective, this supports our theory that emotional and intuitive thinking are female energies. Where as the physical actions we all perform everyday are masculine energies. We all have both of these energies within our being, but we favor or use one side over the other as our base instincts based on our gender. Knowing how we process these energies on a physical level, will help us understand how to balance and control our energies on a mental and even spiritual level within our own being. But it also helps us understand why the opposite sex does or thinks some of the things they do.

In his book, Dr. Gurian explains the flow of energy in our brains and how the activation of hemispheres dictate our responses. For instance, both men and women become angry at various times in life.

  • When a man becomes angry his brain transfers activity to the back of the brain stem, where the physical warrior resides. The protector is activated and the desire to do battle is the initial instinct.
  • When women become angry, her brain transfers activity to the frontal lobe of the brain, where the verbal controls are. Thus women are more articulate and more biting in their communications. Their words can sting emotionally which can create longer lasting scars.

Now if we take a moment to think about this, we can understand why communication during anger is often the worst thing you can do. Women are throwing verbal knives and men are distinctly separated from their verbal ability to express their feelings. While women are demanding conversation in the heat of battle; men can’t provide that communication because their brain physically and literally goes in the opposite direction.

How many women have gotten so angry you felt the need to walk away hoping your male counterpart would follow you to discuss the situation. And when they don’t, how many of you assumed that was  a message that they don’t care. Well, you’re probably wrong in that assumption. They walked away because they’re in physical warrior mode and they’re looking for a sword to physically express their anger. They’re in no mental state to express their emotions in a verbal way like you are.

When we learn more about how we use our brains to express emotions, we can better understand situations and limit the miscommunications that result. In both anger and intimate circumstances. We remove the assumptions and over thinking aspects and open the door that allows our partner to walk away, without increasing hurt feelings over the matter. This approach isn’t only for opposite sex communications either.

Understanding how our brains are wired can also improve communication between same sex conversations as well. What you say generates a response from the one you’re talking with. Do you want start a battle with someone that can expand into a warriors battle and end badly? Or do you want to attempt to remain calm to find the best method of communication to defuse potentially violent situations?

In the book Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus by John Gray, Ph.D, we gain further understanding of how men and women think  and put thoughts into action differently. One of my favorite examples in this book describe how we show each other we care and show our love. When a woman expresses her love, she often uses words. But even woman put thought into action in little ways. Often she will do something we might call homey as symbol of her love. Such as fixing someone’s favorite meal, or seeing something in a store that she knows her partner or child will enjoy. For instance, I know my son loves Oreos, and when I see that package of Oreo double stuffed cookies, I’ll bring home a package for him. Does he know I’m doing that because I love him? Not in the slightest. So should I get upset when he doesn’t ooze love and appreciation all over the package or me? Of course not. But it does make it easier as Mom to understand that, when you know it’s how his brain is wired and not because he simply doesn’t care.

Men use their physical base energy to show you they love you. On a windy cold winter day, he might be out in the drive way changing the oil in someone’s car to show his emotion. Because that’s his way of showing that car owner he loves them. He’s not out there to get away from you on his only day off. He’s out there because he loves you and that’s his way of showing you.

Face it, we’re never going to stop trying to read between the lines. But we can learn more about why we think and react the way we do, so we can understand that gray area between the lines better. After all, those assumptions we’re reading into are coming from the gray matter in our head. Wouldn’t it be better to understand how it works, to help us understand what subtle messages are being expressed? Good, bad and indifferent?

Communication is much more than the words we speak. It’s the actions we take. That old adage, “Your actions speak louder than words”, is true. Especially for men. Because their communications are often based in their physical actions. But it applies to women as well. Especially when our communication can be a double edge sword. When we understand the base instincts of how our brain works, we learn how to read the real messages being delivered. We help remove the assumptions that often make things worse. We may not interpret all actions correctly and remove all assumption, but we can apply this understanding to events as they occur and lessen the misconceptions as they happen.

It’s not always easy to stop the emotions of the moment and take a step back to understand where our partner is coming from. But if we do it enough times, it’s like anything in life, it becomes easier. We can learn to use that gray matter in our head to understand why someone is doing what they’re doing. We can learn to appreciate each other more for the little things. And we can learn to stop the assumptions when they’re not doing what we think are.

When we take time to learn about how our brains are wired, we gain understanding behind why we do the things we do. Including how we communicate with each other. When communication is the start to building tolerance, it’s important that we take the time to learn how we think and where we’re coming from when we speak or in the actions we take. Then we must apply that knowledge to how we interact with each other in every day situations. In doing so, we diminish the chances for creating conflict. And we increase the opportunities to come together and resolve situations in peaceful ways.

© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2014 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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