What’s happening when we talk to one another? In putting our ideas, experiences or hopes into words are we simply drawing on memory and filling time, or also bringing something new to life?
At times we might be sharing ourselves: offering our ideas and happenings up for discussion, scrutiny and, possibly, correction. We might be letting others into how we see life, its challenges and opportunities; seeking in return their insight, the perspectives they are able to contribute through their own experiences of life (see Notes One). This pooling of understanding and social creation of meaning can be so fascinating.
And maybe, through casting the light of our mind over our experiences in order to express them to another, we might also be transforming them: seeing new patterns, drawing memories into new relationships, observing our thoughts and their meanings differently. We might begin to understand our role as agent, our position in social life, and our connections with the world in new ways.
From the wealth of personal experiences plus all those thoughts, ideas and storylines we encounter in life, we could arguably create any number of differing interpretations about what it all means, what matters most, and where to focus our attention (Note Two). The arc, the spin, the weight we give to the various elements of our story could easily lead us to vastly different conclusions.
If our minds are open and alert, conversations must have the power to lead to deeper understanding or greater confusion. We might circle for ever, caught in old patterns, unable to break the spell of interpretations we once accepted wholeheartedly. Or we might, through the involvement of others, begin to reassess our ideas and apply new thinking in that realm. The mind could well become a prison or a liberation (Notes Three).
And then, sometimes, we might even find ourselves walking into completely new territory: learning even as you hear yourself speaking. One thought leading to another, we might take steps into the unknown and seek understanding where previously our mind hadn’t thought or dared to set foot. We might utter words in a different formula, break all our patterns, and suddenly see things in a new light.
It’s an interesting thought, the extent to which expressing our ideas might influence our lives: reinforcing those walls that might be limiting us, allowing others to broaden our horizons, or approaching it all as a voyage of discovery. Without communication, it might be that we’re largely trapped by our own thinking, unable to inject fresh reasoning or re-evaluate how we’ve been seeing things.
In all these ways, conversation might serve us well by bringing in insight we didn’t hold before. Our shared words could become a journey, forming a path from our past, through our present and on into our future. The act of opening up our inner world to others, seeking a way to bridge that gap and make our ideas more commonly known, could then become quite a constructive yet beautiful thing.
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