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It came to my attention whilst having dinner with my best friend. I will never really know what she means when she shares something with me, and likewise, she will never fully understand what I mean when I say something in return.

Never, ever.


Kind of like two people holding one pair of binoculars, focussing and bending the eye pieces to see the full message for each person.

Oh, we will get close, for sure, but I have no way of being inside her mind, seeing the movie that runs in her pre-frontal cortex, and how she is interpreting every word that leaves her lips. My ears hear the words, but I have my own meaning attached to them. The way I interpret her bodily gestures adds meaning to the way she intones each one, and layer upon layer, I try to read in to the message, her intent for me.

It hit me hard when I realized it’s not actually possible to get the exact same message that she intended for me to reach my mind, 100% intact. There are so many filters, journeys, translations that must be made from mind, to lips, to gestures, to eyes and ears, back into the recipient’s brain.

How we are actually able to communicate at all is somewhat of a miracle once we understand this fact!

We always have to look at things from their perspective in order to get the most from the meaning of the sender, and how often do we do that in just talking to people? We most often stick with our meanings of words, and then use more words to sort out misunderstandings, like this:

“I went down to the river today”

“What do you mean? Did you drive there?”

“No, I walked there, it’s close enough”

“Oh, you mean Arbutus River, not Cottonwood Creek. Arbutus River is the one out back. I thought you meant the creek”

“That’s where I went!”


And so on. Some people never really get on the same wave length. It’s funny we say that: ‘wave length’, because I really believe we can get a lot closer to the meaning of another, if we are at the same frequency in our energy; be it love or anger oriented.

Given that we can never communicate the exact same thought we are having to another person, regardless of how close they are to you, be it a relation, or if you are in love (perhaps especially if you are in love, given that sometimes love can be quite blind), it is important to acknowledge how we ‘take’ messages.

When we look to don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote about The Four Agreements, one of the agreements is ‘Rule #2: don’t take anything personally‘.

It’s so easy to take statements personally. Our ego spends much of its time trying to protect its own existence, therefore, if it can find a way to take a message personally, it can puff itself up. The ego, if we allow it, can feel insulted, or hurt by statements that are actually neutral. In doing so, they project a new meaning to the message from the recipient’s point of view, and can start a chain reaction of actions.

We’ve all heard messages that we thought threatened us, were hurtful to us, or meant something to us that the sender had no intention of. When we take messages personally, it adds a greater amount of complexity to the message, so much so that the initial message can get lost.

When we release the ego, and listen with an intent to understand, the ego lessens, or is a non-factor, and we get closer to the initial meaning of the message. Often this understanding is enhanced with an understanding of the circumstance and mindset of the person who said it.

The more we try to understand the context of the message, the better our chances of interpreting the message’s original intent. The more we stick with our ego, which tries to separate ourself from others, the greater the chance of misinterpreting the message, and by a significantly wider margin.

Knowing that what we hear, what we see, and what we feel from a message is, at best, a guess to the original intent, doesn’t it behoove us to do our very best to search for the context of it? We must spend a significant amount of time understanding the bearer of that message, in order to understand the message as intended. This takes listening skills, and good contextual questions.

If you think you got the message the first time your heard it, I applaud you, but I would scarcely believe it. Words are such primitive ways of getting a message across, that so much is lost.

The more I ponder this truth, the more I understand why not labelling something may be better for understanding.

How do you label a two hour dinner and conversation that stirred your soul? Was it a good dinner, or a conversation with food? You see at once that it requires more words to describe the mood, the food, and the conversation. You could write a book on exactly how it might have felt, or you could say simply that time passed, and the conversation was as nourishing as the food, without labelling it.

It simply was.

Trees exist in so many multi-varied essences that escape the label of tree, that to label it as such, is to limit the understanding of what a tree could be.

To convey your feeling for another human being by simply looking at them, using the emotion as a guide to how to express what you feel, and surrendering your body to it, is far more real, and readable, than any language you can intone with your mouth.

Think about what gets lost in translation the next time you have a conversation to a friend, a family member, or lover. Think of all the myriad of ways one word can be misinterpreted, and then choose your words with deft ability to be precisely what you mean, in the manner in which you desire, and use your body to complement your words, so you are saying, with many languages, what you intend.

The first agreement of the four, by don Miguel Ruiz, is to ‘be impeccable with your word‘, and I believe this not only helps us be the person we desire by living up to what we say, but it also minimizes the misinterpretation of what we may say. It lends credibility to our words when we live them to the utmost, and it creates clarity of purpose.

We can never, ever, send our thoughts as we see them, with our meaning, to another person, but if we try to understand one another, we can get very, very close.