Why Is Internal Dialog So Persistent? (Part 3 of 4): How to Resolve the dialog.
I don’t think I was clear enough in my previous articles regarding this subject about what kind of reaction I am observing. To make it clear it is a persistent, recurring, internal dialog, which is of the nature of a dialog happening with another person. The thing that is most characteristic about it, is that the content is always the same. So I am not talking about one’s general tendency to get lost in one’s thoughts. Yes, there are numerous meditation techniques one can use, depending upon one’s ability, to return oneself to the present moment and take one out of one’s reactive cycle of emotions and thinking. This is not what I’m talking about. What I noticed is the recurring nature of a ‘particular’ dialog, that seemed like it had an energy of it’s own. During this time I was doing all these things daily of: meditating, conscious breathing, walking, qigong, sungazing, journaling, etc.. Overall I felt my daily reality was mostly calm and non-reactive. Being generally in this calm state, allowed that I was able to notice this aspect of these recurring dialogs. I could easily notice the reaction and not identify with it, see it, then let it go. Yet, it kept coming back… So for me the question was how to resolve this?
Delving into the background of ‘the reaction’, I knew that it was ‘my personality’ arising, and because of the nature of personality, the content was of a defensive nature. In these dialogs one can observe that one is giving oneself arguments for the purpose to be justified or convinced about your own way of seeing things or happenings in the outside world. That one can make this astute observation is a step in itself, but the reality I realized is that it’s not enough to be able to observe it and also not enough to return to a meditative state. I could see it persisting even having all the information about it and even having the capability to drop it, so it was clear to me that something else was needed. The recurrent happening of this dialog told me several things. One was that I needed to express something, to get something out, and what I was doing was trying to resolve it ‘inside’ via my thinking, which was impossible. The other thing about it was that the more the dialog recurred because something was going unresolved in my life, then as in all thinking/emotional states the greater the emotional tension was building up inside myself, being ready to find an outlet.
It was clear that this dialog resulted because of a ‘conflict’ I perceived I was having with another individual in close relationship. There was an unresolved ‘issue’. Seeing this, then I tried various things to try to resolve the issue. First I tried dialog, but looking back I see why this failed. Basically, it has to do with the built up tension in both parties, coming out of unexpressed feelings. Conflict can only exist when there is tension, when there is some kind of defensive posture between individuals. Given this aspect, then when dialog was attempted what happened is that the words only served to trigger the repressed tension, resulting in more reactions and only giving energy to the same thing. The second thing I tried was to write a note. This didn’t work either, I suspect because of the unresolved tension then there was no desire to communicate back, and then what happened is that there was no response to the note. There was some feedback in the terms of actions that were noticed, but nothing direct to resolve anything. So then I could see nothing could really be received once the tensions were too high, that might lead to a state of reconciliation, because everything was being received as further attack.
This left me in a dilemma of how to resolve a relationship conflict when it seemed that the only way to do so would be via communication with the person in question. So then I had the idea to hold a group meeting whereby everyone could just express their feelings, using “I” statements and just listening to the expression of others, using it as a vehicle to get out their feelings without bringing up any ‘sensitive issues’. This might have had some side-affect, but overall I could see that it still didn’t resolve what were ‘my issues’ with the other person. It appeared to me that there was little interest in trying to come together and harldy any desire to want to mend the friendship by resolving our differences. There was one thing that was said during our meeting which I saw was very wise, it was: “When you know other people well, you actually don’t need to voice anything, we all know what the other is feeling and how they are viewing things.”
So I spend a few more days pondering this. What I further noticed is that by holding onto what I saw as the ‘issue’ between was, the actual reality was that I didn’t have an inner state of tranquility. I was getting out my reaction to the outside in regards to the issue, via conversations with others seeking my own confirmation and also in little indirect actions. I saw that even though mostly I felt I was happy, as most parts of my life were conflict free, that if there was even a small part of myself that felt this conflict, then this was lie I was telling myself, I was ‘in fact’ putting on a false smile as long as this went on unresolved. I saw at one moment that I was actually enjoying feeling my reaction, but later realized that the cost of having my reaction, in terms of continued conflict and inside turmoil, I was no longer willing to pay for. Unexpressed emotions create darkness and sickness inside of oneself, no matter how beautiful we might try to pretend it is otherwise. So I knew that the most important for me was that I resolve this conflict, so that I could return to a state of inner tranquility. As I wouldn’t have the assistance of the other person, I had to find a way to do it myself.
What occurred to me is that the ‘issue’ is born from the ‘personality arising’ and it is kept in place by the arguments of the personality. So in truth, it is a very individual thing, and completely under my control to resolve. I also saw more deeply that even we might believe we are having a dialog inside with another person, if you look very close you will see that we never give space to the other individual in such a dialog to hear their point of view, in essence we are fully talking to ourselves, not interested in listening to the other or trying to see where they might be coming from. In these kinds of dialogs we are completely full of ourselves – Okay, so an astute reader might realize: “As it is outside, so it is inside…” Seeing this aspect, I decided to engage myself in a dialog ‘internally’ with the other person, using all the background information I had about their personality and also about their external reactions in the past, which gave me hints about how they were seeing the ‘issue’. I had a ton of information at my disposal: past interactions, past verbal exchanges, a personality profile, past happenings, current happening visible in physical reactions, written expressions, current energy and body language visible under the surface, current feelings, etc. Now, I only had to take the step to use this information in a creative way, meaning I had to be willing to want to see the other’s point of view. I was very friendly with them in the dialog, listening fully to them, trying very hard to see their point of view in regards to the issue, to understand how they might feel and why there were reacting the way that they were. In essence when I was done with this dialog I resolved the issue, I felt 95% sure I understood their point of view and I felt more close with them as a result. I felt compassion to see how we humans act out of our personalities, mostly because we are seeking confirmation and then are met with resistance from other humans wanting the same, with the result that we cause pain to each other and end up with hurt feelings of being misunderstood.
Seeing their point of view and understanding where they were coming from was ‘the key’ I needed to be able to resolve my issue. I no longer saw the need to maintain my issue, it wasn’t doing me any good and not the other, so I dropped it. Going through this exercise, I saw that what I needed to do next was to adopt an entirely different attitude. My challenge was to learn how to become better at accepting the reactions coming from things and people, exactly how they are, dropping my need to try to change others to get them to conform to my way of seeing things – and most important was accepting my own reaction and understanding it.
I realized that ‘I’ was the most important element here, my behavior was the thing needing changing, not that of the other. My state of serenity was the issue, what was most important for me? Was the most important to win my point of view, playing all the personality-based politics and manipulation games because of my ‘personalities’ desire to dominate and control the outside world, to get everything else to conform to my way of seeing things, in essence maintaining the war inside of myself? Or was my interest more in the direction to learn how to enjoy my life no matter the happenings, to find out how to express a true joy and love, accepting all exactly how it is without having the need to change anything? The answer for me was resoundingly clear… So then I saw the ephemeral nature of reactions and all the wasted energy we spend fighting over them. Then also I saw what is the most that one can do with them: Observe them, question them, then make a new decision out of what one learned from the happening and let it go.
August 16, 2005