The mother of all neuroses

I suppose you could make a sort of syllogism out of this post:

Humans tend to speak and listen from a self-centered point of view.

This tendency causes them to misinterpret the people around them.

These misinterpretations cause more of the same and suffering.

Therefore it is best to correct them.

FIML practice (or something just like it) corrects them.

The mother of all neuroses is our tendency to speak and listen from a self-centered point of view. I don’t mean selfish, but just self-centered in the sense that our bodies and selves are often, inescapably, of primary interest to us.

This tendency causes us to interpret more of what we hear as pertaining to us than it does. This is a mistake. Neuroses are built upon mistaken interpretations.

When we listen we all have a tendency to listen to how much what we are hearing applies to us. If someone says something judgmental, for example, we will probably wonder if it applies to us, even if they are speaking to a third person. In other cases, we may wonder if something being mentioned is our fault, is a concern to us, is there something we can do about it, and so on. A primary concern we all have, and often must have, is how does what we are hearing concern us?

A similar dynamic is at work when we speak. If we are speaking with someone and see that they may be thinking of something else while we are speaking, most of us will tend to infer that they are thinking of something else (often correct) and are not interested in what we are saying (often incorrect). The second part of that is the self-centered part. By making that inference, we have taken a bit of sort of reasonable data (maybe their eyes are looking away) and made more out of it than was true (they are not interested in what we are saying).

When speaking, we also tend to believe that we are being understood in the way we intended, that our listener understands our references, that our reasoning is as clear to our listener as it is to us, and so on.

In all of these cases, we are doing something very natural, indeed all but unavoidable–we are working from a point of view centered around our self, our body, our experiences, our understanding, our feelings, our ears, our eyes, etc.

This makes all of us little neurosis factories because this tendency causes us to make more self-referential (self-centered) interpretations than are true.

There is an almost mathematical beauty to that because this condition arises simply from the way we are.

Since self-referential interpretations naturally will accumulate and compound, it follows that we would do well to clear them out of our minds.The only way to really catch a mistaken interpretation (self-centered or otherwise) is to catch it as it happens.

This is what FIML practice does by allowing us to query and be queried during the dynamic “moment” (a few seconds) of speech as it is happening. Only FIML practice (or something just like it) allows us to stop a conversation and with real data points analyze it for a much richer understanding of its deep context, semiotic associations, emotional states, and so on. FIML works so well because it depends on the objective data point of what was actually said and heard as agreed upon by both partners.

(Note: advanced FIML partners will be able to access and discuss incidents that happened further back in time than a few seconds. It is important, though, for partners to remember that discussions like this must be based on sound FIML practice in the moment. Practice during the moment, based on clear data points, is the building-block of all other FIML practices. This is the only place where partners can establish a reliable vocabulary, mutual understanding, and mutual trust. Please see How to do FIML for more.)

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