Speaking a Foreign Language

Speaking a Foreign Language

​I gave a talk the other day in a pizza shop and was trying to describe how our experience is coming from within us, from our thinking in the moment, not from a circumstance outside.

I said imagine I’m sitting here eating my pizza and at the next table is a heated discussion about how horrible this woman’s husband is. I overhear the absurdity of what he did, how much pain she is in and the injustice of it all. I’m left in a whirlwind of feelings, ranging from anger to pity to gratitude.

Where did those feelings come from? From the woman’s story? I think not.

Now imagine a second scenario. Everything is the same, but his woman is speaking Chinese. Do I have a whirlwind of feelings? No, because I don’t have any thinking about what she is saying.

What if we listened to the incessant content in our heads as if it were in a foreign language?

It’s not the incessant content that bothers us as much as the meaning we make about the content. If the content were in a foreign language it would be hard to make meaning out of it.

Just try it for a day. I’d love to hear how the experiment goes.

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By Aviva Barnett, MSW

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