Recently I’ve had numerous conversations, in workshops or intentional places, with people responding to the question, “What are you experiencing now?” It’s a naked question, a brazen question, a rude question. Certainly an unfamiliar one when it’s really asked and there’s room to respond.
Yet people can powerfully moved by having five minutes to respond to it – perhaps no one has ever asked them before. (Here’s the simple presencing practice I’ve been using for this.)
As the phenomenon of political correctness indicates, there’s a gap between what we say in a given situation – and what we privately think. We switch between what we really think and what we think we should think. And we do it continually, automatically, without noticing we’re doing it. It’s especially when a direct question like “What are you experiencing now” is asked (in a workshop or other intentional setting), that we notice our public and private voices aren’t the same. Oops!
The social norm is that the public voice is much stronger. The private voice is far harder to find.
It’s not that we don’t need a public voice and persona. We certainly do!
But our private, unique voice is not easily seen in this world – that’s why it seems so unfamiliar to be directly asked to speak from it. And moreover, we have no common language for all of this.
The public voice is strongly dominant but we maintain a polite fiction that we’re being an individual all the way.
The invisibility of our unique voice is evidenced by the face that we don’t explore our immediate present experience with others. We might explore it in meditation or mindfulness practice, but not publicly, not transparently even to ourselves.
Instead conversation centers around events, people, things. We invent philosophies and religions. We make plans. We analyze and describe.
But our direct unmediated personal experience, the voice that’s closest to our hearts, is seldom requested or welcomed. The private voice gets deeply habituated to not speaking out loud – it feels safer keeping mum. And naturally enough, when sometimes it’s forced to speak, it tends to arrive with confusion and uncertainty, wondering if it’s safe and OK. In an atmosphere of welcome, it starts to find itself.
The public voice is more concerned with differences between people, the private voice is more alive to out shared humanity.
The public voice maintains the status quo while the private voice is more the voice for change.
The public voice speaks what everybody knows and the private voice, always unique, speaks what no one’s imagined yet.
Public voices never speak directly to you but private voices always do. Unique voice even speak for you because it speaks to what we have in common. The sharing of the private real voice is a revolutionary act, or rather an evolutionary one. You can watch the public voice on the news every night if you’ve a tv but the private voice has to find its own way and its own place to speak and listen.
And it takes time and work to find and develop it. It’s a process and a practice.
I’m just getting underway with an ongoing closed group exploration into unique voice, – Change Agent Practice. It includes Presencing, using the “what are you experiencing now?” question, with all the safeties and care that we can bring to it. And it includes group coaching to use the group to support our making changes inside and out. And more.
This group is just gathering steam with the first leg, the presencing practice. This will continue and the others added when we’re a bit stronger. Do come try the presencing practice out and see how it is for you. If you know of any change agents who need support and challenge, will you forward the Change Agent Practice page to them. And consider it for yourself as a way to move forward with what you’re wanting to do, create and be.
Schedule and more coming soon.