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A few weeks ago we played “the noticing game” in pairs, taking turns sharing whatever we were noticing with each other. We starting simple and added more categories of noticing in later rounds:
- Physical/unarguable reality - “I notice that my hands are sweaty and my shoulder muscles seem tense” or “Hearing that, I’m noticing your smile”
- Emotions or feelings - “I notice that I’m feeling some nervousness and a feeling of tightness”
- Stories or interpretations - “I notice that I’m worried that you might think less of me if I say something silly”
We tend to speak with relative confidence about our own experiences (e.g. “I am worried”), but when we notice something about another person, we often try to be clear that we don’t actually know their internal state (e.g. “I notice that you seem happy and relaxed.”) That one word “seem” communicates a difference in our relationship to truth. We’re well aware that we often aren’t sure of the truth inside someone else’s experience, and it can be outright disrespectful to speak as though we are.
What if we applied that humility and uncertainty to the stories our own brains make up about ourselves? This Sunday we practiced “seems” noticings together as a group. Saying “I seem <something I believe about myself>” felt a little awkward to me at first, but the shift from authoritative-assertion into observational-inference mode smoothed (IMHO) the way for us to make “You seem…” and “We seem” statements that felt safe to be wrong.
I desire that Intentional Society will be a place where feelings can be shared, tensions can be aired and resolved, and where we remember to keep a healthy distance between our own judgements/perceptions and our confident assumptions of truth. I wish much the same for you in your own thoughts and relationships.