Energy Blocks – Interpretations

The other day I was asked to participate in a conference call with a business cohort. Previously, I had brought up a concern about a particular business model being used and was asked by our group leader if I would be willing to process my concern with him while others from the group listened in. The idea was that my processing and learning would help the rest of the group who may be experiencing similar concerns. Great, I thought, what a wonderful idea!
While I have met many members of this group in-person, there are also quite a few I have never met either in person or telephonically. On the day of the call, I was the only woman on the phone with five or six male members of the group. This was not an issue for me—after all this call was meant to be a learning experience for me as well as everyone else and the call was recorded, allowing access for all members to listen at their convenience. However, once the call got underway I began to sense that the men on the call were not processing their own learning, rather they were attempting to fix my problem. Their tone was supportive and kind yet in my gut I felt they were also being paternalistic and that, at times, their attitude was bordering on condescension. In the moment, I noticed I was making this interpretation and put it aside; since I wanted the learning opportunity, I had to avoid becoming defensive and remain open.
The following day, I talked with one of the female cohort members after she had listened to the recorded call. She interpreted the tone of the male callers far more critically than I did and in talking it over with her, I too was beginning to absorb her point of view. We talked for a long time about our interpretation of the men and how they talked to me as well as the problem that originated the purpose of the call. Both subjects took up a good bit of our energetic attention.
I share this recent experience to talk about how interpretations can show up in our lives. An interpretation is an opinion we create about an event, situation, or experience. In essence, we make up stories based on our past experiences and then we unconsciously look for evidence to support these stories. Interpretations are created from the past, so all the assumptions*, limiting beliefs*, and information supplied by our inner critic* create our interpretations. In my case, the interpretation formula went something like this: Over the years I have observed that men, sometimes either knowingly or unknowingly, treat their female business colleagues as less than their equals. I believe that this treatment is simply an occasional condition of being a female in the workplace. On the cohort call, when the male participants focused their energy around trying to fix and alleviate my concern rather than discuss, process, and share their own experiences from a position of equals, I interpreted their behavior as being condescending and patriarchal toward me. This interpretation was intensified and validated when I spoke with the other female member of the cohort after she listened to the call.
The subject matter of this particular call is irrelevant for the purpose of exploring how interpretations can show up and block our energy. Awareness is the key to successfully avoiding all the energy blocks, (this post is part of a series on the various types of energy blocks); being aware of how we are interpreting is the first step to our avoiding becoming enmeshed in our interpretation. Now that I am aware of my interpretation, the helpful question to ask is: How does the interpretation of our male colleagues affect our openness and trust with them, not to mention our ability to work through future challenges? Without the awareness that an interpretation is in play, my female colleague and I could spin out, ending up caught in a whirlwind of righteous indignation. We could unconsciously conflate our feelings of indignation with anything the men suggest and needlessly cloud an opportunity to solve problems. I am not suggesting that we ignore our feelings; I am simply saying that being aware of where and how these feelings came into our consciousness allows us to address both problems appropriately. By separating the feelings that arise out of the interpretation, without becoming reactive or defensive, we greatly improve the likelihood that the men will be able to see how their actions unknowingly inhibit communication with their female colleagues, and vice versa. Which, by the way, is a win for both sexes and problem solving in general.

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