21

April

Speaking and Listening

Wednesday April 21, 2021


Last week I started my blog with a story – a traditional fairy-tale.

Some people found the story charming, as I did myself, but not everyone. In fact, some people found it offensive.

I was distressed by this and discussed it with friends. One of my friends, an experienced therapist, pointed out that communication is not what is said, but what is heard, and suddenly it all made sense.

If you’re interested, you might like to go back a week and remind yourself of the tale. I’ve looked at it again and found several points that could be deemed offensive or are, at least, contrary to our modern thinking:

1. The story is about a prince – why a prince? Wealth and privilege are touchy subjects.
2. He is male. Why should men always get the best adventures?
3. The Evil Enchanter is a trope, giving all witches and workers in magic a bad name.
4. The question, “What do women really want?” and the reply, is sexist.
5. The heroine is referred to as an “Old Hag,” a deeply offensive term.
6. The story is ageist and puts undue value on youth and physical beauty.
7. Marriage (to a prince) is seen as the highest goal for women.

Looking at that list, it is easy to see how those elements could totally obscure its universal message about freedom and choice.

So, I apologise for using that story without at least a disclaimer or framing it as a story of its time – early 1400s, I think.

I was a victim of my own unconscious biases; I was speaking from my own love of fairy-tales.

We all do this. We speak and act from our own loves and life-experiences and are then hurt or angered when we are misunderstood. It’s not easy, however, to avoid doing so. After all, we have only our own loves and experience to speak from.

In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey lists Habit 5 as “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” It’s a good habit, albeit an aspirational one.

If we are honest, we all want to be understood (although I’m not at all sure I want to be totally understood). You’re reading this because, I assume, you are living with depression, bipolar disorder or other mental health condition you find this site helps you with. I think we would all like depression and mental health issues to be better and more widely understood.

But how do we go about seeking first to understand? Our unconscious biases are exactly that: unconscious and invisible to us.

I suppose the first step is to listen to feedback and to seek it from those outside our comfortable and familiar circle; we need to be up for challenge and to be prepared to change our thinking. That’s never comfortable.

So, to those who challenge me in the comments, thank you. You always make me think, and I’m grateful.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


Comments

Comments are viewable only by members. Register Now to participate in the discussion.

Already have an account? Login to leave a comment.

There are 59 comments so far.


What is Moodscope?

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. If you’d like to receive these daily posts by email, just sign up to Moodscope now, completely free of charge.

Moodscope is an innovative way for people to treat their own low mood problems using an engaging online tool. Anyone in the world can accurately assess and track daily mood scores over a period of time. We have proved that the very act of measuring, tracking and sharing mood can actually lift it. Join now.

Blog Archive

Disclaimer

Posts and comments on the Moodscope blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Moodscope makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this blog or found by following any of the links.

Moodscope will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.