Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Meta-Message

You may or may not have noticed that I've been a bit scarce on email, on FB, on this blog, for the last couple of weeks. There's a good reason for that, which I'll get to in a minute.

First, have you ever had someone tell you what should have been great news in a spectral tone of voice? Or had someone tell you they were fine, while sounding horribly depressed? Did you take the words seriously? Or did you believe the tone of voice? If you're like most people, you paid more attention to the tone than to the words.

In NLP (aka neurolinguisitics), the non-verbals, e.g. tone of voice or body language, are sometimes referred to as the 'meta-message'. The meta-message is the overall vibe that extends beyond the verbal message. Let me suggest that the meta-message is the message.

What you may not know is that the meta-message exists for artistic communication and for electronic communication. The reason a piece of art, whether that's a painting, a poem or a song, conveys a mood is partly the mood the artist was in when he or she created the piece.

Several years ago, I was at a talk given by a wonderful man, an MD turned holistic healer after a quadruple bypass literally opened up his heart. His presentation included a guided meditation, which ended with a recorded song, which he had commissioned from a gifted singer-songwriter. Although the song was lovely, and the words were uplifting, all I could hear was the pain in the singer's voice. Wrong meta-message! It left me with exactly the opposite feeling to what was intended.

And so it is with writing, even if it is published electronically. Last week, I wrote most of a piece on '3 Ways to be 'Up' in a Down Market', I guess because I needed it, and figured if I needed it, so did others. But even though it was well-written, I was not 'up'. I knew that if I hit the 'publish post' button while in that state of mind, the meta-message was going to be 'how to let things get to you'! So I didn't publish it, and in not publishing it, I had nothing to send to my email list.

The message here is pay attention to your feeling states, and don't reach out to people on a large scale when your feeling states don't match your message. If you are someone who must reach out to large numbers of people on a regular basis (you're a teacher, a sales rep, or even a healer), you must learn to manage your feeling states so that your meta-message supports your message.

Sometimes, though, all of us need to just let our natural feeling states be, and turn inward to clean up our own issues. That's what I did -- I took some time, took my own advice, and that of my guides, and worked through my issues, at least enough that my meta-message is positive again.)

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