Transcript: What’s Preventing Conversations?

Listen to the episode here.

Chanie: Welcome to a new conversation with Chanie and Peretz. Before we start, let’s raise a toast, a I’chaim, to a good conversation.

Peretz: A good conversation is not simple and requires some good fortune and a little ease and relaxation and comfort. So l’chaim to a good conversation. 

Chanie: L’chaim. And as our name illustrates, we value having conversations on topics that we know aren’t discussed and explored infrequently…

Peretz: Or even when they’re explored, they’re not explored in a conversation format, which is unique and it’s not just about two people sitting across from each other or five people sitting with each other and speaking – that doesn’t necessarily make for a conversation. When we speak about conversation, we’re more…

Chanie: We’re talking about an experience where two people or more leave the experience feeling more connected, feeling heard, and also feeling adjusted in their previous thoughts or opinions because they were able to absorb someone else’s. 

Peretz: Almost uplifted or spirited. It’s almost… you could say it’s a spiritual experience in some ways.

Chanie: It can be. 

Peretz: Yeah. And we’ve been doing this experience, these conversations with each other in the podcasts for the past two, three years, but we’ve also been doing it with a lot of people through M54, different groups of people from different ages and different life experiences and with individuals. And we’ve learned so much and what a conversation successfully looks like and when it doesn’t look well.

Chanie: Right. And another podcast will explore what is a healthy conversation. Before that, in today’s podcast, we would like to explore some reasons why people are very hesitant to have a conversation. What prevents people from having conversations?

Peretz: Sometimes it’s hesitant and sometimes it’s unable.

Chanie: Yes. So let’s start with one reason and they do not go in order of…  there is no particular order. So one reason is that many people prefer being told what to do. Tell me the best way to lose weight. Tell me the best way to raise your child.

Peretz: The five steps to successful… fill in the blank.

Chanie: Relationships. And how to be happy. The desire and the need for being given a plate of ready-made food is understandable. It’s easier, it’s simpler. And when you do it you assume that you will then reach happiness or an amazing relationship or you will be the best parent ever. 

Peretz: It’s almost a form of consumerism. 

Chanie: Yes. 

Peretz: The American way. Give me what I can consume. And in that frame of mind, it narrows your engagement with another person, with a group of people to simply look for, “What should I do? What should I not do?” And it shuts everything else out.

Chanie: The everything else, as I understand it is, well, “How come you are not eating well?” “How come your relationship feels that there’s a void and you are seeking somewhere else?” “Where are you at?” “Why do you feel that you’re struggling with parenting, what’s going on?” And it invites the person who prefers a ready-made plate to instead go into the kitchen and start preparing food with whatever ingredients they have and the other person to see that and observe that and absorb that and continue that conversation without, you know, ordering takeout.

Peretz: And it requires you, as you’re speaking to actually dig into yourself, explore and bring yourself forward, which when you’re the consumer you don’t have to bring yourself forward. You just basically… you’re disconnected. And you just take what is given to you. It’s disconnected.

Chanie: And even… So let’s say someone, using this example, prefers to be a consumer, right? I also want to highlight that other people actually prefer to be the provider. Meaning people prefer to lecture to you and promise you success.

Peretz: To sell you.

Chanie: To sell you a product. People prefer that because they actually find their consumers. And so someone becomes an expert on five steps to happiness and five steps to successful intimacy and this and this and so forth, which I’m not saying none of that works. What I’m pointing out is to have a sustainable life, to have a sustainable way of living more happily, living as better parents, or as a better partner, it’s not just about reading a book or hearing a lecture or being given a list. That could be a start, but that is not a conversation. And that will not be absorbed in a sustainable way.

Peretz: No. And I’d also speak to the provider who limits it to say, “Here, I’ll give you the five steps.”  What they’re doing themselves is that they’re not bringing themselves forward. They’ve just basically summarized certain points and pushed it out there. And they haven’t shown themselves, to bring themselves forward. And therefore the person, the consumer, isn’t doing the same. They’re both distancing. 

Chanie: Yes. 

Peretz: There’s a distance on both parts.

Chanie: Yes. Yes. So…

Peretz: We see this is very common.

Chanie: We see this very often. 

Peretz: I think to a certain degree, we start life out that way. I mean, in school, in education, we’re instructed by instructors, we’re instructed by teachers. They tell us what to do. We are instructed by parents, they tell us what to do. And at that point in our lives there is not more to be expected. That’s how we can consume information. That’s how we learn. That’s how we teach our children. But as we get older, we become wiser, more nuanced, we have greater life experience. We can’t remain children any longer.

Chanie: But there is a preference to still to remain more simple in our approach and not stay in that space of difficulty where we say, “Wait, I know I received the cliche that life is not perfect. So my life is not perfect. Okay. I’m moving on.” Instead of saying, “Wait, my relationship with my teenager is really rocky. So I can say, “Yeah, teenagers are just a mess.” 

Peretz: “They’re monsters.”

Chanie: “They’re monsters.”

Peretz: “They’re aliens that will come back to earth when they’re 20.”

Chanie: Right. “Their brains are not really fully functioning,” you know, et cetera, et cetera. Yes. Those all reflect certain true dynamics, but that is not a reason to dismiss the way that a parent could adjust their parenting and their ability to connect to a teenager. And so not only do we prefer to be told what to do, we also start leaning to texts and cliches. You know, I was in a parenting workshop and the lecture, the… I don’t even call it a workshop. I don’t even call it a conversation because if someone’s talking for 45 minutes straight, that’s not a conversation. But this person was saying, you know, “Adam and Eve and Abraham and Sarah, their families were imperfect. And so, yeah, what do you want? We all have imperfect families.” And, and we’re talking to adults here, no one is reaching for perfection at this point. Or even if people are, that’s not a way out.

Peretz: I just want to add – perfection is the big illusion. It is a diversion. It’s basically telling you, “There’s not much you can do because you’re doomed to imperfection. And therefore just come to terms with it or live in the fantasy…” or not live in the fantasy, “live in the denial of your reality.” 

Chanie: Right. 

Peretz: We remain distanced from it.

Chanie: And there’s another dynamic. Well you see one as leading to the other, but we also… many of us prefer to find someone who’s going to tell us what to do. And almost confirm what we already know, but she, or he is the expert. So actually we’re doing it right. We know what to do. And we prefer not to be shown an alternative way, a way that demands effort and change. And I’m talking about minor changes on our parts. We don’t want to be the one accountable for a rocky relationship. We want to shift it to the other or say, “We did our best.” And so having a conversation requires us to open ourselves to the possibility of being the change. And again, we prefer, we prefer to outsource it or to ignore it.

Peretz: And I want to comment on the word “change.” Because people think, when you hear the word “change,” you think like transformation. Actually change is going from zero to step one, just one minor shift, one minor sign of growth. You know, I use a plant, that’s a living plant that grows from a seedling into a big tree. You don’t even see that change occur, but there’s constant change, but they’re so minute, so minor. And when we speak about change, we speak about being in that state of movement.

Chanie: Yes. So, you know, some of what we just spoke about are… people are afraid to enter that new space, but also people don’t know how to because they haven’t been modeled this way. So their teachers haven’t modeled it. Their parents haven’t modeled it.

Peretz: Their communities haven’t modeled it. 

Chanie: Exactly. And so they may know in their gut that there’s something off here and they want certain experiences, but they don’t know that it’s possible. And they also don’t know who to turn to. And so what we’re trying to do with M54 is to bring up ways of having conversations and also topics that couples, for example, would be hesitant to have, like… Go ahead.

Peretz: Not necessarily hesitant, but are so caught up…They may be hesitant, I’ll concede that, but it’s also in many instances, it could be that they’re just so caught up in the routine of life and you know, just moving forward, that they don’t have the time or the brain space and bandwidth to pause and reflect.

Chanie: Yes, that’s another dynamic. We don’t allow ourselves to pause and reflect. We feel the need to be busy and to hustle and to fall into bed exhausted each day.

Peretz: Or if we want growth, we read a book or we listen to a TED Talk. 

Chanie: Yeah. 

Peretz: We want somebody to instruct us.

Chanie: And to be inspired.

Peretz: And to be inspired. Ugh!

Chanie: (Laughs) That word inspiration is not our favorite word. 

Peretz: No, because it’s a diversion again, it’s a diversion again.

Chanie: You left feeling, “Oh, that was amazing. I can do that.” Or “I’m good enough.” And then it evaporates. 

Peretz: It evaporates. 

Chanie: Yes. Yeah. So these are dynamics that we’ve experienced between ourselves and with the other people who are having conversation. And so we are highlighting it now in today’s podcast, and I’m pretty sure that, you know, any listener could find one dynamic they are aware of that’s making them hesitate to have a conversation, or more, or one that they’re currently working on. And we continue to encourage that, to stay there in this space and wonder, “How many conversations have I had that allowed me to listen differently, to share differently, to absorb differently? That left me elevated?”

Peretz: Yeah. 

Chanie: And wanting more.

Peretz: And wanting more. And I think what we’re going to go into our next conversation, next podcast, we’ll explore the character of conversation, what a healthy conversation looks like between two or more individuals so that people could then try to apply it in their lives. 

Chanie: Mhmm. Have a good day! 

Peretz: Thank you for listening! 

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