Seeing the best in life's challenges

Don’t Shoot the Messenger!!

on February 5, 2014

Back in the old days, any information that contradicted the status quo was considered a threat.  And what to do about a threat??  KILL IT!!  Eliminate it.  Stick your fingers in your ears and wiggle your tongue and make noise and refuse to engage with it!

Sure, mankind has come a long way.  Still, we retain more of this behavior than we’d like to admit.  We don’t like hearing feedback that questions us.  We don’t like information that doesn’t fit.  We want to feel good about how we see the world and how we fit in and what we are doing, so information that contradicts any of that feels threatening.  And if we are confronted with a messenger that is different from us, we are suspicious.

Most of us, in a comfortable moment, if we allow ourselves to think about it, would agree that feedback from a source that we trust can be very helpful.  It might still be hard to hear, but if we can set aside the discomfort and think about the feedback in a detached manner, it can be invaluable for our personal growth.

Still, it can be hard for even a close friend or family member to bring up honest feedback.  We all hesitate to share observations if we anticipate that the person receiving it won’t take it well or if their feelings might be hurt.  This dynamic is a barrier to honest communication, and it limits the possibilities of personal growth.

So it’s not terribly difficult to learn to be open to information that comes from a trusted source.  If the source seems safe, if you know the person or source has your best interests at heart, it’s much easier to consider it.

If the goal is maximizing personal growth, one would want to get better at remaining open to all kinds of information, not only from sources we know but also from those outside our comfort zone.  One would work on their personal abilities in discerning what resonates or feels true as well as feeling comfortable knowing when information doesn’t fit.  One would want to be as open as possible, without feeling threatened by any information, regardless of how it was delivered or how out-of -the-box or crazy it seems.

So let’s talk about the messenger.  The messenger is just someone who is communicating information.  A Messenger is someone who is just passing on information or repeating what they have been told.  The messenger doesn’t have an agenda.  The messenger himself really doesn’t pose a threat.

There’s a lot of information “out there.”  Are you only open to messages that come from others who are “like you”???  For example, if you are a Christian, do you only trust Christian messengers?  How do you know if the person really is a Christian?  This way of thinking applies a filter to determine whether the messenger is credible.  Rather than focusing on whether the message resonates or is helpful, sometimes we get stuck and distracted by who is delivering the message.

How many people have been deceived by someone they trust?  How many times have you ignored the feeling that something wasn’t right, because of who the messenger was?

Personally, I have come to the conclusion that there are messages all over the place, and I have decided to be open to them, no matter who the messenger is.  I’m focusing on my own sense of whether a message is useful to me or not.

Another way to say this is, God is everywhere, especially in the places we least expect.  There are messages, opportunities for us to learn and grow, in what’s familiar, but even more so in the places that are unfamiliar.  There’s no limit to God’s reach, so why should I limit the places I look?

We still retain the fear of the unknown, the fear of the unfamiliar messenger, the fear of anything different.  This fear holds us back from our potential.  Is it time to let it go?

How?  Well, try practicing.  Find an unfamiliar source, a book about an unfamiliar but interesting topic, a video that seems far-out.  Read or watch with an open mind, all the while trying to see through to the concept that is behind it.  Don’t feel like you have to agree or disagree, or decide if it’s “right” or “wrong.”

At the end, you can just conclude that it was interesting to hear a different perspective.  As my friend says, “That’s information.”

Notice how it feels to do this.  Did you feel threatened?  Look, it’s just a book or a video, you will never meet the messenger, no one else in the world even ever needs to know you put yourself through this exercise.  No one is making you agree.  Why do you care what this person says?  Why do you care if they have a different opinion?

If you were triggered, ask yourself why.  What are you afraid of?  Why does this feel personal?

The point of all this?  You will learn about yourself.  You might find that you are closing yourself off from information or feedback due to fears.  As a result of becoming aware of this, you might be more open to growth.

In addition, you might find yourself becoming more open to others.  You may expand your ability to communicate more fully and honestly.

The downside?  All hell could break loose.  You could be forever changed.  That might sound dramatic, but I’m not kidding.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But I’m just a messenger.  You will know if the message is for you or not.

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