04 May 2008


We could all use a little E.S.P. now and then. I'd like to share mine: a distillation of wisdom from three of my favorite authors,

Suzette Haden Elgin

Theodore Sturgeon

Terry Pratchett.
From the esteemed and learned Dr. Elgin, this nugget gleaned from "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense":

Speak to the presupposition.
Meaning: look beneath the surface of any communication that has an emotional 'hook' in it; and address what's underneath, to yourself in your own awareness, even if you don't [or can't] articulate it to the other party involved.
From the late and amazing Mr. Sturgeon, a theme played out in many of his short stories, among them "Microcosmic God":

Ask the NEXT question.
Meaning: don't stop on the surface of any situation. Look beyond, look within.
And from the even more amazing, if possible, Mr. Pratchett, a theme featured in just about everything he writes, but clearly enunciated in "The Thief of Time":

See what's REALLY there.
Three simple-seeming aphorisms; but learning to put them into practice is the craft of a lifetime.

And when you look beneath the surface of anything that seems a little odd or out of place,

ask probing questions, and

keep yourself as grounded in reality as possible while doing it...

You'll often find that, indeed, you have all the E.S.P. you need.


Anonymous Jordie said...

I just had a conversation with a woman who always makes me feel really exhausted after every conversation with her. In fact she reminds me very much of my mother who is a narcissist. I don't think this woman is a narcissist, but there are very similar dynamics.

I guess the presupposition would be that we are friends, and she wants to talk to me. Perhaps the truth is more that we have similar backgrounds and I assume that she enjoys conversation with me, rather than that she perhaps feels obligated to talk to me.

The next question I suppose is then, do I really need to be in contact with her at all, or can I just extricate myself from this and I can live my life and she hers. The only time I ever hear from her is when she wants something from me, or she feel she needs to impart some information or other to me. We don't connect at an emotional level, and I find talking to her like having all the air sucked out of me, constantly worrying that I am saying the wrong thing. I can't laugh, I can't be myself, everything seems forced.

As for seeing what's really there, perhaps I don't really want to, because frankly I am sick of dealing with people who pretend to be friends, yet truly are just people with a need to talk to me for some undisclosed reason. They see me as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Yes, these are really uncomfortable, but crucial questions.

10 May, 2008 04:08  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Thanks, Jordie, for sharing these thoughts. This is exactly how it works, and you are absolutely right, it's not a comfortable process.

But it's an honest and efficacious one - and I know from reading your blog that you have had to choose honesty over comfort at some very important times in your own life.

I admire your courage. And your faith.

13 May, 2008 22:03  
Blogger CZBZ said...

After reading your post, I ordered Dr. Elgin's book on Verbal Self-Defense. I'm flabbergasted and kinda surpised that her book isn't recommended more than it is.

I've read other books on Verbal Abuse but Elgin is much clearer in her descriptions. She also helps me understand how "I" might inadvertently put other people on the defensive, too.

This is an amazing book. Thank you once again!


14 May, 2008 16:11  
Blogger Stormchild said...

CZ, you are very welcome.

So glad you found the VSD book and found it useful.

I admire Dr. Elgin tremendously. She 'turned on the lights' for me, regarding verbal abuse - and abusiveness in general. I'd known 'it' was there for years but had no language to describe it. She gave me the words, and I am forever in her debt.

14 May, 2008 19:41  

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