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Processing Input

Jul 30, 2022 10:12:18 AM / by Tim McCarthy

“You don’t trust me”.

It hit me like a brick to the side of my head.

But as I’ve grown older, I try hard to process input that I don’t like.

I had to ask myself immediately (before responding) if the judgment is their truth or mine. I asked myself, “is it true, do I really not trust them?” The answer was no, I trust this person very much.

Silhouette of human head with gears mechanism instead of brain

So, I eventually responded: “I’m sure I trust you, what causes you to believe that I don’t?”

My friend  responded by listing the many occasions that I have questioned him, recently as well as over the years.

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I can start to process their truth. By doing so, I learned that the real issue is that my friend values control over input and therefore resents being questioned.

Then there are other times that processing reveals their truth needs to be mine, such as when my adult son said, “Dad, you are no longer in charge”.

My question became, “is this their truth or mine?” Is he still struggling for his freedom from me or is this a fair assessment?

So, I asked, “what made you think that I think I’m still in charge”?

He said, “You just told my child what to do”.

Busted. I was caught red handed and immediately became red faced with embarrassment.

In this case, I must take action to demonstrate I’ve accepted “the” truth. And so, I’m learning to step away when things get tense among my kids’ families to avoid the temptation to be “helpful”.

Later Kevin and I spoke about it. We decided that there is a good process to follow when we receive input we do not welcome.

1. Take it seriously, whether it seems worth processing or not. Resist our natural temptation to ignore or deny that what is being said to us may be true.

2. Consider the source of the input and what their truth might be. Are they projecting their own issue on me? Or is their comment constructive?

3. If projecting their issue, push back or let them be. If constructive, act upon your learning.

During Alice and my engagement, I tried several times to get my Mom to impart some wisdom about my coming marriage. She did not share advice easily but finally she said, “once you stop talking, you’re done because issues left unspoken become elephants in the living room of your relationship”.

Beware your elephants. Process input.


Tim McCarthy

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Tim McCarthy

Written by Tim McCarthy

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