Two thirds through filling the space with green water-colours I noticed how the different greens split into different shades. A thought came to me: when someone says something like “I have got a green car”, I immediately have an idea what the colour might look like but I might ask: “What shade of green? Fern green? Bright green? Racing green?”. When someone says: “I feel sad” or “I feel lonely” I don’t usually ask: “What type of sad? Is the way you are feeling sad the same way I am feeling sad? Is it okay to feel sad?”. Instead, I presume that the other is sharing my experience.
In my daily life I miss other people and I get missed because communication is usually happening in a flash. Most of the time this is good enough but sometimes it is not. When communication does not work we can quickly feel threatened. There is a risk that we disappear in a blame game and language becomes a weapon or a shield rather than a way to connect.
So, what about trying a version of “What colour is your green?”.
Find someone you like to know better and who you feel safe with.
Have a piece of paper and a pen each.
Agree on a word, maybe use green, sad or lonely.
Agree on a length of time – maybe 5 minutes.
Write down what comes to your mind when you hear the word.
When you are both finished, swap your pieces of paper or read out what you have got.
Alternatively, you can do this by yourself and explore your own reactions, thoughts, feelings to your chosen word.
What was that like? Any surprises?