The name of this blog, Rainbow Juice, is intentional.
The rainbow signifies unity from diversity. It is holistic. The arch suggests the idea of looking at the over-arching concepts: the big picture. To create a rainbow requires air, fire (the sun) and water (raindrops) and us to see it from the earth.
Juice suggests an extract; hence rainbow juice is extracting the elements from the rainbow, translating them and making them accessible to us. Juice also refreshes us and here it symbolises our nutritional quest for understanding, compassion and enlightenment.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Less Pointing, More Listening

Last week’s blog bemoaned the pointing of the finger in religious circles. The theme of that blog could just as easily be applied to many other human spheres: politics, economics, philosophy, history, statehood, even opposing football teams.

When we consider the many interlocking, and mutually reinforcing, ills of the world today, they can all be traced back to three basic disconnections: disconnection from nature, disconnection from each other, and disconnection from our own selves.

Our willingness, often eagerness, to point the finger of blame is one of the most perfidious behaviours that reinforces the disconnection from each other.1

The blame game sets up, and maintains, an us/them separation. The dualism of this results in further dualisms of right/wrong, good/evil, and superior/inferior. Blaming says ‘I am right, you are wrong,’ and that no further discussion can be entered into – the judgment has already been formed and delivered.

We may not realise that in pointing the finger, not only does this help disconnect us from others; it also serves to disconnect us from our very selves.

Without realising it, blaming others is often based in fear. Fear, in turn, drives three possible responses – fight, flight, or freeze. Pointing the finger is a fight response. It increases adrenalin in our body, priming us to prepare to fight (even if fight may solely be a war of words.) Physical or verbal, this fight disturbs our emotional state, and our sympathetic nervous system takes over. Of course, this response can be useful, but not if it remains on high alert.

The negative mental state that this fosters can lead to heart problems.

Once we enter the blame game it is very easy to get hooked when others are playing the same game. When other players point their finger at us, our response can easily be to return the gesture. Blame stimulates and encourages blame. Blame does not eliminate our fight response; it keeps us ready to fight.

When the act of blaming becomes habitual (as it can) the negative effects of continued heightening of the sympathetic nervous system become chronic. Heart problems are the symptom.

An Antidote – Listening

How can we relieve ourselves of this state? One of the antidotes to blaming is listening. Not the sort of listening which is simply a vehicle for finding a space in which to voice our own opinions, thoughts, or retorts however.

What is required is creative (sometimes called active) listening. This sort of listening involves various techniques and behaviours that can be learnt. Examples of some of these techniques are as follows:2

Reflecting:  A speaker may use a word or a phrase at the end of a thought.  Reflecting that word or phrase back encourages the speaker to continue or to expand on the thought.  Reflecting also helps the speaker to realise that they have been accurately listened to.

Paraphrasing:  Closely related to reflecting, paraphrasing is summarising in the listeners words what it is that they have understood the speaker to have said.  This enables the speaker to know that they have been accurately heard and to correct any misapprehension that the listener may have.

Non-verbal Actions:  It is important to realise that communication involves so much more than the words being spoken (or heard).  For the listener this means using non-verbal actions that show an interest in what the speaker is saying.  A simple smile, a nod of the head or eye contact help to convey such attention.  A word of caution however; in some cultures eye contact can be interpreted as a sign of rudeness, so be warned.

Clarification:  Questions of a clarifying nature can be useful to help a speaker know that they have been listened to and to more fully explore what it is they wish to convey.

Positive Reinforcement:   Words such as “go on,” “tell me more,” can be encouraging but should be used sparingly so as not to become distracting.  Words that imply agreement (e.g. “yes,” “very good,” or “indeed”) can become annoying and it is usually better to wait until a time when it is appropriate to indicate agreement on behalf of the listener.

When listening in this way is practiced it becomes very difficult, nigh on impossible, to judge and blame another person.

Furthermore, creative listening allows our parasympathetic nervous system to settle us. The parasympathetic nervous system is the system that restores us to a state of calm and maintains that state. Ultimately, this eases the stress on our body, especially our heart. It’s got to be good for us!

In conclusion then: Less pointing and more listening can help overcome our disconnection from others, and from our own selves.


1. In my life I have struggled frequently to remove myself from the blame game. Hence, I know how hard it can be to do so.

2. When first learning these techniques they can feel mechanical, contrived, or clinical. However, with practise and continual use, they eventually become natural and simply part of our listening style.

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