Do You Have A Map For Difficult Dialogues?
Have you ever experienced communication gaps with others you’ve reached out to? You reach out with warmth, curiosity, and interest, trusting you are going to be met right there in mutuality, yet, what you get back is rather shocking.
What you get back is a harsh tone of voice, judgments, being told what to do and how to be. I had this experience recently and took time to be with it because my reaction got my attention. I shut down inside. I was shocked. My eyes widened, my face got tight and warm, my stomach clenched, and I noticed my breathing was shallow, and nearly stopped.
I recognized I was feeling shame and running the messages that I was less than. I was beginning to doubt and question myself around things that I actually feel very strongly about. Which is about staying in relationship. What I want to recognize is, that in the moment, how important it is to slow down and self-connect.
So, let me tell you a story. One of the first times I experienced this was when I was a young child and I had my first horse. The trainers, and even the 4-H leaders, had a way of being with horses that was not relational. It was shocking to me. The horse was more of an object, or a tool, or a function. They needed to function the way you wanted them to, or they needed to receive harsh treatment.
That did not resonate with me because I loved my horse. My first horse was a beautiful little black Morgan mare named Beauty, and she was a beauty! However, when I got older and finally was able to get horses back into my life, again, I recognized the prevailing perception of how to be with animals that did not resonate with me. The perception is one that holds an objective non-relational eye when looking at the horses, without seeing their heart and soul. Seeing them as there is something you want to get out of them. Maybe like you might look at a vehicle, a house, or clothing, or anything else that you see as a possession.
What I also recognized is how commonly this crosses over into parenting. I’ve taught a lot of parenting classes, and I’ve felt surprised and rather shocked, becoming even more passionate about offering an alternative way of being in relationship with our children. The key is to actually BE in relationship WITH our children. Not telling them what to do - but having open conversations.
I experience that this is possible with our animals as well. We don’t have to tell them what to do and we don’t have to make demands. Instead, we can stay open and curious to receive information back from them.
When my daughters were younger, and they got their first horses, I looked for trainers to help us and to teach my daughters how to be with horses. It took some time to find someone that understood relationship with horses.
Most trainers just wanted to tell you what to do, point out all the conformities of the horse, and tell you everything that is wrong with them, telling you how to fix “it”. And, they were missing the whole heart of what the potential conversation could be, especially with someone who is new to this type of relationship.
So, when this happened more recently with someone, and I heard this information coming back where I was being told how it was, and even projections around how I was being in relationship with my horse, I was shocked and stunned. Because, there was no curiosity directed my way. There was no compassionate understanding. There was no open dialogue or invitation for a reciprocal conversation to continue. I felt cut-off, shamed, and put in my place.
Taking time to be with myself in that experience is so important. It’s a skillset that I’ve been nurturing in myself, nurturing in my clients, and in all of my relationships. How do we stay present, fully present, and engaged, grounded in our own values, so that we are able to continue to have a conversation? How do we speak rather than having our throat cut off where we can’t say a word?
For me, part of it is recognizing where the other person is in their nervous system. That’s a way that supports me to stay present. I recognize that they have shifted left. (In their logical, left hemisphere) They are not in the relational, embodied part of their own being. Most likely they don’t even know how and don’t even know that they are not being relational! Because this is the way that most of our world operates.
Our world operates out of facts, logistics, what you should do, ought to do and have to do, and you are supposed to do, and if you are not doing it you are wrong. Well, I do enjoy staying curious, and, what great practice to stay in the conversation to see if there is an inroad where I might make a connection with this person in a new way that they have never experienced before.
I want to live empowered to set clear limits, especially for other beings I’m responsible for. Including myself, I don’t want to diminish myself, or allow others to be diminished in my presence. I want to be empowered with the courage to say what no one else says. To speak up on behalf of others that do not have a voice. I feel passionate about that. That empowers me to begin to risk speaking up, to risk showing up, even if other people don’t understand or agree with me. I want to be able to speak clearly and directly, and I want to be speaking in this way with grace, with consideration and care, and yet, very precisely.
I want to model what I want to experience in relationship whether other people reciprocate that or even understand that. Because in that, I’m offering another model of a way of being, and that is a different paradigm than the one we live in right now, for most of us.
True empowerment is being able to stay engaged, especially when difficult conversations arise, and there are more eyes witnessing it. To be able to ground yourself, breathe into your heart, breathe into your gut, receive your body’s wisdom – and allow what the next words are to come out of your mouth - to be ones that are wise and graceful. To model that everyone matters, to take the time to slow it down and to stay present.
These are skillsets and mindsets that many of us have never had modeled in our life, and I believe they are so important, especially in our world now.
If you’d like to learn more about that, I encourage you to reach out and join with others that are equally passionate about this way of being. People who work together supporting one another in small group learning to develop these skillsets, and to practice them with one another, so we can carry this way of being out into our world where it is really needed.