Module 2 : dancing with the dark
& the divine
We all want better relationships yet were never given a manual that showed us how! We mostly fumble around doing what we learned from our caretakers and social norms (mostly accentuating defensive behavior and being right over happy) However, we are pretty conscious women and have done some work so we try to do better than our parents did, better than what social conditioning showed us…we are up-ing the game!
Conscious communication is the cornerstone for healthy relating in this new age. It’s time we understand that we can have what we want in relationships by actually teaching the other person about our needs and desires! It’s time that we create a whole new level of SAFTEY through communication with ALL our relationships. It’s time we bring INTENTION into our everyday interactions and realize that the small things we say and do add up to the BIG things. Our thoughts, words, body language, energy and actions have an IMPACT. It’s time to be ACCOUNTABLE…so this, as always, starts with you.
Healthy boundaries and good communication are all about knowing what you want, need and desire and THEN being able to share that in a way that creates safety and love even though what you want to say may be hard.
So yes, mamas…CONSCIOUS COMMUNICATION IS ABOUT SELF REGULATION. It’s a tool that guides the energies we bring to our communications, so that, as we talk, we remain consciously aware of what is going on inside of us, our feelings, thoughts, what we want and need, etc, in ways that keeps us empathically connected and fully present, rather than triggered, therefore…disconnected and defensive. WHEN WE FEEL SAFE WE CAN STAY PRESENT ENOUGH TO EXPRESS OUR AUTHENTIC VOICE. The more authentic and connected we are when we speak, then the more likely it is that we will be listened to, validated and valued.
Behind the hard things to stomach in relationships… Confrontation, Complaining, Comparing, Competing…there is almost always an unmet need. A part of us that doesn’t know how to self-regulate because of a trigger or insecurity; A part of us that has gone unseen and unloved.
The processes that we have been using are vital in relationship to others. You have been learning to be aware of the FELT SENSE…that allows you to track how you actually FEEL as opposed to what you think. Where we mess up and complicate things is when the mind kicks in and we try to come up w/ a reason we feel the way we feel, a justification for the way we reacted, and a scary fantasy about how the other person is going to respond. This is where our STORIES often immobilize our ability to speak with confidence. We become victim to the old patterns of brushing it under the rug, holding on to it, shutting down or exploding because you feel like your under attack.
When we feel safe, we can stay present to ourselves and to others. A lot of disregulation in our system comes from overwhelm or fear…this registers in the brain stem as unsafe and hypes up the sympathetic response (fight, flight or freeze). So, the more that you connect to and understand the parts of you that are getting triggered in a safe way…the more compassion you will bring to yourself. The compassion and understanding actually soothes the nervous system and kicks in the parasympathetic response instead of going the opposite direction into more upset.
What do you need from yourself and the other people in your life to feel safe in relationship? It’s a big question so let’s start with building a safe container.
Notice what feels unsafe whether it’s logical or not within you when you are upset w/ someone or there was a dispute.
Set a container of safety for yourself when getting triggered. How can you notice the sensations of activation (feeling) and separate them from the thoughts, stories and memories that come (thinking). Witness the sensations without making them bad or wrong…no judgment. Track the felt sense. Allow for sensations, stay with them until they lessen and breathe! NAME THE SENSATIONS not the story. Say… “I’m feeling…(anger, sadness, hurt, constriction, tension, heat, light-headed, nervous, rage, triggered) AND I’m safe.” Remember that your sensations and feelings are actually safe to feel. They can’t hurt you and you got this as long as you don’t make the sensations mean something about you.
Set a container of safety in your important relationships. Have a talk about what each other needs in order to freely express themselves with more authenticity. Have this talk when things feel good between you both! You’ll find that trying to navigate or create a safe container is extremely difficult/mostly impossible when you are triggered. Ex. I need you to not threaten to leave me every time we fight. It feels safe when we don’t make our feelings the others fault. Use “I feel” statements, rather than blame, criticism or judgment on the others behavior. We agree to being accountable for our behavior. We agree to listen while the other talks instead of cutting each other off. Have a STRATEGY for how you do confrontation! Agree on giving each other space and not getting offended if someone needs a time-out because they are too triggered. Agree that you will always come back to talk about it after they have processed a bit and feel calmer.
Now, there is a difference between the safety container you set with your close friends/intimate partner, the one with your family and the one that you have for yourself while out interacting with the GP.
We don’t usually have containers with people that aren’t open to creating them with us…there are not the counsious relationships in our life…if they are conscious then there is an agreement on both ends to use the relationship to grow emotionally and spiritually. Often, the most challenging is family because we are close to them but wouldn’t necessarily choose them to connect with. Here we make adjustments…where can you set stronger boundaries and speak what you need from a place of internal safety? Family triggers our core wounds because they are the ones that were around when they formed! So, family is the best place to practice internal safety and healthy boundary setting but often the scariest!
What do you need to feel safer internally that you aren’t getting now? Can you get a bit more intentional and set the container, and have a strategy for conflict? What do you need to know in order to express stronger boundaries?
Yes, we can! We can navigate conflict, make requests and ask that our needs/desires/wants get met instead of not saying anything and hoping that the people around us will just miraculously know. The more specific you are in your requests the greater chance that the people around you know how to love you. We have to teach the people around us HOW to love us! We are all so different, we all have varying LOVE LANGUAGES so the way we give/receive love needs to be explored to be expressed!
Find Clarity- Knowing what you want to say and why, makes it more likely you will obtain the shared understanding and resolution you desire. Without this, there is a risk of wasting your time getting stuck in old programs i.e. complaining about what is lacking, blaming one another, or competing for the “who’s more victimized” award. Clarity allow you to avoid going in circles, or getting addicted to the problems or conflict, which are a waste of your time and energy. So, before discussing a sensitive topic ask yourself; What do YOU need in the situation? What specific actions do you want from the other? What is the purpose of your communication? What do you want the other to understand?
Be Aware of your body language and behaviors- It’s SO important that you recognize nonverbal communication as a formidable force, carrying more impact than your words. Your body conveys more information about you and your intentions than what you say. Conscious communication means you are aware of your body, tone, posture to let the other person know that you care and value them. If you avoid eye contact or turn away or have a sarcastic tone then this will block the communication.
Share your thoughts and feelings, clearly- Be concise once you know what you want to say. The clearer you are the more likely you will be heard or understood. Try to avoid lengthy explanations or repeating the same message over again. Speak in short sentences. Be specific and make requests. Avoid being abstract or vague. Use brief examples only if necessary. Do not hint at what you want or expect the other to read your mind. Effectively communicating is NOT about how much you say, being right or proving the other wrong.
Go SLOW-when your thoughts are fast, so are your words. There is more space and calm when you purposely go slower. Other people’s nervous systems will regulate to yours. Consciously take deep breaths and slow down.
Share hard/painful emotions effectively- Non-Violent Communication technique is a game changer. Read this book, if you haven’t! Simple and SO profound. 1. I Feel…state how you feel (feelings not thoughts) 2. Name the behavior that makes you feel this way without judgement or blame 3. The thoughts…let them know the story you tell yourself when that behavior happens 4. Make a request…let them know what behavior you would prefer instead. Ex. I feel a pit in my stomach, my throat close up and fear comes up in my solar plexus when I see you talk to other women. The thoughts that go along with that are that you are disrespecting me. I’m observing myself pulling away from you when really I want to be close. Can you reassure me by telling me that you love me and we are ok, before we go out to social gatherings AND can you check in with me at least once during the party to give me a sense of safety?
6) Just because you want to get something off your chest doesn’t mean it’s the right time! Be conscious of timing. Don’t bring up sensitive topics when the other is already feeling angry or hurt or when you know your partner is low blood sugar or just walked in the door from a long day and you have no idea where they are at. It’s OK to schedule a time to talk that works for both of you…its actually better this way! Let them know that you are wanting to have a “heart talk” and ask when they are available for that. (I nicknamed them heart talks so they don’t feel threatening and it reminds me I want to connect and understand rather than start a fight)
7) Impact: A really effective way to let someone know how they are affecting you is the practice of conveying impact. “When you don’t text me back within a few days, it has an impact on me. I feel confused and I make up the story that you don’t consider me a priority. Is that true? Can you tell me more about what that’s about?” Ask them if what you are thinking is true for them. And if it’s not, ask for them to tell you where they are coming from. Keep going with this process until you feel you come to an understanding. “Ok, so when I hear you say…that you don’t text me back for a few days because you feel pressure to be in contact with me and that makes you avoidant…hearing that, I feel a sadness and the story of being rejected comes over me like a wave. I’m curious about the feeling of pressure, can you say more about that…
Paraphrasing or repeating back what you say allows you to clarify meanings and understand the other. Sometimes it is necessary to ask questions to clarify meanings, such as “I’m not sure what you mean, can you tell me more about this?” or “What do you mean by ‘too upsetting to deal with’? Asking for addition information not only helps you to better understand the other, it also sends a positive underlying message that “I want to know and value your perspective.” Nothing warms the heart more than sending a message that you value the other by valuing their viewpoint.
What is true for me is that I just like the banter and it makes me feel connection to you, its the way I know I am special for you and feel important. What we can agree on that would feel good to both of us. My desire to connect and your desire to have autonomy.
Then…we have to TRUST what the other person says is true for them and not hold on to it. At times, we have the bad habit of digging until we wear the other person down and get our perspective justified.
We forget that our defense mechanisms also impact others and vice versa. Being in a defensive place is often quite selfish by design. We need to shut others out so we are safe…We develop quite brilliant defense mechanisms that make this so! Judgement and blame are some of the best ways to keep others away and create a unconscious safety net. Often, we don’t take into account that when we are defensive…we disconnect from the others around us and that has an impact. For example, I get distant when I feel left or abandonment and in turn emotionally abandoned my partner. I’m unconsciously making my partner feel the same way I do.
When we get more mindful, we have to slow things down and see the truth (facts) rather than our perspective. No one like doing this because we have to tread on grounds where we might hit the landmine of BEING WRONG. Ha…as if there were such a thing…there is no right or wrong in communication. There is perspective, wounding and compassion in my opinion.
You will need to look at where you can be more accountable for things you have said and done and maybe even master the art of saying I’m sorry!
This is the a massively important concept in healthy relating….REPAIR. You always have the chance to do the repair if something doesn’t go well or you were triggered and said/did things you weren’t proud of. We are human and you will fuck up! This is when we hold RADICAL compassion for the part of us that was triggered or angry or had no other tools except saying something hurtful! We do the repair with ourselves first, and stop shaming/guilting for getting it wrong…what a waste of precious time. Love yourself first…you were doing the best you could at the time!
Start FORGIVING YOURSELF! This won’t always feel natural, in fact, it might feel totally forced and like you don’t deserve it. DO IT ANYWAY. The more you practice forgiving yourself, the easier it becomes. Fake it till you make it! Then, next steps…do the repair when appropriate. Let the person you care for know that you reflected on your behavior and even though you were angry/upset/depressed that you can see how it wasn’t ok to say/do the things that you did. I LOVE YOU, I’M SORRY, PLEASE FORGIVE ME- The ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness- Ho’oponopono.
PS…this doesn’t make the other person right and you wrong. Apologizing isn’t about who wins. It’s being accountable for your part in the dynamic…and that’s all you can do to free yourself of negative energies that would perpetuate if you didn’t come out of hiding and clean it up.
Honest and loving communication creates more intimacy not conflict!
Expressing Positive Impact is also the greatest way to keep appreciation and love flowing in the relationship and assure that you will get more of that behavior. We LOVE positive reinforcement and reflections! “When you take the time to make me breakfast, My heart melts and I feel like a Queen.” The more we focus on what is good and loving the more we see/get of that same thing. When you focus on what you are grateful for in the relationship and express it consistently then it creates a higher frequency energy. If you are focusing on what’s not there…then that’s all we will see.
Many feel awkward expressing love and gratitude. It can feel hard to give compliments and appreciations too…this also gets easier with practice. Start by noticing the specific behaviors that others do that make you feel good and then let them know! When you do this….I feel this… It’s an easier place to start than when in conflict!
Clear communication is an inner driven focus to grow strong, mutually empowering relationships. Live giving and receiving, the effects of how you talk are inseparable from how you listen. They are intricately connected. Conscious-talking is only half the equation, the other half is to conscious-listening.
Conscious listening is a way of being intentionally present to see, to know and to recognize our own and another’s felt presence and unique value in the relationship. Listening is the most critical component of effective communication. As important as it is to resolve past or present problems, for example, when one or both people lack empatic listening skills, problems propel in the direction of “impossible” to solve. We are hardwired to use logic with matters of the heart. So, we have over focused on improving our logic- hoping to get someone to see our side (disprove our logic) and thus we are so blind we fail to see, that No one is present on the other end to listen! The more we approach our conflicts like a courtroom, with lawyers, judge or jury, the further we push away from the other or push them away. Logic does not open the heart that has been closed because it does not feel safe!
“One-sided listening (focusing mostly on the concerns of one, and not the other is a very common problem in relationships…) always breaks down eventually (unless of course it’s in the nature of a “working” relationship, such as parent-child, therapist-client, etc.). When our thoughts or views feel dismissed, unimportant, ignored by the other, eventually, our body subconsciously recognizes them as “threats” (eventually even “enemies”), thus, activates our defenses, perhaps for the smallest infractions.
This form of “listening” often stems from fear, shame or guilt shuts, which are emotional states shut down the processes of the frontal cortex. It is not real listening and rather a form of “obeying”; doing what another wants “without questioning” is also obeying and not real respect per se.
To resolve conflict, regardless how intense the disagreement, we need to be willing and open to listening empathically. This allows us to remain connected to our compassion. (For self and other, based on the way our brains are hardwired with mirror-neurons, as compassion seems to be a two-way street.) Place yourself in the other’s shoes, and really look at the world from their perspective, understanding his or her feelings, emotion-drives. What is the underlying message? This does not mean you need to agree. Just see the world from where they are. When you do, this sends the heart warming messages such as:
“I value you as a person and recognize your unique perspective and experience of the world.”
“You are important to me, you are cared for, you are a real presence in my heart.”
“I believe in you and trust your ability to think, make choices and learn from any mistakes.”
These messages can be conveyed even without saying these words, or any words. Although hearing such words can be powerfully healing, these messages are also expressed by being consciously present, in mind and body, also aware of your body-talk when you are listening, making eye contact, giving your full attention, the look on your face, perhaps touch when appropriate, all show your concern or care.
Every communication is a bid for connection. Responses are powerful in that they let the other know whether you are emphatically connected or not. When your response communicates you’re not connected to place where you seek to understand the other, you send a message that you do not care. Emotions directly affect your and their physiology, thus your communication. When you are not present, the other feels the disconnect in relation to you, and, unless they are have a set intention to remain aware and present, they can lose their own sense of safety and connection.” -Reference Psychcentral.com
What are you trying to say without saying it?
What would create more safety in communication with others?
Is there a part of you afraid to communicate needs because they may not get met?
What do you lose by communicating your true feelings?