Imagine if I could reach as many people as I wanted to. This sounds exciting but also equally overwhelming! But what if I could really reach them in an open and honest way? Wouldn’t that be more meaningful anyway? Through the gift of technology, the gift of sharing with others through word of mouth or the gift of meeting people in person, there are unlimited options to access others. The world is getting smaller and most things feel like they are speeding up. But seriously, how would I be able to distinguish the relationships that bring me quality from the relationships that feel forced or contrived? When referring to true authentic connection (the topic of last months blog post), this most certainly includes what I would argue to be the most valuable component of connection: which is open and honest communication. Communication is not always verbal. Communication gets to involve observation, feeling, sensating, emoting, wanting and needing. When I allow open honest communication, I agree to play a role in relationship by a). Showing up fully in my own truth and b). having consideration for others while c). Feeling any feelings that come with standing in my true authenticity.
Relationship takes balance, awareness, patience and open communication to find out what works best for all who are involved. The lack of open and honest communication is hugely responsible for relationships fizzling out, failing or flaking. So why am I so afraid to say what I observe without evaluation? Why am I more inclined to postpone relationship rather than being clear and open about where I currently stand? Why do I want to delay communication in effort to keep a relationship going that has truthfully served its time or expired? Why is it so counterintuitive to say how I feel and communicate it effectively? I believe I have not been taught or modeled what it is like to be vulnerable, enough. I am lucky to have the moments that I have been moved, whether this has been through theater, arts or movies; vulnerability is scary and generally feels hard because of lack of practice and lack of a safe space or trusting container. Can you imagine a world where fostering vulnerability among open and honest communication in relationships was a top priority? I have the sense that really getting to know our human counterparts on such a profound level would grant much mutual understanding and compassion in situations where giving others the benefit of the doubt does not have to be such a wonder. I believe there is a boat load of shame layered on to feeling awkward or uncomfortable. I also believe that trauma and unresolved trauma keeps me feeling stuck and keep me feeling ill.
Saying how I feel requires risk taking and exposure in relating. Saying how I feel runs the risk of being rejected, or feeling loss if someone walks away. In a time where survival depends on community, I can see why inauthentic connection would feel better than being dismissed from community altogether. Can I heal to show up for myself? Can I progress to connect to myself first? Can I see my own personal value and worth and believe in myself first in order to impact and influence others next? Sure it would be amazing if I never had to openly communicate, but where is the art in that? The perception is that I would not have to ever risk the idea of being seen in a humiliating or exposed position. This is my brain trying to protect me and keep me safe. I do know though that what I am missing out on actually holds more value that what I am afraid to experience. My growth and transformation that takes place as a result reveals the true treasure of open and honest communication. The thing is, on the other side of this fear to be seen, heard and understood deeply lies unconditional love and compassion. Moving through discomfort to untangle my own feelings is liberating and very rewarding. Untangling my own thoughts and feels can be the most challenging. But it also requires you to shed the relationships that are no longer serving you. It requires me to up level in my standards for quality of people I surround yourself with. Frankly, it can be an identity crisis. But I can do this. In facts I have devoted my life’s work to this. I am made for this development! I see me and I am here for me- every step of the way. When I share how I feel, I address the needs underneath in order to make a request that enriches the depth of the relating. Often when I fail to have open and honest communication, I tend to blame, judge, criticize, interpret, compare, deny personal responsibility or control in effort to avoid my own role. I have my tells when I create distance or disconnect, and this comes from my own patterning. I can challenge myself to show up when I feel triggered and know that even if no one else shows up for me, that I indeed can for myself.
So how do I take emotional responsibility anyway? After all of these years spent learning something other than open and honest communication? Where to start? Wow how the world would be different if I had a class on non-violent communication in high-school. I know I would so be better for it. I love the power of choice. I feel sad because back then, I trusted my educators to guide me through what I needed most; which was for my emotional health to be addressed at that time in my life. I get to give back to that time of my life now as I claim back my individuation, my personal power and my position of passion. When I work with children and their parents, I get to devote my learnings and experience to social emotional foundations. And that feels so badass. Here are the steps to emotional independence. Step one: let go of having to be responsible for others feelings. This was the hardest pattern for me to break because I spent my whole life participating in making sure others were okay. When I learned to put myself first my whole life changed. It turned out, others could handle me setting a boundary of only being responsible for me. I felt a huge weight off of my shoulders. Step two: Letting go of caring about what others feel and need. I can be in the presence of others being in discomfort and not have to take that on as my own. I can have feelings about stepping away from the enmeshment, but not have to metabolize how others are feelings. I can encourage them to be emotionally accountable too. I can encourage them to consider their role too. Because let’s face it: If I am shifting and changing, its likely that they will naturally shift just by being in my presence too! Ugh! Growing pains are certainly the place to let go. Step three: I accept the responsibility of my own feelings- not matter how messy, how uncomfortable, how unpleasant or how irritating they can feel to feel. Oddly enough, my own emotional responsibility is enough for me to handle. I am aware that I can never meet my own needs at the expense of others, and that others can not meet their needs at the expense of me. Others can be there to support me, but they will not take responsibility to pull me through my own evolution. I can express appreciation through the support. I can ask for what I need. I can make a request for my desires if the other party can comply willingly. I can use empathy and open and honest integrity. The rest is respectful in terms of what others are experiencing. Listen to what others are needing. Care from the heart with reflecting back. Fully be present for a flow of expression. I wanted to end this post with the gestalt prayer: “I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful. If not, it can't be helped” (Fritz Perls, 1969). Remember, it starts with you. I get to create and attract the relationships that I want to see in my life. You get to do this too! I love you all. Cheers to communicating effectively!