4 Steps to Compassionate Communication
Hey beautiful soul!
I am about to speak compassionately with you about my darker side. I call it my shadow side (Carl Jung inspired.)
It's the side of me that doesn't always practice what I preach.
Or speak clearly. It is the side of me that gets easily scared and defensive--especially when I need to speak my truth.
We all have it.
If you deny it, the shadow will get worse.
Big deep breath of self compassion here.
(Cause you know shame is screaming at me that---"I am not enough if I type that...that people will destroy me and my children will starve because of my imperfections!!" --Oh ya, shame.)
If you are not feeling compassionate, empathetic, or enough, this writing may trigger the crap out of you (or bring out your shadow side: judgement, criticism, comparison, etc).
Feel free to skip down to the 4 steps to speaking compassionately now.
You see I am about to be really vulnerable, to speak really clearly, to admit I am not perfect and that I can be mean.
Yikes. (minor panic attack as I type this.)
But this is not just for me.
Speaking compassionately about myself to others and myself and being willing to have them speak compassionately in return is what pulverizes shame, fear, and guilt.
And I have recently discovered that I am on a mission to create a movement. A group of kindred spirits who are full of feist and passion, anger and hurt, fear and hope for more fulfilling relationships and lives.
You see "I have a dream," that no other person will be taken down by shame.
That speaking our truth, although scary, can be done with a lot of courage and a network of people believing in you.
I may be trying to say too much in one post, but I am going to do it anyway!!
Cause my people are smart --YOU ARE SMART
You can hold onto mixed feelings and follow complex trains of thought.
So here goes:
Speak Compassionately, mostly!
So, I attempt to speak compassionately on a moment to moment basis.
To take into account my position and needs as well as the other person/peoples needs.
I am learning that when my shame or fear is through the roof, I can barely muster speaking clearly let alone compassionately.
"I never want to see you again."
I said it out loud, looking straight in their eyes, to someone I had been loving for 3 years.
I had hit the wall.
I was terrified.
I saw everything being lost.
I saw being alone for the rest of my life.
I saw all the areas where I had grown and they hadn't.
I saw all the lies, half truths and betrayals.
I felt taken advantage of.
I felt hurt.
Shame --the feeling of not being enough had taken over and was feeding the fire in my head.
The fire of negativity, half truths and assumptions.
And more fear!
In my imagination, "the perfect world" where everything unfolds the way I think it should, I would have recovered quickly, apologized sooner and seen the gift in that moment.
IT TOOK ME HOURS.
Hours: to get clear, to release the anger and resentment, to find a way to forgive myself and the other being.
And I have been lifting these weights of speaking compassionately for years. Years!!
When I was ready I sent my truth to the soul I had spoken so harshly to.
"Just for the record, I am sorry I said I won't talk to you again. I will. Just not sure when or how. I will work on leaving my pain in the past and meeting you in the present moment the next time we meet."
"Thanks for showing me my shadow side. So many gifts in heartache."
(Feel free to steal these lines!)
So here's my challenge to you:
1. Let's muster up some compassion.
"Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings. In other words, even though the friendly, supportive stance of self-compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering, we can’t always control the way things are.
If we use self-compassion practice to try to make our pain go away by suppressing it or fighting against it, things will likely just get worse.
With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience.
This allows us to hold ourselves in love and connection, giving ourselves the support and comfort needed to bear the pain, while providing the optimal conditions for growth and transformation." Kristen Neff
What support or comfort do you need to bear the pain you are in?
Can you commit to this on a regular basis?
Can you soften and open your heart to yourself?
In my example, I needed to have compassion for myself over all the work I had put into the relationship; all the energy and investments I had made in time, money, vulnerability and more.
I needed to have compassion for the fact that I knew this was the right decision no matter how painful it was.
I needed to have compassion for the real grief, all the hopes and dreams I had envisioned that would not come to life as I walked forward without this specific relationship.
2. Now the harder part, opening your heart to compassion for the other person.
What might they be feeling to behave this way?
What might they need?
Can I appreciate their humanity? Their vulnerability?
Simply having some curiosity will open your heart and cause your words to be kinder even if assertive boundaries need to be set.
In my example, I imagined that this person was afraid of losing all that we had, that holding onto the relationship as it existed while not truly in keeping with their needs and wants felt safe.
I imagined that they too wanted to avoid the grief and pain associated with the loss of a significant relationship.
I imagined that they were scared of being alone.
Of course I have no idea if they felt any of this, and that is not the point.
The need is to open my heart enough to feel compassion and empathy for their side.
And that is important for me to move on.
To speak well and to love them again while moving into a new love that meets my needs and wants fully.
3. How can you hold onto the mixed feelings and communicate your truth?
What are the mixed feelings?
What is your truth?
How can you express your needs in as few words as possible?
Get a journal out or talk to a trusted friend. We bump into fewer trees outside our heads, or do as I do and walk lots in nature processing and dress rehearsing the words till my whole chakra system is in alignment.
OK, here goes. Big vulnerability:
In my example,
the mixed feelings are that we do not want the same things but still love each other and have oodles of chemistry, things in common, and fun together
my truth is that I need to create and grow
I need to plan for the future
I need to feel safe
My expression of this became: I need to a create a relationship with a vision of the future that includes my reality, hopes and dreams, as well as yours and then has a shared collective of hopes and dreams! (The vision sounded pretty sweet to me--but it doesn't have to be the other person's--this is a great reason for the relationship to end sweetly).
4. The last part is the hardest. It is to share your truth, while holding the mixed feelings and compassionately listening to their truth.
This is my weakest skill set.
I usually hear my side.
I hear their side
and then I move forward even if they don't match.
It is my biggest mistake.
And this time, this time, I am going to learn. (wink!)
So, and I am a big hypocrite here most of the time...my coaches laugh with me a lot about this...
Listen, speak and then get clear.
And move forward.
Cause goodness exists in that step.
A new adventure, a new destination.
All based on this growth and experience.
WoooWHooo....now it is time to celebrate with your pack (or me!! I would love to hear your adventures in speaking compassionately).
You worked hard and deserve some fun!!!
As always, I am here to remind you that You Are Enough and it's time to stop suffering and love your life. Let me know how I can help.