What Aren’t You Saying?
I was having breakfast with a dear friend recently and we were talking about the difficulties she’s having communicating openly and honestly with her family. Her initial reason for withholding (particularly emotionally) was that “…it’s very painful for them and they can’t deal with it”. I responded that her rationale was logical, reasonable, even thoughtful and very common…spare them from acknowledging (and perhaps releasing) their pain by continuing to suppress, depress and repress your own!
I then offered her another way of looking at it: “What if your withholding actually reinforces their fear and pain? (The unconscious message being sent and received is: “you are right, it’s too hard /painful/scary to deal with so we’ll just push it away/deny/ignore it”). What if you are actively enabling them to stay in fear because you won’t have the heart-felt and sometimes hard conversations? What if, by sharing your truth openly, honestly, directly, clearly and completely you (and they) have the opportunity to feel and heal and let this go? And finally, whether they choose to go there or not, you can…”
I then shared my own experience of having a heart-felt and hard conversation with my mother over the holidays. I was feeling a lot of stuff so I just blurted it all out one day in a fit of frustration. Not the most elegant way to start a conversation, yet in the end it didn’t matter. What mattered was my intention – which is to come from love and return to love as soon as I become aware that I am not coming from love. So I kept talking and listening and responding until I got to a critical emotional piece I had been withholding for a long time. My energy shifted immediately. I was aware of a deep abiding peace settling in me. Then Mum began to really open up and shared how she was feeling with me. It was amazing. I realised (again!) it’s not a one-off “all fixed now” proposition. Being open and honest is a process that has no end. Whenever I open up, really open up and share the big and the small – the all – my relationships thrive. And so do I. She got it.