Did it ever happen to you that you got hurt? Or that someone got hurt by you…? If you want to be close to people, hurt will surely happen!
The key for me is not in doing everything I can in order to avoid hurt from happening (and by doing so, I lock myself in a cage where I can hardly move!) but in having the skills to create a ‘clearing up the mess Dialogue’ (or a ‘Healing dialogue’), which for me, is probably the most important dialogue to have in relationships.
When hurt is there, there is a break in trust. When trust is broken (also on subtle levels), we can’t be close to one another.
Here below is a story from a call I had yesterday with a friend.
And just before sharing this story, I am excited to let you know of our upcoming ONLINE round of courses and workshops that are opening in 1.5 weeks (and some that will start later this year) !
As some of the courses got fully booked, we happily added 2 more courses so that there are now places available in all courses:
Creating the conditions for a Healing Dialogue:
I talked yesterday with a friend. She is about to leave tomorrow for an adventurous hike for few weeks with her partner and 2 young children. She mentioned to me that she is feeling fear about it and that honestly she prefers not going to the trip and rather stay home. While exploring this fear, a strong memory came back to her from a previous hike they made:
“We wanted to cross a river. My partner went first with our daughter and I was holding our younger son in my arms and started crossing the river. But the stream was very strong and I was very afraid. My partner called to me words such as ‘common…courage…trust…continue…’. I felt a strong resistance and managed to say NO! Then I went from the other way- I went back to walk along the car road which my partner found to be dangerous to do and was not happy about”.
While she was happy that she stood up for herself, she also felt unhappy that this led to a taste other than ‘togetherness’ with her partner.
This memory is still vibrating in her very vividly. It is actually not a small fear, it is the fear of death!! And this makes her now less then wishing to go with him again for the hike.
Break in trust: Such a moment, when it doesn’t get the chance to be cleared up in a dialogue, it tends to linger in our body and affects many situations in the future: it affects our reactions, our choices and our feelings towards each other. It asks for healing, to re-build trust that our needs are safe.
Complexity- Hold the difference with care: He was afraid for her to walk on the busy road, she was afraid to cross the river. Each of us have our own inner past experiences and painful images that bring fear into our heart. How to have a dialogue that leads to both of us feeling safe?
Create the conditions for the dialogue to work: If we do not create first the supportive conditions for such a dialogue to happen, it often leads to either of these 2 painful results:
– The dialogue never happens: We do not have the inner clarity that gives us the courage to initiate it. The most important dialogues in our lives simply NEVER HAPPEN!
– The dialogue gets off track: We try to speak up but it results in even more hurt and distance.
The missing building block: Through talking about it with me, she seemed moved to having the dialogue with her partner. Yet, she immediately expressed feeling afraid and reluctant- She tried this dialogue a few times before and it ended up bringing more triggers rather than closeness and understanding between them.
Hearing she is afraid to initiate the dialogue, gave me the clarity that something is needing to be spoken between them before the actual dialogue: A preparation for the dialogue, a setting up of a mutual intention. It is to ‘name the intelligence of the fear’. It might sound like this:
“I like to talk with you, and, I am afraid we will fall again into being triggered with each other, which is really not what I wish for. I wish this dialogue to bring us closer and that it brings more safety for the both of us when we hike together. Shall we hold together the intention of slowing down and to stay in this dialogue as long as needed until both of us feel understood and until we get the inspiration as to how to navigate such situations together in the future?”
Expressing this before we start strengthen our mutual capacity to actually stay and hold the dialogue together. This sounds maybe simple but watching many dialogues in the last 20 years, this step is so often skipped.
And last 2 points:
Doing the dialogue outside of the heated situation: Trying to have a challenging dialogue in the middle of a streaming river with your child in your arms and while fearing death… is TOUGH! When we are both triggered, we both can’t listen. It is life-serving to have the dialogue outside of the heated moment, when we are both available and are not under the experience of danger (To experience ‘danger’ is not only when we cross a river but also when we discuss who will be doing the dishes tonight…).
Get empathy first from another source: It is harder for the people who are most close to us to listen to us empathically, as what we say often stimulates (strong) feelings in them. Getting empathic listening from another person before the actual dialogue (in the case of my friend- from me) allows:
– The message that comes from her mouth to be clearer: instead of making her partner listen to her for 10-20 minutes in her slow discovering of her message, she can now say her message in 1-2 concise nonjudgmental minutes.
– She can now have more inner space to actually hear him and therefore- stay in the dialogue together.
Doing this preparation will of course not guarantee that the dialogue will not get stuck. Being a human-being and being with other humans is… messy (which I find to be beautiful). And yet, it does enlarge the chances for something in the dialogue to happen differently. Even if only slightly, this ‘differently’ shifts something profound in our internal experience and our feelings. It shifts the deep images we have about one another. It creates a movement of healing and brings a new taste of trust that we are able to hold situations together in ways that work for both of us. Which in return it offers hope and joy in being together.
I look forward to hear how their dialogue did go.
With much wish for (re-)building trust and safety in our relationships,