Listening to a recording by one of my favorite teachers recently, I found myself cringing.
The judgmental harshness in her voice that I used to attribute to strength and conviction, left me squirming in discomfort.
Even though I love her message, I brace myself against the energy behind her words – delivered like darts.
Don’t reprimand me into being more awake.
Don’t try to scold me into self-compassion.
Shaming me into growth just doesn’t work.
Over and again, I am reminded of this lesson: There is nothing that harshness accomplishes that kindness can’t do better.
Harshness stirs up resistance and shame.
Kindness empowers, opens and dignifies ourselves and others.
It’s far more powerful.
I’ve learned to track my own tone of voice:
When it gets brittle, vitriolic or harsh, it’s a cue that I am out of alignment with my deeper self and that I need more self-connection.
My own underlying pain, hurt or fear gets converted into judgment and vehemence, and then instead of speaking from my empowered self, I use forceful, defensive or righteous energy.
I’ve learned that I am actually safer in my relationships when I drop my defenses. My own willingness to be vulnerable – to drop my defenses – transforms conflict.
It goes like this:
When we feel hurt or afraid, defenses form around our hearts.
When our hearts remain defended, closed and fearful, they can’t heal.
When we can’t feel the hurt, it can’t be expressed.
When it can’t be felt or expressed, we can’t let it go.
When we can’t let it go, then pain lives on, so we try to find relief by trying to convert it into judgment and righteousness, by finding it “out there” and trying to fix it “out there.”
Take that in for a moment.
This, my friends, is the anatomy of disempowerment:
Avoid your feelings and then blame the world for it.
Keep your heart defended and closed.
Lose access to your relational self in the name of safety.
Build more walls. Throw more darts.
When we are in conflict with anything – a person, an idea, an ideology, a belief system – we have the opportunity to shift into an open mind and an open heart; beginning with allowing ourselves to feel. Feel the hurt that comes up in conflicts, and then re-parent yourself, hold your own heart gently with compassion.
We can bring ourselves back to life by focusing on 4 key things:
What’s happening in the present moment?
What feelings are arising in our bodies?
What is deeply important to us? What deep needs of ours are activated?
What one step would help bring us towards more relaxation and release in this present moment?
Once we begin to heal ourselves internally, other people become less and less threatening, and we become more and more available for love.
So much energy is wasted on protection and defense. Against what?
We defend and protect our hearts – but from what?
From pain already within us.
That pain is already ours to either heal, or defend against.
When we aren’t willing to metabolize already existing pain, we simply keep adding to the storehouse, getting more and more constricted, more and more defended, more and more isolated and alone. More vitriolic, reactive, righteous, judgmental, critical and harsh.
That’s not who we are meant to be.
That’s not who we really are.
As soon as we drop our defenses and open up our hearts (counter-intuitive and darn hard as it is…), life eases and shifts.
Our relationship with ourselves softens and releases.
Our relationships with others get more breathing room.
Our relationship with our higher power and transcendent principles deepens and expands.
We are more able to empathically sense where other people are at,
We are more attuned to what is needed,
We are more loving and less reactive,
We take things less personally and can simply sit with what hurts.
Our willingness to feel hurt, pain, fear is a necessary step in the path to being free of it, to transforming it.
Be willing to feel.
Let your heart break open.
Cry, grieve, sob.
Shudder it out.
Your ability to be at peace with conflict, to be at peace with hurt and pain, to be at peace with fear are at the heart of your true power.
These are the simple, courageous practices of living from a nonviolent, open heart.
I’d love to hear from you – What gets in the way of your living from an open heart? And, what has helped? Leave a comment below …