Thursday, December 8, 2011
Loving Speech: A Deeper Look
I touched on the topic of Loving Speech in a previous post. I think the term loving speech explains itself but I myself often struggle with determining what loving speech looks like in practice. I have determined that there is no step-by-step procedure that we can plug into every circumstance but there are some things I have tried to do in the past that have been successful and hope they can assist some of you in your loving speech endeavors.
If I am the person who has some feeling or truth that I need to share with a friend or loved one and I sense it may be difficult for that person to hear it, I will first look VERY deeply at what it is I am feeling, thinking, needing. One of the best ways to do this is to journal about the "issue" I have so that I can clearly understand my feelings around it, clearly see the most important parts of it, especially those that will need to be communicated, and look at the part of my being that is involved with this issue. When I say 'part of my being' I mean, is this issue related to the child in me, the adolescent or the adult. This can often help us see who inside of us is in the "driver's seat" as it relates to the issue because let's face it, sometimes it's that little girl or boy who's making those snap reactive decisions or that feisty teenager who was so rebellious is the one who yells at our loved one today.
Doing this kind of writing can also help us prepare for speaking with our loved one. In the past and even still I have had to share my difficult feelings with my loved ones first in writing, for several reasons. When I am in the moment talking, I often forget things that I need to say so writing them down helps remind me and having my loved one read about it first helps ease the tension I have around the issue and around any fears I have about talking. Also, I often forget my mindfulness when I am speaking, especially when the discussion is fresh or raw, so writing keeps me mindful as I can do my best to ensure that the message is delivered mindfully and lovingly. So I think that writing a letter is a more than acceptable first step to engaging in Loving Speech with our loved ones.
After the letter has been read or instead of a letter, we should always schedule a time to actually discuss the issue. It is crucial that we speak when we are not heated with anger and that we inform our loved one that we are having a hard time and that we would benefit from having a Loving Speech conversation about an issue. I cannot stress enough that we cannot speak when we are heated with anger as our perspective will be tainted and we will likely say something we regret, I've done it and it doesn't feel good for anyone involved.
I find that speaking from the point of view of how I feel vs telling the person what he or she is doing wrong also helps bring to light the issue in a lovingly way. So I might say one of the following:
"I feel very frustrated when...."
"I find that I have a difficult time when..."
"I notice that I don't understand..."
"From my perspective it seems like you're...."
"When you said, 'XYZ,' it made me feel...."
"Can you help me understand why you..."
"It would help me if you could...."
"Is there something one your mind..?"
These statements reinforce that it is MY perspective or feelings and that I am trying to find out more about the situation or my loved ones perspective so that we can try to come up with a solution.
Along with Loving Speech also comes Deep Listening. So, even though I may be the one that has a frustration with my loved one, I must do my best, my very, very best (this can be very difficult) to listen deeply to what my loved one says and ask questions when I don't understand or explain myself even more in reaction to what he/she says but we must also let our loved ones speak fully too!
Finally, we should always try to have Loving Speech conversations about positive things too, on a regular basis, so that we are not always sitting down to focus on the negative. Something Rishi and I have done in the past, which I think as a result of this post we may need to start up again, is to sit down with each other a least a couple of times a week and share things that we are grateful for about each other and note the things that we each did that helped us or that made us happy so that when we have to sit down and discuss our grievances we can feel strong and secure in the positive foundation that rests on all the things that we love about each other and that we are grateful for.
I think that this way of speaking is pertinent to almost all relationships and can really help us clear the space and energy. Something I often struggle with is determining for myself what issues are serious enough to share and with whom. Do I do this with an acquaintance, unlikely, but possible. Coworker, should but may not. Friend, more likely to but it might not always happen. Husband/Wife/Partner, definitely. Child, absolutely. Do I tell them every single annoyance and frustration, probably not unless it's frequent, reoccurring or turning into resentment/anger. So I am NOT perfect with this. These are things I have tried to do but do not necessarily do to perfection, but hopefully this can give guidance and ideas for the next time you need to discuss something difficult with another person. Clear, positive, compassionate communication can enhance any relationship!
Breathe. Speak. Love. Listen. Communicate!
The photo in this post is from Prozac1's profile on Free Digital Photos.