How do I stay centered in my heart when I’m sad, scared and triggered?
I’m going into a situation of sharing a difficult truth with a very close loved. The whole thing is so delicate due to timing and deeply sorrowful. How the other person responds is a big unknown as things have been incredibly charged between us at times to the point of being scary. With all of the energy that could be swirling around in this interaction, I’m wondering how the heck I will be able to stay grounded in my heart. Can anyone offer ideas?
The first thing that comes to mind is being able to use an assertive speech pattern – and by assertive I mean you speak gently and objectively from your own experience. Gervase Bushe has a model: “I observe …… I think ….. I feel ….. I want……” and Petra King teaches: “I notice….. I imagine …. I feel ……” Notice that the FEELING is an EMOTION not a THOUGHT. Many people have a speaking pattern where they interchange the word “feel” for “think” e.g. “I feel we could try going a different route” – that is a thought, not an emotion.
essentially these structures ask you to only speak of your own experience and not to assume anything on behalf of the other person. So no use of the word “YOU”. so do not make assumptions about the other person. “when I hear the words …. xxx, I begin to wonder if …. and that makes me feel (sad/mad/glad/bad etc) and what I would like is ……” or “I notice that the thing is stuffed up again and I imagine that if it is not fixed it will just keep breaking …. I feel frustrated when it doesn’t work properly …” pretty basic examples …. hopefully I demonstrate the concept.
this technique also asks that facts are separated from perceptions and again from feelings. It helps to ensure that perceptions/opinions are not passed off as facts – which can be confusing for the other person or may actually be a judgment. this technique is low inflammatory and it becomes hard for another person to challenge your experience. It is your experience and it is real for you. So stay inside your own being when responding. this will limit your risk of projecting your own negative emotions onto the other person – which is unfair and disrespectful.
e.g. NOT THIS: “when you say xxxx – I think that you have misunderstood my intentions / you are deliberately avoiding me and I feel angry at you. I wish you would do xxxx before yyyyy”
Instead something more like THIS: “when i hear xxxx – I wonder if I have truly worked out my intentions and I feel confused and stressed. I would like to spend a bit of time unpacking this and working out some options. would you be willing to have this discussion?”.
I am all for taking responsibility for yourself, and your situation and managing your behaviour and its affect on other people. Sometimes that does mean having complex conversations and planning and biting the bullet. often such conversations have the the potential to be growing and bonding experiences (except for the “I’m leaving you” type conversations I suppose) if you can ask the other person if they are willing and able to stick with you through the conversation. Avoid just blurting it out without consideration as an emotive reaction. Stay polite and careful. Invite the person into the discussion using exploration ” …. how can we make this better?” or ” I would like to hear your ideas and view on this …”. “what options do we have for managing this …?” or the power of the hypothetical … “IF we were to move through this what outcomes could we focus on?”
You note that you are not sure how the other person may respond. Listen and accept what is said. Ask questions to clarify and explore his/her view more fully. Demonstrate that you are engaged and interested in the response. the School of Life has a short video on “how to help those we love” which may help and demonstrates this listening skill up until about 3:27 (then it goes on to other things)
these things do take courage. and skill. and lots of care in the moment. be diplomatic, listen and engage with integrity.