September 28, 2014

10 Ways to Communicate Our Truths in a Loving Way.


“I’m too peopled-out and exhausted to hear about the drama in your life right now.”

Ouch! Someone pass a “boo-boo-words adhesive strip”!

I was the Stabber With Words.

At the time I’d just returned from an overwhelming, extended social weekend road trip. As a naturally reclusive, anti-social introvert, I prefer most days sans interaction with anyone (part of also being an energy-absorbing empath)—it had taken its toll on me.

I later thought about my words and the effect they must have had. {cringing}

We are all unique with different needs but one requirement we all share is the need for respect.

“I must be capable of looking at you, not through barriers, screens of my prejudices and conditioning.

I must be in communion with you, which means I must love you.”

~ J. Krishnamurti

No matter how articulate someone is or isn’t at expressing their vulnerabilities, when they have the courage to share them, it’s a good idea to listen with the intent of understanding.

This can be So. Damn. Difficult. It can happen whether we’re simply exhausted, busy or our ego is automatically on the defense.

I thought about the intention behind my words. Although I wouldn’t have been offended by the same words (it takes a lot to offend me), there are more loving ways to communicate. Did I mean to hurt? No. I just needed to take care of me at that moment.

I apologized nonetheless.

Right and wrong are highly subjective (based on our individual life experiences) and alleviating the suffering of another is humankind’s greatest gift. Apologizing—when we’re hand-on-heart sincere—is a simple, if not easy, way to do that. Even if we don’t feel we’re “wrong” we can feel sorry for the effect we’ve had.

Most of us don’t have degrees in communication or psychology so we need to give a bit of leeway, look for the intention behind the words and dig deep to dare to ask for clarification before we succumb to negative assumptions.

One person’s truth is different than another’s, but even knowing that we have our own mind stories we still expect people to be/think/act like we would. We also have triggers that others don’t have where misunderstandings and hurt feelings can arise.

To be able to express our feelings, truths, experiences, expectations and flaws takes guts. To lovingly, with empathy, receive these truths from someone with a different perspective than ours also takes guts. It’s how we bridge the gap to communion, a win-win and happy-joy place for all.

“What use is there in a blunt truth thrown like a stone, which breaks the heart? There is no virtue in truth which has no beauty.”

~ Hidayat Inayat-Khan, Sufi Teacher

Kind communication is more effective and one of the most valuable skills anyone can have.

Sometimes we strike out in reaction without love in our hearts, and though that’s not ideal, whip lash happens. We may not even recognize it at the time, but we feel the yuck it creates inside us.

When we feel crappy about something someone has done or said, no matter how we’ve reacted—whether acting out or internalizing—we can stop and ask ourselves why we were triggered. The good news for narcissists: it’s all about us! The good(?) news for anyone: it’s all about us.

We each process experiences at our own rates and are at different stages of our emotional development. But, of course, the sooner we get over it the better we feel. (I’m not talking sticks and stones and physical abuse here but words that can forever hurt thee.)

And…even if we still think we’re right, if we handled the situation in a less than a respectful way, there’s an apology that can be made to relieve suffering for the other person. And in doing so, our own related suffering is relieved, too. Awesome possum! (As long as it’s a no-strings-attached apology. Still awesome, I promise.)

10 ways to communicate (our truth) in a loving way (aka, How Not To Be A Stabber With Word)s:

  1. Stick to the facts, e.g., The weather is shitty is a story. It’s raining is fact. My partner doesn’t love me is a story. S/he didn’t pick up pickles is a fact.
  2. Ask ourselves how we might have misconstrued someone else’s truth. Ask them <gasp> for clarification. I’m not asking you to get in a forest ring with a Grizzly bear here, though some may prefer that to actual non-combative communication.
  3. Understand that it’s okay to disagree and like/love the other person. (And ourselves! Weird but true.)
  4. Allow ourselves, and others, to have and express their feelings (respectfully).
  5. Don’t take it personally if the other person doesn’t have the skills to be respectful—have enough self-respect and self-awareness to step away from (temporarily) a discussion that has gone beyond wanting-to-lovingly-understand-each-other rational. This is not to be confused with complete avoidance but of allowing time for whoever to calm down. (Be-the-bigger-person bonus points: be thankful they cared enough to share!)
  6. If in doubt, ask ourselves if our commentary is necessary. Not sure? Probably best to let it go. Our intuition will let us know if we choose to listen.
  7. If we intentionally, or unintentionally, mess up—say sorry and mean it. Even if we stand by our truth, we can set down our ego to acknowledge someone else’s reality. If we don’t feel remorse for the pain we cause another that tells us something about the pain we hold in us.
  8. Think of loving communication as a mind game if you must! Sounds awful but it’s not. “How can I share my truth in a way that can be received?” can be as rewarding as effective. (Basically, this is the ego’s path to empathy.)
  9. Doubt our own thoughts. Not in an insecure way, but in the old “we don’t know what we don’t know” kind of way. Be open to cooperative learning.
  10. Avoid gossiping and assumptions! Have the gumption to go to the person in question and ask directly. If there’s no need for that, there’s no need to share second-hand info behind their backs. If it can’t be said in front of them, don’t say it.

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Or just trash that list and simply ask if our truth is unarmed and our hearts are loving. This will tell us if our truth needs sharing. If we can’t honestly answer yes to both it’s best to not speak and forever hold our peace. (Or at least hold it until we can communicate with unarmed love.)

It’s never too late to vocalize the make-us-both-feel-good-let’s-find-a-respectful-resolution thing.


Relephant links:

(making up stories/assumptions):

The 5 Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. {A Recap}



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Wiki Commons

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