In honor of the workshop I’m teaching next week on mantra, let’s talk about one of my favorite tools for helping you find and clarify your voice. I use this tool myself and often work through this tool with clients when they’re stuck in uncertainty about how to process and share hurt, sadness, or frustration with others.
Here’s an example: a client was dating someone for a few weeks, and thought everything was going well. He suddenly went radio silent – no check-ins, texts, or calls. He eventually resumed communication, but the sudden silence brought up all sorts fear about the relationship. Was this behavior ACTUALLY a problem and sign that he wasn’t that invested? Should she back away now? Or was it her old fear of rejection that was driving her sudden desire to pull back?
I’ve felt this too. This past week, I was bothered by something a friend had said. Old Sam would have kept quiet, internalized the hurt, and built a wall between myself and the friend. But I’ve seen how that reaction has caused me to cut off friendships and relationships prematurely. My passivity ultimately turned into over-reaction. I knew that I didn’t want to fall in to that same pattern, but the idea of actually speaking up felt scary and new.
So what do you do? Do you say what’s on your mind? Or is what you want to say out of line?
Here’s the tool to use when you’re uncertain about whether to and what to communicate:
1. Get out a journal, a piece of paper, or a blank email.
2. Take a moment and imagine that no matter what you said or asked of your friend/partner/other party, they would accept it, receive it constructively, and be happy that you shared.
3. Write out everything that you wish you could say – again remembering that you don’t have to edit or judge anything that you’re saying because it will all be received positively.
4. Keep writing until you feel you’ve really hit the heart of the matter – you understand the base fear, uncertainty, disappointment, or sadness that underlies your reaction and need to communicate.
5. Take a minute to step away from what you’ve written – get some water and take a few deep breaths.
6. Come back to what you’ve written and read through it. What have you written that is true, kind, and necessary to be communicated to the other person?
7. With your deep understanding of what needs to be shared and what would be a kind and true way to communicate it, make the plan to actually share that information with the other person.
There is power in this process.
Because here’s the thing: often we’re unsure about what we should share with others because we still aren’t clear on what we ourselves feel about the situation. If we want to have the best shot at communicating clearly and fairly, we need to know what we believe about the situation, instead of speaking from a reactive and unclear place.
We also need to explore our feelings without our inner critic. Particularly if you know that you have old patterns that you’re not trying to relive, you might find that much of your inner dialogue includes “but you can’t say that” or “you shouldn’t feel that”, shutting down our ability to go deeper into our feelings and understanding what actually is bothering us.
The editing is important. We want to see where we’re in reactivity and where we’re connected to our values and we need to share. When we explore our feelings first and then edit for what is true, necessary, and kind means that we can speak from a place of assuredness and calm.
This tool is so useful when you find yourself ruminating on something that someone did or said. Write and speak your way to clarity, edit to find the intersection of truth and kindness, and communicate with a full and sure heart.
Explore your voice further at my Tune In to Mantra Workshop next Sunday, May 31st at 10:00am on Zoom. We’ll be learning about the power of mantras for your meditation practice and to direct your goals. Then, we’ll do a guided vinyasa and yoga nidra practice to help you set a personal intention to power up your next month. Details are here, and if you want to access the workshop (and a recording) for free, join the Sangha Membership over on Patreon.