Having disagreements with other people can be really painful, and there are many different ways it can go. Maybe it’s a surprise that there is a disagreement, but you feel really strong about the situation or circumstance and someone you care about feels different that you do.
Or, maybe what’s happened is you didn’t reach out to someone, it hurt their feelings, and now they are upset with you. Maybe they give you the cold shoulder. Maybe they are fiery hot angry, and they get in your face. What’s that like for you? How do you mend that type of a rupture in relationship when you care about somebody?
Sometimes these experiences can feel so raw to us that we drop the relationship. We might feel like, “I’m done with that. I’m not putting up with that energy ever again.” That can give us a clue that we have somewhere in our past made a contract that we would never do that again. Because, words like never, always, and forever, let us know that we’ve made some contracts when we were younger.
When I’ve had a misunderstanding, a miscommunication, or a difference of opinion with someone, it can become what I would call a difficult conversation. How do you stay present in a difficult conversation? Well, there are some skill sets that it can be helpful to have. When I notice that I’m feeling defensive; I’m perceiving that I’m being attacked, or someone is mad at me. When I buy into that story then I’m defensive back or I think maybe it’s all my fault, I shouldn’t have done that, or I shouldn’t have said that. Then I blame myself in order to try to integrate this information that is confusing or bewildering.
What I like to suggest, and remember for myself, is in those moments to slow time down, to take a pause, to make an agreement to get back together later. But, to let things cool off a bit. Then I call up and I get some empathy from my empathy buddy, because my experience matters, and I want to take the time to unpack it.
When I want to make others wrong, or I want to be in that defensive posture, there is something underneath that’s letting me know that a part of me is needing protection. And, I’m doing my best to protect myself. When I take time to really be with that, and have self-compassion, it can open my heart back up with curiosity because I recognize what the need is underneath that action I’ve taken or that behavior. I want to be able to be consciously aware of it.
These experiences that we have inside are needing acknowledgement with resonance. Like, of course this experience is happening! Or, no wonder you are responding in this way! And, acknowledging the why underneath that and not being made wrong is so important.
When we get to that place our body can relax and we can have more of our prefrontal cortex available to us where we can socially engage. We can stay open and curious to catch the nuances of the conversation with someone else.
And then, if they are wanting to blame you, then you have already received the empathy you need, the acknowledgement that you need, to stay present and curious about what their experience might be like. To listen deeply to what their experience has been.
It’s not to agree with them or disagree with them, it’s to actually connect hearts with them, to resonate with their experience. From that space we can come back together. We can begin to see each other and hear each other and understand each other with compassion.
The skill set that comes before that is; after I’ve received some acknowledgement for what my experience has been when I was wanting to blame, or I was being defensive, and I’ve owned that and gotten support for myself, then I want to be mindfully aware to check in with the other person. I want to check in with them to get consent whether it’s a good time to have a conversation. That is holding their needs with just as much respect and care as my own. Then we can make an agreement when we will talk, and maybe how long we are available to talk. Rather than feeling I’m ready to talk so I’m going to barge in and start talking, which may not be welcome.
So, taking the time to notice our own responses and reactions, holding them with care, getting the support we need, we can then take that care, support and compassion out into our other relationships.