Healing Relationships with Conscious Communication

When relationship conflicts arise we become troubled & preoccupied. It can be painful. The stress can creep into and permeate other aspects of our day to day existence. With a problem that doesn’t seem to have an immediate or obvious solution, we can begin to feel helpless and hopeless—like there’s no solution.

And yet, there probably is a solution. In fact, there may be a quite simple solution that’s fairly easy to implement. Two willing people have to participate. If that’s a challenge, and at least one of you is clear you want to make headway, be persuasive and persistent or involve a therapist as facilitator. I’m going to tell you how this process works so you can go ahead and turn things around with no further ado. This process optimally employs a therapist/facilitator guide, but do go ahead on your own if you are unable to employ a therapist to assist you.

Agree to the process and commit dedicated time in each of your schedules to seeing this process through. You must agree to the rules and agree to trust the process. You’ll need at least three 1-2 hr. blocks of uninterrupted time and privacy. Phones and other distractions should be switched off.

Begin each session by quietly and consciously acknowledging to yourself that the habits and patterns of your thinking and behavior have been established as a response to your unique circumstances. So, each of the communicators is recognized as inhabiting a unique little ‘bubble’ or ‘culture’, and doesn’t perceive or experience things exactly as you do. This is a good time to think of ‘the telephone game’.

A point of conflict, conversation, or issue is chosen as the ‘work’. The first person to have their turn (A), will use their session to articulate their point of view, the conversation or the issue as they see it, describing the situation as fully as possible, aiming to capture and express their own thoughts meaning, understanding and experience as fully as possible, starting from the beginning, moving to the middle and finishing at the end. The partner (B) listens intently, staying focused and undistracted, and attempting to temporarily inhabit the speaker’s bubble, with an intention to recapture the experience as if they had been A. Listener (B) is not allowed to interrupt speaker (A).

When A is finished, B’s job is to retell the story as if B is now A who has just told it. B is to recapture (act and tell) with as much of the same language and expression as possible, in an honest attempt to recreate in as much detail as possible. The point is to elicit a precise match with A till A feels B ‘got’ them, till A senses that as the speaker A was fully understood.

A can help B recapture A’s experience till it’s complete and A agrees with the retelling. Where there is discrepancy and mismatch, it is A’s job to clarify their meaning to B, till B tells it in a way that accurately captures what A was trying to describe. (“not exactly”, “that’s not quite what I said”, “I described how I was feeling like this…..” “I used these words…..” would be examples of clarifying).

There is no time frame which is ideal for this process. With 90 minutes set aside there is more flexibility when the time taken is much less, or lengthening it to 120 minutes if need be, or moving on to the next step. Longer than 2 hrs. at a stretch is not advised.

For the 2nd part of the process the roles are reversed, and B becomes the designated person to capture in words their point of view, and experience of the same situation. Now A listens, and is not allowed to interrupt B,

as B tells their story with a beginning, a middle and an end. B will help clarify for A when it has become A’s time to recapture B’s view and experience and parrot it back exactly for B.

The third block of time in this process can serve for both A & B to appreciate the effect of inhabiting separate ‘bubbles’, and to consider potential areas and avenues for compromise. It can also be a time for expressing gratitude and appreciations.

Potential benefits:  empathy, reconnection, building trust and intimacy, deeper ‘knowing’ of the other, lifting the sense of being burdened, empowerment, supporting intuitive knowing and inner wisdom,  grounding, and potential for greater lightness of being.

Relationships as Mirrors

In the beginning each of us was birthed into existence at the tribal level. So much so that our very survival was dependent on caretaking from others. Our story in adulthood is something quite different. In fact, sometimes our very survival can depend upon our ability to be independent and withstand separation from significant others.

Now we have awareness of an essential human dilemma. We must reconcile both facets of our existence. We exist in a duality. We are tribal and we are unique, independent and individual. And we are faced often, with a call to create a bridge between these ways of being. And again, and again, and again, the building of bridges is required of us, in all facets of life. Whether we are at work or at play, with our families and friends, or in our solitude, creating or tuning into spirit, we simply must choose how to apportion our precious time and reconcile the many-faceted needs that these two dimensions of our being demand to have fulfilled.

We each manage this contradiction between the needs of belonging and the needs of being separate with varying degrees of challenge and success. When the challenge is experienced as high, our existence can be troubled and pained. There is also great opportunity for awareness and self-reflection. One way to open up and expand our heart-felt need to join with others is to consider how relationships exist in our lives as mirrors. When we look at difficult relationships let’s inquire of ourselves what is the perception we are having of the other? How do we judge them? What are the qualities that we find difficult?

How might the negative quality we are perceiving be viewed in a positive light? How might we have disowned that part of ourselves? When we are open to looking at difficult relationships in this way we open ourselves to the possibility of incorporating more balance into our own being.

This holiday time of year can bring high relief to painful relationships past and present. Beginning to view how each difficult encounter can serve as an opportunity to become more informed of disowned parts of ourselves and reclaim our wholeness can lessen the negative impact and infuse us with a sense of the positive.