“With every interaction, we can make peace or war.” – Gail Brenner
“Love consists in mirroring and amplifying the light of the other – it is gentle work, unwavering, life-saving.” – Maria Popova, The Marginalian
Difficult conversations can occur when our expectations prevent us from seeing ourselves and the other person clearly. Being angry can’t stop our feeling of anger. That requires loving speech and compassionate listening. Some years ago I was so angry with some friends that I stopped communicating with them. However, as I didn’t want to take any frozen anger with me on my trip to India and Nepal, I took full responsibility and apologized to them.
“I have the right to be angry”, my mother used to say. But we also have the responsibility to recognize our anger and embrace it tenderly. By looking deeply into the nature of my anger, I realised that it came from the big “ME” in “I am right.” How to resolve that? By looking at the situations dispassionately I was able to approach those friends with a peaceful heart, on equal footing and with respect. I shared my feelings without blaming. The resulting open conversations revived some friendships and left others neutral.
Genuine communication comes from the heart and it can dissolve boundaries, bridge distances and heal what is divided. It starts within us and makes us happy. When we are open to see the other as they are and listen to them deeply, we can meet as one. Understanding and being understood allows us to be intimate. Those who value themselves can value others and also accept being appreciated by others. When strong emotions are involved, this is difficult.
Wanting something to be different is the seed of suffering
“Algos” means “suffering”. Hence nostalgia is the suffering caused by a yearning for the past. The opposite applies equally. When we long for a specific future, we call this type of suffering “expectations”. Desiring things to be different means that we lack something. By getting caught up in our stories we feel disconnected, can’t open our hearts. Surely, something must wrong if we don’t have the perfect relationship right now. But that is just a thought that we don’t have to identify with. We can change our perspective and enjoy life as it is now instead of trying to tinker with it. We can control our attention and actions, but not their outcome.
Trust means to set boundaries
Boundaries are an essential component of healthy relationships. They maintain balance and minimize conflict because they define what we expect from the other. When we talk about boundaries, we should honestly say what we like and don’t like. We should be sensitive to each other’s needs. This includes determining when we need time apart. Courageous conversations foster mutual trust and create a deep connection. This understanding gives both partners a sense of being seen and heard.
Gerald Blomeyer, Berlin, February 2022
Listen to the podcast Setting Boundaries – A Contemplation