For me, the key skill in creating a great relationship is learning to talk to each other, to communicate with each other, in a safe way. The key is safety. I have said many times, and it might seem simplistic, but the fact is, our old brain, our brain stem, is constantly on the alert for danger. It asks the question: “Is it safe or is it dangerous?” And if it senses danger, it will defend itself either by exploding outwards or constricting inwards. That has been its task for 500 million years; you are not going to change that.
Truth #5 encourages the use of the Intentional Dialogue process to ensure that safety. The Dialogue process (mirroring, validating and empathizing) takes issues out of the power struggle. One person is not right and therefore the other wrong. It allows two people to share their thoughts and ideas in a safe way.
Helen uses a term I had not been conscious of before – Sender Responsibility. “That is, the sender should send their message clearly and kindly. Doing so increases the chance their partner will hear it.”
On the receiver’s end, the great gift they can give their partner, after mirroring back accurately, is to ask the question “Is there more?” It shows that you are curious and helps your partner feel safe and allows them to nuance their thinking. Again, it is not about one being right and the other wrong.
This exercise has been helpful for me because I realize that I still do sometimes cut into Crystal’s thoughts or assume I know what she is thinking instead of just listening and making sure I hear her accurately. A good review!
I want to say a bit more about the space between – the sacred space. I find this so profound that I think it deserves more attention. Without being aware of the space between, I dishonour it, it is no longer sacred. I am diminishing myself, my partner and my relationship.
When I honour that space between, I am being fully present to my partner, or for that matter whoever it is I am with. When I am present to my partner, healing takes place. My full being is present – my full attention is in the moment – I am not distracted by the past or the future or my cell phone!
In this safe space, I have the energy and love that my partner needs to heal and grow. Consequently, I heal and grow as well.
As I learn to communicate within this space between, I, along with my partner, transform the energy of conflict into the energy of growth; it is safe to be vulnerable and express our deepest fears and joys.
This not only has a huge impact on our relationships, but on the world around us as well. If I learn to honour the space between, I also have more respect for the other person, myself, my environment, the earth. And I begin to be aware of the space between all of my relationships – being present to the energy and love in each and every one that I encounter.
For me, the key to honouring the space between is to be fully present. I have to work at this as I am easily distracted by shiny objects; I have to be aware of being in the moment and consciously focusing on the space between.
Next week – Truth #6 Negativity is Invisible Abuse