Have I said this lately?

Authenticity is everything. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability, transparency, how to write about what I’m experiencing… whether to write about it…
I’ve been thinking about clarity, and compassion, and speaking from the heart. And listening from the heart. And, mostly, how much easier it is — for me, anyway — to do one or the other than it is to do both.

I keep re-discovering this cool thing: compassion for me and compassion for others depends on the same stuff. I don’t have compassion for myself or anybody else, unless I remember how much we humans have in common. We all share the same needs; we all reach for the same treasures. Whatever somebody says or does, I can understand it from a human perspective, often by asking myself “what would make a brother or sister choose this?” (Or, if I’m in a place where I’m thinking about good and bad, “what might make a good person choose this?”) And I can understand the things I do in this way as well.

Sometimes I forget. Sometimes one person’s pain trumps everything else. It could be my own pain, where I start blaming other people, or someone else’s pain, in which case I might start blaming myself.

To avoid forgetting, I want to stay real and present with what’s happening. I want to say ouch when it hurts, instead of lashing out. I want to be open and vulnerable, risk hard conversations, listen and speak from my heart.

I wrote a post not too long ago about telling the truth. Tl;dr:

What I usually end up finding is what Marshall Rosenberg has called “a tragic expression of an unmet need.” That is, “you are a jerk” actually points to some pain I’m carrying. Like maybe “I’m scared when you say that, because I have this idea you don’t care about me, that I can’t trust you to help me, and I’ve really been hoping for help.” Or it might mean something else, but whatever it is will point to some very human longing for a treasure that isn’t controversial at all. Even the person I thought was a jerk can agree that it’s “the truth”.

Truth of this sort says I’m happy, or anxious, or lonely. It says I notice I’m longing for something very human. It notices my story of lacking this thing I’m longing for. It acknowledges that I’m asking for connection, for help.

The flipside of that truth-telling is truth-hearing. On a good day, I can listen to that same “you’re a jerk” coming toward me, and hear what’s underneath it. It’s not about whether there is a definition of “jerk” and I do or do not fit it. It’s about some pain inside a fellow human, pain that has something to do with the relationship between us. I can listen, ask questions, find out what’s alive inside this friend, and create a connection that can change everything.

As I place myself on the cushion tonight, it’s with a prayer. I ask the universe: May I stay open, true to my heart, and see each person as a fellow traveller. Let me be willing to feel pain, to let the tears flow, to listen to my heart. Let the time I take for self-compassion strengthen my ability to listen with love.

Let me see each of us as a spark of the divine fire.

One Comment on “listening and speaking with an open heart”

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  1. Christie says:

    just what I needed tonight.. thanks for posting <3

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