Our heart spaces are where we are most connected and least separate from each other. This makes it the most beautiful relational space to be in when you are aligned and the most difficult relational space to be in when there is conflict.
Learning to hold ourselves with a heartful presence even when we are facing challenges or in conflict to others and being able to communicate from a heartful place is one of the most powerful skills you can learn in life.
When we are in our heart-space, it can be really hard to separate ‘my stuff’ from ‘your stuff’ because we are so interconnected. Our emotional responses and intentions are so tied up in everyone else’s that it takes practice and skill to be able to include all this and still be clear with ourselves and each other.
We resist including conflict in our experience, because we are tribal animals. We have evolved to rely heavily on keeping the peace at almost any cost because being rejected from the tribe or causing rifts was deeply dangerous throughout most of our history. Now we are physically safer, we can create a more spacious and mature approach to conflict. We can learn that mostly the consequences are not as bad as our brains would have us believe.
In order to achieve inclusion in a group setting or between two people this is what you need:
- Make space to listen to everyone. Make sure that everyone gets an opportunity to say what feels important to them in their experience, and that they feel they are able to speak honestly even if it makes others uncomfortable.
- Everyone needs to feel heard. It is vital that everyone’s emotions and intentions are accepted as being valid.
- Everyone who wants to input to the conversation needs to have the courage to speak clearly and openly about their emotions and what they want. This can feel vulnerable, but it is vital that people don’t fall into blame and control i.e. ‘you should think this/ behave like this/ treat me like this’
- Recognise that it is possible to validate someone’s emotions and intentions without accepting any blame or responsibility for how they feel or whether they get want they want.
- Problem solve together – i.e. how can we achieve a solution together that meets everyone’s needs and desires?
Often a resolution will arise that can meet everyone’s needs, but not always. If not, the resolution needs to include recognising the conflict. This can be a really hard conversation to have, but an example of how a resolution could look is:
‘I understand that you don’t want me to do this because it will upset you AND I am going to do it anyway because it is important to me’
The ‘and’ is really important. If you use a ‘but’ in the middle of the sentence, then you are undermining the other person’s emotions and/or intentions in order to make your decision seem easier or more right. If you are using an ‘and’, you are including the conflict within your state and explicitly using this to inform your intention.
The essence of what you are trying to achieve here is that heartfulness includes our desires and needs as individuals and our desires and needs as a group. If you go too far towards one or another you end up with selfishness or co-dependency.
If this is something that you would like to learn about in more detail, I would recommend the book, ‘Having Difficult Conversations’. It’s a game-changer.
Shame is the biggest barrier to being present with experience as it is. It is the sense that our feelings and desires aren’t valid and we can adopt it from being around people who don’t accept us as we are.
Know that your feelings are valid and that you are worthy of your desires. Find people who accept you, validate you and love you for who you are.
It is always worth learning more about shame and freeing ourselves from it. I would recommend Brené Brown’s TED talk and books if you want to explore this further.
Trauma leads us to close our hearts in order to protect ourselves. We refuse to receive certain information into our hearts and this causes us to form judgements and prejudices against certain information.
Rather than recognise this within ourselves, we project this back out onto the world. This practice is about recognising these judgements and consciously dismantling them so that you can receive information more openly and respond with more clarity.
We need to recognise the things that cause us to close our hearts. Notice things that annoy you or frustrate you or make you cynical or aggressive.
Spend some time digging into what is happening underneath. How does it make you feel or how does it put you at risk? What is the thing you are trying to protect yourself from?
The purpose isn’t to invalidate or bypass those feelings, but to be able to be with them more directly when we are in a situation where we know we are safe.
Rather than feeding the idea that the situation or person is bad, we can learn to sit with the emotion and/or desire that is arising in us underneath the judgement.
We won’t find these prejudices sat on a cushion. We need to go out in the real world in order to allow the world to impact us. It can be difficult to spot our own prejudices, so it takes an intention of opening to the world and noticing when our defence systems are up.
It takes a level of honesty and vulnerability to look at ourselves and see the dynamic for what it is.
We also apply judgements to ourselves. If you free-write about your emotions and what you most want in the world you will find parts of yourselves that you are not allowing. Practice sitting with the emotions and sensations that this brings up and see if you can push through the resistance to express what feels most true.
Our judgements are one of the things that keep us safe. Letting them go can make us feel exposed and vulnerable. If we can do the work to reintegrate these painful parts of us, we develop a degree of resilience and stability in experience.
We expand our comfort zone so that we can be present with a wider range of emotions and we aren’t relying on other people to accept us, agree with us or perceive us in a certain way.
Learning the process of removing judgement from our experience allows us to receive the world more freely and to respond with less hate and more love towards ourselves and others.