How to CONNECT with all Others: Part 2 of 4
Besides the mistakes I made and self-flagellation I endured from my inner critic the hardest part of my journey inwards was the rejection and judgments I received from others.
The launch of my Dare to Ask platform saw many friends and family congratulate me as they encouraged me to dig deeper in sharing the pain of my shame, guilt and blame stories as a coaching tool to help others.
There were some who got angry and judged me. Some even tried various ways of silencing me. It was, however, in the most painful moment of this rejection that I was humbled and brought to even deeper love than I ever knew possible.
How could this be?
For those of you who have followed my writing journey, you will know that I come from a divided family narrative. About a year before launching my Dare to Ask platform, my mother and I started embarking on a new-found relationship of inquiry as we both wanted to cross this divide. This was extremely hard for us and at times we both felt the need to withdraw. But aside from these brief moments of withdrawal, we persevered, based on the firm commitment we had made to each other. At times, I felt angry and frustrated at how she wanted me to tell my story, and likewise, she expressed her frustrations with the choices I made.
Part of our commitment was to create a safe and private space to say whatever we wanted within the confines of our relationship. The intention was to build trust with each other no matter the differences in our opinions, interpretations or beliefs. We accepted that within this exposed but safe space, we might well cause each other pain. But within this safe space we could hold onto ourselves, our beliefs and our opinions free from external interpretation, influence or judgments. This joint decision of ours upset certain family members, causing us both pain and confusion. Still, we persevered, committed to staying in and trusting unconditional love and faith.
About a year after redefining our relationship, my mother and I chose to spend time with a mediator as we were both struggling to make progress. The choice to keep this space private once again aggravated certain family members. So my mother and I constructed a joint letter to try and express the reasons for our choice, albeit imperfect. At this point, I received what I interpreted to be an attacking and judgmental email from one of them. His email was filled with his opinions on me and my life. In the letter, I was told who and what I was and at no stage was space opened via questioning for dialogue. I assessed that the letter was closed off from love and so I chose to respond with the message of “Thank you for sharing your thoughts, know I love you.”
My mother seemed curious about and surprised at my response. This was understandable, as before opening to love for myself, I would have defended my position by justifying, attacking back and being judgmental of his opinions and unkindness. I don’t deny that I was triggered when I first received the email. Now, however, an email from me that mirrored his tone would not show love and acceptance of him, his choices or his opinions. I wanted to transcend my human triggers and opinions and not project my pain back onto him with a counter attack or a justifying defense. I wanted to hold onto my assessment and open fully to love.
I breathed deeply and turned to prayer. After praying I meditated, opening myself to listening to everything, including his point of view.
A turning point came when I could see myself in the parts of his email I found unkind, judgmental and attacking. I could see how I too, once held some of the same opinions and beliefs as him. I could see how I too might have attacked or judged another as he had done with me. In truth, I could just as easily have written that letter with judgmental and attacking opinions on his life, even though I have never walked a day in his shoes. This would have been my truth, my interpretation, not his.
Likewise, this family member has never walked a day in my shoes and in fact in 30 years, we have only ever spent a handful of days in each others presence. Only I had walked every day of my life in my shoes; only I had to make peace with myself, my choices and my beliefs.
So, I called a trusted friend and asked for help as I needed a mirror. We discussed the email and reflected on who I was at that moment. I then reflected on all the things I love and admire about this family member. I also reflected on all the things my friends and colleagues have shared they love and admire about me. Finally, I reflected on the things I love and respect about myself.
In seeing myself in this family member, both in his dark, unkind side and in his light and loving side, I could merge with him in Spirit and accept that his letter was his interpretation and his truth to own, not mine. There was nothing required of me but to acknowledge receipt of his letter and remind him that I loved him. I know this human being beyond the moment of this letter. I know the Spirit of this being and know it has access to love, as we all do. I know that in many moments of my life I have been unable to access love and be kind to another and in this, we are all the same. Through accessing love/God, I could allow myself to be at one with him, even in his beliefs and opinions.
When your beliefs are in conflict with another, daring questioning and deep listening conversations are called for to transcend ourselves and open to love beyond our human triggers. This is seldom easy and often sees us lashing out at the other as we justify our story, denying love for the other and our Self, as we attach our story and our limiting human beliefs to our unhealthy ego. I love this family member. He is a good, kind and loving man and we have historically had, and continue to have daring conversations with daring questions no matter the difference in our beliefs. Beyond the moment of this letter, he is entitled to his version as much as I am entitled to mine.
I choose to hold onto my truth through the power of an undivided connection with Love / God so that I don’t have to ask him to deny or change his truth. From this space of courage, I can bring forth an attitude of kindness as I hold love for myself, and equal love for him, no matter our conflict in beliefs or the pain that this might cause me.
While writing this blog this morning, a story from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo came to mind which sums it up well:
A very touching story from the Talmud captures this soft paradox of how we all journey alone together.
A Rabbi asks his students, “How do you know the first moment of dawn has arrived?”
After a great silence, one pipes up, “When you can tell the difference between a sheep and a dog.”
The Rabbi shakes his head no.
Another offers, “When you can tell the difference between a fig tree and an olive tree.”
Again, the Rabbi shakes his head no. There are no other answers.
The Rabbi circles their silence and walks between them, “You know the first moment of dawn has arrived when you look into the eyes of another human being and see yourself.”
I have looked into the truth of this family member many times over in my life, only because I have looked into my own. When conscious and connected to our individual Spirit we can connect as one.
No matter the differences in our limiting human beliefs, in that moment of touching the pain in my Spirit to access courage, I could connect with all that is beyond my Self and connect with the beautiful and loving human being that he is. I don’t get this right all of the time, but as I continue with practices to open my heart, it gets easier and flows more naturally.My mother and I continue our daring conversations on this daring journey called life. I love you mom for your courage, your beliefs, and your curiosity. Thank you for being my mom.
Exercise 18 – Practices to Open Your Heart
Intended outcome of this exercise:
- To practice opening your heart to unconditional love and acceptance.
- To re-commit to your Spirit, soul, mind and body practices.
Over the next 2 weeks undertake the exercises below. Download your journal pages for exercise 18 here.
A guided meditation to open your heart.
Note: Be sure to allow yourself a minimum of 20 minutes for this meditation.
- Begin by closing your eyes and focusing on your breath for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Now focus on the face of someone who loved you unconditionally when you were a small child. Connect with the energy that moved you so deeply at such a tender age. Let this loving energy infuse your heart, every muscle and all parts of your body. Stay with the feeling for 2 to 5 minutes.
Gently shift your focus to remember a time when you showed this type of unconditional love to another. Remember the joy it brought to every part of your being. Let this joy of giving the energy of love infuse your heart, every muscle and all parts of your body. Stay with the feeling for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Next, direct this unconditional love and joy towards yourself. Let this feeling of giving and receiving love infuse your heart, every muscle and all parts of your body. Stay with the feeling for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Next, direct this unconditional love and joy towards someone that you respect or feel gratitude for. Take time to direct this flow of love outwards towards this person. Imagine them receiving this love as it infuses their heart, muscles and all parts of their body. Imagine this feeling bringing them joy. Stay with this act of giving for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Now direct this unconditional love and joy towards someone that you feel neutral about. Take time to direct this flow of love outwards towards this person or group of people. Imagine them receiving this love as it infuses their heart, muscles and all parts of their body. Imagine this feeling bringing them joy. Stay with this act of giving for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Now for the toughest part of this meditation. Direct this unconditional love and joy towards someone who has either irritated or hurt you, or towards someone you feel negative about. Take time to direct this flow of love outwards towards this person. Imagine them receiving this love as it infuses their heart, muscles and all parts of their body. Imagine this feeling bringing them joy. Stay with this act of giving for 2 to 5 minutes.
- Lastly imagine all the people above sitting quietly around a campfire, enjoying how they feel, filled with joy and at peace and in harmony with themselves and each other. Take 2 to 5 minutes to meditate in silence, as you give thanks for your courage to open your heart to yourself and all others. Breathe deeply.
- Complete your meditation with a kind closing ritual of your choosing.
Recommit to your heart-opening practices for your Spirit, soul, mind and body.
- Take time to re-explore and recommit to your practice for expanding your Spirit, soul, mind and body from exercises 13, 14, 15 and 16.
- When undertaking your daily prayer / gratitude practice from exercise 13, take the time to include a blessing for your enemies and or strangers or people on another continent that you believe to be in distress.
For those of you who are working with a friend or a group, this is a good time to catch up and share what you have learned about yourself. Click here for the link on how to go about this sharing with the group.
For those of you working on your own, this is a good time to share with yourself what you have learned about yourself, through external verbal expression. Click here for the link on how to go about this sharing with yourself.
Until we meet again in 2 weeks’ time, have fun with this exercise and your practices, celebrate the life you have been given, be grateful and continue to challenge yourself for further growth.
If you have questions about unveiling Self-Love, either submit your question in the comments section below or in a private note here (link). Share with all of us what you have learned about yourself or how you would like to expand and change your way of being. You can share through the same links above.
As always, warm love and regards
This piece is dedicated to my dear friend Jill who held me and let me cry on her shoulder as we examined the letter from this family member. Together, we celebrated why I love this family member so I could connect fully with God / Universal Wisdom before responding to him.
And to my mother, thank you for teaching me how to love even in the moments of frustration, pain or confusion.