I love, love, love today’s meditation exercise! Over the past decade, there have been several very difficult, oppressive people who (at the time) had stood in the way of goals I had set for myself. Encounters with them would trigger a wide array of “contracted” feelings ranging anywhere from deep frustration to anger, overwhelm, resentment, hurt, sadness, and even downright existential crisis.
At that time, my default reactions to these feelings of “contraction” included going silent, avoiding the situation, letting go of what I want, deferring to what the other person wanted, etc. But as I became more mindful of these unhelpful reactions, and more intentional about evolving my mindset, that feeling of contraction became my cue to open to these difficult people and connect with them at a very human level.
When I did that successfully, those difficult people became dynamically helpful. As they were demanding or ranting, I would become aware of feeling “contracted”. In that “magic moment” of awareness, I would choose to respond with compassion.
I would imagine they were so worked up because perhaps deep down they were scared or frustrated or hurting. I was then better able to “be the space” for their pain without contaminating that space with my own pain. As a result, the conversations would quickly deescalate. They would soften before my very eyes, and we would end up having a very healing conversation.
In this process, they would end up feeling seen, heard, and understood. They were then able to better see, hear, and understand me. I was able to speak more clearly, and create healthy boundaries for myself within those relationships.
Can you think of a time when compassionate listening helped to transform a difficult conversation and perhaps heal a relationship?