by Rebecca Harrison
How often in our busy lives do we find we are unable to get to the essence of what we really need to ponder and care for in ourselves?
With three simple questions “How are you feeling right now?”, “What is that about?” and “What do you want?”, I found I could easily immerse myself into the “micro moment” of what was happening inside of me. There is so much noise in our heads that at times we fail to really communicate what we actually care about. This is so often shrouded in the social graces of conversation and small talk.
This exercise had me and my workshop partner, who started in divergent places, immediately pulling into the essence of what mattered to each of us in the moment and a closer understanding of each other. Like a circular tornado we came to meet in the middle and had a shared sense of common understanding. The questions were pillars of structure as we rotated back and forth through those three questions. In that circular exchange we distilled our words to the essence of our current states.
Next, the pair-share question posed “What cross roads are you at in your life?” By then, I was ripe to listen “radically.” What I noticed, being in full listening mode; is that I could simply be, relax, take in and absorb. Soon into the conversation, I noticed that the silence could be awkward, yet it beckoned my partner to go on and share more without me interrupting, agreeing, relating or going on about my thoughts, which could be distracting to what she needed. So important is that the hardest and most painful part of sharing is often saved at the end of the conversation, which if I had interrupted with my comments we might never have gotten there. It reminds me of “the hand on the door knob” questions a patient might finally reveal as the provider is walking out of the room. “Why didn’t you tell me this from the beginning of our time?” you might ask. Yet, it’s understandable, because we are often afraid to be vulnerable, to burden, or at times to share the words that bring forth the deeper emotions and fears. This got me thinking, what if we lead with the hardest part-the part we can’t even dream to share upfront? How would that shape our communications differently?
My workshop partner and I discovered our cross roads are not actually forks in the road, but more like woven fabric or a lattice of connections in our life. We are on a journey to find our truest selves every step of the way in life. We are always at cross roads. Our group spanned ages of 15-70’s years, yet we all have cross roads being woven into that fabric. The unknown or uncertain future is often the hardest part to share. It seems to me, we are often looking toward our new skin and shedding the old. We are always shedding, though sometimes it’s more difficult to let go of old skin, because there is a grief in that. And yet, in grieving there is also catharsis.
Sharing my story I could see I could be present and safe and understood quickly. It was personal, yet I could say it out loud. Some parts of my narrative I had never said out loud in that way. I saw I had a deeper understanding of myself than I thought I had. From that space I could reflect and design a care plan for me, a small, important promise to myself – a Mantra of sorts. I felt refreshed and empowered by this experience of radical listening and closer to the truth by getting to the heart of it.
This all happened in under two hours! Thank you Niki Steckler!