two questions to improve relationships

and four things to avoid

Being in the right relationship with ourselves and others is a practice.

It seems, these days, we are more challenged than ever.

When we are uncertain, afraid, uncomfortable, or in disagreement, it can be easy to turn to unhelpful communication strategies.

We defend.

We control.

We avoid.

We attack.

Powerlessness can push us into wanting to be right instead of wanting to relate.

When we hide our vulnerability, mask our uncertainty, avoid our feelings, deflect our responsibility, and distance ourselves from others, we lose connection to Love.

Over the past six months, I’ve noticed more and more accusation, manipulation, blame, judgement, rejection, and righteousness rising up. This path is taking us further away from the world we want to belong to (I’m assuming, because you’re here, we want similar things for humanity … namely Love).

With my whole heart, I believe what we need most right now is appreciation, grace, cherishment, empathy, presence, and curiosity. When we carry intentional questions into our interactions, we’re most likely to cultivate these qualities. My favourite one, recently, has been:

What conversation would I have if I decided I want to know you more than I want to change you?

I took this question into a conversation with a good human whose been in my life for a lot of years.

We got to talking about the topics of the day.

You know …

The ones that are the catalysts for conflict.

The ones that are causing divisiveness and destruction.

We bravely ventured into the territory that has been ending relationships, hoping we both had the capacity to keep our hearts open to the complexity, nuance and mystery of the other.

Reaching into our relationship, we dropped the certainty of judging, of declaring what is right and wrong, and we invited curiosity.

Too often these days, listening stops short.

We project what we think is going on for another without compassionate confirmation that our assumptions are correct, without holding space to ensure what wishes to be communicated has been shared.

We are missing too much.

We cannot know them without making space to know them.

We cannot be known by them without making space for them to know us. 

Here are a couple questions that are close to my heart, as I reflect on what might make humanity a little more humane.

How can I strengthen my capacity to be with another, without trying to change them (or me)?

Where does my listening fall short and how can I make it more complete?

Empathy over judgement.

Curiosity over assumption.

Connection over rejection.