No, this does not mean you need to get all mushy, although I personally like a bit mush, every now and then. Speaking from the heart is from the compassionate communication model, I referred to in previous blogs, developed by the late Marshall Rosenberg. Essentially, it is listening to hear the need of the other person (or ourselves) which may not be directly communicated.
At the end of the day, some people are more comfortable communicating their feelings and needs than others. We are after all, only human, some days are going to be better than others when it comes to being able to identify our feelings and/or needs and being able to communicate effectively. Imagine a world where we all accept this and we are able to hear what another is saying (or trying to) with a heartfelt understanding of this. I like the look and sound of that world. In some parts of the world this exists. I would like to see it more often. I would like to see this as the norm.
So what is it?
In Rosenberg’s communication model, one of the steps is to listen for the feeling and the need behind the feeling. This is applied to ourselves as well as to others. Obviously, with the latter scenario we need to check with the other person what it is they are feeling and needing. No one can really read another person’s mind.
Rosenberg proposed if we can listen to ourselves and others through our heart, by listening for the feeling and the need behind it, we can engage with ourselves and others more authentically and at a deeper level than the ‘thinking’, the intellectual level. In the feeling space: the being space, we can truly connect with ourselves and others.
For me, speaking from the heart is about our approach to being in the world, not only our communication with ourselves and others.
In my recent blogs, I referred to acceptance of ourselves and others as we are and to separating our interpretation from our observation, so that we have more opportunity to be in the moment and live our experience, before interpreting it through judgement, analysing, etc. In my last blog, I wrote of listening to hear by being physically present and consciously attentive. All of this can lead to listening and speaking from the heart.
Why do this?
I have found by incorporating these approaches into my life, that I have more capacity to be fully present with myself and others. From the being space, I can listen and speak from my centre. From my heart. This leads me to be fully present in the moment and so in the flow of my experience. I am aware of my experience at a sensory, emotional, physical and psychological level.
By taking away judgements, interpretations, expectations, demands etc, my mind feels free and clear so I have the capacity to accept myself as I am, as well as others for the way they are. Remembering of course that acceptance does not require us to like what is being accepted, as liking or disliking would require us to make some form of evaluation and so judgement.
This is not easy. For example, on the morning that I was writing this blog, I experienced some intense body memories and emotional flashbacks. It was not at all easy for me to accept my experience as the memories were so unpleasant and that is putting it mildly. However, reminding myself of the purpose of my engaging with the memories, namely that it enables me to heal so that eventually the memories will stop or lose their emotional intensity so they no longer cause me distress, I was able to accept my experience and move forwards in my processing of the memories and emotions that came with them.
When someone is doing something that causes us some distress or discomfort, being able to accept the situation and the way we feel is imperative for our own well being, so to is being able to identify what we need and how to express those needs. I have found listening and speaking from the heart supports my ability to do this in a constructive way leading to a healthy and authentic engagement.
Know the purpose of your actions
If we engage with ourselves and others from a genuine desire to connect rather than a feeling of having to, but a place of wanting to and not from any form of fear, guilt, shame etc. we give ourselves and others scope to grow and to live in the moment. We can take our time in the moment; we can explore our experience as it unfolds.
I admit this has taken practice and I am still practising. This is not something you learn once and that’s it. Yes, the process and stages will become more natural as we practise and we become used to this way of being. However, I find that bringing myself back to the principles of compassion and acceptance, enables me to stay awake to my communication with myself and others, so I can check I am still being true to my intention: to be compassionate.
If I can maintain a stance of listening and speaking from the heart, then this energy will hopefully be felt by the other person I am with. This can lead to the opening up of dialogue through a feeling of acceptance, which provides a feeling of safety and can lead to people feeling truly heard and known. There is of course no guarantee that this will happen. However……
For me, a combination of all of these approaches has been extremely beneficial as they have, in one way or another, assisted my healing process not only the development of my communication skills. My relationship with myself has changed to one that is more understanding, supportive and kind.