Here's a list of words that pose as feelings, but are actually interpretations of what you think someone is doing to you. They trigger defensiveness in another thereby preventing a connected dialogue. Behind each of these words are precious feelings and needs. This sheet includes ways to distinguish feelings from interpretations.
When someone responds with painful sarcasm, criticism, or dismissal you can respond with empathy, or with clarity about your intention, need and request. If you're unable to do this, later you can privately write what they said, identify the feelings and needs of both of you, then write possible responses. This can help you remember to stay with your intention and what’s true for you without getting caught in defensiveness or reactivity.
When conflict or criticism occurs, we can notice two layers of meaning to create connection: the content and the needs the speaker is holding. When we are able to recognize this --and ideally engage open-heartedly, with curiosity, make clear requests, imagining what they want, no matter how their expression was framed -- we have more opportunity to support the longevity of our relationships, and to decrease our loneliness when together.
When someone wants to speak angrily about another, do you want to move away, try to calm them, argue, set a boundary, or offer empathy? What supports you to stay self connected? You can set boundaries regarding listening so that you're less likely to defend the other party, or attempt to talk your friend down from their judgments, thereby escalating the situation. Disagreements can also ignite curiosity and celebration. Read on for more.
Most reactivity in intimate relationships comes from a lack of confidence in maintaining intimacy, autonomy, or security. What may help is naming what's happening, interrupting shame, and anchoring or reassuring yourself. You can also reflect on the effects of acting from reactivity. Knowing what helps center you, ask your partner to do or say specific things that might help. Read on for more.
Working for racial justice is a shift in perspective—a shift in understanding and empathy that leads to a change in our actions: to listen instead of talk, to follow instead of lead, to yield rather than dominate. And to accept that I will continue to mess up. Part of working to undo racism is having the humility to know when our own understanding is limited. Read on for more this, and how it relates to meditation -- plus personal and collective liberation.
To help you stay connected to yourself and the other person when in challenging discussions about COVID-19 vaccines or other hot issues, without labeling others as reactive or otherwise, you can begin by tracking signs of your own reactivity to bring mindfulness onboard, then shifting your attention to universal needs; and asking to connect about it later. Read on for more.
Trainer Tip: Stating our observations, feelings and needs can still be heard as criticism if we don't follow it up right away with a specific, doable request. Ending your statement with a request for what you want can clarify the situation and reduce the chances that you'll be met with defensiveness. Read on for an example.
It's important to make requests specific and doable. Also, without a swift request immediately after we state our observation, feeling, and need in regard to the situation, the other person is left guessing what we want. Instead, a swift request can bring clarity and lessen the potential for the listener to become defensive or argue.