Since January, I’ve been engaged in a grand experiment. Dr. Jeffery Martin’s work on Fundamental Wellbeing has inspired me to approach wellbeing in a conscious and deliberate way. So, each month, I’ve taken on a new practice to explore. Last month, it was embracing the concept of “trust” – how much can I open myself to trust myself, another, the world?
This month, I am exploring “Love” as a preparatory tool in conflict. I’ve been in the conflict game long enough to know that only good comes from being in a better space when facing conflict. We can call that space love or inner peace or calm or Fundamental Wellbeing. No matter which word, it’s the feeling I’m getting at. We need to find our way back to that feeling time and again to be able to engage in difficult conversations well.
So I was delighted to discover recently that a dear friend of mine has been using love as her preparation tool for difficult conversations!
She and I have had a few wonderful conversations of late about how to approach any difficult conversation by, firstly, finding a place inside oneself that is “love.”
That state and process can a bit amorphous to explain, but the place to start is by noticing when you have any kind of “trigger” inside of you that feels like pain. That pain can be anger at another’s actions, sadness, heartbreak, confusion, anxiety.
Once you notice your “negative” emotion, then the work is to look inside to find a connection to love again before you approach the other person.
What does one mean by connecting with love inside oneself? There are so many ways and means.
The Heartmath Institute has a wonderful quick coherence tool I’ve written about before, where you think of someone you love for a minute or two (and put your hand on your heart) – and – bingo – you’ve got that loving feeling again! That’s a quick one.
A worthy exploration of love comes from the classic book: Love is Letting Go of Fear. Here is what the author Gerald Jampolsky teaches us about love:
“With Love as our only reality, health and wholeness can be viewed as inner peace, and healing can be seen as letting go of fear… Love, then, is letting go of fear.”
Jampolsky tells us love and fear cannot exist at the same time so that coming to love dissipates our fears. He advocates for inner peace. It’s been my experience if I, or my clients, have not found some place of inner calm, peace or love before starting a difficult conversation, the chances of it turning out well are vastly decreased.
So how does one arrive at inner peace and love?
Jampolsky tells us that “We cannot be free until we discipline and retrain our minds…In order to experience peace instead of conflict, it is necessary to shift our perception… Fear is really a call for help, and therefore a request for Love…If others do not change in accordance with our expectations, we are likely to regard them as guilty… Peace of mind comes from not wanting to change others, but by simply accepting them as they are. True acceptance is always without demands and expectations.”
Yet where does this leave us when it comes to our own needs? Are we to become doormats or sacrificial lambs in the name of Love?
I believe not!
Love is our starting place, the doorway to enter into a difficult conversation and a re-negotiation of expectations. Love is a powerful mindset that can help a difficult conversation go well. I’ve seen this mindset work in the classroom, in the mediating room and as my friend engaged with me recently in a difficult conversation.
My friend actually teaches people how to come back to love within themselves. If you want to explore her method, check out Empowered Love.
Becoming Love is the starting place to making peace!
“If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.” … Albert Einstein