How Do You Communicate Authentically Without Harming or Hurting?
Ahimsa is a Sanskrit word that means non-killing, non-hurting and is often translated as non-violence. In the current political situation in the US, I see so many messages on the media and social media that reflect the opposite of Ahimsa. In sessions with my clients, I’ve heard people experience so much pain after hearing or reading comments from presidential candidates or their followers. I’m not just referring to the Republican vs Democrat rhetoric; I’m talking about people in the same party and even the same family. The language being used is disconnecting, separating, and harming precious human beings. Is that what we want at this time in the world?
Language reflects a paradigm, a view of the world, life, ourselves and others. Given the opportunity to be aware of our language, would we choose to hurt, harm, harass, our fellow human beings, our friends and loved ones? When we are speaking a language that reflects separation, we are creating more separation. Separation brings about a life experience of ‘us’ versus ‘them’. We even use expressions such as “those people” or “people who follow so and so.”
When we take that position of rivalry, we have to be in constant state of alert, alarm, and defensiveness. These states are useful when we are in danger, but not when we are sharing our vision for our future together, such as the vision of our country.
I have had several sessions with clients in the past few weeks, where my clients shared the deep pain caused by the language they HEARD from THEIR friends and family to talk about presidential candidates and political ideas. In all these sessions, I was asked the same questions, how can we have difficult conversations without harming or hurting our relationships and still be authentic?
I find that to have difficult conversations about politics it requires a great deal of presence and awareness. First, we need to feel that our whole being is there, not just our political opinions. Being completely present means being in our bodies, sensing the physical and energetic messages our bodies are communicating to us. This information our body gives us will let us know whether we are getting ready to go into a battle or into an adult, connecting conversation.
Secondly, we need to have awareness of what we are saying and hearing. Are we communicating in alignment with our intentions? Are we judging the other person’s views? Are we thinking we are better than them? Are we curious about their ideas?
Aside from having presence and awareness, we also need to engage in these difficult conversations with the intention of connecting. The easiest way to connect is to look for commonalities while having openness for differences. In reading about the President Obama’s historic visit to Cuba, a country with such different political ideas than the US, I enjoyed knowing that Obama said: “difficult conversations about our differences are a prerequisite to closer relations. And to bridge the distance between the two countries means engaging and embracing our commonalities while we discuss these differences directly."
I hope next time you join a political conversation on social media or in person, you bring your full presence and awareness and your intention to connect in an authentic, powerful and harmonious way. If you do, your language will come from your Heart, and the Heart never intends to hurt or harm.