Learning from Life – A Journal
One of the things that are most challenging for me in life is when someone else’s behavior is incomprehensible to me. Even if the person is dear and close, they become foreign. It’s not quite that I judge the person, although it’s clear to me that that person may well experience it as such. It’s an experience of aloneness, mystery, and anguish. It’s particularly intense when the confusing behavior appears to me to be lacking care.
During these last few weeks, I sat down with a person dear and close whom I will call Amanda, who, for several weeks, acted towards me in ways that I didn’t know how to interpret except as a total absence of care. This is someone I see very regularly, so avoiding the issue was not quite an option (yes, these days, with the stress on my plate from so many directions, I do opt for letting go of resolving conflicts some of the time, with immense sadness and loss).
As big as my anguish was when we started, a few minutes into the conversation it got even harder. I had to resist decades of habits of giving up (only locally, never globally, I now know of myself) in order to choose to refocus the conversation on me when Amanda shifted focus to herself just as I was finally starting to talk about my own experience. The level of my anguish was big enough, and Amanda’s feelings that kept her from staying present with me intense enough, that I am convinced that most people would have given up on the relationship at this point. The intensity, for both of us, was because we didn’t have a shared meaning for what our conflict was or wasn’t. Still, we didn’t give up. We talked and cried for a couple of hours, and practiced the full art of dialogue, both of us being deeply immersed in the practices of Nonviolent Communication. There was nothing about rightness or fairness. It was only about what was possible, for either and both of us, at any moment in the conversation. We managed. I understood, in full, the source of her behavior. It helped immensely that she was able to acknowledge, with extreme sadness, that, indeed, she had no access to care in the severity of what her experience was. That, finally, allowed me to be able to make sense of her human choices. Once that is in place, compassion is restored, and two-way flow is possible again. What a triumph. I was spent at the end of the evening, and deeply grateful to Marshall Rosenberg, without whose discoveries and teachings I would never have learned what I now know that helps me stay through these excruciating conversations.
Marketing that Makes Sense to Me
The very same day in which I had the acute episode of helplessness and resentment I wrote about last week I had a complete meltdown about marketing. Dear friends of mine who understand a whole lot more about marketing than I do were giving me advice and providing feedback that was really challenging for me to take in, creating a tear in me between being accessible and being in alignment with myself. This happened gradually, so I didn’t feel the erosion of integrity in me until it was really loud, so loud that from one moment to the next I just couldn’t continue in the process. Instead of revising words and paragraphs, or offering alternative bullet points, which I had already done more than once, I crashed. Leaning on the trust and love in these longtime relationships, I let it loose. I don’t even know exactly what I wrote, I just dumped all the agony that was living inside me. Although I didn’t have any judgment of them, and I took responsibility for my experience and feelings, I wrote without sufficient clarity, because I had no idea what I wanted instead. I just reached my maximum. Instead of caving in (which I do, all appearances to the contrary notwithstanding), I stood up for myself, even before knowing what I wanted.
The next day I had a conversation with my sister Inbal, who helped me name clearly what I wanted, the very core foundation of the entire practice I live and teach. Another friend supported me by writing a draft of an entirely different approach to the marketing. I breathed a sigh of relief, and sat down to complete it. Then I sent it to the original people, and they liked it without any further suggestions. I was so deeply grateful to them, and so delighted that my sense of trust was reciprocated.
Moral of the story: speaking my truth doesn’t have to threaten relationships, erode trust, or have unpleasant outcomes. It might, and it sometimes will, and it might not. It could also, instead, sometimes lead to results that everyone likes better. Especially , especially when longstanding love, trust, and shared practices exist. Exactly what I teach people became true for me in that moment.
An unexpected benefit: I learned something about marketing that I am hoping to hold on to for a long time. Marketing must be accurate and honest about what is being offered, so the right people are attracted, not just any people. Regardless of how many or few are the right match, they are the ones that will make the endeavor thrive over time. The more I can be clear about what it is that I am offering and who would be a fit for it, the more my marketing efforts will fulfill their purpose: creating sustainability through discernment and selection.