Hedy Schliefer, a genius in the world of helping intimate relationships thrive, talks about each person being an “island.” This analogy works really well with clients, who say that thinking of themselves an island work really well when it comes to knowing how to understand themselves and their honey better.
Hedy says, for us to communicate effectively, we need to visit each other’s island, not shout from our island expecting the other person to have the same view. Or indeed make their island the same as ours, so we can be happy!
Our beliefs, perspectives and inner landscape is unique and as many have said before, another person is built on beliefs and perspectives of how we choose to view them. Any wonder then, that relating is so tricky when we view life through a huge amount of filters rather like different coloured lenses inside a kaleidoscope.
Your island, which is who you are right now, has boundaries (hopefully intact!), it’s own thoughts, feelings, happy places and more tricky ones. It is hopefully full of love and happiness most of the time but maybe has one or two less than palatable areas which could do with cleaning out every now and then! We are all and always will be, work in progress.
Being who you are will always be about the highs and lows and ebbs and flows because the nature of life is impermanent. Being part of the Universe and on a planet within a solar system, we can never be separate from, or on an island independent of others, but in our co-existence we have to do our part in communicating more healthily and not shoot from the hip with any old words to help us get by. That’s fast becoming out- dated. It’s head not heart lead and has caused world wars in the past.
Island to island communicating must be an unfolding art in your life and one you can choose to practise every day. It is absolutely possible to be who you are through expressing healthily in a way that is heard and felt by others.
Here’s 3 useful ways you can communicate with your beloved and others to achieve a good feeling outcome.
1) Give it space and time - Assuming you are discussing something important for a moment, to what extent do you fill the conversation with a whole heap of words? Many people’s relationships hit troubled waters despite them complaining that they “talk for hours.” This is often a symptom of talking “at” rather than talking “with” their partner and trying to get their needs met first. Transmitting into the relationship rather than a healthy dance of transmitting and receiving is eventually erosive, if left to carry on.
a. Stay completely silent and LISTEN if they are talking. Be the first to adopt this way and encourage your partner to offer you the same. You will be surprised how much more can be said and allowed with time.
b. Give words the space to land into you so you can fully receive them and vice versa. More space and time, makes for a deeper and more satisfying connection because you are both honouring each other’s right to speak and be heard.
2) Come from the heart as much as you can – When you are giving your view on issues or a certain situation, as much as you can say “I feel....” rather than “ I think...” feeling is heart, thinking is head. What you feel is your business and it’s actually your feelings about an issue that help you to “feel felt” by another. There is a kind of detachment in making thoughts logical. True connection comes in the feeling place every time and is delicate.
3) What others do or say is not for you to change – This one is definitely “work in progress” for us all and one we can aim for in every conversation, but don’t beat yourself up if it goes Pete Tong from time to time!
Others have perfect right to do or say whatever they like, but we can, using the comments above, learn to respond effectively. You are wasting your time if you retaliate with words that blame and judge.
Couples use alot of time and energy on their partners islands telling them that they “shouldn’t” or “should” have which is rife with expectation. Learn to say:
“Honey, when you said/did that I felt.......” Not “You always do that to annoy me” or “Why do you insist on doing/saying that?” The latter merely puts you, them and the relationship into resistance. Defences build and things get a whole lot harder.
Relating is much more simple that we give credit but we do complicate matters by either, as I have said, reacting or just not saying, because we fear the response or the outcome.
In the future when you communicate, honour yourself and stay on your island but be willing to visit other islands, for they are rich in diversity and contrast which makes life inspiring, healing and is ultimately necessary for your growth.