Words that Connect
Communication. Communication. Communication. That’s what they all seem to say is the primary ingredient of healthy and beautiful relationships. But it strikes me that it’s entirely possible to say stuff without saying anything, and that there are words that divide and words that connect. I’m very interested in words that connect.
Inspired by Stories of Truth Telling
This piece is partially inspired by a conversation I had with a stranger who I felt moved to buy breakfast for at Harbin when he realized he didn’t have his wallet. Telling him I was an Sex and Relationship Coach seemed to prime the pump for him to share a telling turn of events.
He told me about a recent dramatic shift in his dating life where it went from practically nothing to a significant cascade of women showing up. It all started when he revealed to a trusted ally a deep, dark truth that he never told anybody before. It was very scary, as what he felt called to share was embedded in lots of shame, but he took the risk and named his truth.
Healing happened in the space created by his honesty and the synchronicities started rolling in. Within the hour as he was getting in his car to go home, he got a message via a dating app from a lovely woman. Since then, a number of women have been popping up out of nowhere.
This article is also inspired by a beloved friend’s recent sharing. I had the privilege of thoroughly enjoying the intimacy created when she told my sweetie and I about layers of vulnerability that were coming up for her. In the past she may have brushed those fears underneath the carpet, but that day she took a risk. It ended up in a sublime cuddle puddle.
My Transparency Breakthrough
I personally haven’t always been the best at naming my truth. I come from a history of subtle withholds and outright lying. Once upon a time it was a necessary childhood survival strategy, in my adulthood that strategy served to create disconnects. Loneliness, isolation and distance happens when truths go unnamed-- even if you are sharing a bed with someone.
My big breakthrough in being transparent and naming my truth came about after becoming intimate with a Swiss couple who modeled transparency beautifully. They were exquisitely detailed about what was happening for them inside, shared vulnerable parts of themselves regularly, took responsibility for their experience, strived to be nonreactive and received each other with care and respect. My love life has been all the more gorgeous ever since.
The Art of Naming your Truth
In my experience, I’ve found that there is an art to naming your truth. Here are some of Lorina’s home grown guidelines to help you name your truth in a way that creates more intimacy.
1. Stay close to your experience. Naming the sensations, feelings, desires and impulses that come up for you can keep you close to the flame of truth. You can report thoughts, but try not to get too invested in them as “the truth.” Interpretations, analysis and fear infused stories can create distance between you and your listener.
2. Own your experience. Not owning your experience looks like blaming somebody else for what you are feeling. It also can look like hyper focusing on somebody else and not paying attention to what's happening inside your own skin. We’ve all done it, I know I certainly have. These very human strategies can be attempts to create distance from the red, hot vulnerability that comes up. But those strategies rarely create yummy connections. Try leaning into your vulnerability and watch the intimacy blossom.
3. Be mindful of what and when. A beloved once introduced me to the practice of 2 of 2 early on in our relationship. Basically, if I’m activated by something happening between us at a level of 2 or higher on a 10 scale for longer than 2 days then it’s a good idea to share, otherwise a distance creeps in. On the other end of the spectrum, I find if I’m extremely activated beyond an 8 and I am not able to own my experience or stay close to it, then it’s not a great time to attempt a conversation, because my words will more than likely create division. If I have my wits about me I’ll journal or meditate or dance or talk with a neutral ally to get myself at least into a 7 or below state and thus have some capacity to both share my truth and hear his.
4. Stay curious. Notions of right/wrong and black/white are like kryptonite to curiosity. Labels can have that effect too. If you have a definitive attachment to what something means and aren’t willing to explore the pathways that surround it, you will probably experience the thud of hitting a wall. That wall will get in the way of true intimacy. What magic goodness is possible when you share your innermost reality in a spirit of wonder?
5. Look for the sensations of truth in your body. There is a way I feel it in my body when I express the words that describe my experience well. It's like a tuning fork has been hit with that particular choice of words and now my body is resonating with that truth. It feels good. There is both a settling and an aliveness. What does truth feel like inside of you?
6. For the hard truths, find a good container. Telling a deep, dark truth to a cashier will not be nearly as satisfying as telling a trusted loved one, counselor or coach. It might be a good idea to test run the capacities of somebody before you share your most vulnerable and shame-filled parts with them. It’s kinda like responsibly choosing a good caretaker for your inner child. In terms of naming your hard truths with loved ones and intimates, it helps to refrain from sharing while they are in a reactive state. Focus on infusing the relationship with goodness and appreciation and get into a more settled state together before you bring out the hard stuff. Of course, there are always some inherent risks involved, but in my experience they are sublimely worth it.
There you have it. An exploration of the art and beauty of naming your truth. I would love to hear what beauty these guidelines inspire in you.